Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Star Wars re-imagined with a Dallas-style opening

Star Wars a-la Dallas treatment.

Pretty funny stuff.

Cancel it while it's hot...

Always with a finger on the pulse of modern society and culture, Microsoft has decided to discontinue the MSN Encarta product as of October 2009.

OK, show of hands..... who actually has this product? Who actually uses this product? Haven't they heard of Wikipedia?

Trek or drug?

Do you consider yourself a Trekkie?

Then test your knowledge with this quiz - Star Trek character or erectile dysfunction pill?

One door closes...... another opens

So last night was the final class for the Epcor Intro to Acting for Adults (Term II).

Oh yeah.... did I mention that I've been assisting with the acting class that got me started in this whole mess? Yeah. On a whim, I asked my first acting instructor (Georgette) if she wanted some help with her class a few terms back. She said yes. Imagine that. So I've been volunteering my time on a few Monday nights at the Epcor Centre. Last night was the culmination of yet another term. I even got the chance to go solo with the group and do some improv training. That was so unbelievably fantastic, I decided right then and there to develop an Improv Workshop for Beginners and pitched the idea to Chinook Learning Services, who have apparently accepted. Can you say 'stoked'? That's what I am. What a trip this has been.....

Anyway, all I can say is that Darlene opened quite a can of worms when she pushed me into joining that acting class a few years back. It's been so refreshing to learn something creative and non-technical and then start teaching it to others as best as I can. Who knows where this will lead next.

Oh..... did I mention that I've requested to join a fledgling sketch comedy writing group? Yeah........

Monday, March 30, 2009

New TV program to watch for

I'm looking forward to a new TV program planning to air beginning April 3rd in Canada on CTV (has already started airing in other parts of the world). It's called "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...", produced in conjunction with Sir Elton John. The concept fuses the best of talk and music TV. The series of 13 one hour shows will have intimate one-on-ones with legendary performers and notable newcomers to thematic panel discussions, with a variety of performance elements including unique collaborations, acoustic and impromptu "illustrative" demonstrations of the creative process, and some original interpretations of others' songs by Costello.

Elvis Costello is a rounded musicologist, so he's more than qualified. Elvis said, "I'm not interested in extracting some dark secret. I'd rather hear about a bright secret, a deep love or a curiosity that might be otherwise obscured by fame. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk in complete thoughts about music, movies, art or even vaudeville, then frame it with unique and illustrative performances."

Canada not so liberal when it comes to drinking age

A map of legal drinking ages around the world.

Fascinating.

Car trouble

How many people think the North American car industry is collapsing? [Karl raises hand]

How many people figure it was inevitable? [Karl raises hand]

How many people thought the bailouts were a bad idea? [Karl raises hand again]

How many of you think the collapse is a good thing in the long run? [Hand still raised]

And by awesome I mean dumb. And by dumb I mean stupid.

This is awesome. No sooner did New Zealand come to its senses and toss the '3 strikes and you're out' ISP rule, now South Korea is about to try the same thing. Boingboing contributor Cory Doctorow once again does a bang up job predicting how badly that whole thing will go.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm not impressed

Earth Hour. What a joke. In what is likely one of the most meaningless publicity stunts the world has ever contrived, people were being asked to turn off their lights for an hour - at night no less - in a show of solidarity and support for saving energy to help save the planet. What I really liked about this effort is that it unfortunately made it rather obvious how few people actually care about making a statement about energy, because I'll bet you the majority of folks didn't even bother. In 2008, the best result was reported from New Zealand, where in Christchurch, they saw electricity use go down by 13% for the hour. That was the best case! Last year in Calgary, electricity use during the hour actually went up 3.6%. In our defence, it was bloody cold that day.

I'm sorry, but this little stunt does absolutely nothing. Just because you turned your lights off for one hour along with several million other people doesn't mean squat. Your governments aren't going to be motivated to do anything different. It's very likely that even you won't be motivated to do anything different. It makes for great news though. Oh - here's a question - did any billboard lights get turned off? I think not.......

