Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The man who built New Zealand

This clever video shows a guy just doing his normal day's work - building a country.

Some impatient.... ahhh, I won't spoil it for you.

Then and now

Ze Frank is at it again. This time, he invited folks to submit photos of themselves when they were young and a matching photo of them now, in the same pose, and hopefully with the same accoutrements and clothing as the original picture. It's called 'young me / now me'.

And it rocks.

That bites

I read a news article this week about some families discovering that if they owned certain types of pets, such as what would be classified as 'vicious dogs', they cannot get insurance with many home insurance companies.

I've done my research, and I've concluded that certain dog breeds like pit bulls and Doberman Pinschers, while they may be 'inclined' to be aggressive dogs, this is always the result of selective breeding, training and in many cases, abuse of the animal. To suggest that all 'vicious breed' dogs are a risk would be like saying that all black men are naturally inclined to become gang members. It's stereotyping, pure and simple.

There are statistics that show that the vicious breeds are responsible for the most trauma where dogs are concerned, but you could also argue that people who are training their dogs to be aggressive are typically picking the vicious breeds anyway. In other words, one could statistically state that sports cars are a hazard on the road, but also argue that the reason sports cars might be involved in more accidents is because an aggressive driver is more likely to buy a sports car in the first place. It skews the numbers.

In conclusion, I don't think it's fair that homeowners should be denied the opportunity to equal access to home insurance because they own a certain type of dog. If insurance companies can conclusively prove they are losing money to excessive dog attack liability claims, then perhaps they should charge a premium in those situations. If owners can prove they take steps to prevent risk, there should be no issue at all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heaven can wait

It's not often I see a video that makes me go 'wha..?'

Like now for instance.

Charlotte Gainsbourg (featuring Beck) in Heaven Can Wait.

Contender for best design of the year

This, my friends, could seriously be the most amazing and best idea for computing accessories..... ever.

A new USB plug that allows other USB plugs to plug into it. If every USB device had these...... well, do I really need to explain?

One of them could even plug into an AC outlet to ensure the extra devices don't suck the one USB port dry.

I didn't really mean for that to sound dirty.......

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spock party game t-shirt

Now that's funny....

Bacon coup d'etat

Like bacon?

3 words: bacon flavoured toothpicks.


9 reasons why I like my neighbourhood

  • Great neighbours on both sides.
  • Proximity to the Bow River, a huge riverside park and a wonderful path system.
  • Across the street from my house, nothing but schools and parks...
  • One block from a major bus route.
  • Commercial and residential revitalization.
  • 10 minute drive from downtown.
  • Lots of shopping nearby.
  • Trees.
  • People come to fly their RC planes across the street.

Who'll make the greener phone?

I wonder which major cell phone manufacturer will be first with a solar panel on the back.....

Puma is introducing one, but I doubt this phone will make it to Canada.

350F + PLU693 + 40mins = OMG

Do you like apple pie? How about apple crisp (or apple crumble as it's known in some parts)? If you said yes to both of those questions, then you need to rush down to your local M&M Meat Shop and get a hold of one of their Too Deep Apple Crumble frozen products. It's a pie, but it's topped with yummy crumble. The only thing it's missing is a dollop of your favourite vanilla ice cream on the side.

It's pie panacea!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wordle episode 5

Time again... name the song.

A year in the Canadian Rockies

A stunning time lapse video project of a park in the Canadian Rockies over the period of one year.

This spot is a mere 45 minute drive away from me.

The power of the internet to amuse me is endless

Yeah. The nerd in me loves this infographic. It tries to create a visual for Darth Vader's statement (from the movie), "The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

They even made a version wallpaper sized for the real geeks.

Stoney Trail blues

So since November of last year, Calgary finds itself with roughly half of a ring road around the city, with the other half due sometime in the next decade or so [smirk]. Based on what I've seen so far though, I am a bit concerned. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that we have money to build roads. The issue seems to be that we don't actually have enough to complete them.

Starting from the west side of the city and working our way north and eastward, we've got 3 traffic lights, one interchange that's literally barely half done (more on that in a minute) and several interchanges that only have their approaches built (no overpass and in some cases, no connection). Back to that partial interchange. It's a great interchange if you live on the north side of Stoney Trail. It rocks if you're coming westbound and only want to go north on Shaganappi, or are coming south on the same road and want to get on Stoney Trail westbound. But that's it. All other access has yet to be built. Needless to say, a lot of folks are taking what exit does exist and doing u-turns to get to where they're going. It's just a matter of time before the police are all over this and/or there's a major accident.

Then there's the non-existent merge lane onto northbound Deerfoot Trail. You come around this expansive, Los Angeles grade fly-over and go to merge with this mega highway (the QEII) and your lane just dumps right onto the rightmost lane of the highway. There is literally no merge lane. At all. Folks think I'm making this up. I'm not. You have to pray that there's nobody in the right lane of the highway, otherwise, you seriously run out of options. Whoever decided that this was a safe state for a major road should be fired.

