Thursday, September 30, 2010

This could 'scoop the pool'

Here's a decent online dictionary of common idioms.

It could be a 'pig in a poke' for all I know......

Simon's cat meets the box

Every cat that was ever introduced to a box has done this.

Best cat cartoon ever.


whack-a-mole: noun. In a cubicle farm (at an office), the phenomenon of multiple cubicle occupants poking their head above the cubicle wall level, to see what's going on around them. The phenomenon resembles the game of whack-a-mole. Usually manifests when there has been a commotion or a computer network issue shared by multiple users.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Music for any mood

I have stumbled across what is for me one of the most amazing music discovery web sites in a long time. It's called Stereo Mood and the concept is that you choose a mood, emotion or activity and it loads a playlist of music to suit that selection. I was expecting unknown, no-name, fringe artists but was pleasantly surprised to see pretty much every genre of music represented in those playlists. Then I made another discovery - this site is a great way to discover new (to me) music.

Absolutely awesome.

Are levies the answer, or is the problem much deeper?

There are folks in Canada who are lobbying the government to add mp3 players to the existing media that charge consumers a private copying levy. The private copying levy is currently applied to recordable media such as blank CD-R discs (at $0.29 per disc). The levy allows individuals to make copies of sound recordings for their own private, non-commercial use. They may not distribute the copy. The argument goes something like this - if a levy were also applied to mp3 players, then logical dictates that we inherit the right to put copies of sound recordings for our own private, non-commercial use onto our digital audio players. I'm all for that.

But I always wondered - how does the over $150 million collected since 1997 get distributed? As it turns out, it gets distributed as follows: 66% to eligible authors and publishers, 18.9% to eligible performers and 15.1% to eligible record companies. The methodology by which the proceeds are distributed to rights holders is based on commercial radio airplay and commercial sales samples. This ignores radio/college airplay and independent record sales not logged by Soundscan. Some argue that this favours major label artists at the expense of lesser known and independent artists.

But nobody has ever released any real figures. How much does a well-known Canadian artist or group like Barenaked Ladies, Rush, or Arcade Fire get? How much does a new or lesser known artist or group like Sarah Harmer, Andy Shauf and Voivod get? Could it not be argued that the artist on the (financial) fringe needs the money more than the flagship label artist?

The CPCC claims that $150 million has been distributed to over 97,000 rights holders. That works out (assuming even distribution) to less than $1600 per party. But when you look even closer, it's not even that much. $22 million (and counting) of that money goes to overhead costs such as pursuing Copyright Board tariffs (lawyers, consultants, surveys, etc.), collection and enforcement (e.g. lawyers and auditors), and other causes such as “communications and government relations. So I ask you with all seriousness - does this levy really benefit actual artists significantly? If not, why do we even bother? Or was the only way we could manage to get the right to copy for private use entrenched in law, was to buy that right?

I've heard it said that on an average $16.00 CD retail sale, only $0.04 (four cents) ever goes to the artist. If they are in a band with four members, each member gets a penny (assuming the manager doesn't get their 20% cut). Most bands don't even see a profit unless they sell hundreds of thousands of records and get past the first couple of albums so they can renegotiate their contracts as a 'valuable artist'. I've also heard it said that most music artists who understand the real dynamic of the recording industry could care less if you bought their CD, but in fact would rather you went to their live performances and bought their t-shirts.

So I guess the real question left to ask is - maybe it's the record companies that need reforming. It sounds like a more equitable portion of revenue needs to go to the artists and a lot less to the labels. I predict that given enough time, someone will use the internet to its full potential and offer the artist more of the revenue pie.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Need a coffee

This is a great, funny short sci-fi animation.

Trust me, you'll love it. Especially if you're a fan of those Alien movies.