Did I turn my lights off? Not in exactly in the same way Earth Hour participants did, no. I did one better. I have been in the habit of turning lights off whenever I leave a room. I have done this for years, saving countless kilowatts of electricity. I have begun replacing high energy use bulbs in my home with energy saving ones. And a whole lot of other little things that save little bits of energy in the short term, but a lot over the long term. And I do these things 365 days a year. That is my contribution. It's not climate-changing, but it helps. Let's focus on the little changes that can reduce our energy use on a daily basis. It makes a much bigger difference.

Earth Hour..... Give me a break. What we need is Earth Life!

Thanks to Mark for motivating me to write this rant.

Another in the series of interviews with Loose Moose members

Today I uploaded my interview with Loose Moose member Melissa Northan. For me, Melissa is a fun improviser to watch and a great example of 'being in the moment'. She really knows how to create a space on stage, miming her surroundings with ease. She exudes a great deal of energy, fun and play.

I can't wait to perform with her.

For those of you new to this blog, I have been posting interviews with members of Loose Moose improv theatre since January. Why? Because I think they deserve all the free publicity they can get. And I'm not just saying that because I volunteer there. This is a talented group of entertainers that Calgarians and improv lovers the world over need to meet.

Great use of stop motion in a music video

It's a nice song but an even nicer video. Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie. Make sure to watch in high quality.

What is it? Edition 5

Time for a new round of the guessing game where you have to guess what you're looking at.

What is this?

This would make a good t-shirt

Is the planet shaking or is it just me?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"This is gettin' on my noives!"

They're making a new 3 Stooges movie. The Farrelly brothers are making it. No, not the original guys - A-list actors. Are you ready?

The rumour at the moment is Jim Carrey to play Jerome “Curly” Howard, Benicio Del Toro to play Moe Howard (Curly’s brother), and Sean Penn to play Larry Fine.

I loved watching the 3 Stooges as a kid. Actually that's not entirely true. I loved watching my brother Bob watching the 3 Stooges as a kid - I never saw him laugh so much as when he watched the Stooges.

Crayon colours

120 Crayola crayon colours and their names (and their Hex codes and RGB values).

Timberwolf, Wisteria, Periwinkle, Cerulean, Goldenrod, Burnt Sienna......

We need more customers - let's raise prices!

Apple intends to increase the price of "hit singles and selected classic tracks" from $0.99 to $1.29 as of April 7th.

So here's the deal. The music industry, still hurting from declining CD sales, figures that the best way to get more money from online digital music sales is to increase their price.

Jim Guerinot, who manages such bands as Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt and Offspring, said the industry's pricing was moving in the wrong direction if it hoped to compete with still rampant music piracy. "Wouldn't it make sense to try to price it cheaper instead of squeezing the handful of people who are still willing to pay for music?"

It's not all bad news though. Apple will also cut the price of select songs to $0.69.

I have always felt that a music album in its entirety is worth at most $10 in uncompressed mode (such as on a music CD), which puts the worth (not counting any bias toward the more popular songs on an album) of a song at around $1 each. Convert those songs into the lower quality posers that are mp3 files, and I'd value a song at $0.50 each.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Where is it - Edition 60

[Update - this edition of the game hasn't seen much action so I moved it toward the top of the pile as a reminder]

Time for a new edition of Where Is It?

You know the rules... name that city. Clicky for the biggy picty....

Let it shine

Here's an inspiring commercial concept for Honda hybrid cars. It's all done with a whole whack of Honda Insights parked on a hill.

Very well done.

New math = math - any sense

Speaking of dry humour, I present the new, new math.

Put the coffee down first. And swallow.

Craig Damrauer uses math-like equations to illustrate concepts that aren’t math. For example:

Revenge = Do unto others - as you would have them do unto you

Crazy = Talking to oneself - ( cell phone + ear piece )

Nagging = reminding + reminding + reminding

Doggy day care = kennel - guilt

I don't know which is 'wurst'.... HAHA! Get it?

