Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Oh Christmas tree........oh Christmas tree....

Here's the story of the origin of the Christmas tree. Click the 'Main' link and find lots of background history on Christmas in general. Very nice.

Think twice before you scam someone

See - this is what I love about the Internet. Guy orders camera online.... guy gets hard time from seller.... guy posts story on net.... story spreads like wildfire.

That'll learn ya...........

"You wouldn't like me when I'm angry......"

It occurs to me that our automobile culture has turned drivers into people with split personalities. Think about it for a moment. I find myself gesturing and saying things while driving my car that I would never do or say in another situation. Nor am I alone in this behaviour. Worse - I've seen or heard tales of drivers who allow a situation to escalate into borderline fisticuffs, when a calmer head would have resulted in the moment passing and being forgotten within minutes.

What is it about the automobile that inflates our egos? Do we feel invincible?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005!

I just discovered another genius mashmaster. In case you're scratching your head - mashups are the new black. Crafty DJs mix the vocals from one song..........bah, just read my article. Anyway, I think my old fave Go Home Productions has some serious competition now. The name is fuTuRo and I've only heard 3 tunes and am flabbergasted. Scroll right down and try out 'Rock Your Bird', a clever mashup using the music from George McCrae's Rock Your Baby and Annie Lennox singing Little Bird. Outstanding! I still have a lot more to sample - so, gotta go..............

Dollar for dollar - movies beat music

People often ask me - "Karl, why do you download music off the Net, but you still buy movies on DVD?" For me, it's all about value. I've spent a small fortune on my music collection (once on albums and again on CD), so I feel like I've made my contribution to supporting the industry. But I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth anymore. So now I download stuff to check it out. If I really, really like it - I still buy it.

But here's the thing - a $25 music CD only really gives me 40 to 60 minutes of aural enjoyment - assuming every song is great, which is rarely the case. For the same price, I can buy a 90-120 minute movie, with awesome visuals, great music, and all the extras that'll fit. That's a much better value-for-the-dollar. So I have no problem with spending that. It's the CD that usually leaves me feeling ripped off.

History repeats itself

So - Federal election time is upon us again. The Liberals want you to give them the chance to govern with a majority, claiming the Adscam thing was a product of their predecessors. The Conservatives want you to forget that they're the spawn of the Reform party and want you to believe that they're not going to fall under the spell of corruption and partisanship if you elect them. The Bloc are basically just your peanut gallery of Federal politics. They know they'll never get into power, but they'll do their best to heckle whoever is in power. The NDP are just shaking their heads, wondering why they can't get elected when their competition is this lame.

Mark my words - the only way the Conservatives are forming a majority government in Canada is when Bernard Lord wins the Conservative leadership race. The only question is whether Stephen Harper will actually step down instead of just talking about it if they lose yet again.

There - that oughta get some blood roiling...........

Monday, November 28, 2005

VCR be gone! Out!!

I wrote a post on my first few weeks' experience with my new PVR on Jurgle. As Jar-jar would say, "Meesah lika dees!"

RIAA? This is how it's done

Jane Siberry, always one to push the boundaries of music, has outdone herself. This time, she has set the example for artists (in my opinion) by making her (DRM-free) music available at this online music store. What's really cool though, is you can choose your own price! I'm not kidding. Choose your price. You wanna pay later? No problem. Try it first. You wanna pay now? OK. You wanna pay nothing? Consider it a present from Jane. For real. As Jane put it to Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), "I want to treat people the way I'd like to be treated. I don't like being treated like a child, so I won't be doing that to other people."

You go Jane.

Come back when you've got some real snow.....

Well, winter finally caught up to us here in Alberta. By Friday of last week, the forecasters were predicting 10cm of snow or more by the end of the weekend. Please.... At the risk of offending the 'snow gods', "You call that snow? I've seen more powder on Darlene's home-made donuts!" [flashing a look of disgust at the skies]

Message to the computer users of the world:

Get / keep a copy of your operating system and the programs you have installed - will ya?

I'm losing count of the number of times a client wants me to fix Windows or Office or whatever but they don't actually have the disc. "Oh, a friend installed that for me, I don't actually own the software." Oh - and make sure you lose that license key thingy too. No need to hang onto that.....

But I'm not bitter.........

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Speaking of shopping....

Well........American Thanksgiving signals the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Based on what I witnessed this weekend in our local malls - the madness has begun.