Not quite right

TV shows that would be quite different with a minor typo:

Okrah - Abcess Hollywood - Fiends - Zeroes - Diff'rent Strikes - Doctor Pho - America's Next Cop Model - The X Films - Lust - Boston Regal - Big Bong Theory - The Amazing Rave - Two and a Half Meh - Breaking Bud - So You Think You Can Fence - Hippy Days - One Tree Hell - Fad Men - Family Gay - Smellville - Dancing With The Stats - I Love Lucky - The Boneymooners - Ill in the Family - Fate Show with David Letterman - Saturday Night Jive - The F Word - dirtysomething - M*A*T*C*H - The Twilight Bone - Buffy the Vampire Player - Ghost Lisperer


I know that this statement will probably tick a lot of people off (especially if it is their livelihood), but I don't believe in flipping houses. As in - I don't think it should be allowed. I believe it contributes to higher home prices and anyone who knows a first-time home buyer in today's market (especially here in Calgary), knows that it's a wonder anyone can afford to buy a home anymore. Back in the day, I swallowed hard taking out a $150,000 mortgage. I don't know what I would do faced with a $450,000 mortgage.

I am not sure what the fair and equitable solution is to the situation, but perhaps home buyers must live in the home that they buy for at least 5 years, unless they can prove why they need to sell sooner (job transfer; retiring; children left home; becoming spouseless). From my examples you can see that it would have to be a life altering experience. I know that this wouldn't cure the over-pricing of the market overnight, but it would stop the endless number of over-inflated homes that would be available to home buyers in need and maybe they'd be worth a few tens of thousands less.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's the oldest thing you own?

Darlene and I were thinking about what possession in our home we've had the longest and realized it was a picture made of inlaid wood. This photo doesn't do it justice, nor does it capture the entire piece.

It's an heirloom passed on to Darlene from her parents.

OK, readers, what's the oldest thing you own?

Shake it baby

Some days I feel just like Frostie the Cockatoo does...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's a bird. It's a plane. Nah, it's just a ladybug

OK, this story seriously weirds me out. According to the bug people, in the summer there are superhighways of flying insects above us numbering in the billions (per square kilometre). Most of these bugs are either looking for new places to live or speed dating.

Included in this mix of arthropodic nomads - spiders. Flying on kites made of silk at 12,000 feet. I kid you not.

Bueller..........? Anyone...?

Sometimes Bill Maher cracks me up. This article about the richest people in the US being mad at Obama for raising their top marginal tax bracket rate from to 39% (an increase of 3.6%). The dig at Ben Stein is priceless.

"...And let's be clear: that's 3.6% only on income above 250 grand -- your first 250, that's still on the house. Now, this week we got some horrible news: that one in seven Americans are now living below the poverty line. But I want to point you to an American who is truly suffering: Ben Stein. You know Ben Stein, the guy who got rich because when he talks it sounds so boring it's actually funny. He had a game show on Comedy Central, does eye drop commercials, doesn't believe in evolution? Yeah, that ass-hole."

Go get 'em Bill.

More technology enigmas our kids will be puzzled by

Pagers. Remember those things? Talk about a stop-gap technology that was rendered obsolete in no time flat. Go ahead, explain that little blip of technology to your kids. I dare ya:

"Yeah so this thing beeped when someone needed to get a hold of you."
"What made it beep?"
"They called the pager's phone number."
"Which made it beep?"
"And then what?"
"And then you would call the person who paged you."
"With the pager....?"
"Uh.... no. You had to go and find a phone."
"Find... a.... phone...."
"Yeah, most people couldn't afford a cell phone, so they had a pager instead."
"Dumb. How big was it?"
"Uhh................. about the size that a cell phone is now."

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Bestest BP infographic evar!

The topic? All the things BP could buy with all of the money lost from the decreased stock value as a result of the oil spill. This doesn't even count the money spent cleaning up the spill or paying out claims.