My point? When you announce that the new ring road is ready for prime time, you should finish the thing first. It's like a bunch of bakers patting each other on the back for a glorious cake, but there's no icing, half the ingredients are missing and some poor sod's going to bite into a knife that was accidentally left in the batter.

But the whole point of this post is that I am worried that this sets a new standard for future road construction in Calgary. Can we now look forward to future roadways only being half done in an effort to look like we can get things done, without really getting them done? I have lived in many places and have never seen a major road let loose on the public with so many problems. And keep in mind, I used to live in Montreal, where they couldn't even finish an Olympic stadium on time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What would you do for a free coffee?

You know it's Spring in Canada when Canucks everywhere put down their shovels and roll up their Tim Horton's coffee cup rims.

For the win.

Wordle episode 4

Name that song y'all.

This is what an OCD desktop should look like

I'm thinking this would be a suitable desktop background for people with OCD.

It's irrational

Mazda heard the geeks' cry and we listened. Introducing the all new 2010 Mazda Pi.

Act now to qualify for 3.1415926% APR.

Get your Eeewww! on

This definitely qualifies as the gift that keeps on making you think about where it came from.

Tiny Teddy Bears..... with me so far?

They're made from belly button lint.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's trekkie, warsie and hero-ey at the same time!

The A to Z of awesomeness.

Rob M - this one's for you......

For example, I is for Indiana Jones inching away from an inebriated Iron Man.

Nuthin' but mutt

From the 'the internet has everything' files, I bring you a site with nothing but pictures of dogs on roofs.

Eat it!

Here's what Mike Tyson is thinking: "You gots no ears, but you does gots a mouf"
[please imagine Mike's whiney boy voice too]

This bird mimics everything

Most people don't like the sound of construction noises and I'm sure are relieved when construction is finally done.

Imagine if the bird you owned was able to learn and mimic those sounds.

This one can and did. Luckily, it lives in a zoo. It's a lyrebird.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wordle episode 3!

OK, another easy one.

Guess the song.

It has begun

The airport scanner shenanigans have begun already.

Ultimate geek belt(s)

Looky! Pong! and the BSOD! And more......

But seriously... the blue screen of death? On a belt buckle? That is the ultimate in nerdcore.

CAR!!!....... COPS!!!

In Montreal, where hockey is a religion of equal status to the ones practised in church, there is a suburb. In this suburb, there is a bylaw making it illegal to play street hockey (or any sport for that matter) in the street.

Commence head shaking now.

Now, the good news (if there is such a thing in the context of this story), is that you would only get fined if someone complained about your street hockey game. Which some lady did. A father, who was playing street hockey in the only place deemed worthy of the game and the name, was fined $75 for not backing down when the authorities came. He's fighting the fine.

When I was growing up in Montreal (or a suburb of Montreal - Deux Montagnes to be exact), street hockey was a right. It was also a rite.

There goes the neighbourhood

Calgary is going to be issuing black garbage bins similar to the blue recycle bins that were distributed last year. The idea is that eventually, Calgarians will only be allowed to dispose of what can fit into that black bin. Any extra bags left out will cost the homeowner an extra $2.30 per bag. The black bins are bigger than the blue ones, so the city feels that 80%+ of the residents will be well served. The city is also considering giving residents the option to request a smaller black bin if that's all that they need - the idea being that perhaps those folks can pay a lesser garbage collection fee on their utility bill each month.

While this might all sound good on paper, I've gotten feedback from people in other parts of the country who have to pay extra beyond a certain quota of bags. The essence of their complaint is that if I have more garbage bags than I'm allowed to put out, nothing's to stop me from dumping those extra bags beside someone else's garbage bins under cover of darkness. I just basically move my problem onto someone else's property.

So while I applaud the city for trying to get residents to reduce their garbage output, this plan is not without its problems.

I also predict that if someone were to sell a garbage compactor device, they might make a small fortune in this city.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mass hysteria

Congratulations America, on moving forward to a reformed health care system. It seems you'll need a reformed system to deal with all of the people in America who suddenly went insane....

Thanks to Randy for the tip on the article.

Kicking another habit

I'm making a determined effort to cut right back on my sugar intake as part of my transition to eat better.

Now when we go out for dinner, I try to avoid pop and other sugary drinks and stick with water. I've reduced the amount of sugar I put in my tea and coffee. I'm trying to wean myself down to one teaspoon per beverage. It's hard - I used to put five. I'm not joking. If I could get my hands on some unrefined natural sugar cane crystals, that would be good too, as I've heard it's better than refined sugar. Can anyone back that statement up for me?

