Thursday, March 29, 2012

Catnigma

This video reminded me of that scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the apes discover the monolith.

I'm guessing that as soon as this video was over, the cat killed its owners....

Dancers wink in and out

Fantastic dance video of Japan's Wrecking Crew Orchestra, using electro-luminescent wire suits.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prometheus couldn't come fast enough

Dear Ridley Scott,

If I could contribute any money to help get the Prometheus movie released sooner, let me know.

Sincerely,

Karl

10 word movie review for Super 8

Best way to get the girl - make a zombie movie.

Alternatively...

When the Air Force comes to town, something is up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Looks like someone made a choice

Walking past a mid-aisle display of mini-eggs chocolates, Darlene and I noticed that someone had left behind a deli container of vegetables.

I guess whoever it was made a decision.

She thought it was really fun and told me to snap a picture.

Things said by Republican party folk about women

If I never actually saw the people who said these things say them with my own eyes, I never would have believed it was true.

But it is true.

The 1960s Batman series came to be thanks to Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner is passionate about comic books. One of his early projects was cartooning. In 1965, at the Chicago Playboy club, Hef held a Batman themed party to celebrate the campy-ness of the comic. He had actors attend the party dressed as Batman and Robin, using the goofy “Golly gee whiz” lines from the comic. Old Batman movie serials were screened as well.

An ABC executive was attending and when he saw the crowd’s positive reaction to the goofy Batman and Robin, he called ABC with an idea for a new Batman TV show. So was born the lovable 1960′s Batman series.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Things I learned this week 25 Mar 2012

  • There used to be an estimated 50 million bison roaming North America before Europeans settled here. Now there are a few thousand.
  • Mitt Romney says he has made "enough" money that he is incorruptible.
  • Almost all women are wearing the wrong bra size. Oprah said 80%. The reality is probably closer to 95%.
  • Americans have access to a free version of TurboTax.
  • RCMP in BC are posing as panhandlers at intersections to catch drivers on cell phones.
  • Our cell providers seem to think that a $10/month fee for 150MB of data for a tablet is a good deal.
  • Some companies think it's OK to ask prospective employees for their Facebook passwords as a condition for getting the job.
  • It takes 2900 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans.
  • The iPhone now outsells the Blackberry in Canada for the first time ever.
  • In a move to recoup their unwise investment in 3D, theatres will soon have the same price for both 2D and 3D films. 2D prices will increase and 3D prices will decrease. In other words, those who dislike 3D will be punished.
  • William Shatner is 81.
  • The muppets finally got a star on the walk of fame.

We have a winner

Lester Sucre, who is 36, has been arrested and is supposedly being charged for beating up a 13 year old boy in Calgary. What did the boy do? He was aiming a snowball at his friend, threw it, missed and hit the side of a passing van. For that, the van stopped, the passenger got out, chased the kids and threw one boy to the ground before repeatedly beating on his face. The assault only stopped after staff at the Peter Lougheed Hospital saw the attack and intervened.

Really Lester? Really? You win the prize for dirt-bag of the year and the contest is now officially closed.

Let the cat be your guide

I think this may be the best gift for a manager or executive I've seen yet.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Practical Lexicon Episode 6

Could this be the lost episode? Yeah, this brings us up to speed with all the episodes, except you'll notice that I lost count during this taping (thinking it was episode 5). In this episode, I debrief Bernie on my attempt to engage City Hall with the PRT idea. Not only do the Transit planners in Calgary not seem to be interested in PRT, they seem to prefer the idea of urban gondola. [shudder]

Episodes 8 and 8a are coming soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

SOPA was nuthin'

The latest news from boingboing contributing writer Cory Doctorow:

"Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), has reminded the nation that at his instigation, the largest ISPs in the USA are set to disconnect their customers, and their customers' families, if the companies that Sherman represents makes a series of unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement against them. The ISPs came to the agreement (with nary a mention in the mainstream media) after pressure from the Obama administration. This "five strikes" rule is the same system that has been decried around the world, including in the EU and the UN, as being a gross violation of human rights.

Sherman's role as Witchfinder General for the nation's Internet access kicks off in July 2012. After that, if you get on his bad side, he can cost your children their ability to complete their education, he can cost you your job (if you are part of the growing proportion of people whose livelihood depends on the Internet), cut you off from civic and political engagement, lock you away from online access to your bank account and utilities and information about consumer rights, and, if you live remotely from your family, he can cost you your ability to stay in touch with them.