In case the site ever goes down, here's the transcript:

BP could have bought 10 years of clean water for each of the 884 million people in the world without access to it. $8.84 billion, or $1 per year per person. Plus...
A new home to replace each of the 275,000 lost in Hurricane Katrina. $48.125 billion at the median New Orleans market rate of $175,000. Plus...
An ice cream sandwich for everyone on Earth. $3.395 billion included a 0.50 sandwich from Walmart for each person. Plus... Purchased Yahoo, Inc. Its market value according to Yahoo Finance is $20.069 billion. Plus... A 2010 Toyota Prius for each of BP’s 92,000 employees. $1.968 billion. Plus... A copy of the book Sh*t My Dad Says for every user on Twitter. $922 million. Plus... Purchased Twitter itself for a cost of $1 billion, according to its 2009 valuation. Plus... Add an island in the Bahamas to their purchases. Lighthouse Cay has four miles of beach front and costs $33.3 million. Plus... A pogo stick for every elementary school kid in the U.S. $621.25 million. Plus... A 3 pack of condoms to every teenager in the U.S. $8.45 million. Plus... An iPad for every college student in the U.S. at a total cost of $8.305 billion. Plus... A trip to outer space for every U.S. Senator. $3 billion. Plus... A year’s sponsorship for one million needy kids at Children International. $264 million. Plus... A three-wolf t-shirt for every person in America. $3.432 billion. A second wolf shirt for every person in Idaho. Another $17 million.
The total cost of all of these items is $100,000,000,000. This is how much BP stock has lost as of June 2010. This doesn’t include the $3.5+ billion spent in recovery efforts so far.

Slow motion lightning

This has got to be one of the coolest videos I've seen in a while. It is video taken at a rate of 9000 frames per second, of a lightning strike in North Dakota this past June. A preceding downward positive ground flash triggers upward leaders from seven towers, three of which are visible in the video.

Just what is net neutrality?

Have you ever wondered what the deal is on Net Neutrality?

This infographic is a good primer on the topic.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who dat?

Alright blog-o-phytes, here's some trivia for ya.

Who is this woman and what is she best known for?

Place your answers in the comments.....

Timelapse montage

Here is a gorgeous time lapse video with some rather dramatic music set to it. But the imagery is outstanding. For anyone that has never seen what the Milky Way looks like in the sky, you see a lot of it here.

That's our galaxy y'all!

The world's first energy-positive home

The Heliotrope is the brainchild of architect Ralph Disch. The home rotates with the sun. This home generates five times the energy it consumes. Mounted on a pole, the home is timed to rotate 180 degrees through the day, following the sun’s track. The 6.6 kWH solar panels on top produce more than enough energy to make the home net energy positive. A unique hand railing system doubles as solar thermal tubing that heats the home’s water and radiators.

The home also re-uses grey water and rainwater for domestic use and features a composting toilet system.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guns and circuses

Time to weigh in on a Canadian issue that is occupying so many political and media resources - the long gun registry.

Let's look at the facts as I see them (forgive any errors - my sources are limited):
  • The registry was created to protect Canadians by making it easier for police to know if someone owns a long gun.
  • It cost a lot of money to set up, but now its expenses are minimal.
  • Most police forces insist they benefit from its existence.
  • Gun owners don't like that they have to pay to register.
  • Conservatives feel this is a first step toward the eventual restriction of weapons ownership in Canada.
  • Some people don't believe the registry prevents any crimes - they demand proof that it works.
  • People argue that criminals don't use registered weapons.
  • Hunters and farmers don't like the cost or red tape and feel it impinges on their rights.
  • Way back when, the leader of the Conservatives actually supported the registry, before it became a partisan issue.
Now for some opinion.

I don't think the Conservatives are pushing for the elimination of the registry because they actually believe it is wasteful. I believe they're doing it because the Liberals created it and the Conservatives had made an election promise to trash it. The Conservatives have already been accused by their party faithful of reneging on enough promises already, to allow another high-profile promise to be broken so close to potential election season could be their undoing.

What bugs me most about the vote on the issue is not that members of parliament are being whipped to vote the party line, but that members free to vote as they please (read NDP party) are in some cases voting using anything other than common sense - yes that is solely my opinion. Should members be entitled to vote with their conscience? Would they be truly be free to do so without consequence? Big questions.