I'm noticing a few dessert items sold in the store are being made with Splenda now. One of my favourites is the Cozy Shack rice pudding with Splenda. It's in a smaller container and is less than 100 calories. I tried it and can't tell the difference.

Years ago, you would have caught me snacking at night on chips, cookies, ice cream and the like. Although I still indulge on ice cream once in a while - come on, how can you have apple crumble without vanilla ice cream? Seriously. But for night-time snacking, I now concentrate on fresh fruit, or frozen field berries thawed and mixed with a little yogurt.

I actually roll my eyes and shake my head (no) now when Darlene reaches for a bag of chips in the store. I would've smiled five years ago.

Message to Ann Coulter:

So... remember how you once said that Canada should be lucky America allows it to exist on the same continent? You're such a laugh riot Ann. After all, your incendiary monologue is to be taken as humour. Parody. Satire. Right?

Well, when we said you should watch what you say in Canada because we don't tolerate hate speech, that was satire too. Get it? And the threat of egging and tomato-ing you in Ottawa? Parody!

Note to self: If Canada ever considers attacking America, it seems some Americans are scared silly of omelettes.

Most Canadians are too busy cowering in their igloos trying not to offend America, to bothering starting a violent protest against a self-proclaimed 'comedienne'.

Have fun in Calgary on Thursday. We real funny out here......

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take a free Spin... or two

Have you ever heard of Spin magazine (it's about music)? Not that interested? Would you be if it was free?

It is now.....

All the way back to May 1985. The advertising alone will put a smile on your face.

If cable companies and TV networks were like radio stations:

You'd get all your programming for free. Advertising would pay so that you got all content for free.

You wouldn't even pay for upgrades to the system.

If you weren't making enough revenue, you change something to improve things. Change your format, add better programming....

People wouldn't be forced to subscribe to stations they didn't like just to access the ones they do.

"I did not have much time to prepare for what I was getting myself into"

A friend of mine who is still in the Canadian military just returned from Haiti, where he was part of our relief effort. I asked him if he could briefly share his story and this is what he provided: (edited for clarity)

"What I can say? This tour came fast and furious and I did not have much time to prepare for what I was getting myself into. I had less than 24 hours once I new I was confirmed as to getting on plane to an "austere" environment. I was not sure what exactly that word meant and had no real idea what I should pack (in other words: gas mask or blue jeans).

I was there for 44 days and ate IMPs (individual meal packs) the whole time. My first week was under the stars as our modular tents had yet to arrive and we had no stoves or fuel for meals. I washed/showered out of a wash basin with bottled water and used baby wipes to clean myself. They wanted 'boots on the ground' and so we arrived before our Communications equipment did. We spent the early part of the tour unloading huge helicopters such as Sea Stallions (US Marines) full of food and water. I was mostly restricted to Jacmel airfield. If you look on Google Earth, you can see our camp setup. VIP visitors included Angelina Jolie, Stephen Harper, CDS (the Chief of Defence Staff) and after I left, Governor General of Canada Michaelle Jean.

Overall the locals very much appreciated Canada's efforts. We got thumbs up everywhere we travelled and I felt no hostility towards us. As we were not staying for the long haul and they wanted our tour to last less than 56 days, we did not make a large footprint. That is why our comforts from home were not a priority. Food and aid to the residents were top priority. Once this stopped, it was time for us to come home.

Getting all of our non-essential kit home had it's challenges as well. The airfield was not long enough to airlift much of our supplies out. So much of our stuff was sent back to Canada by barge. That is the very short version of what happened. It's good to be back home. For my lessons learned, I wished I had brought some books, and munchies and packed lighter. Overall, It was an experience I won't forget for some time, but it already seems like it was so long ago that I was there. I guess Haiti is not in the news much anymore. It will take them MANY years to rebuild."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Message to every developed country government in the world:

Make these bastards pay. Make them suffer like the dying dinosaurs that they are.

"Oh Karl", you might say, "why are you so hard on the entertainment industry in their drive to strengthen copyright and protect against infringers? They have a right to make money too you know."

You want to know why? This is why. Mofos were suing YouTube (Google) even while they were uploading their own videos pretending to be infringers to take advantage of the promotional potential of YouTube.

Survival knowledge

Can your children identify common vegetables and fruits? Try this – take your kids to the grocery store and in the produce section, have them name all the vegetables they know (don’t let them cheat and look at the signs).

Did they do well? If not, ask yourself a question – if they can’t identify these simple real food items, how are they going to be able to cook anything substantive and healthy when they go out on their own?

Devilishly prolific

I just looked at my blog dashboard and noticed I have 6666 blog posts.

Good thing I don't buy into any of that evil number of the beast fantasy.

Back on topic though.... that's a lot of posts, eh?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The universe in the palm of your hand

Wow hey?

Like, I mean.... progress....


