Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What's next?

Advertisers want your attention whenever and wherever they can get it. Well, you ain't heard nuthin' yet. If some advertisers and their purveyors get their way, when you call someone on your phone, instead of hearing a "ring back" signal, you'll be hearing ads - until you hang up or the other party answers.

Oh - and if you follow that link above, you'll be greeted by an ad before you're redirected to the story.

New Orleans is sinking....

Our thoughts go out to the unfortunate residents of New Orleans and area, who likely will not get to go home for months, and will be lucky to find anything left when they do return. Check out the larger version of the image above here.

Word to the wise folks, there are many immoral people who are taking advantage of your generosity having set up fake relief web sites. So I'd stick with the known, trusted organizations and don't respond to e-mail requests to visit these sites, as the Red Cross , etc. do not solicit via e-mail.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cafeteria good for something....

Say what you will about my work's cafeteria, but they add an important public service in serving the soups that they offer each day.

What do I mean? Well, if you want to know what's on sale at the grocery store this week, you only have to examine the ingredients of the daily soups. Specifically, look for the copious amounts of unnecessary ingredients and you've found the sale item. Today for example, there was a lot of green pepper in the hamburger soup.

Goin' to buy me some green peppers.........

Monday, August 29, 2005

This little piggy......

Sometimes you find things that just make you laugh. Like these everyday items changed into Korean cartoon characters.

This ought to be good.......

You've probably heard about the RIAA and its wonderful "let's make examples of our customer base by suing them into oblivion" campaign against alleged file sharers. Most people settle by agreeing to pay the many thousand dollars, unable to amass a legal campaign against the music industry's legal brawn. Until now. Patricia Santangelo has taken a chance and decided to fight and has refused to settle. Lucky for us, we can follow along with the proceedings. The legal team that is representing her is blogging the event, even going so far as to show the filed documents. Elsewhere, someone captured the transcript of Patricia's (seemingly) first visit to court (before she had found a lawyer). It's sad to see the RIAA lawyer try to finagle the defendant out of her rights right in front of the judge. Luckily, the judge was not buying it. An enlightening read.

Update: The lawyer defending Patricia says he believes their firm could defend lots of RIAA defendants, because they'll recoup the legal costs when they win.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Canada's oldest corporation

We were walking into the downtown Hudson's Bay Company department store and I was greeted by a plaque announcing: "Founded 1670". I guess there aren't too many stores anymore that can say that, eh?

For those of you that don't know your Canadian history, the company used to own a significant part of northern and western Canada (known as Rupert's Land). By the way, Pro Pelle Cutem, translates roughly as "a skin for a skin".

Trying to get my mind out of the sewer....

Nobody wants to walk in a park only to step in a gift left behind by a dog. But now that the law dictates you must pick up after your pooch, we're literally throwing the problem into plastic bags that don't biodegrade in the landfill. But Darlene came up with a logical solution. Build poop drop-off pits that lead right into the sewer. What a concept.

Let's just scrap it, OK?

So the gun registry has been in place in Canada now for a few years. It is not a popular topic of conversation, especially in Western Canada. I decided to scour the Internet for statistics that may prove getting everyone to register their guns has resulted in a reduction in murders with guns. I was not successful in finding those kinds of figures. If anything, the rates have stayed about the same. In cities like Toronto, the murder rate has gone up.

I'm not a rocket scientist, but I think making people register their guns (for a fee) only inconveniences hunters and gun collectors - not criminals. If we actually looked at the percentage of gun related crimes committed with registered guns, I bet the number would be quite low.

I suggest the money (approaching $2 billion) be used to hire more police officers.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Best action figure ever!

How can these Napoleon Dynamite action figures not be sold out? How I ask you? Available in November.

Stop! Or I'll mash you.....

If you liked the Darth Tater Mr Potatohead I mentioned back in January (come on, you know you did), then you'll love the sequel - the Spud Trooper Mr Potatohead. Yes, that's a masher in his hand.....

Experts indeed....

The 'experts' at MTV and Rolling Stone magazine released their 100 greatest pop songs since 1963 list. Experts - pthrrrbbbtt! They obviously did not take sales figures into account, because the Number one selling single of all time is Elton John's tribute-to-Princess-Diana version of Candle in the Wind, which did not even make the list. The Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive was #94. Having worked for Polygram Records when Saturday Night Fever was being sold, I can tell you - that puppy was popular - but it only made #94 on their list.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Shut off the valve!"

