Thursday, July 21, 2016

Almost consonant-free

This would make an awesome party game.

I love the guy on the far left in the video.

Where to get the dental mouth openers.........

That's no moon..... pillow....

Change the world

On the 20th of July, Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors, revealed his master plan, part two, and reminded us of the original master plan.

"The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good."

Read the whole thing. This man is a true visionary.

Disclaimer: That is not the de facto Tesla pickup design, just one suggested by a fan.

Moving an image one millimeter in an MS Word document

Things I learned lately - 21 July

  • Believe it or not, there was still one manufacturer of VCRs making the machines. But Funai will stop the assembly line at the end of July. 
  • Infidelity (for women) in past centuries was considered really bad mostly because of property rights. Because illegitimate children could inherit their father's property.
  • For the Peter Gabriel song "Don't Give Up", on the album "So", the duet was first offered to Dolly Parton, who passed. Peter had envisioned the depression themed song best suited to a duet with a country artist.
  • Nearly 1,000 women are murdered in Pakistan every year for violating conservative norms on love and marriage. These "honour killings" are often carried out by family members.
  • The Montreal Olympics are the reason we have lotteries in Canada. The lottery raised $15 million selling $10 tickets across Canada. The jackpot was $1 million, tax-free.
  • By the 19th century, slaves made up 90% of the population of Haiti.
  • We associate tea with the British, yet they didn't even have access to tea until the late 17th century.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Songs that are 40 years old this year (2016)

Peter Frampton - Do you feel like we do (live) / Baby I love your way
Abba - Dancing queen
Boston - More than a feeling
David Bowie - Golden years
Kiss - Beth / Shout it out loud
Stevie Wonder - Sir duke
The Eagles - Hotel California / New kid in town
ELO - Livin' thing / Telephone line
Tom Petty - Breakdown
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak / The boys are back in town
AC/DC - Dirty deeds done dirt cheap
April Wine - You won't dance with me / Like a lover like a song
Paul Simon - 50 ways to leave your lover
Wings - Silly love songs / Let 'em in
Manhattans - Kiss and say goodbye
Bee Gees - You should be dancing / Love so right
Wild Cherry - Play that funky music
Steve Miller - Rock'n me / Fly like an eagle
Rod Stewart - Tonight's the night
Chicago - If you leave me now
Manfred Mann - Blinded by the light
Kansas - Carry on wayward son
Runaways - Cherry bomb
Heart - Crazy on you / Magic man
Cliff Richard - Devil woman
Blue Oyster Cult - Don't fear the reaper
Gary Wright - Dream weaver / Love is alive
Rolling Stones - Fool to cry
Boston - Foreplay/Long time
Alice Cooper - I never cry
Boz Scaggs - Lowdown
Starbuck - Moonlight feels right
Hall & Oates - Sara smile / She's gone
Henry Gross - Shannon
Elton John - Sorry seems to be the hardest word
10CC - The things we do for love
Gordon Lightfoot - Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Al Stewart - Year of the cat
Hot Chocolate - You sexy thing

Like a princess

Milky Way Night

We should set aside one night per year when we turn off all of the outdoor lights for a few hours. The night wouldn't be on a fixed date, because we would need it to be cloudless and probably moonless.

On this night, with all of the outdoor lighting turned off, the light pollution would be reduced enough that we would be able to see the Milky Way in the night sky. And many more stars.

That would be cool. Who knows, I think the mere sight of this would be so overwhelming, we'd schedule it more often.

L'il Kylo Ren

Things I learned lately - 15 July

  • NASA is going to let the Juno spacecraft burn up in Jupiter's atmosphere mostly so that earth germs don't accidentally contaminate possible life on moons like Europa.
  • The US still leads with the most Netflix titles at 5082. Canada only has 3435 (48th place). But at least we do better than Australia (2414), Germany (1642) or Greenland (953).
  • The Mongols introduced rice to the Persians.
  • Timbuktu is in the African nation of Mali.
  • The Arabic word for God is Allah, whether you're Muslim, Jewish, or Christian. In case you thought only Muslims use that name.
  • Theodora, empress of the Byzantine Empire, and wife of Emperor Justinian I, participated in Justinian's legal and spiritual reforms, and her involvement in the increase of the rights of women was substantial. She had laws passed that prohibited forced prostitution and closed brothels. She created a convent called the Metanoia, where the ex-prostitutes could support themselves. She also expanded the rights of women in divorce and property ownership, instituted the death penalty for rape, gave mothers some guardianship rights over their children, and forbade the killing of a wife who committed adultery.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Rick Deckard

I really need to get this on a shirt for work

Thoughts on fossil fuel

Let me start off by saying that I am not by any stretch an expert in the petroleum industry, or any industry for that matter. If any readers have some intelligent facts to inject into the conversation, please be my guest.