Oh, and if you have VOIP for your home phone service, Sherman will take away your 911 access too. Because burning to death is only too good a fate for people accused, without proof, of copyright infringement.

But of course, Sherman represents a sober-sided and cautious industry, the sort of people who claim that the Internet has cost them more jobs than they had ever created, and that an iPod's worth of songs is worth $8 billion, so they'll never abuse this power............ right?

Thanks, ISPs, for capitulating to some of the worst companies in the world. Thanks, Obama administration, for turning America's attorney general's office into a revolving door career opportunity for entertainment industry lawyers. And thanks, RIAA, for making the case that your companies are too dangerous to peacefully co-exist with the Internet. SOPA was just the beginning, suckers."

Defending ACTA with lies

Here's a clip of a Danish TV show (English subtitles available) discussing the ACTA treaty, which Denmark has fiercely advocated in favour of.

It starts with some folks quoting dodgy statistics about the extent and cost of piracy, and then demonstrates that these statistics are patently false. Finally, it brings out those responsible for quoting the stats and gets them to admit their errors.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Listen up youngsters!"

Yeah, the TED speeches are incredible. I concur. But The Boss gives a keynote address at SXSW that will blow your pants off. Like, right off. Breeze between your legs.

In it he claims that The Animals' "We gotta get out of this place" is the sum total of every song he ever wrote.

Karl's 10 word movie review of Sunshine

Will science save humanity or will religion screw it up?

Sometimes bragging backfires

Lately, a bunch of provincial government signs have appeared along Stoney Trail (Calgary's ring road) bragging about the construction of said road. One can assume this might have something to do with an expected election call in the next few weeks. I would caution that this may backfire.

Unfortunately for the government, when I see the signs, I am not reminded of how great it is that we have a ring road. Instead, I am reminded of how long it took to build said ring road. I am reminded of how the road was done piecemeal, with traffic lights and incomplete bridges, ramps and intersections after the road opened. We still have a traffic light controlled intersection in the west leg at Nose Hill Drive. I am reminded of how we still don't have a solution for the southwest leg of the ring road through or around the Tsuu Tina first nation and how this is affecting traffic in the entire southwest quadrant of Calgary. I am reminded of the dangerous schmozzle on the ring road's opening where the ramp from the ring road to highway 2 north was so short, that merging onto the highway was a dance with death. I am also reminded of the growing traffic on the road at rush hour, demonstrating that perhaps the province was a little short-sighted in only making 2 lanes per direction when they should have gone with 3 lanes.

So maybe the signs aren't such a good idea.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Karl's 10 word movie review of The Tree of Life

Eclectic tale of life in the context of the universe.

No, that doesn't capture enough. Let's see.

Family story told with surreal style, CGI dinosaurs and galaxies.

Nope. That'll never do the movie justice either.

How about: Darlene said 'I hope the whole movie isn't like this...'

Hi-tech transit and fun too

For people who would argue that PRT doesn't work, has no real world applications yet and isn't practical, I give you Heathrow airport's PRT.

PRT is alive and well and is eliminating thousands of bus trips per year at the airport.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Roadway definitions

  • Roads run between two distant points, such as two towns.
  • Streets are paved and lined with buildings.
  • An avenue is traditionally a straight road with a line of trees or shrubs running along each side, which emphasize arrival at a landscape or architectural feature.
  • A boulevard is usually a widened, multi-lane arterial street with a median and landscaping between the curbs and sidewalks on either side.
  • A court is a short street that ends as a cul-de-sac.
  • A drive can be short for driveway, a private road for local access to one, or a small group of structures. Other times it refers to meandering, rather than straight, roads and highways.
  • An expressway is a divided highway meant for high-speed traffic.
  • A freeway is a road designed for safe high-speed traffic through the elimination of intersections at the same grade or level.
  • A parkway is a broad landscaped roadway in a park or connecting parks from which trucks and other heavy vehicles are excluded.
  • A highway is a main road intended for travel between destinations like cities and towns.
  • A lane is a narrow road or street usually lacking a shoulder or a median.
  • A way is a minor street off a road in a town.