The trade war over Canadian softwood lumber continues with the US.

I have a solution - it's brazen, but it could work. "You want our oil? The softwood comes with it...." Oh yeah - and the cattle too.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

He moves like a whisper...

I caught a glimpse of this on Rocketboom, but I had to see more. It's The Urban Ninja (it's at the top of the page). I was laughing so hard, I started to hyper-ventilate. It's really not that funny - I don't know, I loves me some good physical comedy.

Your wife called.....

Another funny commercial - this time for Motorola cell phones.

"Hello Moto...."

Tiny cars......LOL!

They're so CUTE!!!

Beware the popups if you follow the link at the bottom of their page.

Martin Schoeller photography

This guy's portraits are just eerie. I love them. they are tight closeups that show so much detail. The shot at right is very shrunk down just to fit in this post. Check it out.

You've got to believe......

I guess the evolution vs. creationism debate is really heating up in the USA. One unexpected side effect has been the suggestion, and now full-blown expression of a new mock religion - pastafarianism. The god of pastafarianism is the Flying Spaghetti Monster (seen to the left). Now they're even working out some potential holidays for this religion including: Pastaover; Pastille day; Cinco de Macaroni........


Yeah, it's an oldy - but it's a goody

Not your average crochet work....

We're talking bunnies impaled by carrots, sharks and big cats with limbs in their mouths and more.....

Purple dot eater

This is one of the coolest optical illusions I've seen yet. If you stare at the little black cross in the center of this ring of purple dots, the dots will turn green and eventually disappear. But if you look at the purple dots themselves, you'll see that they only blink off momentarily and are never green.

Weeeee! Want more? OK then.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Talk to yer mama with that mouth?

I was reading a favourite blog today and the blogger was asking the commenters to please refrain from cursing in their comments. Well, as you can imagine - that started a giant shit-storm. Next thing you know, people are popping off clever curse alternatives like: Dine on scat cookies and expire.

I nearly sprayed my monitor with tea................

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Get out the skis.....

Ahhh...............summer in Calgary. This year has been a wild one. Record rain in June. And now we have the cold snap of August. The temperature dropped slowly overnight and has settled to a balmy 5C at 3pm today. The picture is a web cam shot of Sunshine Village today, a ski resort a mere hour and a bit from here. Yes - that's snow.......

Monday, August 22, 2005

Great Internet hoaxes

Most people have figured out that you can't believe everything you read on the net. But there are still some classic scams or hoaxes that are fooling folks to this day. The cure? I present ScamBuster's Top 10 list of History's Greatest Internet Hoaxes.

Because I'm really getting tired of e-mails about the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe........

Wherefore art thou Peter?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My blog as a magazine....

Gee, if I had my own magazine - what would I put in it? There would be stuff about music, to be sure. And cars - especially ground-breaking ones like hybrids and Smart cars. Travel. Gadgets - anything high tech. I guess kinda like a cross between GQ and Wired, but with a lot fewer fashion ads (heh). Yeah, there would be no fashion bits - sorry. It would be published on electronic paper, which would make the initial copy expensive, but make subsequent issues much, much cheaper (and downloadable off the Internet).

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I loves the Internets.....

Every once in a while I'll go looking for some new web sites or blogs to investigate. Blogrolling's Hot 500 is often a good place to start. The list is based on how many other sites link to the page. This is how I came across Overheard in New York. People get to submit things they actually heard other people say in the Big Apple. Seriously wacky stuff. Highlight:

Girl, 7: I wish I could go in and play with them. I want to play with the turtles.
Zookeeper woman: They're not turtles. They're tortoises.
Girl, 7: Whatever. I want to step on them.

--Central Park Zoo

Quote from Victoria Beckham

"I haven't read a book in my life," she said. "I haven't got enough time. I prefer to listen to music, although I do love fashion magazines."

That's right Posh, thumbing through a fashion magazine is kinda like reading a book........

Two minds not better than one...