I've been witness to, and even participated in, some very heated discussions about oil. Our dependence on it, its effect on our climate, our economy, wars between nations, you name it. I've heard every argument from 'we can't end our dependence on oil' all the way to 'we need to stop using oil as soon as possible'.

I just thought I'd throw my own ideas and thoughts into the fire.

Oil makes a lot of money for a select group of people. Why is it still being subsidized?

Why are people alright with the oil industry being subsidized, but lose their minds if green energy and products are subsidized?

Why do some people continue to use the excuse 'China keeps using coal, why can't we?'? China abuses their people too. Why don't we?

If Germany can get to a point where on one particular day they were getting 95% of their electricity from renewable sources, why do our energy suppliers insist that our grid could never handle more than 20% coming from renewable sources?

If one company (Tesla) can build a fast, practical, safe all-electric vehicle, then add a world-wide free charging network to support it, why can't anyone else?

If Norway, one of the coldest countries in the world, can adopt the electric car faster than any other nation, why are places like Canada still suggesting that electric cars will never work there?

People ask 'What would all the oil workers do for work if we stopped pumping oil and switched to renewable energy?'. I'm guessing they would retrain for the renewable energy sector.

If energy suppliers are complaining that we use too much electricity for the grid to handle, why don't they build more supply? Or better yet, why are they against us providing some of our own (solar) on our premises?

Why do we need to find ways to export our oil to other countries when we're still importing oil and refined products from elsewhere?

Is it really true that if we stopped using oil, we wouldn't be able to make plastics? Can't plastics be made from other sources? More importantly, should we be finding a way to stop using plastics?

If all the money that had been invested in finding oil had been instead invested in nation-wide, high speed transportation, would we need long range cars at all?

Why aren't we leveraging geothermal more? Isn't there a practically limitless supply of heat energy underground?

If we have the technology and materials to build well insulated net-zero homes and offices, why do we continue to throw our heating money out the window by building marginally insulated homes?

While we argue about the safety of more pipelines, of which there are already a crap-load, the oil is instead being transported by the longest rail car trains in history. Does this make sense?

Do we not realize that by the time we get our oil to the coasts, the countries we intend to sell to will already be converting themselves to a more sustainable system?

Why do anti-pipeline folks get angry about the newly proposed pipelines, but ignore the substantial, existing network?

I truly believe that the resistance of switching off of oil has nothing to do with its practicality, or that pro-oil people are anti-environmentalists or don't care about the planet. I believe that we're still in oil because it makes money. The only thing that is going to stop our pursuit of getting it out of the ground is when people don't need it anymore.

Norway made a ridiculous amount of money from oil, which they saved up. Now they spend that money on making it cheap to buy electric cars. They fully intend to go oil-free in less than a decade.

I keep hearing the words "Look what oil has done for this country". Aside from jobs, I'm waiting for a more detailed explanation.

Why don't they stay secured?

It's odd that something used to secure things to vehicles is most often found on the road.

Things I learned lately - 8 July

  • In the making of the Band of Brothers series, there were 10,000 extras, 500 speaking roles, and a massive wardrobe department that supplied detailed and authentic uniforms, including 500 pairs paratrooper jump boots manufactured to fit the original Army specifications.
  • Creationists in Kentucky built a (supposedly) full sized replica of Noah's Ark, complete with fake dinosaurs and other animals inside.
  • The Opportunity Mars rover, which was only designed to last 90 days on Mars, continues to function 12 years later.
  • There is now a Lego Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Calgary). Not an official Lego product, but whatever. 
  • If you don’t sigh every five minutes or so, the alveoli will slowly collapse causing lung failure.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Things I learned lately - 24 June

  • What Sigourney Weaver got paid for the movie Alien: $35,000. For Aliens: $1,000,000. Alien 3: $4,000,000. Alien Resurrection: $11,000,000.
  • The glass delusion is an external manifestation of a psychiatric disorder in the 15th to 17th centuries. People feared that they were made of glass and likely to shatter. One famous sufferer was King Charles VI of France who refused to allow people to touch him.
  • RC Cola is the top-selling cola brand in the Philippines.
  • Amazon produces and shows pilots for any new shows it's contemplating. Netflix does not.
  • Burger King introduced a grilled hot dog to its menu in Feb 2016, but only in the US.
  • HBO streaming only signed up 800,000 customers. Solution: partner with Netflix, raise the price to $10 even and watch the money and customers come rolling in.