Slow - texting


Monday, March 19, 2012

Wildrose party bus paint job maybe not proofed?

Hey Danielle, nice.... umm........................ wheels!

Selling something

Contender for prize for 'F' for effort on kijiji.

Wireless router works. Does it now? I certainly hope so. Try not to be too specific about the router. Brand, model, speed, age. These trivial things do not interest me in the slightest.

Also, there are times when the included picture is worse than having no picture at all. This is one of those times. No picture would have made this the perfect advertisement.

I would call your number, but am not convinced you would expend the energy required to answer the phone.

One is sunny. The other.... not so much

Chestermere and Brooks are only 170kms apart.

Today they look very different from each other.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Things I learned this week 18 Mar 2012

  • In 1980, CEOs of large US companies received an average of $624,996 in annual compensation, or 42X the pay of typical factory workers. In 2010, CEO pay had skyrocketed to $10.8 million, or 319X the median worker's pay.
  • The use of bitumen was important in creating Egyptian mummies. The word mummy is derived from the Arab word mĊĞmiyyah, which means bitumen.
  • Environmentalists refer to oil sands as 'tar sands', claiming that the petroleum industry changed the name to make it sound nicer, but in reality, oil sands is the more technically correct term. The sand contains oil, not tar. If you want to be most accurate, the sand contains bitumen.
  • Australians withdrawing cash from an ATM machine could soon avoid the out-of-network fees in exchange for watching a commercial.
  • Belgian copyright collecting society SABAM, are demanding that public libraries pay royalties when volunteers read to groups of small children. €250 per year from each library.
  • Dick Cheney is afraid of Canada. He cancelled his Toronto visit because it's too dangerous.
  • Li-Fi is the transmission of wireless data using LEDs. It transfers data quicker by varying the intensity of light. Li-Fi can also be used in hospitals and schools because there's no radio waves.
  • A POTATO is a person over thirty acting twenty one.
  • 35 countries (and counting) have banned plastic shopping bags. Canada is not one of them.
  • The police in Canada want to pay for the new online spying bill with a tax on your internet bills.
  • Cambridge University scientists are using picosecond pulses of a green laser that passes through the cellulose in the paper, but vaporizes the toner. This is laser-ablating the toner off of sheets of previously printed paper, leaving them ready to be reused.
  • The average member of Congress gets a 1,452% salary hike when she or he leaves office and becomes a corporate lobbyist.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Siri reveals secret of iPhone time change


Robo-bond

Robot quad-copters play the James Bond theme on various musical instruments.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Energy inefficiencies

We use a lot of energy cooling our homes and offices in the summer and heating them in winter. The energy used to accomplish these tasks is electricity, created mostly by burning fossil fuels or burning fossil fuels directly. I see something counterproductive here. We need to find a way to store all that excess heat we try to dispose of all summer, collect it and release it all winter. Perhaps even store all that cold we try to eliminate all winter, collect it and release it in the summer. Or both!

But we're not only wasting a lot of energy modifying the temperatures of our buildings, the buildings themselves aren't very efficient at maintaining their temperature. In North America at least, we still build our houses out of timber and insulate to R-20 in the walls. We currently have the technology to build green, net zero energy homes that are R-44 in total. Net zero means the amount of energy the house can produce is equal to what it consumes. This adds 20% to the cost of construction and I'm being extremely pessimistic in that estimate. So a $200,000 home now costs $240,000 (land costs not included) and does away with the need for a furnace and possibly an air conditioner, which not only practically eliminates the need for a natural gas bill, but also significantly reduces the electricity bill too. Throw in some surplus energy sold back to the utility and you could make that $40,000 back in less time than it took to pay off that mortgage.

So why aren't we doing it? Why aren't we building these houses?

Freaky!

Apparently, this guy shot another guy in downtown Calgary a couple nights ago. He was described as having a pale complexion.

