Sunday, November 30, 2008

The hero's an asshole...

I got around to seeing Hancock last night. OK, it's not the greatest movie ever made, but it has some qualities going for it. Firstly, the hero is an anti-hero - he drinks, has no consideration for others and taunts the bad guys something fierce. He leaves a wake of destruction everywhere he goes. But he's lonely. He's the only one of his kind and has no idea who he is or where he came from. A PR man tries to improve Hancock's image and does a decent job. Then everything hits the fan.

I give it a 4 out of 5 stars for having a sense of humour and actually having something of a plot.

But are they stackable like the real thing?

For the geek that has everything, how about Lego salt and pepper shakers?

This is the sound of money being lost

I actually managed to get to Market Mall on Saturday and found a parking spot (at 4pm) in 30 seconds, down the first row I drove into. Seriously. My timing must have been perfect. While there I walked to the end of the mall where the (Hudson's) Bay department store is and noticed the doors were closed. That was totally bizarre. Turns out there was a structural incident. I heard that a steel support beam in the building is 'deformed' and it caused some (I'm assuming 2nd) floor trembling and the ceiling on the ground floor to lose some of its lights and ceiling tiles. The store is closed until further notice. At the peak of Christmas shopping season no less. Perfect.

I sense a lawsuit.......

Sustainable containers

It seems they've invented the (recycled) paper bottle complete with its own paper cap. This container is designed to store food as well as many other product types. If this is viable, it could revolutionize the packaging industry. No more plastics in landfills or forming large islands in the Pacific. Note that the bottles are made while stuck together in a mold-like configuration, making storage and transport much more efficient.

On a related note, more stores in Calgary are charging money for plastic bags and some are moving to ban them outright. We've done our part and bought a few re-usable bags. They're huge and hold a lot. The grocery store we bought them from (Sobey's) will replace them at no charge if they break. Ya gotta like that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The ultimate high beam

Here's an HID bulb / battery combination that can throw 40 million candlepower (3200 lumens).

You know when you're driving at night and the dolt behind you won't turn their high beams off? Fire this baby through your back window - this should send the message right quick.

I'm kidding of course. It would blind the person and that would be disastrous.

You could back up your whole computer onto this thing

Remember when USB memory sticks had a capacity of 64MB?

Now they come in 64GB capacity, a thousand-fold increase. It can be had for US$130.


Global warming or not - this is historic

For the first time in modern shipping, a ship carried cargo from the port of Montreal, up the east coast of Canada, through the Northwest Passage to points in western Nunavut in September. This was made possible by the lack of ice in the Northwest Passage.

The map draws an approximate route of the ship's journey.

The next generation of Honda hybrids

I am a Honda / Acura groupie - heck - I've owned 3 Honda motorcycles and 3 Honda / Acura cars throughout my life. So I'm always interested in what's coming down the road from this amazing car company. There are 2 new models in varying degrees of transformation from concept idea to production that ought to turn a few heads.

The car closest to reality, which will probably see the inside of showrooms in the next 4 months is the Prius killer, the re-invented Insight. Honda not only wants to sell this car for less money than the Toyota Prius, I hear they will offer various economy modes, allowing you to absolutely milk the gas saving, energy recouping abilities of their hybrid system. More pictures here.

Then comes the CR-Z. This re-invention of the old, beloved CRX 2 door coupe is billed to be the sporty hybrid and I'm loving the look. Full gallery of photos here. I hear this car may make it onto the streets in 2010. I want one. Oh yes I do.

RPM 30

Some music trivia.

What Canadian band's 1985 comeback tour was dubbed One Half Ton of Rock 'N Roll?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rest in peace John...

About 13 years ago, one of Darlene's co-workers found out we have no family in Calgary and invited us into her home to enjoy a Christmas dinner with her family. That's when we met the hostess' sister and her husband - Hazel and John. We really made fast friends with this wonderful couple and got together with them often. John was a very tall man, about 6'7" and sported a long, ZZ-Top-esque beard. He looked like a rough kind of guy, but I tell you - he had a heart of gold and was one of the kindest, gentlest men I've ever met. He was funny as hell, had a raunchy sense of humour, was honest, down-to-earth and was a Habs fan to boot. We may have only known John for a relatively short time, but we felt a strong bond with him and his lovely wife Hazel.

