Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Intermixed with death metal

http://youtu.be/7t3sVs60ofU
All I can say is.... it's a good thing that:

a) I was not mid gulp when I watched this video
b) Nobody was around to hear the unexpected profanity
c) The internet exists for gems like this
d) I now know what a jitney is
e) Nina Katchadourian has a great sense of humour

When signs incite anarchy

That backfired, didn't it?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Employment


A great short film where people serve other people in interesting ways.

Not only is the premise clever, it is deep.

"Easy being green, it is not"

Kermit.
Yoda.
Green.
Muppets.
Swamp-dwellers.
Friends.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Non-stick FAIL



Enlightening

Imagine no longer needing Radio Frequency energy (RF) to transmit wireless data for cell phone and wi-fi inter-connectivity. Someone has developed the concept of converting every LED light bulb in the world into Li-Fi, wireless transmission using nothing more than visible light, modulated at high frequencies that the eye could not detect.

Talk about a brighter future...

TED presentation here. Guardian article here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Karl - your one stop source for Calgary entertainment suggestions

OK Calgarians, if you're looking for a few things to fill out your weekend plans, look no further.

Tonight, if going to bed early isn't your thing, you might want to drive out to the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory just off highway 22 on the way to Millarville. Get there between 10pm and 2am to do some serious star gazing with people who actually know what those shiny twinkly things are up there. If you've never seen a star cluster or Jupiter and its moons with your own eyes, you can get that crossed off your bucket list tout-de-suite.

Saturday night at 10:30pm, is Truth or Dare at Loose Moose. This will be the farewell performance from Lindsay Mullan before she heads for bright lights of Toronto. You can say you saw her in the last performance before she hit the big time.

That's a two-fisted knockout of a weekend folks. Star gazing for the mind and laughter for the soul. You'll thank me later.

Social media compared



Olivia meets Daisy the cowgirl

I've never been a puppet master before, but I was willing to learn, especially for the sake of my grand-daughter Olivia. We invested in a few puppets, all of them Melissa & Doug creations.

A few nights ago when Olivia was over, I decided to bring out Daisy (my name for her), a cowgirl puppet and bring her to life. Olivia made friends with her right away, introducing her to her stuffed Nemo "He's not a puppet" and a stuffed cat "He's not a puppet either." I guess Olivia felt the need to let the puppet know that her other friends were not puppets. I propped Daisy up on the back of the big comfy chair Olivia was sitting in and made Daisy act like she had never seen the children's show Olivia was watching on TV before, so Olivia proceeded to explain the whole back story behind the show. The highlight of the exchange for me though was when Olivia asked Daisy if she could hold her hand. I twisted Daisy around just enough to fling the puppet's limp right arm in Olivia's direction and Olivia took the puppet's hand in hers. They had a few nice moments together. I so wish I had gotten a picture of that, but I was already committed to operating Daisy and couldn't get to a camera before it was over.

Not much later, Olivia's mommy showed up and saw Olivia and her new friend with her own eyes and was beaming. Being a grandpa is fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Flash.....



PRT! PRT! PRT! [One man cheering squad]

My friend Steve, who is a big player in the PRT industry, sent me an update about the state of PRT in the world. In a nutshell, PRT may have gotten off to a slow, deliberate start, but it is making serious waves and there are many bids going on around the world.

At Heathrow airport in London, the PRT serving Terminal 5 is impressing the 63,000 passengers that have used the futuristic transit system. Here's the (condensed) scoop:

As of 21 August 2011, approximately 63,000 passenger trips have been completed with 22 hour per day service. The system currently carries about 800 passengers per day, and BAA has withdrawn the bus service from this car park, ensuring all passengers travel to and from T5 by the Heathrow Pod. The 5 minute ride has been described as "futuristic", "rapid" and "a transport revelation." Twitter and Youtube quotes:

* "I love these things. Best airport transfer devices ever"
* "Awesome sci-fi system"
* "Landed and used the very cool #heathrowpod … and they're even better to use - quicker, easier and greener than the buses to/from the car park"
* "I am in a pod. A bit like the cab on Total Recall without the mad driver! ... FAST though! ... Almost like a real life scalextric ;-)"
* "Geek transportation par excellence!"
* "Soooo cool!! Addicting!!"
* "Fantastic. Epochal. Could not be more excited. First rate. Staff could not have been friendlier."
* 30-second essence
* Full five-minute ride

Here's a Globe and Mail article.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Creating a mashup... live!