It's the damned Oberver guy from Fringe!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What to do before leaving home for a few days

Here are some tips on what you should do to vacation-proof your home before you leave.
  • Don't tell everyone you're going away.
  • Arrange for a trustworthy, nearby friend or neighbour to check on the home while you're away. Not only should they collect your mail every day (thieves see full mailboxes as a sign you're not home), they should go inside and make sure everything's OK. It may surprise you to know that your home insurance may not cover any mishaps that happen while you're away unless the home is being completely checked almost daily. Get your sitters to vary the lighting in the home to make it look like someone's home. It's better if they vary the time they check the house too, just in case it's being watched. Tell the sitter to keep watching the home until you return, just in case your return is delayed. Remind the sitter about your departure and return times the day you're leaving, or the night before. Make sure they know you're back so they know to stop watching the home as well.
  • If you're expecting parcels while you're away, get someone to collect them.
  • I believe that curtains and blinds should not be left open. It's too easy for someone to look inside and see that the home is empty.
  • Close and lock all windows. Horizontal sliding windows should have security bars for extra protection. Sliding patio doors should have security locks that can't be defeated with a little effort from the outside.
  • Adjust the heat and/or air conditioning down. There's no point heating or cooling the home to normal temperature while empty.
  • Turn your computers off. Unattended computers not only waste electricity, they've been known to spontaneously combust since most owners don't bother cleaning the insides out of the years' worth of dust. Dust is combustible.
  • Just before leaving is a good time to clean the toilets. Unused toilets tend to be perfect petri dishes for bacteria.
  • Empty and throw the garbage. The last thing you want to come home to is an indoor compost pile.
  • If there's any food on the floor or counters, best to clean that up. Otherwise, ants might do the job for you.
  • Run the last dishwasher load. A dirty load closed up tight for days is going to reek once you return.
  • Do the laundry. You're going to be bringing enough dirty clothes home when you return, so having a lot waiting at home to begin with is only going to make the task longer. Besides, don't you want some clean clothes to come home to?
  • Empty the fridge of anything that will expire while you're away. This will prompt you to buy fresh milk, etc. when you return.
  • Turn the hot water heater down to the vacation setting. There's no point heating the water to normal temperature while the home is empty.
  • Turn off the fireplaces, close the flues and if you're gone for more than a few days, maybe even turn the pilot light off.
  • Turn the water off at the entry valve. This will prevent a whole slew of problems, including leaks, leaky faucets, faulty toilet valves, vandals turning your outside taps on, flooding, and so on. Just make sure to let the sitter know so they don't flush the toilet with no water on.

Na na na na na na na na BATNAILS!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Education standards

My post-secondary education took place in a military environment. Once boot camp was over, the rest of my training was purely technical.

In the military, the classroom was a unique experience. The instructors were often military personnel who were tradespeople in their own right, but had been picked out of their normal role and thrust into the role of teacher for a few years. Because the military is all about expediency, even if you've never taught anything in your life, instructors are prepared for their new role with 2 weeks of intense 'how to teach' training. If that sounds bizarre, trust me - it is. In their new role, they should already know their subject (because it is part of their job), and they had lesson plans to guide them to the topics that needed to be delivered. The main issue was that not everyone knows how to communicate effectively. So although instructors that had all of the resources they needed to do the job, if they weren't a natural at explaining things, a student might have a rough time if they didn't get the jist of things quickly. But for all of its potential faults, military training was delivered at a very high standard thanks to one crucial element. Consistency. How did they achieve this consistency? Every training facility had a team of people called Training Standards. The job of Standards was to make sure that every course was delivered according to the master plan.

This was accomplished through master lesson plans, managed exam banks and constant monitoring of classes. If the Standards checker thought you were skipping content, they let you know. If they thought you were wasting students' time with irrelevant content, they let you know. If your teaching technique was wanting, they let you know. Standards conducted the students' tests with a random collection of questions that Standards picked, not the instructor. The questions were collected in a manner that every topic was tested. If students had a problem with a question, Standards would evaluate the fairness, clarity and relevance of the question and if the question didn't pass muster, the student got credit for the answer. This motivated Standards to evaluate the exam bank of questions and improve on them constantly. I was an instructor in the military for 9 years, plus have trained off and on during the last 11 years of my ongoing career. I have to say, that as much as Standards were a potential thorn in my side, they were what kept the quality of training up.