I think that as long as the registry can be proven to be effective for the money being spent, it should be kept. Nobody has really gone out of their way to offer any proof that it works - so I'm not surprised at the lack of faith. If the registry is creating difficulty for gun owners then it should be modified to try and fix what's wrong with it. That hunters and farmers don't like it is not a good reason to scrap it, especially if it is doing what it set out to do. I don’t like having to register my car every year either. I could be completely off-base of course - as I don't even own a gun. So I digress.

More importantly, why are we wasting so much precious time arguing over such a trivial matter? We have much bigger rabbits to hunt. Our health system is deteriorating. It is quietly transforming into a two-tiered structure where the have-nots will no longer afford effective health care. The economy is still struggling while banks have returned to making record profits. Infrastructure is crumbling. Alternative energy and energy reduction is an after-thought. Arts are treated as an elitist luxury. Schooling is quickly falling out of economic reach of many people. Technology is being held back thanks to anti-competitive, protectionist laws, oligopolistic business environments and antiquated business models.

So how about we vote to save this registry, tweak it to make it better? No matter what the result, we need to move on to more important matters.

[Update] I wrote this post before the vote took place. It appears the vote saved the registry. No sooner than the vote was over did the Conservatives vow that they will make it an election issue. It doesn't matter to me. In the end, there are much more important things to fix.

Suck it USA!

I need to find this store.

Shit be free in Canada y'all!

Using the internet to cheat

Both figuratively and literally!

At Writework, essays, research papers and term papers are there for the taking.

At Ashley Madison, their motto is: "Life is short - have an affair." Their Affair Guarantee Program states "...if you don't find someone within the initial 3 months after purchasing the "Affair Guarantee" Membership Package, we'll refund you $249, being the amount you paid for participating in the Program".

Beautiful People is the dating site where (in the immortal words of Fernando Lamas)" it is better to look good than to feel good darlings."

And finally, if you need some decent job references but are having trouble getting any, you could always hire Career Excuse to vouch for your brilliant (but fictitious) past.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Get out and see genius improvisation in action... while you still can

If you're looking for entertainment guaranteed to put a smile on your face, you owe it to yourself to catch Rebecca Northan's Blind Date performance at the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary. This show was developed 3 years ago at Loose Moose and has since toured to sold out shows around the continent. Now it's back for a limited run - this is a rare opportunity to catch genius improvisation in action and possibly the last time it can be seen in Canada. It's going to Broadway!

Watch as Rebecca, playing 'Mimi', realizes she's been stood up for her blind date at a café and decides to pick an audience member to be her date instead. The next 90 minutes will have you rolling in the aisles as she takes this brave soul on a wild journey through their life together. I can honestly say this production is the smartest, wittiest, most adventurous performance I've seen at Loose Moose yet. You really must go if you can.

Shows nightly at 8pm, 27-30 September 2010 at Loose Moose Theatre, second floor of the Crossroads Market, 1235 - 26th Ave. SE (rear / west entrance). Tickets ($37.00) available online through Ground Zero Theatre or by calling 403-221-3708. This show is not being sold through the regular Loose Moose box office.

Splendid and captivating films

I just love these fake vintage ads for internet services.

Toronto race worse than ours

If you think we have a character or two in our mayoralty race in Calgary, you should see the Toronto race. I particular, a guy named Rob Ford. Choice quotes:

“What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later, you’re going to get bitten. And every year we have dozens of people that get hit by cars or trucks. Well, no wonder. Roads are built for buses, cars and trucks. Not for people on bikes. And my heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”

“If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won't get AIDS, probably.”

It gets better.....

Last day of summer

This was the scene in Banff this morning at 8am, just over an hour west of Calgary.

It is the 21st of September.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Call Mayor McCheese!

The Hamburglar is on the loose!

Ok, now I'm confused. I thought the Hamburglar was a he....

From People of Walmart.

Oh goody! More of the same.....

While Eastern Canada enjoyed one of the hottest summers, Alberta and the prairies had one of the coolest and wettest. Now this from Environment Canada: “...current models suggest winter will strike hardest out west, largely due to La Nina, El Nino's counterpart...”