I think I would very much like to possess one of these gadgets. The mash-ups one could do with this. Holy smokes.

I had a dream once about creating music like this. I had no idea it was now possible. Man... I could have so used this back in my DJing days.....

No Expo 2012 for us

It seems our federal government has declined an invitation to Expo in South Korea in 2012. The reason it gave was "domestic priorities, including a return to a balanced budget through stringent fiscal discipline".

While this seems like a common sense response, it seems the government has forgotten all about the billions it spent hosting the G8/G20. So as I understand it, we can afford to spend a lot of money hosting world leaders to talk about stuff that could have easily been done via video conference, but we can't afford to showcase our culture at a World Expo that went out of their way to try to convince us to attend.

Well done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Notice



What are they thinking?

Here's an example of a retailer that doesn't seem to care about making as much money as they could. Sears Canada will no longer give you a catalogue when you walk into their store and up to their catalogue desk, unless you present a card you got in the mail entitling you to one. You won't get one of those cards unless you have done $50 of catalogue shopping in the last 6 months. Think about that for a moment. If you're hoping to become a new catalogue shopper at Sears, good luck getting a hard copy catalogue.

There used to be 2 shipments of catalogue orders to the stores (for pick-up) per week, now the shipments come in once every 2 weeks! That's going to come in really handy around holiday season when you're trying to buy gifts. Also, delivery charges apply to all orders where they did not exist before. So if you order something and have to return it, you eat the delivery cost.

Message to Sears: F.A.I.L

Monday, August 22, 2011

One of our best and brightest has passed

Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP party in Canada, passed away this morning after losing a prolonged battle with cancer. For those of you not from Canada, the NDP party is what Americans would refer to as overt socialists. Those would be the polite Americans. European countries like Sweden would refer to them as 'the government currently in power'.

Jack Layton may not have had the support of every Canadian from a political standpoint, but he was probably the most admired and respected politician to serve Canada in the last few years. Just before he passed, he wrote a letter to the country and the last paragraph really hit home with me. So I feel the need to post it here (see below). If I had my way, it would become the mantra for our country and the ideal to strive for in the years to come.

So long Jack. You were passionate, down-to-earth, honest and always hopeful. We should all be like you.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." ~Jack Layton

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's your favourite thing?

What's your favourite thing that you currently own that you never realized how awesome it was until you got one yourself? I ask my readers to chime in with their own answers in the comments.

In my case, it's my smart phone. I've always been quick to adopt new technology (when I could afford it). When I retired from the military in 1999, I knew getting a cell phone was going to be a necessity if I was to leverage my ability to network and communicate quickly, especially while searching for my 'next career'.

But after proclaiming to everyone that I had no need for a phone that connected to the internet, I finally took the plunge and got a smart phone (iPhone 3G to be precise) in January 2009. That's when my life changed.

I can be objective and say that I don't really 'need' a smart phone. But having one sure opens up a lot of options that I never would have imagined using 3 years ago. A partial list follows. Before you read it, try to imagine a time before smart phones, when access to the internet was something you could only do at home or work and tasks like taking notes, taking pictures, playing music (both playback and an instrument) and computing tasks, all needed their own individual devices.
  • Access to email anywhere. That in and of itself is huge, but I'll even use email as a means of sending myself reminders to do things and taking documents from place to place.
  • The ability to take pictures and send them to anyone.
  • Recording audio for interviews and note-taking.
  • Sampling a song for the purpose of finding out the title and artist.
  • A portable jukebox, containing most or all of your music collection.
  • A radio that can connect to any station (real or virtual) around the world.
  • An interactive personal calendar and contact list, with pictures.
  • A portable photo album for showing photos to people.
  • A GPS system. The ability to ask for and follow directions from where you are to any destination, using any means of transportation.
  • Reconnoitre a place you've never been to and get the lay of the land before you arrive.
  • A calculator.
  • An instant messenger.
  • A flashlight.
  • A web portal for looking things up online. Anything. By voice command.
  • A remote control for my wireless sound system at home.
  • An electronic boarding pass. An electronic business card.
  • A portable TV set with access to millions of video clips.
  • A few dozen musical instruments.
  • A tour guide.
  • A remote control for other computer systems.
  • A star chart.
  • A scrolling LED sign to communicate with people who can't hear you.
  • Check restaurant ratings before deciding to go to one.
  • Facebook from anywhere and share photos of what I'm doing - in real time.
  • Oh - and it's a phone.
My next smart phone will allow me to record movies. Who knows what else.