Kids screaming, waiting to see Santa, their parents looking like poster people for Celexa. Outside, drivers are frantically jockeying for the next just-emptied parking space, racing to get there regardless of how many cars get side-swiped or pedestrians get run over. No matter what checkout line you get into, you're sure to be stuck behind some penny-pinching frugalist who insists those things are 40% off, not 25% like the point-of-sale terminal is displaying. Meanwhile, the smell of freshly burnt popcorn fills the air in a valiant effort to overpower the perfume wind escaping the nearest department store.

Ahhhh, Christmas is coming..........

For the person who wants the best...

Every time Darlene and I go to the US, we usually check out the stores that don't exist in Canada. Like Williams-Sonoma. Except, much to my surprise, they opened a store in Calgary this fall.

Then I saw the prices. See the pictured grill? Would you believe $179? Yeah maybe. That's what it retails for in the US. Up here where the exchange rate would price it at $230 - they are asking $279. For a grill. A nice grill - but come on!

Jar of chocolate frosting - $25. That better be some kinda frosting......

Hand lotion and soap set - $40.

Frozen cake done up like a boxed present - $90US. That's a 5" square cake folks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Would you like to play a game?

I've always been fascinated by Artificial Intelligence (AI). I thought for sure we'd have come a long way by now, but it just goes to show you the job of creating AI was harder than we thought.

This site, part of M.I.T., aims to use the intelligence in us to teach this online computer a few things. Login required however.

Desktop good........laptop smaller......

I wrote a short piece on laptops versus desktop computers over at Jurgle. You know - if you're bored.....

Hack your body

This article on '18 tricks to teach your body' is truly amazing.

Example: Pinching your nose and leaning back is a great way to stop a nosebleed -- if you don't mind choking on your own O positive. A more civil approach: Put some cotton on your upper gums -- just behind that small dent below your nose -- and press against it, hard. "Most bleeds come from the front of the septum, the cartilage wall that divides the nose," says Peter Desmarais, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Entabeni Hospital, in Durban, South Africa. "Pressing here helps stop them."

So this is what it's come to.......

Check out this bizarre story of a woman arrested by Feds for refusing to show her ID on a public bus.

More and more people are daring to speak aloud the notion that most of the security measures instituted in the US since 9/11 have been nothing more than window dressing - their only result being less rights for its citizens.......

Gee, who the hell could be knocking at my door at this time in the morning...........

Friday, November 25, 2005

That's what friends are for.....

Before you read this post, scroll down and read the next one first. No - really.

So when Darlene and I got married, we had a nice private reception at the bar of the hotel we were staying at. About halfway through the night, my best man David Devlin gets the mic from the DJ and asks the crowd to listen up. Then he proceeds to tell them about a little surprise he has saved up for many years waiting for this moment. Then a song starts to play on the sound system. It's Every Breath You Take by The Police. Only it's sung by me. It's the missing tape - from Sing Your Heart Out.

David - if you're out there - I want that bloody tape!

Karl - the long lost tape..........

Once an old best friend (David Devlin) and I went to this karaoke booth place in the Eaton's Centre in Toronto and recorded a few tunes. I sang Every Breath You Take, With or Without You, a couple others I can't remember and my favourite song of the day - Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I thought I did a pretty good job on that one, so I was glad to have it on tape. But when we got back to David's place, we couldn't find the tape with the song I nailed. We had another tape with the crappier songs on it - but I was really pissed that the Queen tune was lost. I coulda been a contendah...........

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lord of the Dark..........................things....

If you know anything at all about the goth culture, check out Weebl and Bob's Gothic episode.

They're so pretty!

If you're a computer hardware nerd like me, you've probably known about this site for years. For those that haven't, let me introduce you to Tom. Tom has a glorious site about hardware (could that be the first instance of the words 'glorious' and 'hardware' in the same sentence?). Anywayz, Tom's Hardware has a nice guide to connectors for newbies. Enjoy.

I bet you lose yourself on the site for a little while.....................

Recycled posts

Very few people (I've noticed) who stumble upon this blog bother to check out the archives. I only know this because most times when I ask "did you see my post on such-and-such?" the answer is invariably "no", especially if the reader is a relative newcomer. So for the benefit of those who don't actually know me, or do but never bothered to delve into the archives - 100 things about me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Yay! More time-wasters!

Google Video of the Day. It's like channel-surfing TV, but without commercials, without regular programming - it's just random videos!


I thought this was kinda neat, in a nouveau-art kinda way. This site makes a piece of art out of key words you type in. I type "white noise" and this is what I got - at one point anyway..........

Martha Stewart - eat your heart out....

