Friday, November 30, 2007


Are you bad at remembering people's names? Then here's a trick that socialites use. Simply ask them: "What's your name?" When they reply with their first name, laugh and say "Oh no, I knew that, of course. I meant your last name". This is a much more acceptable thing to forget - and you still get their full name.

More tricks of the trade here.

True story

Here's a story for you.

A friend of mine used to live in an apartment in downtown Calgary. His name is Jonathan (last name removed to protect his privacy). One day he decided to move and the landlord went and found a new renter. The landlord came to visit one day and announced that they had found a new renter with the same last name and the first name Jan. This was cool because it meant the landlord wouldn't have to change the name plate beside the buzzer for that apartment (which had the first initial - still a 'J' and the same last name).

Before moving out of the apartment, Jonathan called a local pizza joint to order a pizza. When he gave his address, the girl on the phone said, "Holy shit! That's the address I'm moving to in a few weeks". So Jonathan had purely by chance called the person who would be moving into his apartment with the same first initial and the same last name.

Spooky huh?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm furious

The Canadian government is creating what some deem could be worse than the US DMCA. Our CBC has given us an opportunity to fight back.

Aren't they cute.....

Vancouver is hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010 and they just recently unveiled the Olympic mascots.

Quatchi is a Sasquatch, Miga is a Sea Bear (a combination bear and killer whale), and Sumi is a Thunderbird. I find it funny that all 3 characters don't exist in real life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vista is good - never mind what I'm doing.......

I saw something while shopping today that really caught my eye. I was in Future Shop (for my American friends - think Best Buy - same thing) and was walking through the computer department. As I passed by the Apple computer section, I could see 3 Future Shop salespeople, back of their shirts emblazoned with Windows Vista propaganda, playing on the gorgeous iMacs. I walked up to them and said "A little ironic, don't you think?". They had no idea what I was talking about, so I clarified, "That you'd have Vista ads on your back while you're playing on iMacs." They thought it was funny too.....

A Starck mess

I'm obsessed - with watches. I'm sure I've mentioned that before. I know I have also mentioned my disdain with the Bay (an iconic Canadian department store), the sole, exclusive distributors for The Starck line of Fossil watches in Canada.

Today, I passed through the Bay in one of our malls and decided to go check out the Starck display. What I saw made my blood boil. They had watches - oh yes! At least 10 of them, which is a far cry better than what I had ever seen before. But while 3 watches were hanging on their little display hooks in the display box, the remaining watches (I'm guessing at least 8 of them) were literally piled on the bottom of the box - like so much cheap garbage. I called Darlene over to see what I had witnessed and she just burst into laughter. I wish I'd had a camera.

Hey Fossil! You've got to see how your exclusive Canadian retailer is putting your $200+ watches on display....... Yes, the same watches that are only around $100 in the US.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's a tradition

I'd love to blog some more tonight, but my favourite show in the world just came on......

Charlie Brown Christmas.

"Well, what else could I do?"

I've made at least 3 people smile in the last few days by playing a song for them from my mp3 player - Common People by William Shatner.

I really need my own radio station.....

Facebook has some social flaws

Here's a great article about the inherent flaws of Facebook. An excerpt about 'friends':

It's socially awkward to refuse to add someone to your friends list -- but removing someone from your friend-list is practically a declaration of war. The least-awkward way to get back to a friends list with nothing but friends on it is to reboot: create a new identity on a new system and send out some invites (of course, chances are at least one of those invites will go to someone who'll groan and wonder why we're dumb enough to think that we're pals).

The dinosaur speaks....

The music industry has revealed why they haven't embraced technology instead of fighting it. Are you sitting down? Basically, it's because they don't have any people who understand it. That's right - the motto of the music biz is "we don't get it, so screw you all".

Dying gasps I tell ya, dying gasps...........

Monday, November 26, 2007

Parking rigmarole

I couldn't see any Canadian going through this much trouble to park their car.