So there were these pigs....


So that's what happened to Stonehenge.......

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A comparison: FB versus g+


The picture kinda says it all.

Yes, I am both on FB and g+.

OS X Maru!


OK, we've got OS X Lion now.

For the next one can we have OS X Maru?

Friday, August 19, 2011

What could you buy for $1.3 trillion

What the 400 wealthiest families in the US could buy for the rest of the country.

The list is pretty impressive.

Audiophile clock


The McIntosh mantle clock.

$2000.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn, and caldron bubble

This is the aftermath of a storm that blew through less than an hour ago. There was hail. Lots of hail. Luckily, it was small hail (where I live).

But check out that cloud!

Nicknames for McDonald's

...from around the world

Mickey D's (US)
Golden Arches (US)
Mick-dicks (US)
The Big M
Starchy Arches
Yucky McDucky's
Macca's or Macker's (Aus)
Mackey-D's (UK)
MakDo (Filipino)
MacDoh (QC)
McDo (Fr)
McDonas (Mex)
Makku or Makudo (which is short for Makudonarudo) (Jap)
McDoof or Mekkes or Der Schotte(German)
McD's (Scottish)
Meki (Hungarian)
Mec (Romanian)
Donken, ''Mackid nnkan'' (amongst tweens) (Swedish slang)
Placcy-D's (UK)
Wormdonald's
Rotten Ronnie's (Cdn)
Pat Panepinto Mart (Chilean)
Muc dong dong or Mak Kee (HK)
McUpchuck's
McPuke
Mickey Deets
Mao Dao Nao

How to work better

Know the problem
Learn to listen
Learn to ask questions
Distinguish sense from nonsense
Accept change as inevitable
Admit mistakes
Say it simply
Be calm
Smile

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Magnetic trick

Speaking of magnets, check this magnet action out.

It's like watching something from a sci-fi movie. Dropping neodymium magnets through a copper pipe doesn't quite defy gravity, but it sure seems to give gravity the finger, so to speak. The magnets do not stick to the copper. The movement of the magnets induce an electric current in the copper tube which in turn creates a magnetic field. The magnetic field attracts the magnets, but the magnets don’t stick to the tube as it falls through because the magnets feels the magnetic force equally from all sides. The magnetic field slows the magnets but doesn’t stop them because if the magnets stopped, the electric field would go away and the magnets would start falling again. While the magnets are falling, the copper pipe will feel heavier because the pipe is 'holding up' the magnets.

Minimalist practicality


You don't need to hang a magnetized thingy on your wall for your keys.

Just replace a switch plate with a magnetized one.

Genius.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dream on......



It's all Jack Frost's fault

Robin: Holy chlorophyll Batman!
Batman: What is it Robin?
Robin: The leaves on some trees are already changing colour! It's only August!
Batman: Sounds like Jack Frost has come to town.
Robin: What do we do, Batman?
Batman: To the Bat Cave Robin.....
Robin: To get the Bat Leaf Blower!
Batman: [face plant]

Monday, August 15, 2011

Star Wars meets Ben & Jerry's

My favourite part is the chocolate Han Solos frozen in carbonite.

It's a bird.... it's a plane..... it's a...... robot!


When I saw this TED video, I was.............. gobsmacked.

Someone has now successfully built a robot that can fly. Like a bird.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heroed street sign



Lights, camera, glowsticks!

Improv Everywhere. These people are geniuses.

Take two separate groups of people, arm them with cameras, glow sticks and flashlights and invite them to a park to celebrate light and togetherness. It's an awesome show of non-violent flash mob mentality and the non-participants don't have a clue what's going on because they're not hearing the same mp3 of music and instructions as the mob.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'Use this one mom'


Nice names for wifi networks. I particularly like 'get off my LAN'.

Password strength

xkcd makes a great comic on a rather serious note - the effective password. I love this because it re-enforces what I've been saying for years - long pass-phrase beats hard to remember complex password hands down.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting new maps easier than ever before

Whenever I buy any type of gadget, Darlene always asks how much more it will cost in the long run, with upgrades and updates and obsolete software that needs replacing and so on and so forth. She has a point. Which is why after I bought my first map update for my Garmin Nuvi GPS a few years back, I decided that it would be better and cheaper in the long run to just buy the lifetime update for a few dollars more ($110 bought me North American maps for life versus $70 per update).