So it was with a very heavy heart that we watched him go through a bout with hepatitis a few years ago - which he overcame, and most recently - liver cancer. The cancer was too much. He only lasted a few months past the diagnosis and passed away last weekend. We attended a memorial for John today. It was so great to hear all of the people whose lives he touched talk about Big John, the gentle giant. I can speak for Darlene as well when I say we will miss you John. I regret that I never had a chance to say goodbye. When we get together again for our little friend gatherings, we'll be sure to think and talk about you with fond memories.

See you in the next life..........

Shop til you're dead

I guess some folks just can't wait to get their hands on sale items. A WalMart employee was trampled to death by the throngs of shoppers trying to stampede into the store. A pregnant woman also miscarried her unborn child after being pushed over by the same unwavering crowd.

Discuss amongst yourselves......

An Ernest contribution.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I loves me some funny tees

I'm always looking for more clever tees.

Found some!

The bottle Darth is using is labelled 'force'.

Update: Found even more here.

Just some trivia about Quebec

In Quebec, margarine is white, not yellow. This is because the government wants to protect its citizens from being tricked into thinking margarine is butter.

[Update] In June 2008, Quebec finally agreed to allow yellow margarine onto store shelves.

You can't make a right turn at a red light on the island of Montreal (they think it's too dangerous). This used to be the case all over Quebec, but in the last few years, the right turn was allowed after a pilot study in 2003 showed that there were no significant adverse effects of the manoeuvre.

Rock stock shock

I came across this brief photo set from the archives of Time magazine in the 1970's, showcasing 1970's rock musicians and their parent's homes.

Check out Zappa's purple painted walls!

Groovy man.....

Gobble gobble!

To all my American readers - Happy Thanksgiving!

Feel free to tell the world what you are thankful for this year, in the comments.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Whereis it edition 54

It's time to find the city again.

Name the city and good luck. If you're fortunate you'll catch Jonathan and Team Ecland sleeping.

Click the picture for a larger view.

Speakerphone stigma

The last time I had a phone conversation with someone, the person apologized in advance for having to put me on speakerphone. I made it quite clear that I had no issue with that - I'm a big user of the speakerphone myself. But it made me think about the fact that there certainly seems to be this stigma attached to the use of the speakerphone in that we always feel the need to apologize or ask permission before using it.

It's a technology of convenience. That's what it was invented for - to use it. Darlene seems to think that the stigma may arise from the fact that if you're using speakerphone, you must not be devoting 100% of your concentration to the conversation. She brings up a good point. We are multi-taskers by nature. The only reason we gave ourselves fully to phone conversations in the past is because we were tethered to the machine by cords. It's one of the reasons extra long telephone cords sold so well. But thanks to the cordless phone and now - the cordless phone with speakerphone, you could be doing all sorts of things while chatting with the other party. I will not go into any examples, because some of you have already visualized what is appropriate for you.

Anyway, I hope the day comes when we don't have to apologize for using our speakerphones.

"Wanna take a bath?"

What could be better than a deep, relaxing, hot bath?

Why, sharing a deep, relaxing, hot bath with other people - that's what..... Here are 10 extraordinary places to take a bath.

I think I'd like to visit the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

Oh look! The title is not only related to the post, but is also music trivia. The question - what song is that phrase said in? name the artist and song. For bonus music trivia geek points - who actually uttered the words in the song (clue: it was not a member of the band)?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

OK I'm sold on the looks, now how about the script?

I quickly alluded to the new (old?) Star Trek movie due out next year - more specifically, the new cast playing our old favourite characters.

Here's an even closer look at the new crew.

Non-verbal communication

Perspectives. It's all about interview footage with the dialogue cut out, leaving only the body language, pauses and faces.

It's quite interesting.

Need a cuddle?

Cuddle parties. Ever heard of them? They are one of the most unique social events I've come across. The idea in essence is...