I love the Bombay Company. Not just the merchandise they sell - I love some of the store window displays too. I like them so much, two of them adorn walls in our house. Many people don't realize that store displays often become available (for a song) once new displays come in. The map on the right is printed on crate paper and really adds a nice touch to one of our basement walls. The big print on the left may look familiar (it only came down from the store window a month ago). We needed something colourful to put on the tall wall leading downstairs to our basement and this print did the trick. Total cost of both - $60.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I love to fly....

With all the web surfing, research, chatting, etc. I do these days - I don't get a lot of game time in anymore. But I still have my favourites: NHL 2004 and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004.

The problem with the latter is that it doesn't come with much in the way of exciting aircraft. After a while, flying an airliner gets a bit boring. So I went to my fave add-on sites looking for a nice fighter jet. I found me an F-18. But this add-on was huge! I was thinking a lot of work must have went into creating it. I wasn't mistaken. Holy cow! The textures are nearly perfect. But most impressive are the sound effects. I'm telling you now - not all add-ons are created equal.

Showtimes at 8:00, 8:15, 8:30...........

Whoever is responsible for this Christmas light display needs a life. I mean that in a nice way. I don't know many people who would put this much effort into their display. Makes you wonder though - how do the neighbours feel. See the whole demo here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Geek Boy!

The episode of Medium tonight is supposed to be in 3D. You were supposed to be able to obtain 3D glasses in the weekend paper - which I forgot to do. Fear not - I will make my own! While I was trying on the (lensless) frames I had constructed for size, I noticed Darlene laughing hysterically. I looked in the mirror - I could be a superhero! Such as the aforementioned title character.......

You know you're an English Montrealer when...

Having been born and raised in Montreal, I can identify with a lot of this:

You know you're an English Montrealer when (list shortened for brevity):

Your only concern about jaywalking is getting a ticket.
You agree that Montreal drivers are crazy, but you're secretly proud of their nerves of steel.
You have to bring smoked meat from Schwartz's and bagels from St-Viateur if you're visiting anyone west of Cornwall.
You refer to Mont Tremblant as "up North."
You know how to pronounce Pie IX (it's 'pee neuf').
You believe to the depth of your very being that Toronto has no soul - but your high school reunion is held in Toronto because most of your classmates live there now.
You greet everyone, from lifelong bosom friends to some one you met once a few years ago, with a two-cheek kiss.
You can watch soft-core porn on broadcast TV, and this has been true for at least 25 years.
You cringe when Bob Cole pronounces French hockey player names.
You order fries 'with sauce', not 'with gravy'.
You really believe Just For Laughs is an international festival.
For two weeks a year, you are a jazz afficianado.
You measure temperature and distance in metric, but weight and height in Imperial measure.
You show up at a party at 11 p.m. and no one else is there yet.
April Wine once played your high school.
You know that Montreal is responsible for making the following cool in North America: bagels, poutine, smoked meat and Supertramp.
You have graduated from high school and have a degree, but you've never been in grade 12.
The margarine in your fridge is the same colour as lard.
You never thought that Corey Hart was cool, but you know someone whose cousin or something dated him.
There has to be at least 30 cm of snow on the ground in less than 24 hours for you to consider it too snowy to drive.
You discuss potholes like most people discuss weather.
You encounter bilingual homeless people.
You have yet to understand a single announcement made on the Metro PA system, no matter what the language.
You don't find it weird that there's a strip club on every corner downtown.
You like your pizza all-dressed

Winter must be scared.....

Seen here is a snapshot (from yesterday) of what parts of Canada are covered in snow. As you can see, Southern Alberta has clearly escaped the fluffy white stuff so far, with daytime temperatures averaging 15C for the last week, with no end in sight.

Now that's what I call Indian Summer, folks.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Do ya like music?

If you're bored, take a look at my Musicblog posts on Esthero; Jean Michel Jarre; Beck; Low and The Dandy Warhols. They're easy to find - they have my name on them......

Saturday, November 19, 2005


This would be a funny ad on a tractor-trailer...

Here are the other contestants.

Brilliant idea....

Cool ads continued. This billboard lights up as people pass beside it, using motion sensors to detect the person. Gives an effective illusion, no? In case you're wondering, it's an ad for the Economist and it won an award.

Who knew?