I hadn't updated my maps in over a year, so this past weekend I decided to get the latest maps. Now Garmin even has an updater program for your PC that will get all updates as they come out (downloaded in the wee hours of the morning if you wish) and lets you choose which one to install on your device. No more logging in to the Garmin web site or having to remember your password. And unlike my last update, which seemed to make my device slower (possibly because the process didn't effectively remove the old map), this new updater did a splendid job and my device is operating at peak efficiency once again.

Good job Garmin.

Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Garmin or its subsidiaries.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Right again Robin"



Next riot - shut down Facebook? Twitter?

So, in light of the recent riots in the UK, the government is considering a few measures to try to prevent this from happening again. It seems reasonable to modify the consequences of being in a riot as a means of prevention. But the UK are also considering shutting down social networks while riots are going on to reduce the ability of rioters to communicate with each other. I have a problem with this.

From a purely egalitarian viewpoint, I find it interesting that Western civilization would condemn countries like Iran, Syria and Egypt for censoring the public's ability to communicate during a crisis, but then turn around and suggest that they ought to do it too. From a citizen's rights point of view, I don't think that the government should set this precedent. Where do we stop? Do we allow the phone network to get shut down next? What about people who use the communications medium to tell the story of what's happening on the street? Or report people needing emergency assistance?

No, I believe that technology, like any other tool, has the potential for both legal, moral, positive uses and illegal, immoral and negative uses. We shouldn't suffer at the hands of government just because they are not capable of dealing with the bad element of society.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Now you can fly anywhere....

What I mean to say is... you can take your flight simulator anywhere. I'm a flight simulator guy. I've been flying planes on my computer since there were flight simulators for consumers. I've used Microsoft's Flight Simulator (various versions) for the most part, but I did fly the X-Plane software for a while too. I ended up going back to the Microsoft product just because I liked the feel of the controls and the environment rendering just a little more. There are also a lot more hobbyist-built plane models available for the Microsoft program too.

But what I was really looking forward to was a simulator for my iPad. It appears that X-Plane was first out of the blocks. Their iPad app is $9.99 and it looks great. No joystick required. Just pick your plane, pick your location, pick your status (on the ground, flying, approach) and start flying. The controls work off of the orientation of the iPad and everything else is a touch slider on the screen. It is a little touchy, but I got used to it pretty quick.

If you like flight sims like I do and you wish you could take yours with you on your iPad..... now you can. For a little extra coin ($5), you can even add an Apollo add-on that lets you fly a lunar mission.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Extra sugar (wink wink, nudge nudge)

Word got out that a Dunkin' Donuts employee in Rockaway Township, NJ was prostituting herself from behind the counter. The police investigation was code named "Extra Sugar." An officer had to stake the donut shop out during the woman's shift from 9pm to 5am.

There are so many jokes embedded in that revelation, I don't know where to begin.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The X-Men's room



Rules are meant to be guidelines only

Here is a perfect example of how when rules are not used as guidelines but become defacto lines in the sand, bad things happen. Yet the province of Alberta probably doesn't see what the problem is.

Alberta Transportation plans to make some improvements to Spray Lakes Road (a gravel road that winds through the Rockies between Canmore and Kananaskis) as a result of the deaths of three people whose vehicle plunged into a reservoir last year. This road is notorious for car accidents. Last December an SUV carrying two couples plunged into the reservoir and only one person survived.

After an investigation, Alberta Transportation plans to put up barriers and add signs warning of tight corners, and reduced speeds on those corners.

The road has seen more than 90 incidents in the last five years, yet there are no immediate plans to pave the road. The province will pave a road if it's used by 400 cars a day. This road is travelled by about 380 vehicles a day.

So, do you see the obvious issue here? The road doesn't meet the criteria for paving, yet it is 'notorious' for accidents. Fatal ones. I recommend bending the rule slightly and consider 380 close enough to 400 to proceed with paving.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The next time you call someone a cretin...

Forever amazed at the etymology of some words.

How would you like to see an Iridium flare?