"designed with the intention of allowing people to experience non-sexual group physical intimacy through cuddling. They are described as workshop/social-events that gives adults an opportunity to give and receive welcomed non-sexual affectionate touch in a no-expectation, friendly setting, according to your needs, desires, interests, and boundaries. Kissing may occur at some parties."

There are rules - of course:
  1. Pajamas stay on the whole time.
  2. You must ask permission and receive a verbal "yes" before you touch anyone. (Be as specific in your request as you can.)
  3. You don't have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.
  4. If you're a yes, say yes. If you're a no, say no.
  5. If you're a maybe, say no.
  6. You are encouraged to change your mind from a yes to a no or a no to a yes anytime you want.
  7. Respect your relationship agreements and communicate with your partner.
  8. Get your Cuddle Lifeguard On Duty or Cuddle Caddy if you have a question or concern or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party.
  9. Tears and laughter are both welcome.
  10. Respect people's privacy when sharing about Cuddle Party and do not gossip.
  11. Arrive on time.
  12. Be hygienically savvy.
I don't know anyone who has attended such an event. It all sounds rather therapeutic.

"I ain't never seen white pepper...."

Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart make mashed potatoes together on her show.

Fo shizzle mah bizzle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Laugh at me now......

I love this little compilation video of pundits taking pot shots at Peter Schiff, who pretty much predicted exactly what the economy (especially in the US) is experiencing today.

He was bang on.

Or better yet, don't take them at all....

If you take nude pictures of yourself and send them to someone's cell phone (even your spouse), make sure the person you sent them to doesn't leave their phone behind somewhere - like at McDonald's, for example.

Karl reviews another movie

It had been sitting, shrink-wrapped on my pile of 'movies waiting to be watched' for a long time. But this weekend, Darlene and I finally watched Little Miss Sunshine.

What a great little gem of a movie. Alan Arkin and Steve Carell steal at least part of the show, Alan as the foul-mouthed grandfather and Steve as the suicidal uncle. The movie really sneaks up on you concerning its underlying agenda - that the main character is striving to get to a young girls' beauty pageant. A pageant that you only come to realize how absurd it is once the family get there and enter their daughter in it. I was repulsed by the images of young girls dolled up and shaking their booties to dance music - I am not a fan of beauty contests in general and consider 'young' beauty contests to be a form of abuse. So to see what happens when Olive gets on stage was brilliant. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

German food is "appetitlich"

Darlene and I were in the mood for dinner out yesterday, but we've just been so unimpressed with the value for money we've been getting recently at some of our (old) favourite haunts.

So we went somewhere we hadn't been in a long time - the Heidelberg Haus Restaurant at the German Canadian Club on 23 ST. NE, just near Barlow Trail. On Saturday night, they have a dinner buffet for $20 per person. That may seem like a lot, but some of the trendier restaurants want close to that just for an entrée and I wasn't really interested in a dish that earlier in the week fell off the back of a Sysco restaurant food supply truck.

We made a great choice to go there. I should have starved myself for a week before going, because all of my favourite foods were there. Beets; red cabbage; pan fried potatoes with onions; cheese spaetzle; baked stuffed chicken breast; beef goulash. I was so full from dinner, I couldn't even contemplate dessert. Me!! No dessert!

Seriously, if you like home-made European food, you owe it to yourself to try this hidden gem of a restaurant. They are even open for lunches during the week if you work nearby.

A little salt

I've managed to keep this blog PG-13 for the most part. Sometimes I want to post stuff that pushes the envelope, but I hold back. Until now. In my defence, it was a dare. From Darlene. So you can blame her, even though I'm the one that said it.

As you may know, I've been nursing a badly swollen knee over the last week and had to take a few days off of work to recuperate. Part of the recuperation involved hot baths - with Epsom salts - which has worked wonders for me in the past. While enjoying one of said baths this week, I noted aloud to Darlene, "Hey honey, guess what I just realized? I've got salted nuts!" Her immediate response was "Yeah - post that on your blog".

How could I resist a dare like that?

The knee is getting better for those that wanted to know....