Great. What’s the deal here? Is this climatic karma for the oil sands? Did Albertans forget to pay homage to a vengeful Mother Nature in some way? Is this one of the side effects of the global warmings? Will westerners find themselves buried under six feet of snow this winter? Will Jack Frost bring new meaning to the word terrorism? Can Batman defeat the evil Mr. Freeze?

Stay tuned bat-friends........

Where's the tub?

Darlene and I love going to visit the various lottery show homes on display around the city. If nothing else, we like to imagine what it would be like to live in such a home and we often analyze the home's features for practicality and compare notes on what we like or don't like about each home. For the record, the Kinsmen home that was awarded from the Children's Hospital lottery was amazing. The nicest, most practical home we've seen to date.

So when the Calgary Health Trust Lifestyles Lottery show home opened to the public for viewing this weekend, we went to take a look. Now, when a home is priced at $1.8 million, your expectations are high. We left greatly disappointed. Generally, the home isn't terrible, but it certainly has some major flaws. For starters, the colour scheme they used has a look that will not appeal to everyone. It certainly isn't my favourite. For a home of this size, the basement seemed very small. It could be that the utility area is big, but we weren't allowed into that area. The main floor is nice, open, bright and airy. But the top floor was a mish-mash of design ideas and mis-steps that I thought could be executed better. The top floor consisted of a family room, a huge curved bar area, an exercise room and the master suite. Now I don't know about you, but if I were designing a home, I don't think I'd put party central one door away from my bedroom. That's me though. Off of the family room was a roof-top deck with fireplace - nice touch.

But upon touring the master suite and ensuite bathroom, Darlene and I both looked at each other and said "Where's the tub?" The ensuite had a team sized shower with multiple heads. But there was no tub. Nada. The search was on. There has to be a tub in here somewhere. We looked. But we did not find. We did spot yet another shower in another bathroom, but no tub. Only once we got to the deepest recesses of the basement did we finally come across a standard tub in the shared bathroom for the two bedrooms down there.

I found this giant omission to be rather odd. Wouldn't you expect an almost $2 million home to at least be sporting a soaker tub in the ensuite? I was saying to Darlene that if we were shopping for a $1.8 million home (eyes rolling) and came across this one, I would have been laughing to the real estate agent. That feature (or lack thereof) alone was enough to give this lottery home a huge thumbs down. I wouldn't be surprised if sales of tickets suffer as a result.

So in summary - roof-top deck - good. Lack of tub in ensuite - deal breaker - bad.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Now playing in the playlist - Heart

The two sexiest girls in rock and roll.


I'm socially concerned....

....about social networking. Here's the thing. Facebook went from being the next best thing since sliced bread to a privacy invading beast that has sold our souls to marketing. Don't get me wrong, Facebook has some great things going for it, but it is losing what were once the faithful to alternatives. And that's where I have some concerns.

Back in the day, it was IRC. Then came ICQ. Then it was Messenger. Eventually, we all migrated to Facebook. Twitter threatened for a second, but then most people realized (I think) that Twitter was like a side dish to Facebook. It was perfect for micro-blogging, but Facebook still made it easiest to share information, pictures, videos, links and so

But now that the Facebook backlash has begun, what is a fringe internetizen to do? There's the Anti-facebook - Diaspora, Google Buzz, Orkut, Bebo, Friendster and others.

Assuming you make the decision to abandon Facebook, the problem is - which one do you switch to? Are all of your friends going to jumps ship? Are they all going to follow you to the same alternative that you picked? It really doesn't pay to switch social networks unless you can be sure that you're going off to the next big thing. It's kind of like changing pubs. Unless the friends you've been hanging with need to be dumped en masse, you're not likely to change pubs if you're not sure all of your pub-mates are coming with you.

So it is possible that no matter how bad or annoying Facebook gets, it may have achieved critical mass in that it's too late to switch to something else and expect your posse to come along. The only real alternative left may be to revert back to that ancient social network we used to rely on in the days before the interwebs - real life.

