Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Possession proof

If you want to do your home insurance company a favour, take your phone, make a video of a tour of every room in your house. Quickly show them everything, even the inside of closets. Then save the video and store it in the cloud. If anything happens you have proof of your possessions.

Squirrels are.......... more interesting than I give them credit for

SOTD - I feel good (cover)

This cover by my favourite indy artists Pomplamoose. Incidentally, my choice of song has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Montreal Canadiens just completed a 4 game sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the NHL playoffs.


Not a thing.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Things I learned lately - 20 April

  • The oil sands represent about 2% of Canada's economy.
  • Of the 90 cent boost to Canada's GDP per dollar of investment in the oil sands, 82 cents goes directly to Alberta. Where is all of this money? 
  • A 79 year old high school substitute teacher who has been an inspiration to her students was dismissed after refusing to unfriend her students on Facebook.
  • In the future, flying drones may be able to 'perch' on hydro lines to recharge themselves.
  • University of Edinburgh scientists have for the first time used regenerative medicine to fully restore an organ in a living animal. The team rebuilt the thymus, an organ central to the immune system, of very old mice by reactivating a natural mechanism that gets shut down with age. The regenerated thymus began to make more T-cells - a type of white blood cell key to fighting infections.
  • Using bone conduction audio technology, advertisers may soon start transmitting advertising right into your head when you rest your head against the window glass on a train or bus.
  • When Twitter first launched in 2006, the word "tweet" didn't exist. The site referred to tweeting as "Twittering" and those who used Twitter as "Twitter-ers." A Twitter employee wasn't happy with the wordy "Post a Twitter Update". At first, the posts were called "twits." One developer suggested changing "twit" to "tweet."
  • Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 140 to 190 kilometres (87 to 120 mi) in the Earth's mantle. Carbon-containing minerals (not coal) provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over periods from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years (25% to 75% of the age of the Earth). Diamonds are brought close to the Earth′s surface through deep volcanic eruptions by a magma, which cools into igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites.
  • In Japan, it's perfectly OK to crack open a beer in a public park, on the street or even on a train.
  • In 1975, a dentistry student would have had to work just over 7 weeks (40 hours/week) to pay for one year of tuition, at the time only $664. In 2013, that same student would have had to work for almost 43 weeks to pay for the tuition of the same education, now $17,324.
  • Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, would let the winning candidate of the previous election — the member of Parliament — choose some of the workers at polling stations. The candidate would select the deputy returning officers, central poll supervisors and poll clerks.
  • Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, would let political parties spend as much as they want on election fundraising from people who have contributed $20 or more in the last five years. Right now, if a party hires a company to solicit money during an election, that counts as an election expense.
  • Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, would no longer allow the Chief Electoral Officer, the head of Elections Canada, to alert the public to problems during an election or even to work with programs that teach students about civic affairs and how elections work.

He's 2

Let's just put that out there. He's 2.

Movie stars? Yup. Buckets from seven-stories? Check. Making shots with both hands at the same time? Check.

Ladies and gentlemen, Trick Shot Titus.

The country comes together

SOTD - Ten cent pistol

When you get to my age, you look at all of the new clone-rock and wonder if there is any hope for the future of music.

Along comes the Black Keys. Then you smile and your worries wash away.

Friday, April 18, 2014


A beaver goes too far when he gets a chance to realize his biggest dream.

Banksy on the surveillance state

SOTD - New York state of mind

This could deserve to be in the top 10 of most beautiful pop songs ever written.

Billy Joel released this song in 1976 and it was never released as a single nor did it chart. But did it ever get traction as a concert piece.

Joel wrote the song after returning to the East Coast from Los Angeles, where he had spent the previous three years. In fact, most of the album Turnstiles deals with Joel's cross-country relocation, including "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", "I've Loved These Days", "Summer, Highland Falls", and "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)." The inspiration for the song came from his pride in returning home to New York.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another teacher resigned in the US

And here is her letter:

I am writing today to let you know that I am resigning my position as PreK and Kindergarten teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools.  It is with deep sadness that I have reached this decision, as I have loved my job, my school community, and the families and amazing and dedicated faculty I have been connected with throughout the district for the past eighteen years. I have always seen myself as a public school teacher, and fully intended to work until retirement in the public school system. Further, I am the product of public schools, and my son attended Cambridge Public Schools from PreK through Grade 12. I am and always have been a firm believer in quality public education.