Holy cow - I learn something new every day. I almost feel dumb for not knowing about this. On all THX-certified DVD titles (most Pixar and Lucasfilm titles fall into this category), there is a calibration tool for your TV hidden in the 'setup' section of the DVD. This tool allows you to adjust things like the contrast / picture; brightness; colour; tint / hue and sharpness controls on your TV using test video signals. It's not a fool-proof system, but it lets you tweak your TV to get it closer to displaying the type of picture the director wanted you to see (and it does a decent job of just plain balancing the settings on your TV for a good looking picture).

It's baaaaack!

Remember the Bud 'Whazzzup!" commercial spots a ways back? If you're one of the few people who haven't yet seen the 'talking parrot' version - hehehehehehe.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Silent, but friendly

Time lists what it considers to be the best inventions of 2005. Not surprisingly, the genre of transportation is dominant. I'm liking this neat fuel cell powered motorcycle, apparently due out in 2007. This thing will go 160 kilometres on a 5 oz. fill of hydrogen and can hit 80km/h.

Everything old is new again

Guess who's back next summer? Ah yeah........ I guess this is what happens when we gets a taste of what a comic character-to-movie is like when it's done right (such as Batman Begins).

Do the hustle!

Look what I did...... The robot move had me laughing pretty hard. Pillsbury Doughboy - you rock!

You can do it yourself, here.

Why would you do that........... really?

Have you heard the story yet about the rugby fan that castrated himself? I guess the good news is this guy won't be contributing to the gene pool anymore.......

I don't know how I keep my cool.....

I'm watching the latest episode of Weeds on Showcase last night (recorded earlier). The last scene in the show is quite moving and there's a lovely song playing that was kinda nice. I'm saying to Darlene, "What a nice tune, I wonder who it is?" No sooner do the words leave my lips, I spy a one second flash of a screen indicating that more information about the music used in the show can be found at a particular web site. I rewind, watch it again, rewind (it's that fast) and finally pause the frame so I can note the web address.

Then I go online, type the address into my browser and am greeted by the following message: "We at Showtime Online express our apologies; however, these pages are intended for access only from within the United States." I'm not kidding. See for yourself.

[Anger......... growing......... temper........... flaring........... must.............. not............... kill.............]

Thursday, November 17, 2005

We know how to poke fun at ourselves - and take it

I was just watching the Rick Mercer Report from Tuesday night. Say what you will about our Prime Minister (no - this isn't an invitation to rant about the Liberals), but I think it's very cool that he appears on the show and goes with Rick to Canadian Tire to shop for plastic to seal his drafty windows at 24 Sussex Drive (the Prime Minister's residence for those of you not familiar with Canadian politics). Only in Canada would the leader of the country agree to participate in a program that already is quite known for poking a lot of fun at politicians. Seriously, would George Bush go on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart? Ummm............... I'm thinking not.

This has got bad karma written all over it

Help people decide if they should dump him or not at Should I Dump Him or Not. You can post your dilemma on the site. You can offer your opinions and experiences and vote. You have to register to participate. What a cool way to decide the fate of your next relationship!

Are you rude? Uh, I guess not.....

Check this cool ad.

Had a rough day?

Here's an 8 step stress management technique recommended in the latest psychological texts:

1. Picture yourself near a stream.
2. Birds are softly chirping in the cool mountain air.
3. No one but you knows your secret place.
4. You are in total seclusion from the hectic place called "the World."
5. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
6. The water is crystal clear.
7. You can easily make out the face of the person you're holding underwater.
8. See... you're smiling!

Cheers to Gord for the find.

I think my mind is going......

I find myself having conversations with Darlene now and not recalling the details 5 minutes later. Like a couple nights ago, we went to a restaurant. About a minute ot two after we gave our orders, I asked Darlene what she had chosen to order, as I had not really paid attention to her when it happened. She said, "You asked me what I was having not long after we opened our menus."

"And you answered me?" I asked.


"Wow. I didn't even remember asking the question."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Silencer of the Lamb

After all the hoopla about famous chef Jamie Oliver killing a live lamb on TV, I got to thinking. I wonder how the world would be different if we had to kill our own food. For that matter, I wonder how many vegetarians there would be if you had to cultivate what you ate too.

Things that make you go hmmm.....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Absolut laugh riot

I know - I know, it's not in the best of taste - but you have to admit, it is a bit funny, no?

"We gotta get out of this place....."

Pronunciation: 'ar-"pOrt, 'er-, -"port
Function: noun
: a place filled with people, none of whom actually want to be there.

Inspired by defective yeti.

Drawing to a clothes

Check out this amazing flash animation of someone drawing a skeleton. Just make sure you don't stop until it's finished.

Bad Sony! Bad dog!