Questionable translation

Growing pains

If the city of Calgary is making development and road decisions you don't agree with, it's possible that you might need to look toward your community association.

In my community, the city said it was planning some changes to a major thoroughfare to calm traffic passing through the community. This would be accomplished by adding a more substantial median, banners, trees and flowers, similar to what you see on stretches of Memorial Drive, etc.

But when I attended the information session for the city's plans so far, there is no indication of any of those changes. Instead, I saw the addition of bike lanes, and the reduction in the number of traffic lanes on some major streets. But the city did mention that they now had data to support the addition of left turn signals on some key roads. When asked if those new signals would be part of the plan, the answer was no. When pressed to find out why, it was because the community association asked that they not be implemented.

So I spoke to the president of the association, who was present. I said that a lot of residents were looking forward to an easier time turning left into, or out of, their own neighbourhood. But there are other residents who oppose the signals because of short-cutting through their neighbourhood en route to points north.

So for the sake of extra traffic going up a key road, other residents will continue to endure a difficult time turning left into their own neighbourhood. I suggested, somewhat controversially, that this short-cutting was much ado about nothing anyway. People will take the path of least resistance, and a commuter shouldn't be punished for wanting to take an efficient path to their destination. Although some residents saw my point, what they are really troubled by is not the actual traffic volume, but traffic speed, and safety concerns for crossing pedestrians. I remarked that it's not right to try to curb speeding by restricting access to an entire neighbourhood.

Some residents also suggested that the lack of left signal and the loss of a full lane on a road providing egress from the community, would create a big problem when the multi-use sports park finishes up for the day. Up to 600 vehicles all trying to leave on one single lane road, with no left turn signal to get onto a major highway.

I pleaded with city officials to please remember that any measures taken to resolve concerns must take the whole community into consideration, not just those living near one particular street. Every day, I and countless others like me, struggle to get in and out of our own neighbourhood because of heavy rush hour traffic coming in a particular direction down a major road. To suggest that a left signal will inconvenience someone else is shortsighted and selfish. Community associations need to not only take vocal residents into account, but invite and include other voices as well.

You got 5 seconds to put food on the table or there will be trouble


A friend of mine recently visited Iceland. I've noticed a few of my friends and acquaintances travelling there lately, so I asked Jeff if he would allow me an interview about his visit with his family. He said yes!

Q. Why Iceland? What motivated you to go there?
Icelandair has this deal that you can get off the plane for up to 7 days without any addition fees.  So when booking our trip to Sweden we figured why not. It makes getting to Iceland easy.

Q. I'm told that the people in Iceland are very family oriented. Did you notice this?
Hard to say.  We saw a lot of tourists as we were staying in the center of Reykjavik. But they are friendly.  I think they treasure their relationships with each other because they seem to rely on each other for personal and professional reasons.

Q. Did you get to visit the 'blue lagoon' spa by the geothermal plant near Reykjavik?
Yes the last day we took in the Blue Lagoon for roughly 3 hours.  It also coincided that it was the one day that the sun was out and it was warm.  So we left Iceland with sunburns and wearing shorts.

Great experience but I would take in some of the less commercial springs around the country next time.

Q. What surprised you the most about Iceland?
The cost of food.  This was a known factor but it was still surprising when we got fish & chips the night we arrived from a cart in one of the town squares. It was only after buying it that it was just over $100 Canadian for three servings.

Q. What was the tastiest food you tried?
Went to a restaurant on day 2 called Ostabudin and the food and the people were great. The appetizers and main courses were great but then we had desert. Icelandic cheese cake is different from North American cheese cake and it's an amazing difference.

If you want a great meal without a reservation then this is your place. Here's what we had:

Deep fried camembert with port infused redcurrant jam and crispy baquette
Cured Icelandic Beef 

Main course
SALTED FILLED OF ICELANDIC COD- With potatoes, pearl onions, kohlrabi and warm dulce sauce
Arctic Char - served with scallops, celery root, potato purrée and chicken juice

Cheese Cake - With oats, pomme granate and brown cheese
Skyr Mouse -  Served with blueberries, cream and caramel

Q. What was the weather like while you were there? What time period?
June 17-22 and we mainly have cloudy with moments of rain.  We also went to the most southern township in Iceland. The town is called Vik. We had high winds, rain and then glorious calmness with the sun coming through the clouds.  The very last day was like 22C which I got a sunburn from.

Q. Does Iceland have midnight sun?
Oh yes and especially at this time of the year. The bars really don't get going till midnight. On June 23 there is a midnight marathon going on.  Cons - hard to sleep, Pros - more time to see the country.