Fast food from around the world. Part one showcases European fast food and part two highlights fast food from Asia and Australia.

Of the two, I have an affinity toward the European stuff.

"Rowena's particularly thick..."

OK, I admit it. I have a warped sense of humour. Dry wit and slightly darker comedy will always win the day for me. Which is probably why I appreciate British humour as much as I do.

Well, another UK comedy which I have yet to see in North America is a project of Chris Morris called Jam. Thankfully (for now) YouTube has select sketches from the show to whet your appetite. Although I don't know why. It's not like you can buy it here or anything. But I'm not bitter.

In this clip, an agency provides 'thick' people for jobs they are good at - such as arguments, which they are very good at winning "because they are too thick to realize they've lost."

From the YouTube page in the link, there are a few other Jam clips to watch as well.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How the internet is revolutionizing movie rental

The internet is slowly revolutionizing the consumers' habits. I say slowly, because there are still people out there that haven't figured out the advantages of doing business online for various reasons. There's not much you can't buy from Amazon (in the US anyway) and when it comes to movie entertainment, NetFlix has a winning offer with their 3 DVD movies for $16.99 per month. That gets you 3 DVDs out at a time, for as long as you need to watch them. You get your next 3 when you return the last 3.

NetFlix doesn't operate in Canada, but there are Canadian alternatives. It amazes me how few people know of this option, but again - you know - the transition is slow. One of the higher rated services in Canada based in Calgary, Canflix, offers 3 DVDs out at a time for $21.95 per month.

With online rental agencies, you trade 'almost instant' availability (going to the store - but maybe to find that the video you want isn't available) for availability in a few days (assuming that the video you want is available). But the upside is you get to keep the DVDs until you have time to watch them.

There is only one better way to access movies and that's via streaming over the internet. Netflix is already doing this using existing Netflix-ready devices like the Xbox 360. Access to streaming movies from Netflix is included in the price of an existing subscription. Who will be the first company to offer this in Canada? An even more important question - will our internet service providers be able to keep up with the needed bandwidth?

The coolest toy ever created?

There are apparently 62 Lego bricks in existence for every man, woman and child alive on the planet.

That's an assload of Lego.

Here's an article about the fabled brick.

Am I right or am I wrong

Being a weatherman must be one of the most thankless jobs on the planet. When I lived in Kingston Ontario, predicting weather was always chancy because of Lake Ontario. The lake acts like a magnet to storms, you just never knew if the magnet was going to repel the storm south of the lake (missing us), north of it (socking us straight on) or be attracted over it (glancing us with its side).

Calgary must have its own elements of uncertainty because each TV or radio station seems to have its own interpretation of the upcoming forecast, never mind Environment Canada. It may stem from the fact that weather forecasters in Canada have 2 sources of weather forecast computer models - an American model and the Canadian weather model. Which begs the question - which model has the best record for accuracy. I don't know. I do know that I've lost count of the number of times I've heard people discuss the forecast and someone pipes in "That's not the forecast I had heard..." I also know that the favourite slogan for those who talk about the weather here is "If you don't like the forecast - just wait 5 minutes."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Olivia at 9.5 months

I tell ya, kids are getting onto the computer at a younger age all the time.

This is Olivia.

Online comic

I just came across this online comic called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Damn - it's funny.

This was a school assignment

Great interpretation of the Little Red Riding Hood story, as told in a video that is a tribute to Rรถyksopp's video for the song Remind Me.

Nicely done.

"A pill that actually increases a person's will to recycle"

I just saw an ad on Canadian TV that made me do a double take. It was a commercial about recycling and it ended with the tag line: "Don't be a tosser, recycle your empties."

People familiar with UK vocabulary will probably find this use of the word tosser funnier than others.