The way we look at getting older is all wrong. For example - as you age, you seemingly lose control over your bodily functions. Just a week or so ago, I recall sitting down to a nice hot cup of tea only to reach for it and inexplicably knock it over - spilling the whole thing on my desk and myself. Easy to explain you say? I'm just losing control of my motor functions? Or perhaps experiencing a muscle spasm? That's what the medical community would have you think. But I have a different theory.

As we age, we develop a second personality that shares the same brain. It's a personality so subtly different that we don't even recognize it as being separate. But this mental boarder sure knows how to mess things up for us. The tea episode? That was just my split personality having a little fun. That time I spun around and caught my funny bone on the doorjamb? You know who. Difficulty remembering stuff? Mr/Mrs alter ego wasn't around to remember that event - ergo as long as he/she is in control, practically anything goes. Mid-life crisis? That's just your 'other self' expressing itself. You can't be blamed for that - at least not 'all' of you. Hard of hearing? You'd be too if your cerebral tenant kept yelling "la-la-la-la" all the time.

Before you dismiss the idea, just remember that your split personality wouldn't want you to agree with would it? (Geez! Go ahead and tell the whole world why dontcha!)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Az-eez! I want to dicker! Az-eez!!

Did you know that some of the best deals at Ikea are in this little outlet near the front of the store. It's run by a guy named As-is (pronounced az-eez). I can never find the guy though..........

Sorry, it was funny at the time.......wanna do something fun next time you're there? Ask a staff member if they know where Az-eez is, then point to the sign.......

Robots as art

This is the coolest illustration I've seen in a long time. It's by Eric Joyner.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

(update) We got nowhere....

A few days ago, I posed a question to the CRIA about using music clips in a podcast I may produce soon.

Well, I got an answer. Highlights:

When you create a podcast, you are broadcasting a reproduction of a sound recording. A podcast is, in effect, a broadcast of a sound recording, which is not a personal use. The Copyright Act permits you to make a private copy of a sound recording you have purchased for your personal use; e.g. a copy on your iPod for you to listen to. When you podcast that sound recording, you are making that copy a public copy, which is not a right automatically granted to you by the purchase of a CD. Only the copyright holder has the authority to permit its sound recordings to be reproduced for the purpose of performance to the public. In order to license your podcasts, you would need permission from the copyright holders.

An excerpt of my response:

I think you may have missed the point of the question. I think I am aware of what restrictions exist on the use of music for broadcast. I have noticed that licensing for broadcast seems to only be necessary when the broadcast is being performed in the course of a business, such as radio, digital music channel on cable TV, DJ service, etc. My scenario does not involve the broadcast of entire pieces of music. It potentially involves posting a narrative. This would be mixed with short snippets of the music itself. I am also doing this for free, as a hobby. There is no way a reasonable person would consider this a usable copy of the music, especially considering it would be tainted with my voiceover.

This seems to fall under the definition of fair use (or fairplay as it's called in Canada), as it could be regarded as a review or critique of the artist. I have even come across podcasts produced by people writing for legitimate national news/entertainment organizations who seem to have gotten away with doing this very same thing.

If I invite some friends over to my home and audition new music for them, I don't need permission to do so. If I go to the beach or a park and bring a portable stereo to listen to my music - if others nearby can listen in, I am not doing anything illegal. If someone is interfacing their portable music player with their car radio using an FM transmitter, there is a chance occupants of another vehicle driving in the same direction could listen in, but this seems perfectly legal. The only difference between these examples and my potential podcasts are the size of the audience. In none of these cases could a music collector make a 'usable' copy worth keeping.

I got an answer within hours. The answer essentially: Consult a copyright lawyer. Translation - you made your point, now go away. My next step - contact the record companies themselves. Stay tuned......

More genius from the mind of Ricky Gervais

If you were a fan of the Brit comedy series The Office like me, you're probably hoping Ricky's next project shows up on Canadian soil soon. I'm talking about Extras. The premise this time is Ricky plays an extra for film and television who aspires to much bigger things. It will star Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller and Kate Winslet as themselves. The series debuted this July on BBC2. Hopefully we don't have to wait for it to end before getting a chance to see it over here.

"Woke up this mornin'......"