Q. What is most different about Iceland compared to Canada?
Food prices obviously.  But the thing that made me stop in wonder is their terrain and dedication to renewable resources.  Truly amazing and diverse ( and I only saw Reykjavik and the southern coast).  The amount of energy they get from the geothermal is impressive.

Q. Do people in Iceland have any unusual customs?
You see coins in the bottom level of the door frames when coming in or going out of stores.  Didn't ask why but it caught my eye.

Q. Do enough people speak English there for tourists?
A ton of people speak English and really well.  No problems in the communication department.

Q. Did your daughters like anything specific about Iceland that might not have affected you and your wife? If not, what was their favourite part of the visit?
They loved the scenery.  We drove 180 km south and saw and experienced the black sand beaches, basalt columns, Eyjafjallajökull that erupted in 2010, and drove through one of the most active geothermal belts in Iceland.

Q. If you could describe the mindset in Iceland, what would you say?

Strong. Iceland is a country with the strongest roots to the Vikings. To have made a home there you have to be strong in spirit and mind.

Q. What myth or perception about Iceland should people have dispelled that might be preventing them from visiting?

Myth - Boring or just plain cold and hard to get to.
Fact - Boring only if you stay in your hotel room. There is so much to see and do. You could spend two full weeks there and you still wouldn't see it all.  Cold at times but July - Aug is their summer time. It was surprisingly warm our last day there. Take advantage of the companies doing layovers in Iceland. You won't regret it.

I personally can not wait to go back with more time to see and experience all that Iceland has to offer.  Majestic landscape, warm people that will capture you heart and soul.

Friday, June 17, 2016

OK. Last Star Wars related post. For today

Another Star Wars related post?

CEO walks in on employee catching nap

What does he do? Well, when you're Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, you take a selfie with that person.

That's my kind of CEO.

We salute you

Things I learned lately - 17 June

  • The price of solar panels has dropped 95% since 2008. That's a pretty big drop in just 8 years.
  • In June 2015, Netflix had 4.1 million subscribers. One year later, they have 5.2 million. Meanwhile, CraveTV and Shomi have 740,000 subscribers combined in 2 years.
  • There are 6 lakes in Canada deeper than Lake Superior. Great Bear (NWT); Adams (BC); Grand (NFLD); Quesnel (BC); Clearwater (BC); Great Slave (NWT). As deep as Great Slave Lake is, if you could put the Burj Khalifa in it, it would still stick 700 feet out of the water.
  • During the 1960s, AT&T Bell Labs developed the Picturephone. Had this $500,000,000 project caught on, we would have had the internet much sooner than the 1990s, as Bell intended to build a broadband network to support the Picturephone, instead of relying on the copper phone cable we'd been using for regular phones.
  • There were video phone booths run by the German post office allowing video calls between Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Hamburg and Munich, from 1936 to 1940.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sun coming up

Here's a pic of that sunrise I mentioned in Road Trip 2016.

Friday, June 10, 2016

This is the last Macbook decal I'll post. For now

Sure it's a scam, but it's a tasty one

Whenever Darlene and I go to the US, we always visit at least one grocery store to see what they sell compared to what we get in Canada.

This time, we saw a few things you can't get in Canada, but one thing in particular intrigued us enough to buy and try. I'm talking about Coke Life.

In case you've never heard of it, Coke Life is a new version of Coca Cola that uses cane sugar (instead of HFCS) and Stevia to reduce the amount of sugar. Yes, there's still 60 calories in the little glass bottle, but that's better than 100.

We tried it and much to my surprise, Darlene and I both like it. If it sold in Canada, I'd buy it. We don't drink a lot of Coke, but it does go great with certain foods, like pizza. It's a treat for us, and in this case, a slightly less sweet treat.

One more after this, I promise

Dear kijiji users

If you post an ad selling something, or looking to acquire something, please realize that other kijiji users are not stupid. We know how to look at your other ads. The link is right there in plain sight.

So, if you are selling furniture while claiming 'no pets' and 'no kids', don't be advertising other things where your pets and kids are easily seen in the pictures. If you're claiming to be a single mom, don't mention your husband in another ad. If you claim that any furniture you buy will need to be delivered because you don't have a vehicle, don't let one of your other ads be about your vehicle. If you're mentioning you need stuff because you just arrived in the city and trying to get set up, don't say you're moving in a few days to another city in a different ad.

If you're claiming to be an evacuee from Fort Mac, don't have other ads going back months showing you always having lived in Calgary.

Just sayin'.