Man, Sony just can't catch a break, huh? First their customers create a stir last year about not releasing a new Fiona Apple CD. Now it seems they've gone and caused a bunch of computers worldwide to become huge security risks. Poor Sony.

Bye bye butchers!

Most of my experiences with dentists have not been good. In fact, agonizing is a better description of these episodes. I remember one time, the dentist wanted to pull all four of my wisdom teeth out. But he never took a really close look at the X-ray and didn't notice the hook in one of the roots of the first tooth he tried to extract. After nearly ripping my face off, he was like, "Oh, it's hooked." That meant he had to drill enough holes in the tooth to perforate it, break it in half , then pull out the straight half before hooking the hooked half out. 2 hours later I was dismissed, but not before he asked me to make an appointment to get the other 3 out another time. I walked right out the door. Each year when I got a checkup, I refused to let these butchers complete the job. Which is funny, because as a Private in the military, you normally don't say 'no' to an officer (all Dentists are officers).

Now that I am out of the military, the situation is so much different. I have a dentist that puts me at ease right from the get go. He's freaking awesome. I'd recommend him to you, but I don't want to share him with anyone. Darlene feels the same way.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bah - you'll never even notice....

Due to some bizzare galactic glitch in the space-time continuum or maybe something bad that Einstein did in 1949 (read here if you really care about the details), the last minute of 2005 will have 61 seconds - a leap second if you will.

Great! Now I'll have to wait that much longer to get a New Year's ummmmm....... kiss from Darlene....

Tokyo - wow

Panorama photos can be spectacular and the ones Brad Templeton has made are inspiring. Click on the link for Japan, then scroll down about 7 pictures until you find one named 'tt.jpg'. Remember the city-planet Coruscant from Star Wars? In this picture, the idea of a planet-wide city doesn't seem far-fetched - all you can see is buildings as far as the eye can see.

Put this in your pipe and smoke it....

Speaking of entertainment, I'm finding an increasing number of 'interesting' TV shows cropping up on Showcase. In particular, I'm liking the show Weeds. Nancy Botwin (played by Mary-Louise Parker) is a mom forced to deal with being a single mom, after the recent death of her husband. She manages by becoming a suburban marijuana dealer, unbeknownst to her family and PTA friends. Kevin Nealon is awesome as her nitwitted accountant.

TV killed the video format

I'm a sucker for good entertainment. That's why I really love a good music video. It's a feast for both the eyes and ears. At least - it is when video producers use their imaginations, rather than just showing the band on a soundstage, staring blankly at the camera.

The problem I have is with finding good music videos. I used to watch MuchMusic - a lot. But it has gotten as bad as MTV with their movies and contests and other filler. Just get to the videos already. And stop making me sit through an hour of 50 Cent, followed by an hour of Nickelback, followed by an hour of Beyonce so I can watch 2 decent videos, followed by another hour of 50 Cent. So I've sorta given up on TV as my source for content.

Instead I go to sites like Clip Tip. But watch out for the popups.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I just read this in passing on some web page - I don't even know where it was or how I got there, but it was a suggestion to stop a table from wobbling such that it didn't require a shim. I dismissed it outright, thinking the solution was nonsense, due to its sheer simplicity. This morning I tried it. Well I'll be........ it worked. All you do is rotate the table somewhat - until it stops wobbling. And it will. With a square table you may only get away with rotating 90 degrees at a time. Otherwise it may look dumb.

It leans!

If you've ever been on a motorcycle, you know what leaning into turns is all about. Carver, a Dutch company, has invented a car that leans into turns as well, making it very stable. It seats 2 in tandem. It gets up to 50mpg with its 660cc engine. Top speed is 180km/h. The cost is high ($50,000CDN), but that's because it's hand made at the moment. The company is trying to mass produce the car, which would make it much more affordable.

Ralph Wiggum does iPod


Saturday, November 12, 2005

No more tapes!

I just finished posting my story about building versus buying a PVR on Jurgle.

"It's supposed to do that"

Working for a company where software is developed, I can relate to this. I re-tooled the list to include some of the ones I've heard (jokingly or not)

Top 10 replies by developers when their programs don't work:

10. That's weird... It's never done that before.
9. It's not a bug... it's a feature.
8. It worked yesterday.
7. That's fixed in the next version. You've got the wrong version.
6. It works in theory, but it hasn't been tested.
5. Somebody must have changed my code.
4. Did you check for a virus?
3. Where were you when the program blew up?
2. Why do you want to do it that way?
1. I thought I fixed that.

Taken from here