Outside of the military, I ended up back in the classroom as a student, then eventually as an instructor. Was I ever in for a culture shock. No Standards. Now I have to admit, where I worked in my first job out of the military, it was up to individual instructors to maintain the quality of their training material and exams. I found that the quality was high. Not surprisingly, the instructors were mostly ex-military. But outside of where I worked, I began hearing what learning environments were like in the rest of the real world. I made friends with past and present college students, university students and the story I was hearing indicated that there were no standards to speak of across the board in post-secondary education. I won't go into details of who and where, but I was hearing about training materials that were obsolete, incomplete, error-ridden, never mind that the content was poorly communicated. Tests were worse. Questions were confusing, poorly worded, unclear, obsolete, irrelevant, didn't match the content of the course and so on. Whenever students complained en masse, they might get credit for the faulty questions. But the people responsible for maintaining the tests didn't fix the issues promptly, or at all. Instructors (or professors, or teachers) were not reviewing their course materials to make sure they were error-free. Students were subjected to erroneous content and made to wonder if they even understood the material. I assumed these kinds of situations were isolated incidents, but the more I asked people about it, the more I heard that this kind of thing was common. How should I know? I never went to college or university. I got almost all of my training from the military.

Now I understand even more why I get compliments from my students, especially those who have come from other learning institutions. I may not be a university-trained educator, but I love what I do, I take pride in the preparation of my training material and tests, and I do everything I can to fix problems with the content of my courses and my delivery.

[Pictured: Me in 1988, instructing at CFSCE Kingston]

Great elevator prank

The title says it all.

Just watch the video.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Things I learned this week 11 Mar 2012

  • Rush Limbaugh is such an ass now, he got kicked in the sponsors.
  • 25 billion apps have been downloaded from the Apple apps store.
  • You can now buy special reusable bags to make grilled cheese sandwiches in your toaster.
  • Babies R Us doesn't actually sell babies....
  • At the end of the album Dark Side of the Moon, just after the last spoken voice, if you turn the volume way up, you can faintly hear the strains of an instrumental for Ticket to Ride. The album was recorded at Abbey Road studios.
  • Windows 8 has added the ability to use gestures on a picture for login purposes.  In short, you choose a picture and then perform gestures on that picture.  The combination becomes your credentials.
  • Shortly after the May 1940 German invasion of Belgium, Hitler tried to ban French fries because they were the main nutritional source of the Belgian resistance.
  • In France, it's illegal to name your pig Napoleon. But the law is a joke and nobody respects it.
  • In Japan, an elder brother, by law and honour, can formally ask for his younger brother’s girlfriend’s hand in marriage, and both must agree to it.
  • Linux Mint may be better than Ubuntu.

Some things I just don't understand

I would like some help understanding something. Canada has turned into a fossil fuel economy and I'm struggling to understand how that benefits ordinary Canadians.

The oilsands projects are frowned upon by people around the world. Neither the government nor the industry seem to be going out of their way to prove that the projects are environmentally sound - at least - I'm not convinced. Is the reason I'm not convinced because it's as dirty as it seems, or because the job of educating the masses is a failure?

The oilsands uses a large amount of energy to extract the oil from the ground. This energy use creates demand that raises our cost of electricity. The Canadian dollar is high because of our economy being heavily resource based. This makes it cheaper for us to buy things with American dollars, yet we don't seem to be seeing price tags go down - we still pay more than Americans do for goods, before taxes. The high dollar results in a dwindling manufacturing base. This in turn makes our unemployment rate higher than it would be, which costs the government money (in EI benefits). That cost is passed on to us.

We have a lot of oil, but we lack enough refining capacity to drive the price of gas and diesel down. As a comparison, gas in Dubai is 46 cents per litre. I have recently learned that the oil we produce  doesn't even get used across our country. Canada exports about two-thirds of its oil to the US (mostly from the west) while half of the oil used in Canada is imported from other countries. Western Canada is self-sufficient, supplying its own oil before exporting the rest. But Eastern Canada relies on imported oil despite the fact that some provinces are oil producers. There are several offshore operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, but none of that oil is actually used in Canada. The eastern provinces rely on an oil supply that's imported from Saudi Arabia, Africa and Venezuela. I don't get it - why are we selling oil to the US and now perhaps China when we need more of it for ourselves? I hear part of it is because most of our eastern refineries can't handle oil sands oil. Ontario gets its oil from Western Canada, but it is sent to the US first to be refined before being re-imported.  The other reason is that there is no pipeline directly connecting western Canada to eastern Canada. Can't we fix that?