I thoroughly enjoyed this list of Basic Rules to be a Blues Musician. Highlight:

6. Teenagers can't sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

Thanks to Brainwaves.

Gosh darn terrorist drug pushers!

Maybe my brain is too simple to comprehend the logic behind President Bush's stance on 'The War on Drugs', but based on this:

President Bush said Friday that drug users aid terrorists who get their money from global trafficking in narcotics. "If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terrorism," he said. Mr. Bush offered (this) while signing a bill to expand a federal anti-drug program over the next five years.

Then logically, one could deduce that to rid the drug problem, just spend the money getting rid of the terrorists......


I know what this is. It's an 8080 computer, circa 1976. But that's not the scary part. The scary part is I learned computer theory on a trainer that looked a lot like this in 1984 in the Canadian military. That's scary......

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Canadian Idol now officially sucks

OK, I really tried to resist doing this, but after tonight's fiasco I feel it's my duty. Indulge me while I give you my take on this year's Canadian Idol.

First, I don't give much credence to votes deciding who should be crowned a Pop Idol. After all, it's these same masses that gave life and longevity to artists like the Spice Girls. But I watch the show anyway, because maybe - just maybe, there'll be some pleasant surprises. When they got to the top 10 this year, I was optimistic. Suzi Rawn and Josh Palmer were my official picks for the last 2 standing. Little did I know that Canadians everywhere were conspiring against my dream of pop legitimacy for this show. The top 6:

Rex Goudie - reminds me of a young, talentless Springsteen. He'll be on the show as long as there are girls out there that think he might actually write a song about them if he wins.

Melissa O'Neil - she's good, but nowhere as good as her eliminated Cowtown rival Amber Fleury, who only lost out because she doesn't look like someone from The O.C.

Aaron Walpole - should be an actor, plain and simple.

Casey Leblanc - is only still in the running because she's the poster child for Vote For The Worst.

Suzi Rawn - should win the contest, but instead has appeared in the bottom 3 twice(?) already. Shame on the voters.

Josh Palmer - lost out this evening. Based on the performance he bowed out with, the reaction of the remaining contenders and the judges - it's probably the best thing that could ever happen to him. Now he can go out there and make some music. Go get 'em Josh.......

H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water

A teacher compiled a list of comments from test papers, essays etc., submitted to science and health teachers by elementary, junior high, high school, and college students. Some are outright funny-rific! A sample:

Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water.

The moon is a planet, just like the earth, only it is even deader.

The tides are a fight between the Earth and moon. All water tends towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.

Rhubarb: A kind of celery gone bloodshot.

These ones in particular almost made me pee right on the spot, I was laughing so hard.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Prices so low.........we'll beat them anyway!

Well, it seems like most if not all the car makers in North America are offering 'employee pricing' to their potential customers. Wow. They must be willing to really cut back on their profits, huh? I mean, that must be some huge discount if they're making such a big deal about it.

Then you hear one of the 'fine print' statements: Dealers may sell for less. How's that again? You mean there's a price even lower than 'employee pricing'? Gee. I'm sure glad I'm not an employee - I don't even get the best deal on a car made by my own company.........

Sunday, August 14, 2005

It's not over 'til I say it's over.......

Wishing Star Wars never ended? Well, it hasn't - thanks to fan films like Star Wars Revelations. It's B-movie acting quality, but the effects are unbelievable considering it's a fan film. I'm serious. It's a 250MB download, but if you like the franchise, you likely won't be disappointed.

Hangin' low

To the woman driving the Chrysler Dynasty today on 14th Street SW, with the rolls of duct tape on the back window sill and the back end of the car hanging very low as if there was someone in your trunk.......

If it's not just a coincidence, I didn't see anything......

If it's just a need new shocks ma'am.

It's shameful really.......

I saw this female mannequin in a department store today. It was dressed in a bathing suit, which was cut high enough to reveal a nasty set of scratches on its thigh. In my twisted mind, the first thing that popped in was that we need to put a stop to women mannequin abuse.

Yes...........I need help.

An open letter to people who dent my car doors

What the hell is wrong with you? Jesus!

What this country needs is more cowbell

The hype factory is humming at full capacity and the web is all a-buzz over this: Christopher Walken 2008. That's right, Mr. Soft Shoe is taking a stab at becoming the next Prez of the US, if you believe this web site.