In this disturbing era of testing and data collection in the public schools, I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a teacher ought to do in the classroom to build a healthy, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for learning for each of our children.  I have experienced, over the past few years, the same mandates that all teachers in the district have experienced.  I have watched as my job requirements swung away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children, thereby ramping up the academic demands and pressures on them.  Each year, I have been required to spend more time attending classes and workshops to learn about new academic demands that smack of 1st and 2nd grade, instead of Kindergarten and PreK.  I have needed to schedule and attend more and more meetings about increasingly extreme behaviors and emotional needs of children in my classroom; I recognize many of these behaviors as children shouting out to the adults in their world, “I can’t do this!  Look at me!  Know me!  Help me!  See me!”  I have changed my practice over the years to allow the necessary time and focus for all the demands coming down from above.  Each year there are more. Each year I have had less and less time to teach the children I love in the way I know best—and in the way child development experts recommend. I reached the place last year where I began to feel I was part of a broken system that was causing damage to those very children I was there to serve.

I was trying to survive in a community of colleagues who were struggling to do the same:  to adapt and survive, to continue to hold onto what we could, and to affirm what we believe to be quality teaching for an early childhood classroom.  I began to feel a deep sense of loss of integrity.  I felt my spirit, my passion as a teacher, slip away.  I felt anger rise inside me.  I felt I needed to survive by looking elsewhere and leaving the community I love so dearly.  I did not feel I was leaving my job.  I felt then and feel now that my job left me.

It is with deep love and a broken heart that I write this letter.


Suzi Sluyter

Winter's back

SOTD - Turn the lights on

Big Sugar. Reggae fusion. Canadian.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Google has created a timeline of music between 1950 and now. It shows the distribution of genres of music over time (as a share of the whole).

That's cool enough, but then you can click the timeline to explore each genre.

Even cooler, if you type the name of a band or artist, it shows their output / popularity across the entire timeline. If you stay generic (try just using 'jones'), it shows any artist with that name.

The Doge pickup

SOTD - A day in the life

This Beatles song is one of those compositions that hypnotizes you under a mysterious spell. How does a band that epitomized the word 'pop' weave such a complicated, mesmerizing song out of two unrelated pieces from John and Paul? You can read the story behind the song on wikipedia.

You may notice that this version is very well remastered. In case you're wondering, the words at the beginning are "Sugar plum fairy, sugar plum fairy." If you listen very carefully, while the last note is fading out, you can just hear a stool squeaking. That was Ringo shifting his weight.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Things I learned lately - 12 April

  • Washington DC has de-criminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Get caught with less than an ounce and the fine is $25.
  • Once again, the "piracy-stricken" motion picture association has had a banner year, with box office revenue breaking all records (as they've done in most recent years). The biggest gains this year come from China - a market condemned by the studios as a hive of piracy.
  • The difference in time between when the Tyrannosaurus Rex lived and when the Stegosaurus lived is greater than the difference in time between when the T-Rex lived and now.
  • You can't hum if you're clamping your nose closed.
  • Volvo, Audi and who knows which other car manufacturers are currently working on a self-parking feature that would park the car automatically after you get out. That's right, it would be able to drive and park itself in the nearest parking spot without you. The advantage is that it could pick a spot that is otherwise too narrow to open the doors. I'm guessing an app would be used to either find your car later, or tell it to come to where you are now.
  • Apparently a 180 mile canal is being built through Nicaragua that will rival the Panama canal. Nobody knows where the money is coming from, but many suspect it will be financed by China.
  • What was a size 16 (for women's clothing) in the 1950s would today be an 8 today. That's because in the 1980s, the Dept of Commerce allowed the clothing industry to abandon the uniform standard sizes and adopt numbers that would stroke womens' egos.
  • The company that supplies audiobooks to libraries has finally agreed to get rid of DRM and issue the audiobooks in DRM-free mp3 format. This is a major win for libraries.
  • Based on new data from the Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft, estimates suggest there could be as many as 60 billion planets with conditions that support life just in our Milky Way galaxy alone.
  • Jalapeno peppers developed their hot spicy-ness to deter animals from eating them. I guess that didn't work out so well, huh?

Songs that are 40 years old this year (2014)

Bad Company - Can't get enough
Eric Clapton - I shot the sheriff
Genesis - The lamb lies down on Broadway
Joni Mitchell - Help me / Free man in Paris
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Neil Young - On the beach / Walk on
Queen - Killer queen
Steely Dan - Rikki don't lose that number
Stevie Wonder - Boogie on reggae woman
Supertramp - School / Dreamer / Bloody well right
George McCrae - Rock your baby
The Hollies - The air that I breathe
Wings - Band on the run
Ace - How long
Andy Kim - Rock me gently
Terry Jacks - Seasons in the sun
Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown
America - Tin man
Harry Chapin - Cat's in the Cradle
Nazareth - Love Hurts
Elton John - Don't let the sun go down on me / Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown

No pie

SOTD - Saturday night

You can keep your Pharrell, your Timberlake, your Bieber. In 1974, the group kids couldn't get enough of was the Bay City Rollers.