Mila daydreams

A mother poses her napping baby in scenes that she imagines her daughter is dreaming.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ancient relic?

It won't be long before children will be born who will never know what this is (assuming we're not there already).

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's all in the presentation

Besides finding great deals on everyday items on Kijiji, I also love randomly browsing the site because it provides me with an endless source of entertainment. I'm speaking of course about the slew of faux pas that I witness on a regular basis with regard to how people present the items they are trying to sell.

Like this watch, for example. In the left image, we see the watch - barely. It's out of focus and the way the protective plastic film has been placed on the watch face makes it look like the face is cracked. That's really encouraging. The way the tag is upside down is a nice touch too. Let's just pretend that we don't really care if it sells. Moving on to the right image, now the watch is in focus, but once again, the protective film on the watch face makes it look damaged. The seller even mentions in the ad that the word Automatic is not part of the watch, but part of the protective film. Hmmm. Oh! I have an idea! Maybe you should just take the film off? Would that not present the watch in a better light? Speaking of light - one word - lighting......

More on presentation. Check out that hand. My philosophy on selling stuff is simple. If you're going to use a part or all of your body to present an item for sale in a manner that will augment the look of the item, you might want to consider spiffying the model up a tad. That nail polish job is definitely not adding to the look in a positive way, unless you're going after the tattered goth crowd.

I think I'll pass on the watch out of spite.

Alberta - Canada's freezer

Seen on the webby-tubes today.

I saw cats sleeping with dogs too

I think this was the most surreal September 17th in my life. While driving to work, I looked out my driver side window to see cars passing by, coming in to the city from outlying areas - with snow on their roofs. Meanwhile, out my passenger side window, rider lawnmowers were trudging along cutting grass as per usual.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Text, drive and survive

I thought this was freaking hilarious until I realized that some folks would actually try to do this.

How to be alone

When I was young, I was alone. A lot. In fact, I was a loner. I'm not sure if it was by choice or by necessity. I was a social misfit and friends were rare and fleeting. I learned to be alone and I embraced it. Being alone was freeing. I wasn't alone all of the time. I had friends. But I gave more time to myself than to others. And it wasn't bad. In fact, it was probably what I needed at the time. I could be me when I was alone. Hell, I could be whoever I wanted to be. That was much harder to pull off in the presence of company.

Things are much different today. I've forgotten how to be alone. It started when I left home. My alone time disappeared with joining the military. It's hard to be alone in that kind of life. I tried. But it just couldn't be maintained. In time I was with friends much more than I was alone. I became addicted to the company I kept. With increased social interaction came increased confidence. That made me crave being with others even more. The alone time dissipated until it was almost gone. But I needed a mate. Then I met Darlene. And then we got married. By this time, alone had just become a concept. It didn't exist anymore. I enjoyed my anti-alone time so much, I began to fear being alone. When alone-ness was thrust upon me, I fought it. I craved the togetherness of my relationships. I don't enjoy being alone anymore. If I have to go out alone, I do it begrudgingly. I have evolved into the anti-loner.

And that's just wrong. Because I know deep down, that it's OK to be alone. But I have to give myself permission to be alone. Which is why this video really touched me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ben Cameron on the importance of live arts

From TEDyyc. Thanks to Alice for nudging this in my direction.

Where is it - edition 66

Edition 65 went so fast, I figured we should put another edition out there pronto.

You know the drill - guess the city. Click the picture for a bigger view.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Diaspora quiz

This city has the largest population of Canadians outside of Canada.

Name the city.

(Place guess in the comments)

P.S.: This will be my only post tonight as I am off to a play at The Epcor Centre. I'm all arty like that.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Improv ideas for Life - Part 8

In the last (for now) of my continuing series, here's hoping these improv mantras can positively influence your experience and help make life better. Today's topic is:

When in doubt, have fun.