It's appropriate for Calgary

My friend Ernest has created a new motto for the city of Calgary based on his most recent experiences:

"The shortest route between any two points is always under construction."

If cats had written guidelines...

...This is about what they would be. Excerpt:

Bathrooms: Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything . . . just sit and stare.

For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself.

Paper Bags: Within paper bags dwell the bag mice. They are small and camouflaged to be the same colour as the bag, so they are hard to see. But you can easily hear the crinkling noises they make as they scurry around the bag. Anything, up to and including shredding the bag, can be done to kill them.

It's a great read for any cat owner / lover.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A bug, a plant, some robots and fat people...

We sat down and watched the movie Wall-E last night.

I loved this movie. The characters were totally endearing. The movie was almost free of dialogue, yet there was so much being said - if that makes any sense. This is another Pixar classic for the ages. Thumbs up. 5 stars.

I'm lovin' this....

McDonald's restaurants don't serve the same food all over the world. Some unique offerings you might find include the Greek Mac, the (beef-free) Maharaja Mac, the McKebab. This site has pictures. This site has a lengthy list of curious regional differences across America and further down the page, around the world.

Some highlights: If you're jones-ing for a McRib (usually a limited time offering in North America), head for Germany, where it's available all year long. Poland has the McKielbasa. Green tea flavoured milkshakes can be found in Japan.

Archaic computer icon

I have a question.

When will we stop using the floppy disk image as an icon to represent 'saving' a file? Hmmm? When?

Remember - the internets are searchable...

Yet another example of why it is risky to put your experiences and opinions about your work life online.

You may notice that I don't blog about my life at work. Nope. Not going down that rabbit hole.

Contributed by Ernest.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Best thing read on another blog this month

Someone once said, "All countries fail to live up to their ideals; the ideals that America fails to live up to are nobler than most." I agree with that sentiment. The liberty and justice guaranteed by America's foundational documents are a high standard to meet, and if the country is to live up to it, it must be held to account by those who suffer as a result of its failures.

How about some map trivia for a Friday?

I thought I would throw out some US map trivia.

Can anyone tell me what the dark areas of the US map signify?


This is how low-fat dairy is produced.

"They did not even take the train..."

Here's a cute little French speaking girl who ad-libs a story for her mother (?). Don't worry that you cannot understand French - there are subtitles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Everything's green

NASA 'lost' one of their experiment spiders on the International Space Station (ISS). The spiders were sent up there to see how they would manage spinning their webs (turns out - not very well).

What NASA won't admit is that the 'missing' spider has somehow stumbled across some kind of space experiment gear that turns the ordinary spider into some kind of hungry mutant spido-beast. Because... well... that would be bad for publicity now, wouldn't it?

Or maybe the spider escaped before the launch (as hinted in the picture).

Ernest gets credit for the tip.

"I'm afraid I won't know how to act"

To the younger generation who only know Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus of the ultra cool Matrix series, I am going to show you a side of Larry that you may not be prepared for.

Back in the day there was this awesome show called Pee-Wee's Playhouse, starring Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens). Old Larry had a bit part in the cast, playing lovable Cowboy Curtis circa 1987. Here's a clip of Curtis preparing for a date with Pee-Wee standing in as the date - for practise. Watch it in high quality for the full effect.

Thank you to Stephanie for reminding me of this little gem of performance trivia....

Comparing value for your entertainment dollar

$20 gets you a movie - up to 2 hours of solid entertainment, with extras. If it's good content, you may even watch it a few times, in the comfort of your own home. Maybe trade with friends. Bottom line, it's good value for the money. (Which is why I don't have a problem paying for them)

Or, $20 gets you a music CD - around 40 minutes of music. Typically it's a few good songs (if you're lucky), with mostly filler. No extras. No videos. No interviews. No commentary. No behind the scenes peek at how the album was made. Bottom line, it's not such good value for the money. (Which is why I do have a problem paying for them)

Or, $20 gets you 20 songs online in digital format. 20 songs that are unrelated to each other - songs you actually want / like. Here's the kicker - they're in compressed format. They're not exactly the quality of the original, uncompressed format you'd find on a CD. I'll generalize a bit here, but mp3 music files are roughly 50% to 80% of the quality of the original material. So if I'm paying about a dollar a song for full, uncompressed quality, why would I want to pay the same for a sub-par copy? $0.99 is not good value for an mp3 in my world.