Who do you admire?

I don't know how this topic popped into my head, but I'm running with it.

I ask my readers - what actor of the opposite sex (from you) do you find attractive ummm.... admire the most?

For me, it's Scarlett Johansson.

It could be lupus.....

One of the funny things I like about the TV show House (an inside joke apparently), is the innumerable times the ailment Lupus is mentioned as a possibility. Here's a video clip featuring Lupus.

Best bumper sticker.... ever

Forgive my blasphemous post, but when I saw this, I shot coffee out my nose.......

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sucking chest wound? No - that's the HMOs sucking...

I realize that a film by Michael Moore is going to be biased to the extreme, but I still wanted to see his slant on the US health care system in his latest - Sicko.

He did a predictably splendid job of making the US system look really bad, especially the HMOs. But then he went on a voyage around the world looking at other health systems. He started with Canada's and it instantly looked better - no surprise there. Then he went to the UK. I had no idea how their system worked, so I was pleasantly surprised at how it seemed even better than ours. I was especially impressed with the fact that UK doctors get a bonus if they can demonstrate that their patients are getting healthier. What a concept.

But France's system really blew me away. They seem to go out of their way to try to raise their population's health and well being. 5+ weeks of paid vacation a year, helpers coming into the home to help with baby, doctors who make house calls 24 hours a day. The poor Americans living in France who were interviewed didn't know what hit them. They felt guilty accepting the French level of care.

But of course, the piece de resistance was when Mr. Moore took some sick folks to Cuba to get treatment. The idea was to go to Guantanamo Bay, to get the same level of treatment as the 'enemy combatants', but they ended up in Havana. Michael did the impossible in one fell swoop - he made the US's 'enemies' look like saints while making the American system look completely heartless and dysfunctional.

It was a remarkable film and I've gone out of my way to lend it out to friends so they could see it.

'Privacy hairball'

Do you use Facebook? Do you use the Beacon feature? Then your online shopping habits may be getting publicized for all your friends to see. Wouldn't that spoil some Christmas surprises? Facebook argues that you can opt out - what they neglect to mention is that this has to be done for every online shopping portal you use with Beacon enabled. Here's another article on the 'privacy hairball'.

Thanks again to Ernest for the find.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I am such a consumer...... [hangs head]

In a study of contrasts, today is known as Black Friday in the US. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US, considered the beginning of the traditional holiday shopping season. Many stores open early (like 5am early) and offer deals to draw buyers. Black Friday was named because of the heavy traffic on that day, others refer to it as the time of year where retailers start turning a profit. It is typical to see shoppers lining up hours before stores open. Once inside, shoppers get a little insane.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, today marks Buy Nothing Day. It's an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. This year, it falls on November 23rd in North America and November 24th internationally. This protest was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by a Canadian magazine, Adbusters. The way I understand it, you can buy necessities on this day, you're just advised against buying unnecessary consumer items.

So on the one hand, we have folks who are demonstrating consumerism in its rawest form and on the other hand you have folks demonstrating a day of consumer restraint.

Ever get the feeling you're being watched?

This pic made me smile today.

Have a great Friday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I know it seems that my post quantity has dropped off in the last week. That's because it has. In some cases it's because I've been busy. In most cases it's because I just haven't found much interesting on my usual round of web sites lately.

Could the web be getting boring? If this keeps up, I may have to get out more......

Neat stuff

Popular Science has come out with their Best of What's New 2007.

If you're into skyscrapers....

Here are some very interesting buildings that are or are going to be under construction around the world.

The clear standout here is the Burj Dubai.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is not your average everyday blizzard....

Here's a video clip of someone opening the door to their dorm at McMurdo Station in Antartica during a condition 1 situation. I can soooo identify with this having spent a winter in Alert, Nunavut in 1989/1990.

I especially smiled at the woman's insane laugh just before she opens the door, as if she was revelling in the fact that she is about to unleash hell having already experienced it before.

