Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Old timey sticks in the mud

I don't understand the logic of rules sometimes. For example, the 'no strollers' rule on the train at Heritage Park.

When you want to board the train, you have to leave your stroller behind. It doesn't matter that it collapses and you can carry it like a suitcase, they absolutely will not allow it on the train. That means that if you were thinking of taking the train halfway around the park and then getting off and resuming your visit with your stroller, it just isn't going to happen. Which means you're destined to ride the circuit twice to end up right back where you started, with your stroller.

Also, when you tell the ticket vendor that you just want three train tickets at $3 each and they tell you that will be $28. Then you explain you don't want boat or amusement ride tickets and they get all snappy. Then you offer them some change so you can get exactly one dollar back and they won't accept that.....

I can only deduce one thing from this. Some old timey people were grumpy farts. And didn't have access to caffeine. And can't do math. OK, three things.


Daft pianists

Speaking of things Daft, I actually like the cdza cover better than the Daft Punk version.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sad cat diary

By the zany Ze Frank.

"Dear diary: It has come to my attention that the authorities have two hands, but seem to have made it the sadistic policy only to pet me with one of them at a time. Half of love is just.... low. Which is how I feel. My spirit is breaking."

Jack of diamonds

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Things I learned lately 27 July

  • Birds don't fart.
  • When Q-Tips (cotton swabs) were originally introduced, they were called Baby Gays.
  • Alan Emtage, arguably the father of web search (he made Archie at McGill in 1989) hasn't made a dime off his invention.
  • The chairman of the company that built Dubai's Burj Khalifa — the tallest building in the world — wants to build an even bigger tower. That's because Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is developing the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah that could become the new tallest building in the world (1000m). Mohamed Alabbar said he would like his next project to be "a little taller" than that.
  • A 46-year-old employed father in Florida, with no criminal record, was caught selling four bottles of prescription pain pills to an undercover cop. He was sentenced to 25 years.
  • A federal fraud investigator in Canada was suspended without pay, because she leaked information that investigators had to cut people off their EI benefits in order to meet quotas. Investigators were given a target to recover nearly $500,000 in EI benefits every year.
  • Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston walked around San Diego Comic-Con (2013) wearing a mask of the character from his show and nobody knew it was him.
  • Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is intent on reinstating Virginia's Crimes Against Nature law. He thinks oral sex (between any two people) is the same as gay sex.
  • While a woman was away for 2 weeks on vacation in Ohio, First National Bank re-possessed her belongings and foreclosed her house. Only one problem - it's not her bank - they went to the wrong house. Now she wants her stuff back, all $18,000 of it, and the bank is waffling.
  • While adding backing vocals to the song 'Hey Jude', the Beatles asked the orchestra members if they would clap their hands and sing along to the refrain in the song's coda. Most complied (for a double fee), but one declined, reportedly saying, "I'm not going to clap my hands and sing Paul McCartney's bloody song!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

What should you do with your life?

You weren’t “born” to do anything, so stop using that as a guide for your life.

Happy and meaningful are not always the same thing.

Don’t do something you hate.

Do what you’re good at. Not good at anything? 'Become' good at something.

Ask yourself: "What am I offering the world? How valuable am I? Am I really not that valuable? How can I get better?”

Dancing queen

This video is disruptive to my brain.

Queen of hearts

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Handouts? We don't need no stinking handouts!

Someone on LinkedIn in a Training Group asked, "Handouts - do participants want or need paper handouts to reinforce course content. Or is that old fashioned? Is there a better way?"

This was my answer:

PowerPoint presentations are best used as attention 'grab and focus' devices. Minimal words, lots of relevant, brain-tweaking visuals. So hopefully, when we talk about handouts, we're not talking about the kind that PowerPoint automatically produces, because IMHO, they're useless.

I agree that a handout should be the go-to device when you need to be reminded of what was discussed in the presentation. I believe that the more concise the handout, the less useful it is. But beyond a certain point, it stops being a handout and starts being an aide-memoir and eventually becomes a reference manual, which may already exist.