One big reason improvisers do what they do - it's fun. Play games, make interesting choices, enjoy yourself. In improv there is no right or wrong, just fun. Life is the same. Excluding immoral and illegal activities, there is no wrong - only what you choose to make it. So when in doubt, choose fun.

"I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I've written for myself, and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part." ~Shirley MacLaine
"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." ~Katherine Hepburn

Altavista baby

For those of you out there who only know of Google search and/or Bing, here is the history of the search engine.

Interview with Naheed Nenshi - candidate for Mayor of Calgary

I managed a rare coup this weekend. I asked for and was granted an interview with (in my mind) the most interesting candidate for Mayor for the the city of Calgary - Naheed Nenshi. A big shout out to Erin from the Nenshi campaign who made it happen. And of course a huge thank you to Naheed for taking time in his busy schedule to talk to an ordinary citizen. I was thrilled to get a chance to chat with him.

We met at Haultain Park as part of the Haultain Festival on Sunday. Here's the interview:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where is it - edition 65!

By intense demand, my immensely popular geo-hunting game is back! For those of you new to the game, I present a satellite view of a locale on earth and you have to tell me where it is. Click the picture for a bigger view. Once you've figured out where it is, you simply place your answer in the comments.

This time around, all I need is a landmark name.

We went to get more bullets and beer.....

Possibly the best home-made anti-theft door sign.


Should we drive slower on side streets?

There is a movement afoot in the UK to reduce the speed limit on residential streets and towns to 20mph (30km/h). Statistics bear witness to a reduction in the severity of injuries sustained by pedestrians and cyclists (35% to 5%) when speeds are reduced to 20mph (30km/h). This could be a low-cost option for reducing automobile speeds instead of building speed bumps.

The reason for the change is a safer quality of life in neighbourhoods, where pedestrians, cyclists and especially children aren't in fear on their own roads. But how would Calgarians react to such a change in speed limits on side streets? I don't know how we would enforce the speeds. We can barely enforce them now.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Improv ideas for Life - Part 7

In my continuing series, here's hoping these improv mantras can positively influence your experience and help make life better. Today's topic is:

Just decide and do something

Ambivalence and timidity are the death of an improviser on stage. Since everything is made up, you just have to make a decision and go with it. Once you make a decision, it’s up to you and your partner(s) to run with it and make it work.

In life, we don’t get things done because we haven’t decided what we want. Until we do, we’ll never be able to achieve it. People will find a thousand excuses to not do something. To succeed you have to actually do something. It does neither you or the world any good if you have the greatest idea since sliced bread but do nothing about it. That you do something is far more important than what you do.

"Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions." ~Author Unknown
"Everything is something you decide to do, and there is nothing you have to do." ~Denis Waitley
"A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one." ~Rita Mae Brown

They want it

Apparently, the city of Toronto picks up e-waste (old electronics) right at your door. They take it with the garbage.

And they want it...... bad.

Google alphabet

Google Alphabet is a game based on what typing in each letter of the alphabet produces in the form of suggestions. The results vary by location and other more personal factors: like the cookies stored for your prior Google searches.

A is for Air Canada. B is for BMO. C is for Canadian Tire. D is for Dictionary. E is for eBay. F is for Facebook. G is for Gmail. H is for Hotmail. I is for Ikea. J is for Job Bank. K is for Kijiji. L is for Lotto Max. M is for MapQuest. N is for NHL. O is for Osap. P is for PayPal. Q is for Quotes. R is for Rogers. S is for Skype. T is for TSN. U is for Utube. V is for VIA Rail. W is for Walmart. X is for Xbox. Y is for Youtube. Z is for Zellers.

Phantom fault cause discovered

There's a common phenomenon in the IT industry - I know there's a name for it, I just can't remember what it is right now - that frustrates computer users to no end. It's the phenomenon where a user experiences a computer fault, usually software related, which magically disappears and is not reproducible when the support person shows up.

I believe I have discovered the cause of such a manifestation. Computers are deathly afraid of the techs. Just watch a computer react to a stern look from an IT support person. They squirm. No but seriously, I think I have the answer to why faults magically disappear when IT is on the scene.