Meanwhile, other sites have begun the parodies, such as made up mock Q&As with Walken, using quotes from some of his films. My fave:

On defending his choice of running mate for Vice President

Hey, you’re talking to my guy all wrong here. It’s the wrong tone. You better watch it, or I’ll stab you in the face with a soldering iron. Hey, does your mother sew? BOOM. Get her to sew that.

Thanks to The Daily Pick

I'd like to write more Celebrity Jeopardy, Alex

Trebek: Sean Connery, the board is yours.

Connery: Rockan Thems for $1,000,000

Trebek: That's "Rock Anthems" for $100.
They sing "You shook me all night long" (sighs).

(Connery Buzzes)

Trebek: Yes, Mr. Connery...

Connery: That's what I heard your mother sing last night Trebek (chuckles).

Trebek: No that's incorrect. And please phrase the answer in the form of a question......

Connery: What's the matter Trebek? Does this not please you?

Trebek: (frown) The correct answer is: Who are AC/DC?

Connery: Your mother is AC/DC? I never would have guessed that.....

SNL - feel free to use that one if you want

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Loverboy spoof

My brother-in-law Luc introduced me to this gem. This guy does an awesome home-made video of Loverboy's Working for the Weekend - and he plays all the parts. I especially love the wig on the keyboard player.


Today was one of those perfect summer days in Calgary. 24 degrees C. Almost no humidity. There's just this palpable feeling in the air. You can sense summer is almost over. The sun is going down earlier in the evening now. I saw this huge dog literally hanging out a passenger car window (like both front legs and practically half its body). It was just a beautiful day.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Here we go.....

I knew it would probably start sooner or later. I'm getting comment spam. Hopefully Blogger does something soon to ensure the people leaving comments are actual people, like using a Turing test. Meanwhile, please excuse any spam comments that may appear on this blog until I find them and eradicate them.

For those who actually participate in this sort of business, I'm holding up a prominent finger in your general direction.

Time for answers

Well, I've had enough. Today, I've sent a letter to the Canadian Recording Industry Association to ask a simple question.

I'd like to ask a question regarding podcasts.

I would very much like to create a podcast showcasing music that rarely if ever gets played on radio for the benefit of the readers of my personal blog. You see, I often mention the names of artists that my readers might like to check out. The problem is, there's really no way for them to "audition" the artists in question. These artists are typically not on commercial radio. Music stores typically do not stock their music on their shelves. They are typically not seen on Much Music.

Here's my problem. I've been told by various sources that it is illegal for me to create podcasts containing even portions of copyrighted works. This seems counterproductive to me. I'm offering my potential listeners a chance to hear short samples of music I'd like to promote for free, with my voice over the music, explaining how I stumbled across the artists, etc. These voiceovers would essentially make the music unusable for the purposes of trading, copying or collecting. I would in no way be making any money from this endeavor. The point is simple - help promote artists that get no mass commercial promotional outlet. This would seem to me to fall under the category of "fair use". But yet almost every legal expert I can find on the issue suggests it's a very tricky situation and I would be foolish to even try.

Well, that just seems ridiculous to me, so I ask you: would publishing a podcast like the one I describe be illegal? If so, can you please explain why, in plain English.
Let's wait and see what their answer is. If it's favourable, you can look forward to podcast versions of my music recommendations in the near future.

Betting bad - eavestrough repair good

I saw an ad on the side of a bus today. It was advertising betting on horse racing and it included the catchy slogan: "your eavestroughs can wait".

I don't know about you, but considering the increasing problem our society has with gambling addiction, I find that ad in very poor taste. I support a person's right to gamble - hell, I participate in my office lotto pool. But it's a choice I make that I can personally afford, without sacrificing essential domestic expenses.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

7 band names that would be impossible to book:

No Event Scheduled

Open Date

Canceled Due to Fire


All Ages w/ No Cover


Private Party

Thanks to McSweeney's

Speaking of gasoline.....

For the first time the price of regular gasoline in Calgary reached 99.9cents/litre. That converts to US$3.10/gallon. Consumers seem to be willing to keep paying these prices though, as demand for gasoline in Canada has not let up. I wonder how high gas prices have to go before consumers begin to change their lifestyles. Needless to say, I heard a lot of "I'm so glad I filled up this morning".