The fossil fuel industry creates jobs. I'll grant you that. Heck, my current job is the result of our industry. Energy company profits are good. But aside from jobs and some well lined pockets in the upper echelons of the oil industry, where's the real benefit? Where's all the new infrastructure and the old infrastructure repair? Where's the world leading health care system and education system? Why are there more homeless people than ever before?

So in summary, if being an oil producing country is so great, what are the benefits for ordinary Canadians? And for our next topic, what happens when we start to run out and the price of gas is $3.00 per litre? Imagine a world where your family sedan takes $150 per fill-up.

Charts here.

Bad name bro'

Golden Stream bottled water.

Sorry.......... not interested.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

You're no good and you don't even know it

"In order to know how good you are at something, requires exactly the same skills as it does to be good at that thing in the first place. Which means - and this is terribly funny - that if you're absolutely no good at something, at all, then you lack exactly the skills that you need to know that you're absolutely no good at it.

This explains not just Hollywood, but almost the entirety of Fox News." ~John Cleese

Dolly's other voice

Want to hear something freaky? Someone used some clever software to slow Dolly Parton down, as if you were playing an old 45 record at 33rpm. Listen to Jolene - she sounds wonderful and you can hear all of the song elements so much better. It's the last little link at the bottom of the story.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bill C-11 Copyright Bill consultations coming to a close

Michael Geist says: [edited]

The Bill C-11 committee concluded hearing from witnesses yesterday and will begin a review of the bill starting Monday. Next week's discussion will largely determine the future of Canadian copyright law.
For the thousands of Canadians that have participated in consultations and sent letters to their MPs, there is reason for concern.

There are copyright lobby groups who have put forward demands that would overhaul Bill C-11 including requiring Internet providers to block access to foreign sites, take down content without court oversight, and disclose subscriber information without a warrant. The industry also wants individuals to face unlimited statutory damages and pay a new iPod tax.


The last minute push must be met by Canadians who favour a balanced approach to copyright reform. My message to the MPs focuses on three simple principles:

1. No SOPA-style amendments. That means no website blocking, no warrant-less disclosure of subscriber information, no expanded enabler provision, no unlimited statutory damages, no iPod tax, and no content take-downs.
2. Maintain the fair dealing balance found in C-11 by expanding the provision to include education, parody, and satire and relying on the Supreme Court's six-factor test to ensure that the dealing is fair.
3. Amend the digital lock rules by following the Canadian Library Association's recommended change linking circumvention to actual copyright infringement.
The message is going to my local MP, the Ministers and to Bill C-11 committee members.

Top 10 INCORRECT ways for men to celebrate Internation Women's Day


10. Gift-wrap the basket of dirty laundry.

9. Buy her some chocolates, then eat them all yourself.

8. Practise your wolf-whistle.

7. Offer free sensual massages to every woman in the secretary pool.

6. Dress like a woman for work.

5. Change your name tag to Boner McBonerson. Refer to yourself by this name for the day.

4. Prank the receptionist by redecorating her desk with sanitary napkins.

3. When you get home from work, ask "What's for dinner?", then shout "ME!!"

2. Get your nipples pierced. Show everyone.

1. Surf more porn.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

You think a neutrino is small?

The new and improved interactive slidey 'scale of the universe' thingy.

Thingy is a technical term. It means doodad.

Bus-ted

This may sound ridiculous, but the buses in Calgary don't have winter tires. As a result, when the roads get sloppy, the buses get stuck. Or crash. Either way, it means the service doesn't operate at anywhere near expected capacity and people suffer.

Case in point, Darlene had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday and waited for over an hour outside, for a bus that never came. Apparently the bus she was hoping to catch was stuck on a hill. Taking a taxi in this city would not have been an option, as anyone who lives here knows that if you cold call a cab company in Calgary, you'll be lucky to get a car in 3 hours. Assuming you even get through to an operator in the first place. Especially in bad weather.

If this were a delivery truck or something, I could forgive. But transit is an essential service for people without a vehicle and some peoples' jobs depend on it running on time. I've done a little research on this and it turns out that most Canadian cities don't equip their buses with snow tires, not even Montreal. Yet you rarely hear about their bus systems suffering. I wondered what the difference is, then I remembered. The difference between Montreal and Calgary is that Montreal actually plows their streets. All of them. As soon as the snow flies. Plus they come around to remove the snow. Calgary only plows bus routes and based on what I've seen this year, not very efficiently. Their idea of a snow plow is a sander truck with a tiny blade hanging from the mid-section of the truck. A real plow has multiple giant blades up front.