Rollermania baby! This song hit #1 in Canada.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Airline sayings

Slam-Clicker: A flight attendant who either doesn’t socialize after a flight or is too tired to — they go straight to their hotel room, slam the door and click the lock.
George: Autopilot. “I’ll let George take over.”
Cowboys: Cargo Operators.
Ramp-rat: Ground crew.
Crop Dusting: When flight attendants walk down the aisle and fart.
Gate lice: The people who gather around the gate right before boarding so they can be first on the plane.
Two-for-one special: The plane touches down on landing, bounces up, then touches down again.

The next joker?

SOTD - Joanni

Another gem from Kate Bush's Aerial album. It's filled with subtle Kate stylings, my favourite being that signature guttural hum she does at the 3:55 mark.

Joanni, Joanni wears a golden cross
And she looks so beautiful in her armour
Joanni, Joanni blows a kiss to God
And she never wears a ring on her finger

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Things you should never say at work

"Are you pregnant?" If she wants you to know she's pregnant, she'll tell you.

"Would anyone be offended if I told a sexual joke?" If you have to ask, assume someone would be offended.

"You owe $20 for a gift for the boss." Not only is there no need to buy gifts up the chain, even if it were OK, the contribution should be opt-in only.

"You're so skinny! Why aren't you eating?" Commenting on other people's figures is off-limits. Nobody was hired based on their lifestyle.

"That's not my job." The goal of every employee should be to make everyone else look good and this is not how you do it.

"The new (insert job title here) is a real jerk." And now, so are you.

"I heard Kim is dating Ryan." Gossip is not something people are praised for.

"Why are you so dressed up today? Got a job interview?" This is so many kinds of awkward.

"I'm so hungover." So what you're telling us is that not only do you value fun over your job, but you'll be useless today? Is that what you're saying?

Plastic pennies? Why?

Like really $3.49?

For 100?

They're not even real!

SOTD - 1

As in 'the number one', by Baby Mammoth. From the 2001 album Seven Up. On the label Pork. I just love this groove.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Things I learned lately - 6 April

  • In the Google Chrome web browser, if you right click an image on a web page and press the s key, it does a reverse Google image search on that picture. OMG!
  • Between Barnes & Noble, Staples, GameStop, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale, over 1190 retail stores are closing in the next few years. That's just in the US.
  • If you have spent most of your life in North America, much of the rest of the world will be a noisy surprise. People live life loudly in other parts of the world. 
  • Palo Alto recently prohibited people from sleeping in their cars. That's right. Don't help the homeless or working poor, marginalize them.
  • There's a Peanuts movie coming in 2015! [Snoopy happy dance]
  • The 3 cheapest provinces to obtain a new wireless contract are Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The 3 provinces that have a 4th major wireless carrier to compete with the big 3 are... Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Coincidence?
  • Consider the wealth of the richest 85 people in the world. This wealth equals the entire worth of the poorest half of the planet's population (3.5 billion people).
  • In the preparation of halal meat, the knife is never sharpened in the presence of the animal and the other animals are not to witness the killing of an animal.
  • Five Guys Burgers doesn't believe in cutting back on quality or quantity to maintain the profit margin. They keep everything the same and just raise prices to reflect food costs.
  • In over 2,200 peer-reviewed articles about climate change by over 9,000 authors, published between November 2012 and December 2013, just one author and paper rejected human actions as the cause.
  • California workplaces are finding that there are no longer enough electric vehicle charging stations to go around anymore. There are currently 20,000 electric cars on the roads. There are 5,000 public and workplace charging stations in California.
  • In Australia, they're shaving bees to fit them with sensors to track their movements as part of a study. How does one get stuck with THAT job? "Joe, you're the new guy so you get to shave the bees."
  • Microsoft is caving. The start menu is coming back in the next iteration of Windows 8.
  • If you're still using Windows XP, why? But seriously, if you are and you're also using Microsoft Security Essentials, it's about to expire in 2 days. Forever.

Have you got a manual for a modified YT-1300 Corellian Freighter?

SOTD - Bad side of the moon

Originally written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, this April Wine version was the only one I knew growing up and April Wine definitely made it their own.

I'm still trying to understand what a 'rustic spoon' is though.....

Friday, April 04, 2014


No mystery ingredients.
No hydrogenated oils (trans fat).
Contains vitamin A, B12, D, E and K. Also potassium, iodine and calcium.
No sugar.