What I'm noticing more and more is that the youngest working generation and even the one before it don't want to have to read. They prefer to watch a video demo. So my suggestion is to record the presentation using a screen and audio recording tool (like Camtasia Studio), edit out the pauses and coughs etc., then produce the video online for both those who attended and even make it available to those who couldn't attend.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Sound that ended silence forever

You know this tune ("Gran Vals” - Francisco Tárrega) all too well. Nokia introduced the 13-note piano phrase 20 years ago, creating the first ringtone. It’s estimated the passage is now heard 1.8 billion times around the world each day, about 20,000 times per second. The ringtone comes from “Gran Vals,” a 1902 guitar solo written by classical guitarist Francisco Tárrega. In 1993 the tune was hijacked by Nokia exec Anssi Vanjoki, who thought it would be the perfect default ring for the sleek, new half-pound Nokia 2110.

Don't let me down

Watch this father and his 23 month-old son belt out this Beatles classic.

Family album

Monday, July 22, 2013

The 1% pay for some amazing perks

A recent Reddit thread asked about the craziest services and products for the 1% that most of us didn't even know existed. A sampling:

  • Fine Art Insurance - "And I don't mean, 'Sorry you lost it in the hurricane, here's your paycheck' insurance. I mean, 'The area is flooded and riots are breaking out. We're going to send a SWAT-like team to helicopter in and fly your assets out of the area and into a safer place.'"
  • Full-Service Travel Agents - "Books flights and hotels and arranges visas. Also handles money for you (when you travel to another country). Got a problem? Call the agent. They'll fix it or get fired."
  • Christmas Tree Stylist - "A $20,000 handmade Christmas tree put in your home every year and trashed on Jan 1st."
  • Next-Level Personal Shoppers - "She has my entire wardrobe organized and coded in a database, and keeps track of new designer trends...She has all my sizes and we re-measure twice a year, so I don't have to go hunting for sizing or tailoring."
  • Doctor House Calls - "We can set up a whole hospital suite in the comfort of your personal mansion, with private nurses and staff. It gives you optimal care, prevents [healthcare-associated infections], and gives you much more dignity when dying."
  • Hooker Liaison Manager - "A mate of mine works on a super yacht for some playboy billionaire and part of his job is to get rid of the passed out hookers every morning and take them back to shore, then line up the next flock."
  • PRIMA Cinema Services ($35,000) - "Newly released movies at home, the same day they open in theaters."
  • Private Suites At Events - "At Madison Square Garden, for instance, your suite is like a living room with a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the event floor. You are also given access to a lounge area where you can watch the players come out of the locker room."
  • A Family Office - "An all-purpose financial hub just for you that includes the services of accountants, investment managers, tax lawyers, personal lawyers, insurance professionals, financial planners, and concierge staff that cater to all your financial needs."
  • Flying Domestically With No Security Check - "Most people know that the wealthy fly private. Not everyone knows that this allows them to just walk (or drive) right up to the aircraft with no security screening or luggage inspection."
  • Amex Platinum and Black Card Concierge - "You'd be amazed how many thousands of people don't buy tickets themselves, don't plan their own weddings/engagements, doctors appointments, arrangements to pick their kids up from ballet/school/random location. The Amex concierge does it all for them."

Stock evaluation

I find it unfortunate that many companies are graded based on how their stock is doing. There are companies that are dissed very badly just on the basis of their stock performance, even though their product or service is top notch. That's why if I owned my own business, I'd never go public. I'd rather be graded based on the quality of my product/service and never need to cater to the whims of stockholders.

The Lukewarm Chili Peppers

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Things I learned lately 21 July

  • McDonald's has 'anti-veto' menu items. These are menu items that might convince people who normally don't go to McDonald's, to agree to go with a group (and not veto the suggestion). One of those items is..... the Filet-O-Fish.
  • Most of your Facebook friends have more Facebook friends than you do. In other words, if you have 104 friends on Facebook, more than half of your FB friends have more than 104 friends themselves. Check it out. Let me know if this isn't the case.
  • Most investment managers like to make like they're knowledgable, but statistics have shown over and again that they are nothing more than gamblers. Sometimes they win, most times they lose. Oh, but they still get their fees. People who get their hands dirty and handle their own investments are no better. It's not any different than playing the lottery.
  • You can't legally own more than 4 cats in Wellington, Kansas.
  • There are currently negotiations to create the world's biggest high speed rail network.  It could run from China to the United Kingdom, and over 17 countries in between.  Parts are already operating (China, Europe), and the hope is to have a fully connected network by 2022.
  • A store in Brisbane is now charging customers a $5 'browsing fee' which will be refunded at the till if you buy something. The fee is meant to discourage 'showrooming', where the customer views articles in person only to leave and buy them cheaper online. This store obviously wants to go out of business.
  • Amazon owns 10% of North American e-commerce. That's as much as Office Depot, Staples, Apple, Dell, WalMart, Sears and Liberty's e-commerce sales COMBINED.
  • Knevel - what we used to call that hair on the face before we borrowed the word moustache from the Spanish.
  • Evil Knevel - the kind of moustache an evildoer would have. I totally made that up.
  • Remember that plane that crashed in SF? KTVU was fooled into airing the names of the pilots on the plane: Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo. There were others as well, but those were all that was necessary. It made it to air. I can't write stuff this good if I tried.
  • There are about 6 million unsold Microsoft Surface tablets about to hit retail shelves at very deep discounts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dear PM: Take off that military flight jacket