Windows is bad code? Who knew.....

Andy Martin of The Committee to Fight Microsoft on Tuesday announced his intentions to block Microsoft from releasing Windows Vista. Martin intends to ask Microsoft for an unconditional warranty that the operating system is free of bugs that could result in security vulnerabilities.

"Bill Gates sells the public defective products, and then expects us to spend years being his guinea pigs, while he corrects the myriad of defects and vulnerabilities in his defective code. This is mass consumer fraud." Martin argued.

"It is unacceptable corporate behavior. Over four years after Windows XP was released I still receive regular 'updates' and 'bug fixes,' which reflect a product that was originally scandalously defective."

Better watch out Andy. Microsoft could be releasing a special "update" just for you....

I must be colour blind

I don't know what they're calling it in your part of the world, but in Canada (or Alberta anyway), the 3 grades of Shell gasoline are Bronze, Silver and Gold. Interestingly enough, the labels on the 3 pumps in no way mirror those colours. Case in point, the Bronze pump has red lettering on a yellow background. The Silver pump has white lettering on a blue background. The Gold pump has yellow lettering on a red background. There's no bronze. No silver. No Gold. I think in other places they just refer to the grades as Regular, Plus and Premium. Maybe it's time for Shell to do that if we're not going to put the colour of the grade on the label. Just my thoughts.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Get on this bandwagon....

Every Calgary business that offers free wifi should get on this web site as soon as possible. Although some pundits would argue that free wifi attracts loiterers to their establishments, I would argue that if offered with reasonable rules, free wifi could be a boon to most businesses. It's also cheaper than setting up and operating the billing infrastructure to run a pay service.

When security trumps functionality

As part of a work project, a colleague in another city tried to send me some files zipped up in a zip file. It didn't work. Both his e-mail server and mine stripped the attachment out of the message. We tried a few variations which failed. What combination worked? He sent the zip file out with a zop extension and emailed it from a private dialup account on his iBook.

The result - draconian corporate e-mail rules cost us a combined 4 hours lost time, but we did eventually transfer the critical data. That and I got to hear an onslaught of "This could never happen with a Mac" comments from my colleague.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It's beautiful in this neighbourhood....

We all know Canadian television doesn't always measure up to what the US has to offer. There are always exceptions to that - Kids in the Hall, The Nature of Things, This Hour has 22 Minutes are phenomenal programs. Well, another one has come along that has the potential to enter the stratosphere of Canadian programming - Robson Arms. It's on Friday nights on CTV. If you haven't seen it, give it a try.

Brush with Smartness

So after having eyed the Smart Car down the street for a few months, the owner finally stopped by in their car and said hello. So I finally got to see the car up close.

I got in the driver seat and was instantly surprised at just how much room I had. I'll admit it wasn't as wide as my car (I could touch the passenger window with a bit of a lean), but it was still comfortable. No room for a console between the seats - the beverage holder is more forward by the dash. The interior is quite modern. It has a Grundig radio/Cd player (German). The 140km/h speedometer was a little odd, considering the 220km/h+ dials most cars have these days. What was most striking was the view. Even though the front of the car is just inches further than the windshield, the angle of view was still similar to that of a typical compact car. It was the rear view that blew me away. The rear window was so close to my head that I could see the ground just a couple of feet behind the car. No guessing how much room you've got back there - it's pretty easy to see. The whole roof is a skylight, save for a sliding panel that you can position back and forth to block out the sun.

Aside from on the passenger seat, there's only one more place to store cargo and that's behind the hatch. It's only enough room to store maybe 5 bags of groceries, because the 800cc diesel engine is below that. I had a hard time believing there was an engine under there. Speaking of engine, I expected this car to be a real snoozer, but what it lacks in power, it makes up for in torque. Translation - it gets up and goes, it just doesn't top out at very high speed, nor pass at a quick pace. But check this out - it will cost you $18.52 to fill it up at today's diesel prices. How far will that get you? If their mileage figures can be trusted - 628km! I think the truth is a little closer to 500km.