The first nerd

I decided to have some fun with an old computer related picture...


Another blog bumper sticker......

Karl Plesz.... pirate

I currently have many friends with substantial mp3 music collections. I have recently gotten into discussions with some of them about swapping our entire collections using our external hard drives. We're talking about 10,000+ songs being shared between 2 people in a matter of minutes.

Why do I mention this? Because I'm frantically flaunting this capability in front of the music industry's noses. On purpose. Rubbing their noses in it. Not because I'm an asshole, but because I want to make a point. You can sue your customers into oblivion, lobby the government until you're blue in the face, unless you adapt to new technology instead of fight it - you will lose.

CRIA: Here's something for you to chew on - I'm more than willing to actually BUY from an online vendor that sells DRM-free mp3 music files of signed artists to Canadians. Except that none exists! Not one. Wal-Mart, Amazon - all American services only. So if you want to get with some more of my money, find a way to sell me what I want. AAAARRGH!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It plugs in!

I was just watching the Rick Mercer Report (for my American friends - a kind of Canadian Daily Show - but weekly) and Rick showcased a Canadian electric car company, Zenn. Turns out that this car is selling like hot cakes around the world (including the US), but we can't buy them here because of government red tape.

Message to Zenn: I will gladly drive your car and tell the world all about it. Blog, news, papers - they'll all know about it by the time I'm done. Just cut me a good deal, hey?

Monday, November 19, 2007

This is why insurance rates are so high

I just discovered a new show - well, new to me anyway - Canada's Worst Driver.

OMG is it funny. Then you realize that these are real people who use our roads. Then it's scary.

Why do I love geography so much?

I found another decent geography quiz site - Know Your World. I managed 357,279 on my first try. I made it to level 10, then tanked with a metric assload of Africa places (my weakness). Surely my geohound friends will give it a try.........

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My debut

Well, that was nerve wracking.

I had my first public improv performance tonight. It was my first time in lights too. It was good in places and not so good in places. Dennis and Andrew (our directors for the evening) were gentle with us - I am so glad about that. So, that's done. Now it's time to try and get selected for a Friday performance. I may even give masks a try. (masks you say? what is this masks thing you mention?) More on that later.

Thank you to my friends who came out, I really appreciate your support. For those that missed - I'm sure there'll be other times. I just won't know for certainty what nights those will be - you know - what with the last minute selection process and all.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mmmmm.... pie!

I like pie. All kinds of pie. But you knew that, right?

Today, while Darlene and I were downtown, we passed through Banker's Hall on our way back to the car and took a peek inside Sunterra Market. It's basically a gourmet grocery store chain with great home-made stuff in their bakery, deli and hot meal sections. I wanted to see what hot meal special they had and much to my joyful surprise, they had chicken pot pie. I had never tried theirs, but I suspected it would be good. So, with a little drool coming out the corner of my mouth, I convinced Darlene that I needed to have it for supper. The pies were hot, right out of the oven. It was all I could do not to eat it right there, let alone wait until supper time.

When I finally warmed it up and ate it, I was amazed. Real, huge pieces of chicken. Huge chunks of carrot and peas with a sauce that just did its job - to hold everything together. The crust was very flaky, almost like phyllo. It was the best chicken pot pie I've ever eaten.

Smack the Pony! Smack the Pony!

Showcase (the cable TV network in Canada) used to air a British series called Smack the Pony. It was freaking awesome. Think Monty Python if it had only women players. It's that funny. One sample here. Yet another here.

Well, they only aired it once and it was never to be seen again. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of brilliant material that is only available in the country of origin, meaning I cannot buy it here.


New math

13 times 7 is 28.

Don't take my word for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

You can't use our stuff for free...

It's not the Daily Show. But it's still funny. Because it's by a writer for the show.

Say ha-ha-ha instead....

In what could be the best example of political correctness gone berserk so far, Santas-in-training in Australia were told not to say 'ho-ho-ho'. It might frighten the kids and is too much like 'ho', the slang term for prostitute.