Enter Magnatunes. If you sign up for their all-you-can-eat membership, as little as $10 per month (on a month to month membership) will grant you access to unlimited downloads of their catalog, which contains high quality mp3s with no evil DRM and a Creative Commons license. They don't mind if you share an album a month with a friend. They give 50% of the fees they collect directly to the musicians.

Their collection may not contain big label artists, but there's a whole other world of music out there than the ones that got signed to big labels. The best part - you can listen to the product you're considering before you buy it! Heck, if all you want to do is stream music to your computer, it doesn't cost a cent, as long as you don't mind the announcer's voice.

This is value for money unheard of for music until now. I hope it catches on, I hope the musicians that are a part of it do so well, that big label artists begin to see the light, putting an end to the archaic business model of the current big name commercial music industry.

Imagine arriving home and a mass of strangers greet you

The people at Improv Everywhere were at it again, this time randomly welcoming total strangers back at their home airport with an improv greeting party.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's like a scene from The Outer Limits

Now this is creepy.....

The video is from an actual infomercial. The music was added to add to the creepiness. The mask is a real product.

Bins bins bins bins....

I think Darlene may be the queen of Rubbermaid storage bins. We have at least a couple dozen of them. They're used to store everything from Christmas decorations to party supplies and crafts. They're very handy, but to use up the least amount of space, you have to stack them - which of course makes getting access to the bottom ones a bit inconvenient.

I'm hoping to stumble across a shelving system that suits these bins perfectly. If any of my readers have seen such a system, please let me know.

First geek in Oval Office presents a challenge

Obama is a Crackberry addict and this will pose a problem once he's working out of the oval office.

First he had to quit smoking - didn't know about that until recently btw - good on ya Barack! Now he may have to quit his other addiction.

Props to Ernest for the tip.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The most boring knee injury story in the world

A short story:

Sunday morning, all is fine. Before lunchtime, my knee is bugging me. By bedtime, it's swollen, hot and I feel like crap. Knee hurts so much, I can barely sleep. Like a fool, I go to work Monday morning. By the end of the day, I'm sore, feverish and not getting any sleep. Tylenol #3 to the rescue. I get some sleep - finally. This morning, I'm feeling a bit better, but the knee is still swollen. I go to doctor's. I sense concern. It's infected. I get the rest of the week off. Knee is X-Rayed. I need a follow-up appointment Friday. Epsom salt wraps. Crappy TV....... I have no idea what happened.

In case you're wondering why it seems like I'm taking it easy. It's because I am.....

Taste some of your own medicine

The RIAA have been rattling the legal cages of thousands of people not given proper due process for years. Now a Harvard Law School professor has launched an assault against a federal copyright law at the heart of the RIAA's strategy. By taking on the case of a Boston University graduate student, the professor will argue that certain laws effectively let the RIAA carry out civil enforcement of a criminal law. He also says the industry abused the legal process by using the prospects of lengthy and costly lawsuits to intimidate people into settling cases out of court. The goal of this legal challenge is to "turn the courts away from allowing themselves to be used like a low-grade collection agency."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not all tweaks created equal

One of my specialties that I love doing for my clients is tuning up Windows. So it was with great joy that I found this sensible article on Debunking Common Windows Performance Tweaking Myths. Believe it or not, many tools, procedures and tips are not only bogus, they could affect your computer in a bad way.

Geek is spelled t-r-e-k

Nothing says geek like adding Star Trek to your decor. For the Trekkie who has everything, they might not yet have these stylish [snort] switchplates adorned with Next Generation graphics.


Great Samsung commercial with Ozzy.

Dude... duder... dudeist...

If you're a big fan of the movie The Big Lebowski, you'll love this - a web site called The Dudespaper. Yeah. It's where you will find out all about Dudeism, the Church of the Latter Day Dude, the Tao of the Dude.......