So as much as I'd like to blame Transit for the mess (and they have much to fault), in this case it's the city's snow clearing services that are to blame IMHO.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Movie title parodies based on the robocall election scandal

  • Dude, where's my polling station?
  • Dances with polls
  • Hitchhiker's guide to Guelph polling stations
  • Ears wide shut
  • Voting interrupted
  • Poll fiction
  • The last House on the right
  • Lie hard
  • The littlest robo
  • Call-igula
  • The men who stare at votes
  • 2011: a polling odyssey
  • The curious case of Pierre Poutine
  • True Lies
  • Honey, I shrunk the electorate
  • Pollstergeist
  • Lord of the rings
  • Burn after calling
  • Look who's not talking
  • Where the dialed things are
  • Suppression bureau
  • A-poll-calypse now
  • Stephen's version
  • Be kind, don't vote
  • Dirty rotten robocallers
  • Four robocalls and an election
  • Invention of robocalling
  • Lock stock and two smoking ballots
  • Minority retort
  • Robocall dogs
  • Run Liberal Run
  • Stephen's list
  • The robocaller who shagged me

Tax rush

It's that time of year again. When the front of department stores are transformed into tax service offices.

I am no longer capable of understanding why anyone would go to a tax service to get their taxes done just so they can get their refund instantly. Especially now that the turn-around time for a refund is much shorter than it used to be. These services charge 15% on the first $300 and 5% on anything over that. Basically, a $1000 refund will cost you $80.

The tax software they sell now does a great job of figuring out your return in easy to follow steps. The best part, if you make less than a certain amount, your return doesn't count toward the count of returns the software will do. So it's easy to pool returns on one person's tax software.

Then, if you netfile, you will likely get any money owed to you in less than 2 weeks. My daughter just got her refund deposited right into her bank account after a 4 day wait.

Monday, March 05, 2012

13 women won Oscars playing prostitutes

Janet Gaynor in Street Angel (1928)
Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931)
Anne Baxter in The Razor’s Edge (1947)
Clare Trevor in Key Largo (1948)
Donna Reed in From Here to Eternity (1953)
Jo Van Fleet in East of Eden (1955)
Susan Hayward in I Want To Live (1958)
Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (1960)
Shirley Jones [pictured] in Elmer Gantry (1960)
Jane Fonda in Klute(1971)
Mira Sorvino in The Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential (1997)
Charlize Theron in Monster (2003)

Which is less scary?

The premise of this video is sound. The guy makes a good, albeit 'high altitude' point. And that point is - one lottery is a lot less scary than the other. Interestingly, I've been kinda been making this argument for a couple of years - is it really so bad if we change our wasteful, polluting ways if it turns out we didn't need to? Nope, not when you consider the opposite scenario of doing nothing when we really needed to.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