Robots + snow = roboplow!

I love it. I must have one.

I would sit on my front porch and let El Roboto clear the sidewalk. The neighbour's too.

More UK on streetview

They finally put Bournemouth (UK) in Google streetview, so I recently had fun giving Darlene a virtual tour of a place I stayed at for a few weeks thanks to a business trip I had at my previous job.

(I blogged about it starting on September 4th, 2007)

How do they know?

Those folks at the internet are a smart bunch. This site will tell you if your computer is on or off.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mars fly-by at 300 feet

If you ever wondered what Mars looks like, this video might assuage that curiosity. Very nicely done. The terrain was mapped from actual data - it's not make believe.

I can't believe I just said make believe though....

Friday, March 19, 2010


Here is an incredible 'scale of the universe' sliding model. It's very mind boggling.

I got down to the scale of an atom and had no idea how much further down the rabbit hole we can still go.

[checks to see if you can buy quantum foam on Amazon]

Name this song

OK, how about this one?

What flash makes possible

In what can only be described as a genius display of what's possible in a flash web site, this HBO short "Art Heist", allows you to see the attempted robbery at an art gallery from 4 different angles. You just spin the cube to switch to the perspective you want to see, in real time.

As you watch the scene from different angles, more of what's really going on becomes clearer. You'll definitely need to watch the scene multiple times.

All is not what it seems.

Control plus Zed

The ultimate geeky I'm sorry card.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Name the song

More music games for you to play.

I'm just full of it, huh?

The games, silly.....

There still is good TV out there....

Do you know what I like about having cable? Getting access to HBO and Showtime programming (broadcast on Canadian specialty networks), which (in my opinion) is so far ahead of the traditional networks (Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, CBC, CTV).

Enter into evidence Exhibit A: The Sopranos. Changed television forever. Nuff said.

Exhibit B: 6 Feet Under. For those of you who have not seen it, it's the story of members of the Fisher family, who try to run their 'non-chain store' funeral home in Los Angeles. The series traces these characters' lives and their friends and lovers and the pitfalls of the business.

Exhibit C: Dexter. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall - from Exhibit B above), a clever serial killer who happens to work for the Miami Metro Police Department as a blood spatter analyst.

Exhibit D: Weeds. This show is about a newly widowed housewife (Mary-Louise Parker [drool]) from an Orange County-esque California suburb. She becomes the neighborhood marijuana dealer to make ends meet.

Exhibit E: Secret Diary of a Call Girl. The title says it all, doesn't it?

Exhibit F: Nurse Jackie. Somebody from exhibit A had to get their own show and in this case it turned out to be Edie Falco. She plays Jackie Peyton, an emergency room nurse who is a functioning drug addict. This is the least of her problems.

For those of you who like Nurse Jackie (in Canada), you'll be pleased to know that season 2 begins airing Monday, March 22nd on Movie Central.

Lead out edition 2

Update: What? Too tough for everybody? Do we need a hint?

OK, the first edition of the game was easy.

This one might be a bit tougher. It is an old song. That is your only clue. You know - besides the picture.....

Oh yeah.... for those of you just joining - guess the artist and song from the lead out.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview with Shawn Kinley

I actually recorded this interview with Shawn Kinley of Loose Moose many months ago... OK, a year ago (geez, stop already). So my apologies in advance for the quality of the audio. It was one of my first interviews, I wasn't at all prepared, I managed to catch Shawn at a rare moment at the Moose when he actually had 15 minutes to spare and my recording technique had not yet been..... refined.

Anyway, Shawn is one of the more senior members of the Calgary improv company known as Loose Moose. I look up to him in a huge way because of his fearlessness and his obvious ease with the art form.

I take technology for granted

I was sitting in my car on the way home from work, listening to my music stored on my iPhone, connected through my car stereo. I thought about that for a moment and realized that I now take for granted the fact that I bring pretty much my entire music collection with me wherever I go and listen to it at will.

Ten years ago, this just wasn't possible.

I try to imagine what I'll be able to do ten years from now that isn't possible today.

Pompla-miss a thing

Pomplamoose, my current favourite indy group, do an artsy cover of Aerosmith's I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing. It's not my favourite song of theirs, but it has its moments.

Of course, like anything else on the inter-webs, when you find one thing, it usually leads to more, better things (not more better as in 'even better' - more better as in a larger quantity of better). So this other Pomplamoose video, If You Think You Need Some Lovin is freaking great!

Music CD trivia

We have Beethoven to thank for how much music a CD could hold when it was first released.

The CD was intended to be just 11.5 centimetres in diameter, but when Philips teamed up with Sony to release the compact disc and player, Sony was adamant that a compact disc had to have enough space to hold Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (about 74 minutes). In order to do so, the size of the disc had to be increased to 12 centimetres in diameter instead.