I wish I was kidding.

Thanks to Ernest for this find.

Hit me where it hurts

While out shopping at Chinook Centre (Calgary's biggest mall, or at least its most fashionable), I like to stop in at Williams Sonoma to see if they've got anything out for sampling. Today, I was offered hot cider......... or.................... hot chocolate! DING!

They had a huge pot of the stuff cooking at the back. I had me a sample.

Williams Sonoma are evil. Evil I tell you............

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My blog is too niche-ey

If you're on the lookout for new blogs to read, the 2007 Weblog Award winners isn't a bad place to start. 545,446 votes were cast in 49 categories over six days of voting. I was not nominated.

Some day..........

I guess it would help if I linked to the blog awards page, huh?

Allow me to vent

I seem to have entered into a war of wills with my garbage collection service crew. I suffered no garbage collection for 2 weeks just a while ago and had to complain. I was out of space in my garbage cans - I had to do something. The foreman got back to me and informed me that he had collected my garbage and the reason it wasn't collected is because there had been a van blocking access. I knew what he meant because contractors had been working next door and had been parking in the alley, so they weren't lying. But I also mentioned in passing that a single van wouldn't have been enough to totally block access to my cans. Darlene thinks that started a war. This week (week 3) they didn't pick up the garbage again. This time Darlene saw them pass us by while picking up everyone else's garbage. So I called again. I brought up the last complaint from last week. When I got home from work today, the garbage was gone and someone attached a reflective 'garbage' sign on the wooden box our cans are kept in. As if the garbage crew didn't recognize the bin for what it was.......

In the past, they have also been known to not put the lids back in the bin, which of course causes them to blow away when wind gusts come up (which happens a lot in Calgary).


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Step one - outfit deck with sound

Now that I have a deck, it's time to start planning for the things I'll need to deck it out (no pun intended) with items to make it an enjoyable, livable place to hang out. Priority number one - tunes.

There were a number of options I could have chosen. I could bring my Macbook outside and use it as a music source. That would need amplified speakers and not exactly be suited to outdoor use. I could use my Zen mp3 player as a source, but would still need amplified speakers. Most of the systems I had viewed in stores were outlandishly expensive and produced crap sound while still being unsuited to the elements.

Then I found this Sony boom box. Styled after a toolbox, it has a radio, cd player with mp3 capability and an auxiliary input for mp3 players. All of its connectors are protected by rubber boot covers. Awesome. The price was right too.

An ad about stiffness

How do you advertise something like Viagra in a place where discussing sex is taboo?

Like this.....

Can you say 'ripoff'?

Ever wanted to know what's inside an Energizer rechargeable D cell battery? Ever wondered why such a large battery has such a low (2500mAh) capacity?

You're not going to like it..............

Goin' to Winnipeg (but not quite)

I posted about the Gimli Glider last year, but just discovered a more detailed story of the mishap - if you're interested in airline close calls.

It won't be long now.....

This is the current snow cover situation for Canada.

As you can see, it's just a couple hours away at this point. And by hours away, I don't mean a storm is brewing - I mean you only have to drive a few hours to see snow. Hell, you only have to look out your window at the Rockies to see it...... but I digress.

I can't say that I'm exactly thrilled.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where are my brains! Where are my brains!

Take this test to see how open minded you are.

Here's how I did.

Dumb things I have done to try and impress women

  • Wrote poetry
  • Dyed my hair blond (it came out orange [henna])
  • Learnt to dance like a 'brotha'
  • Wore goofy clothes during the new wave craze of the 80's
  • Put on lots of cologne
  • Permed my hair (yeah.... at the same time as the dye experiment)
  • Drank a bottle of Southern Comfort, straight, in the hot sun, no mix, no ice

These aren't all the things - just the dumb ones.

"....could lead to uncontrolled sexual impulses..."