I showed Darlene her first Iridium flare a couple nights ago. Why does everything have to sound dirty? Anyway, everyone has seen satellites passing overhead at night, but Iridium flares are a tad more exciting. For those not 'in the know', Iridium satellites are for satellite telephone calls. There are a few of them and they have polar orbits. What is unique about these celestial bodies is that they have a very polished set of antennae on the bottom that at the right angle reflects a lot of sunlight. As an astronomer friend put it: "You'll see movement, then it will get brighter and brighter and in some cases brighter still, then peter out to nothing. It's as if someone held up a boy scout mirror in orbit."

If you'd like to see an Iridium flare, you need to go to heavens-above and tell it where you are by clicking on 'select from map' in the Configuration section. You do this by zooming in on the map and double-clicking on the spot where you are, choose your time zone, then clicking 'Submit'. Make sure you place yourself within the block of where you are, otherwise the calculations will be skewed. Once you've got your location and time zone plugged in, go back to the home page and click the link for Iridium Flares 'next 7 days'. The intensity figure is the key. The lower the number (in the negative), the brighter the flare. If the intensity of the flare isn't strong enough to warrant looking at from your location, you just have to go to the flare's centre to experience it. So if a particular flare is situated 25km west of your present location and is a magnitude -9 (intensity at flare centre), a drive 25 km west will witness a great flare at the prescribed time. The azimuth figure indicates which direction in the sky to look and the Alt. figure indicates how far up (90 degrees is straight up).

If you're still not getting it, give me a call and I'll help you out. Pictured is a time lapse of a flare.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Oatmeal's State of the Web in 2011


Commentary about FB, G+, iEverything, Netflation and more.

This was one of my favourite parts.

It's funny because it's true.

This is the message

Marshall McLuhan's prophetic statement "The medium is the message" makes more sense today than it did when he said it.

People from the 1960s were scrambling to make sense of his concept, but today we are bombarded with new media and that is the message.

Check out this podcast for a great explanation.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

They not happy



Outlets are people too.

The interim leader of the NDP has ties to separatists? Shocker.....

I figured it was about time that I shared some background information about Quebec separatists with the rest of Canada now that everyone seems to be in a tizzy about the fact that the interim leader of the NDP party has ties to separatist parties in Quebec.

News flash: Practically EVERYBODY has separatist ties in Quebec! Let me lay it out for you.

Separation from Canada, while in and of itself a fringe ideology, became a point around which Quebecers could rally around who were in search of something better. I have always maintained that the strongest demographic groups in support of separation can be defined as follows. The rural Quebecer, who has no idea how critical globalization (the opposite stance from an isolationist point of view) is for the future well-being of their society. The Quebecois artist, who believes that maintaining ties with Canada is a recipe for cultural suicide (which is absolute B.S.). The French university student, who always wants to rally for a cause, and the biggest cause to rally for when you're a wet-behind-the-ears Francophone youth who has no idea how the world really works (yet), is separation. That's not to say that these are the only separatists, but if you removed these three groups from the movement, there would be little left but for empty poutine containers.

Now, the people I've just labelled are what I refer to as the staunch separatists. For them there is no other option. The end game is a sovereign Quebec, no matter how good the relationship is with the federal government of Canada. Then there are what I like to call the soft separatists. There are a lot of softies. This is because once you have a political party (provincial AND federal) whose original intent was to plan for and execute the separation of a province from a country - and it doesn't succeed - TWICE, the parties have to have a backup reason to exist. The backup reason is that they are the only political parties who seek to give Quebec citizens what they need without cow-towing to federalists.

What I find very amusing is that while the rest of the country is aghast that Quebec would dare make demands using even the hint of separation to get what it wants, the funny thing is that it works. Quebec more often than not gets what it wants. It's the cruellest of all political practical jokes. If Alberta had the stones to try a similar stunt - give us the bank or we'll turn the oil taps off, we'd probably be looking at a couple of cities akin to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in place of Calgary and Edmonton.

Sooner or later, every political wannabe, mover and shaker in Quebec is cozying up to the separatist crowd because, well, they're the ones holding the strings. Every time a federalist politician in Quebec says, "Don't worry, we can get our needs met without hinting at separation", most Quebecers roll their eyes, knowing that once you've played an ace, you don't offer to take it back, hoping nobody will notice. The reason the Bloc Quebecois fell apart is because Quebecers finally realized that you have significantly less power to achieve your goals if your federal representation doesn't extend beyond your borders. Right ex-Reform party members?

Quebecers are not alone in this game either. The current government, even though they're labelled Conservative, are in a large part nothing but re-branded Reform party loyalists and yet nobody goes around saying things like "Watch out for the Conservatives' secret Reform agenda!" Oh.... wait.... yes they do.