Then we went for a drive. My chauffeur took us out onto the Trans Canada Highway. We didn't set any speed records, but we kept up with traffic. He shifted through the 6 gears using the foolproof sport-shift. This is accomplished either with the stick or paddles on either side of the steering wheel. No clutch and no lifting off the gas pedal! Then he did a neat trick I'm guessing no other car can do - at the next intersection he pulled a U-Turn from our left turn lane to the left lane of the other side of the road, seperated by only a few feet. That was freakin' awesome! It turned a few heads let me tell you.

I would buy this car in a second for tooling around the Calgary area, but alas, the $20,000+ price tag is a bit much for a car with such limited flexibility. It's also a shame that some Smart car buyers are waiting many months for their orders due to limited production and import restrictions. In my ideal universe, our governments would subsidize this and other like vehicles heavily.

Clearance - 6 feet (give or take....)

I humbly present this little tip to save you agony over consequences that will otherwise result if you find yourself in similar circumstances:

My friends, if you approach an underground parking garage in a rental vehicle, particularly a rather large vehicle - like a late model pickup truck (which you've never driven into an underground parking garage before), you need to do some serious evaluation of your situation before proceeding. I say this because even if there is a "height clearance bar" indicating how tall your vehicle can be to safely enter the parking structure, and even if your vehicle actually clears said clearance bar with a couple inches to spare, this is not - I repeat not, an actual true measure of whether your vehicle will actually clear all remaining overhead obstacles in that garage. Like overhead plumbing, for example.

While we're on the subject, if you find yourself in such a scenario as described above, do not for a moment assume that the owner of the parking structure will admit liability for damages to your vehicle, incurred while the roof of your vehicle comes into intimate contact with the roof (and any maladjusted protruberances) of such a parking garage.

No, I am not describing myself in the preceding tale - but I was an innocent bystander - OK, passenger, in such an event.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The alphabet - could it need a makeover?

I just love this critique of the alphabet's letter designs. Here's an excerpt:

Too obviously a pair! This is just lazy design, imho. A curve, and a smaller curve. What’s with that? Put some effort into it!

What you see is what you see...

Well, if you enjoyed some of the illusions I presented to you a few days back, you'll find many more here.

Imagine if the Oscars worked like that.....

It seems Sony snuck in a few positive reviews of their films by creating a fictional critic, named David Manning. There's even a class action lawsuit to re-imburse some moviegoers of the films "Hollow Man"; "Vertical Limit"; "A Knight's Tale" and "The Animal". Imagine - a movie company using unfair influence to promote their movies. That's just unheard of.

(OK - is the sarcasm too obvious?)

Read my t-shirt!

Someone I know very well used to work part-time as a System Administrator for a particular company. Over the course of time, this individual demanded more and more money to continue doing the increasingly more annoying job of Sys Admin for said company. Then the company got a new manager who conspired to begin the process of letting this Sys Admin go, due to the rather large sum they were paying for the Admin's duties. I say "conspired" because they never actually got a chance to dismiss the Sys Admin, as he/she had been reading the developing plans in the e-mails on the e-mail server.

Word to the wise people: If you're planning on getting rid of the Sys Admin, keep in mind they can and likely do read your e-mail. It's not just a joke. It's a fact of life.

What the heck's a solar panel?

There are a lot of memorable commercials on television these days. Some of them are memorable for the wrong reasons. I'm talking about the latest round of Canadian Tire commercials. That guy who stars in most of their ads is annoying enough. But now I get the impression the creators are trying to taunt us - tease us about how dumb we are. Case in point, the following script from a current ad:

Annoying Guy: "This charger has a solar panel...."

Dumb Guy: "Solar panel? You mean like in my calculator?"

Do the producers of this ad really imagine we've never heard of a solar panel before and might be caught off guard by the mention of one in a TV commercial?

Will that be a pop, soda, or coke?

Having spent most of the summers of my formative years in New Jersey, I already knew that certain American cultures called it "soda" while most Canadians call it "pop". What I did not know is that some parts of the States call it "coke", whether it's cola or not. The map above gives an idea what parts of North America primarily call it what (green=pop; blue=soda; red=coke). I have a problem with the study of course, because I think a lot of people ask for a coke when in fact that's what they really want specifically - a Coke (or at the very least - a cola).