Consumer Reports has some fun at the expense of TV ads for medications. In this video clip, they add details about the drug that are..... interesting to say the least.

Attention lawyers.... here's a case for ya

A collection agency is harassing a local consumer about appliances that were bought from Leon's around 12 years ago. Not only is the consumer claiming foul, but the collection agency put a note on the person's credit profile, preventing a mortgage from going through until around $1500 is paid (the original cost). The statute of limitations on collections on credit is something like 6 years, so this agency is abusing their power. The agency refuses to remove the note too. What's even more bizarre is that this is actually a repeat of the exact same scenario on the same appliances from 4 years ago!

If I was the consumer, I would launch a lawsuit, asking for damages in the amount of the house they're trying to buy - especially if the mortgage falls through.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

OK.... you've got my attention

There's been a lot of talk about the iPhone in Canada. Not so much about what a great device it is, but more to the tune of "why are we still unable to buy one here?". Apple made a deal with AT&T in the US and rumours abound that it is coming to Rogers cell phone service in Canada - but when? Many people have given up waiting and gone stateside to buy one, bring it back across the border and hack it to make it work on the cell provider of their choice. I would consider doing the same with my provider (Fido), but I'm curious to know how good this device really is. What I'm most curious about is its ability to connect to wi-fi.

Do any of my readers own an iPhone or know anyone who does? Care to comment?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My favourite drink

Another blog bumper sticker for ya.

What band blew you away?

I've gone on at length about the 2 bands that I consider to have pushed the envelope of the music scene in their day - Pink Floyd (then) and Sigur Ros (now).

So I pose this question to my blog readers - what band(s) stand out for you? Feel free to elaborate.......

Name that city!

Sshhhh! If I'm lucky, I've caught my geohounds sleeping or out partying. Here's the latest edition of 'Where Is It?'. Name the city. Click the picture for a bigger view.

Good luck y'all.

[update] It seems I have either stumped my loyal geohounds - or they never noticed that a new edition of the game was posted.

It all comes together

Today was my last (public) improv class. Some people get a little confused when I talk about this class, because there are other 'company' classes that I have mentioned and have access to, but those are private - only open to company members. Although I can attend those, the classes I've been speaking about lately are open to the public and are as beginner as you can get. These classes try to teach you as many improv games as possible in a short period of time - kinda like improv orientation. So my classmates are not all company members.

Anyway, today was the last kick at the cat prior to our performance next Sunday. I felt a little out of sorts after missing last Saturday's class. We played a little with status (one of the hardest things to do - so I'm told), then more or less reviewed what we had covered over the last 4 weeks as a preview of how the performance would go.

So if you're in Calgary and you're not doing anything next Sunday (the 18th), come down to Loose Moose and check out the show. The cost is a nominal $5 at the door and you can bring as many people as you want.

Tell the government what to do!

Alberta is considering a new license plate design. They're also considering whether to bring back the front plate or not. If you want to provide input, go to this site: Consultation on Alberta's License Plate.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sometimes there's art in them there thangs

I seem to be stumbling upon things to do with album covers (CD liners to you young hip folk).

Here's a site that showcases great design in that arena - Sleevage.


Last night I got a call from folks trying to sell me a trial subscription of the local paper - The Calgary Herald. The girl on the line was a fast talker. It was hard to get a word in edgewise and even though cutting this conversation short was as easy as hanging up, I wanted to see where this would go. I explained that I don't read the newspaper anymore. That's a pretty definitive argument against wanting a subscription. Nope - she kept reading from the script, explaining what great features were in the paper these days. I replied that I was not interested and was hanging up now, but my curiosity got the best of me and I stayed on the line to see what she would say next. Now she's saying she's going to send out the paper and am I still living on such and such Avenue... yadda yadda. That's when I hung up.

Message to phone sales people: This kind of tactic is what motivates me to NEVER buy your product. So in essence, you haven't gained a sale, you've gained a crusader against your product. Is that good business?