When I saw pictures of our Prime Minister visiting Calgary during the floods, I spotted one where he was seated in a military helicopter, wearing a military flight jacket, complete with 'pilot's wings'. This just wasn't kosher for me and reminded me of George W.'s dressing up that he did while President. The difference is that Stephen did not serve, is not a military pilot and therefore does not get to wear the uniform.

It turns out that I'm not the only person who was a little put off by this display.

Pig must choose - chicken or egg

This is a charming video on (what I believe is) the best video site in the world - Vimeo.

Pig loves eggs, but his love for Ms. Chicken puts his culinary love in jeopardy.

Dance like you have to

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's always about the sperm

Darlene offered me a theory on why men don't feel cold at a cooler room temperature like women do. She said that in the same way that a man's testicles are sensitive to heat and must be out of the body to maintain a temperature conducive to healthy sperm production, a man's body prefers a cooler ambient temperature for the same reason - healthy sperm production.



A useful epiphany

I've been really lucky to have gotten to learn from and watch some amazing improvisors at Loose Moose over the last 6 years or so. One of the senior artists that I've had the pleasure to watch and learn from is Rebecca Northan, who really caught my attention with her performance in the continuing world tour of the incredible Blind Date show. Lately I had a chance to attend one of her classes and she mentioned an epiphany that she had about one of the key things that makes improv (and pretty much everything else in life) work.

But I'll let her explain it. After all, it's her epiphany. Although hearing it from her gave me one too.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Office for your iPhone? Yes, but.....

MS Office (Lite) is now available as an app for the iPhone. But not the iPad. Also, you can only get it if you have an Office 365 subscription. Also, it won't have every feature you'd have in regular Office programs. Also, the iPhone app will count toward the 5 devices you're allowed to run Office 365 on.

Well played Microsoft. Once again you demonstrate that you don't care what we want.


This is truly the most bizarre Windows 8 advertisement I've ever seen. I don't even think they're speaking a real language in this one.

Mechanic Jr

Saturday, July 13, 2013

World bike share maps

The geographic footprint of a city’s bike-sharing system can reveal both the municipality’s level of commitment to transportation alternatives as well as the topography of the surrounding area.

The map shows the locations of all docking stations for 29 bike-sharing programs around the world. They are drawn at the same scale and arranged by the number of docks.

To see the bike sharing systems on a much better map, go here. You can even see which stations actually have bikes at any moment in time.

Now that's cool.

Your move Calgary......

Where you might find me at a party

[by Evil Me]

  • Making friends with the resident pets.
  • Going through your bedside table drawers. Hey! This takes AA batteries!
  • Judging you based on your alcoholic beverage stock.
  • Photo bombing.
  • Starting a fire in the backyard fire pit. You don't have a fire pit? No matter.
  • Making mystery nachos with whatever I can find.
  • Canvassing neighbours to see if they've accepted Jesus into their hearts.
  • Running a midnight garage sale from your garage.
[disclaimer: this is a joke. i will not be doing all of these things. some. not all.]