"poor AIG was just a victim of a lot of shitty luck"

If you don't mind a little self-flagellation America, give this quick Rolling Stone article a read. Highlight:

".... all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG's 2008 losses)."

P.S.: I was kidding about the 'quick' part......

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just a few rambling thoughts about cars

I really like my car. It's a great balance of economy, comfort and practical performance. Because it's a relatively small car with a 4 cylinder engine, it gets very decent mileage. Acura (let's face it - Honda) were able to get a lot of pep out of the motor.

Every once in a while, I wish my car could transform into a pickup or some other type of vehicle that has a bigger cargo area (like every time we visit Ikea). While I know many people who own SUVs and trucks and love their cargo capacity, they certainly don't care much for the SUV / truck gas mileage. I long for the day when cars become modular in the sense that they can somehow convert into a different type of vehicle when required. A system that allows you to lengthen or shorten the car or trade seats for unencumbered cargo space when the need arises.

Speaking of things I'd like to see in future cars, a friend of mine now owns a (slightly used) Range Rover. It has a feature that I wish every car had - electric front windshield defrost. The filaments in the window are tiny enough not to interfere or distract in any way with the view through the glass, but man does it ever melt ice and snow fast!

It kinda grows on you

A fun little animation called The Seed.

New Zealand comes to their senses

I blogged about the copyright law the entertainment industry tried to coerce the government of New Zealand into passing here and here. Thanks to the earnest efforts of their citizens and businesses, the law is now dead in the water.

Everyone is suspect

Well written, level-headed article posted by one of my online heroes - Cory Doctorow, on the latest bit of insanity to come out of the UK regarding terrorism. A sample:

"Telling people to rummage in one another's trash and report on anything they don't understand is a recipe for flooding the police with bad reports from ignorant people who end up bringing down anti-terror cops on their neighbours who keep tropical fish, paint in oils, are amateur chemists, or who just do something outside of the narrow experience of the least adventurous person on their street. Essentially, this redefines "suspicious" as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighbourhood."

Monday, March 23, 2009

If only State-of-the-Union addresses were done like this

The state of the inter-webs in winter 2009 (in other words - lately). As an assortment of comic images.

If you are web-savvy, you'll catch most or all of the references.

Now I understand why Japan admires us so much

Chart showing square feet per person based on population versus country's land area.

Australia is the biggest box (green), followed by Canada (I don't know what that colour is... sorry). the copper coloured box on the right is the US.

All the best stuff is on YouTube...

A guy who does a combination beatbox and harmonica playing.

There's really nothing more to say.

I just saved you 3 plus hours...

Kill Bill I & II in one minute. Performed by people.

Yeah.

Spoilers....

You know, for those who never saw the movies.

Largest model railway in the world

If you're into train sets, this one will have you panting. Or drooling. Or whatever physical manifestation of awe and desire you prefer.

I'm talking about Hamburg Germany's Miniatur Wunderland, an ever growing display of trains, cars, people, landscapes and buildings representing Southern Germany, Hamburg, America, Scandinavia, Switzerland and more. It has over 11000m (36000ft) of HO scale track and over 300,000 lights.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Call letters decoded

Ever wondered what the letters in the TV or radio station call letters stood for (if anything?)

Wonder no more.

It's certainly not a complete list. For example, the picture is yours truly in 1989 while helping run the radio station in Alert Nunavut whose call letters are CHAR-FM. Char referring to the fish that lives up there - Arctic Char.

What is it? Edition 4

It's a microscopic image. I'll give you that.

But of what?

[update] Folks are having a hard time with this one, so I'll give a clue - you'll find this in your mouth.

[update 2] Jonathan got the answer (dental plaque). Here is where I got the image from along with more microscopic images from the human body.

Best Facebook status line read this week

".....advises anyone new to Calgary: It always feels intensely like spring on the last day of winter, and intensely like winter on the first day of spring."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How bacon is made

I am aware that I have readers who like their bacon.