KitKat flavours in Japan

  • White Adult Sweetness (white chocolate with dark cookie inside)
  • Tokyo Sky Tree Orange (orange chocolate)
  • Air in White (white chocolate top, dark bottom)
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
  • Annin Dofu (almond jelly dessert)
  • Blueberry cheesecake (with white chocolate)
  • Strawberry Hazelnut Petite (white chocolate with strawberry flavour and hazelnut filling)
  • Bitter strawberry
  • Zunda (white chocolate with edamame)
  • Tiramisu (white chocolate with coffee and cheese flavour)
  • Otoshidama (enhanced crispiness)
  • Mikan (tiny square bars)
  • Strawberry cake (pink white/strawberry chocolate)
  • Rilakkuma (strawberry milk)
  • Intense Roast Soybean
  • Cheese (white chocolate and gouda cheese)
  • Adult sweetness (dark chocolate coating)
  • Kyoto green tea (white chocolate base, deep green tea colour and flavour)
  • Salted caramel
  • Cola (cola flavour with fizz powder)
  • Lemon squash (white chocolate with lemon flavour and fizzy powder)
  • Calpis (lemon-lime soda flavour)
  • Green tea cherry
  • Aloe and yogurt
  • Bitter almond (dark chocolate)
  • Mixed juice (tastes like apple and banana, smells like a JuicyFruit gum)
  • Framboise
  • White
  • Banana
  • Semisweet
  • Roasted sweet potato (with white chocolate)
  • Maple (white chocolate)
  • Soy bean
  • Yamagata Sakurambo (cherry)
  • Purin (burnt sugar sauce flavour)
  • Kuchidoke Cacao (tastes like hot chocolate)
  • Milk coffee
  • Sparkling strawberry
  • Mild bitter (dark chocolate)
  • Cookie plus (more cookie)
  • Royal milk tea
  • Green tea Kinako
  • Suppai orange
  • Ginger ale lemon
  • Vegetable mix (tastes like apple and carrot, but also contains grape, lemon, celery, green pepper, asparagus, Chinese cabbage and kale
  • Sports drink (fruit and yogurt)
  • Kinako Ohagi (No clue)
  • Raspberry passion fruit
  • Mango purin
  • Ume soda (plum)
  • Ramune (named after a popular blue soda)
  • Green tea Matcha
  • Apple vinegar (strong apple cider)
  • Sakuranbo (sour cherry)
  • Marukajiri (thick chocolate)
  • Espresso coffee (white chocolate)
  • Apple
  • Kinako (soy and peanuts)
  • Cookie plus whole grain
  • Jasmine tea
  • Black sugar Kinako (molasses)
  • Daigaku Imo (candied sweet potato)
  • Senga Sengana strawberry
  • Oshiruko (red bean soup)
  • Cookie plus (extra dark cookie)
  • Yuzu (tastes like a cross between a grapefruit and a mandarin orange)
  • Triple berry (cranberry, blueberry, strawberry)
  • Muscat of Alexandria (green grape)
  • Caramel purin
  • Adzuki (some kind of bean)
  • Caramel Macchiato
  • Gateau de Mont Blanc
These were all discovered on this blog.

Things I learned this week 4 Mar 2012

  • In the original use of the words, roads run between two distant points, such as two towns. Streets are paved and lined with buildings.
  • They have some weird Pepsi flavours in Japan (Baobab; Pink [strawberry milk flavour]; Mont Blanc [a chestnut dessert]; White [yogurt]; Shiso [pine/mint]; Azuki [the bean]; Red [spicy ginger]; Ice Cucumber; Blue Hawaii [pineapple lemon]; Gold [sapote].
  • There’s a Y8K bug built into the Gregorian calendar - the vernal equinox may not take place exactly on March 21 of the year 8000.
  • A global commission on drug policy wants our PM to stop the prohibition on marijuana.
  • Apple Inc. is worth about twice the market capitalization of Canada’s big five banks put together.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada only made $1.86billion in profits this quarter.
  • Darlene doesn't like it when my hair is really really short.
  • A Wyoming state representative wants to acquire an aircraft carrier and consider plans for raising an army, navy and air force should the US collapse. Go look at where Wyoming, with 568,000 people, is located on a map.
  • Poo is Thai for crab.
  • Iceland is considering adopting the Canadian dollar.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Everything is a Remix

One of the misleading concepts that the entertainment industry propagates is that copying is bad for their business. Unfortunately for them, more and more people are seeing through this ruse and discovering that the industry exists because of copying. We copy everything. The industry is a culture of remixing and re-using old ideas to inspire new versions of that idea.

Everything is a Remix, is an amazing, thought provoking series of videos by Kirby Ferguson. It does a bang-up job explaining the remix paradigm to the masses. If you see one film this year - let it be Everything is a Remix (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4).

Landspeeder bed

Someone in Calgary is selling this hand-made Star Wars land speeder bed.

That's pretty cool.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Jujube fraud

Seen at a certain store that may or may not rhyme with smellers. It looks like a substantial container of jujubes. But the container is a lie, as when you turn it over, there's a huge indentation in the center bottom that protrudes significantly into said container, robbing the jujube lover of jujube volume. The picture doesn't do it justice either - that indentation is at least half as deep as the container.

It's a jujube scam. Container trickery. Once upon a time, in a politically incorrect society, I might even have called them Jew-jubes.

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

Here is one of the coolest videos I've seen in a long time.

Some guys in New York City built a few remote controlled planes shaped like super heroes.

When I read the premise, I was all like "Meh...", but the lads really pulled this little feat off. They're so graceful. It simply looks amazing.