So to those that are excitedly going on about ties to separatists.... I say "Yawn." They just don't understand Quebec.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Discovery's flight deck


This is what the flight deck of a space shuttle looks like. It's a 360 degree panorama. This is the last most people will see of a space shuttle.

Grandpa box

When I saw this Dilbert today at work, I laughed.

A lot. Then the nineties called.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Let me spin you a tune or two

In case you haven't looked directly at my blog in a while, I post a SOTD (song of the day) most days. Each of these posts has a built in player to play the song in question, so just think of me as your online disc jockey. Check in regularly though, as the songs expire and are removed from the blog after 30 days, to appease the copyright trolls.

[pictured: me in 1989 at the controls of CHAR-FM, the most northerly radio station in Canada at Alert, Nunavut]

Comic-Con Bingo!

The next time you go to a Comic-Con (or an Any-Con for that matter), you can play a game called Comic-Con Bingo. Go to this site, print the bingo card and try to find the objects on the card and take the picture. You won't win a prize unless you happen to be going to Comic-Con in San Diego, but it would still be fun to play at any other similar event.

Misheard band names


aka band names in an alternate universe.

"Pink droid"

Monday, August 01, 2011

I feel a great sadness about The Gap

No..... not the clothing store - the societal gap. Unlike back in the 1970s where the gap between rich and poor wasn't enough to prevent one from knowing and understanding the others lifestyle, today the gap is so wide that one end of the spectrum no longer understands the others' reality. I have to admit, until I met my first homeless person, I never truly understood what they go through.

Until I became a student of the arts, I never truly understood what a typical artist's life is like. Until I became a regular transit user, I had stereotypical attitudes towards the transit culture.

What's my point? That the gap between the opposites in society has gotten so wide that they can no loner relate to each other. Here are some examples from my own life, but I'm sure my readers have their own stories (and I encourage them to share in the comments).

I have read news stories recently where certain players in Toronto City Hall (namely the Mayor and his brother) seem hell bent on taking a fiscal axe to the public library system. After reading a news story in Calgary that a site had been chosen for a new central branch of the public library, a commenter on the story actually said that Calgary City Hall was spending like a drunken sailor. One suggested that with the internet, there was no longer a need for libraries. This is an example of how little the library patron is understood by the non-patron. I happen to know that there are plenty of things you can access at the library that are not readily available online. I could name them, but this post would take a week to read. I will say this - there are people in the world who cannot afford the internet and the library is one of the only places they can go to get access to it. If the internet were free and ubiquitous, maybe we could do with fewer libraries. I don't see either happening any time soon.

There is a large (and quite vocal) segment of our society that see no value in a vibrant and strong arts culture. Art is perceived as luxury entertainment for the rich and the elite when nothing could be further from the truth. People distanced from the arts seem to think that an artist's life is easy. Some may not feel this way, but there are people not convinced that the arts make a significant contribution to society. What is truly alarming is when a government helps propagate this attitude by disrespecting the arts through reduced funding and never once standing up for those who make it all possible. I have to admit - I never truly understood the value of the arts either until I got involved and now am convinced that much of what I have learned from my fellow artists needs to be taught to everyone. Just so we're clear, my definition of 'the arts' is much broader than Hollywood films and American Idol.

I know many people who have said out loud that they would never be caught dead riding public transit. That's exactly how they put it [Update: Calgary's 2011 census indicates that only 17% of those polled use it to go to work]. They paint transit as a method of mobility best left to the less fortunate of society. I take transit as often as is practical (it's impossible to take transit to where I work in Airdrie and still make it to work on time) and I would take it more if it was a reliable and efficient service.

The list of growing gaps in understanding grows by the year. Many people disconnected from the opposite end of the financial spectrum do not realize that homeless shelters are filled with the working poor. They don't know how few people qualify for quality health care in certain situations. As a quick example, if a mother is separated from the father of her child, the government expects her to take the father to court and get support before extending a hand of financial support to solve the immediate needs of the mother and child. That also goes for health care coverage.

What society needs is for real leaders to emerge from the depths of greed, selfishness and intolerance to speak for those who no longer have a voice and begin to bridge the gap between the polar ends of every issue. It begins in the neighbourhood and works its way up to associations, clubs and finally, government. Everyone deserves a chance to make their dreams come true, not just those who had a good head start.