If you've ever wondered how bacon is made, check out this video. The process shown in this particular video shows right through to the pre-cooked bacon stage, so I'm guessing the uncooked, refrigerated stuff just misses that last cooking process.

Toyota continues to push what its Prius can do

The 2010 Toyota Prius, while in EV Drive, will let you run on battery alone for about a mile, conditions permitting.

One of the coolest new features is the optional solar panels in the moon roof for generating power for circulating air and keeping the interior from getting too hot. There's also a battery powered remote-controlled A/C system that lets you set the temperature ahead of time.

So ummm Brad, care to explain the shirt?

Take a wild guess at what this man was arrested for. Go on, just guess.

Something to do with..... ummm..... I don't know.... his marriage?

Yeah. The couple were arguing over drugs and during the fight at their home, Bradley grabbed his wife's neck, strangled her and knocked her to the ground. He was wearing this t-shirt at the time of the arrest.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The receipt catcher

This is kind of cool. If you are in the habit of saving receipts for the things you buy, but have no formal place to put them, this article is for you.

I sent you a note but then I ate it

I'm wracking my brain (I think that's the first use of the word wrack on this blog) trying to think of a situation where I might want to use this, but the concept is intriguing.

At privnote, the idea is that you compose a note, send the link to the note via SMS or email, and once the recipient has clicked on the link, they will see the note in their browser and the note will automatically self-destruct; which means no one (not even that same person) will be able to read the note again. The link won't work anymore.

It's interesting, but if the point of the tool is to be able to deny that you sent the note in the first place, all the recipient has to do is take a screen shot of the note while the link is still up and save the image as a file.

So pardon me if I don't quite get it.......

When will I stop ranting about the DMCA? When it's toast.

If you needed a reason to care about why and how the dreaded DMCA law in the US (and its current and future spawn in other parts of the world), you only have to read this article.

Let me try to paint you a nice analogy. Assuming that it's an infringement to plagiarize a written work, imagine if every time you wrote something - anything - a poem, a letter to your loved one, an idea for a new product or business, imagine that an author could at any time come to your house and tear up whatever you were working on, with no need to prove that your work is an actual infringement on their work. This is in essence what the DMCA allows for online. Oh - you'd fight back, eh? With what army of lawyers exactly? Get my point?

Sometimes an itch needs scratchin'

Bear does an unintentional pole dance scratching his (her) back against a tree.

Shake that furray bootay!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Santa....... have you heard of the Fisker Karma?

While the world waits for the Chevy Volt, other electric or hybrid cars are making waves. I've already mentioned the Tesla all-electric sports car. Soon we'll have the Fisker Karma. The Karma is powered by a gas engine / electric motors combination. What makes this hybrid unique is that the engine is mated with a generator to provide an electricity to the motors and recharge the batteries. As such the electric motors are the only driving force connected to the wheels. As a factory option the Karma can be fitted with a solar panelled roof not only to aid in the recharging of its Lithium-Ion batteries but also to aid the cabin climate control system.

Fisker estimates a refill of the fuel tank once a year provided a drive of no more than 80 kilometres (50 miles) per day. Fisker also claim that in 'sport-hybrid' mode, the car will do 2.35 l/100 km (100 mpg) of fuel consumed for a range of 480km (300 miles). Despite its eco-friendliness the Karma can go 200 km/h (125 mph) and is capable of reaching 60 mph (97 km/h) from a standstill in 5.8 seconds.

USD$80,000. Here's a video.

Get answers to stuff

Have you ever wanted to pose a question on the internet and let people who may know the answer take a whack at it?

Well, there are a lot of choices, as listed here. I'm partial to eHow and Answerbag (the latter of which I have participated in a few times).

From 24 million results to 87

I would venture to say that the majority of ordinary folks who search the internet have never been trained in the art of search strategies using various syntax in the search phrase.

A page that sums things up nicely is here, but pay atention to the bottom of the page, which demonstrates how the more specific you are, the fewer results you have to sift through.