One of the standard behaviours that computer users exhibit is the lack of patience or 'rushing' as it is also known in IT circles. The most basic and common example of this is printing. You know how it goes - the user has a document open, they click 'Print', nothing happens. They hurriedly click it again, and again, each time with decreasing delays between clicks. By the time they are done, they've requested no less than 20 print jobs of the document. Unfortunately, either the program, the printer or something in between was incapable of performing the initial print task immediately in the first place, and the same issue is going to prevent the other 19 attempts from succeeding as well.

When the support staff come along, the user is frustrated. But they will purposely slow down to give IT time to see the flaw in action. "See?" Click. "It doesn't print!" After a several second delay, the process works like a charm, embarrassing the user to no end. "Seriously, it didn't work for me..."

I see it happen a lot when (in a work environment) during computer boot-up, there are scripts running to automatically configure everything. I've witnessed people attempt to boot-up the computer, lose patience with boot-up time, press and hold the power button to force a power-down, then boot-up again. Like that was going to magically speed things up. If the script took n seconds to finish running on attempt number one, it will likely take n + 10 seconds on attempt number two and n + 20 seconds on attempt number three. Then IT shows up, turns the computer on and they wait together. When the user tries to interrupt the script, the support person politely (or not) tells them to relax and wait. Seconds later, the boot-up is complete.

The problem is that if the user had employed the same measure of patience to let you see the fault in all of its glory when they originally performed the action, everything would have gone smoothly. And I believe that this is the cause of most phantom faults that disappear when the tech shows up. The user slows down.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The water and soap free cleaner.... with water... and soap

Want to waste a few hours? Just go to Friends of Irony.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Improv ideas for Life - Part 6

In my continuing series, here's hoping these improv mantras can positively influence your experience and help make life better. Today's topic is:

You have to understand why you’re playing that game.

As an improviser, your character has to reveal your motivation. Why are you doing what you are doing? This question is equally valuable in everyday life – what is your motivation for doing what you're doing? If you ask yourself this about everything, you’ll realize there’s a number of things that you do out of habit or because it’s a societal norm that you aren’t really motivated or excited to do in the first place.

So stop it. It's all about being true to your character, both on stage and in real life.

"Don't think you're on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path." ~Author Unknown
"The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself." ~Rita Mae Brown, Venus Envy
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Just get mom to do it

Possibly the best laundry care label ever made.

Improv ideas for Life - Part 5

In my continuing series, here's hoping these improv mantras can positively influence your experience and help make life better. Today's topic is:

Just listen and react to what was said or done

This is actually a continuation of the Be in the moment concept. On stage, in meetings and in conversations, we tend to stop listening once we think we know what someone is going to say because we are convinced that we know or can fill in the whole story. We start thinking about our response – often at the risk of missing the actual point of what is being said. If you want to be a better communicator, stop assuming you know what is being communicated and start really listening to what is being said.

One great example of this is that in an improv scene, if an actor is planning ahead on what they're going to say or do, by the time the plan is finished being formulated and ready to execute, the scene has evolved to a point where the plan is no longer relevant.

Life is the same.

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." ~Epictetus
"The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen." ~Tommy Smothers


A while back, I mentioned the first consumer-ready electric motorbike available at Best Buy (US) of all places. It was cool, but didn't have a lot of performance cred.

What a difference two years makes. The new Brammo Empulse will go on sale early in 2011 and offer the following specs:
  • 55 HP and 59 Lb-Ft of torque
  • 390 Lbs.
  • 6kwh battery, 60 mile avg range: $9,995
  • 8kWh battery, 80 mile avg range: $11,995
  • 10kWh battery, 100 mile avg range: $13,995
  • City speeds increase range to 130+ miles, while long periods of high-speed cruising shrink range to 60-70 miles.
  • Using a 110v outlet, recharge between six and eight hours for a full charge, but a quick top-up of a half or three-quarters full battery should only take a couple hours.