LOL 'Cheeseweed'

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Things I learned lately 11 July

  • In 2011, there were 24,206 reported cases of rape in India. The conviction rate was 26.4%.
  • You can buy Doom and Wolfenstein for your iPhone.
  • New York City has plans to install 10,000 charging stations for electric cars.
  • In 30 seconds, over 1,157,000 searches are performed on Google.
  • The sun's mass accounts for 99.86% of the solar system's mass. It weighs 330,000 times what the Earth weighs.
  • In case you're not the yoga type and/or have never been inside a Lululemon, a pair of Astro yoga pants made of 'luon' (the material that was recently found to be unintentionally see-through) will set you back $98.
  • Honey laundering: A term referring to the fact that much of the honey sold in the United States isn't actually honey, but a concoction of corn or rice syrup, malt sweeteners or "jiggery" (cheap, unrefined sugar), plus a small amount of genuine honey.
  • Apple is working on a patent that would auto-right a phone as it's falling to the ground to minimize damage.
  • Tablet sales are on pace to overtake PC sales in less than 3 years.
  • Republicans are afraid Hillary Clinton will run for President in 2016. I hope she does. We need two firsts in a row.
  • So, a woman, who was tired of the sexist jokes she kept hearing behind her, took two guys' pictures and tweeted them. One of the guys lost his job and the company the woman worked for couldn't handle the public pressure, so they fired her too. Two people lost their jobs over one (at the time) innocent tweet.
  • IKEA got caught photoshopping women out of its Saudi Arabia catalogue. Are we surprised?
  • Oregon may become the first state to implement a program that would let students attend state schools without taking out a loan or paying out of pocket for tuition. "Pay it Forward, Pay it Back" lets students enroll with no money, so long as they pay up to 3% of their future salaries back into a state fund for 24 years.

Dream - Art & Culture of Burning Man

I am quite fascinated by the Burning Man phenomenon. That's what it is, a phenomenon. Creative, open-minded people coming together to share and experience their own artistic creations in a friendly, non-judgmental environment. We could learn a lot from these people and their attitudes.

This video captures a very small glimpse of what it's about.

Ronald McJoker

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

No more Mr nice guy

Why I have no sympathy for copyright owners in the entertainment industry.

I know ice cream music. This sir, is not ice cream music.

I heard the ice cream truck go by. The sound system was playing Christmas music. Not just one song, all of them were

Christmas tunes.

Bloody amateur!

Ryan Gosling won't eat his cereal

Silly meme where someone uses various clips to show Ryan Gosling not eating his cereal.

You either like it or you don't. The video collection that is.


Sunday, July 07, 2013

Light from heat

A 15 year old girl from Victoria BC, Ann Makosinski, invented a hollow LED flashlight that converts heat from your palm into electricity to power the LEDs.

She is a finalist in Google's Science Fair.

Road trips I've taken (over 500km)

Kingston ON to Gagetown NB (military convoy)
Kingston ON to Washington DC
Kingston ON to Calgary AB
Calgary AB to Vancouver BC
Calgary AB to Shilo MB
Edmonton AB to Winnipeg MB (military convoy)
Calgary AB to Portland OR / Cannon Beach OR / Seattle WA
Calgary AB to Las Vegas NV / Los Angeles CA / Newport Beach CA
Calgary AB to Ashland OR / San Fransisco CA

Ultimate journey by motorcycle

Alex Chacon took a year and a half and went on a motorbike ride. He left home in Texas, travelled to the southern tip of Argentina and then north to Alaska. In the video you see him pass through 22 countries and some incredible scenery. The video is edited for artistic style versus chronological accuracy and it is amazing.

Yellow brick Abbey Road

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Things I learned lately 6 July

  • The Gulf of Mexico's 'dead zone' may be the size of New Jersey this summer.
  • 144 years after the invention of electric telegraphy, the last telegram service in the world will shut down. This technology is still used in India, where about 5,000 telegrams are sent down the wires daily. On July 14 2013, it will stop.
  • Mr. Snuffleupagas’ first name was Alyoisus.
  • Since 1981, when a Quebec provincial law was passed to promote gender equality, no change may be made to a person's name without the authorization of the registrar of civil status or the court. Newlyweds who wish to change their names upon marriage must go through the same process as changing their names for other reasons. This law does not allow a woman to immediately legally change her name upon marriage, as marriage is not listed among the reasons for a name change.
  • In 2010, Ukranian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov paid $216 million for a penthouse at One Hyde Park in London. It's the most expensive home ever sold (that I know of).
  • Beijing positioned firefighters in Tiananmen Square during the 2012 leadership transition to prevent self-immolation protesters from burning themselves.
  • A 17 year old girl, Jackie Mitchell, struck out Babe Ruth and then Lou Gehrig in 7 pitches. She was such a threat to the game of baseball, the commissioner voided her contract days later.
  • There are people working in McDonald’s in Soho who can look out of the window and see parking meters earning more than they do.
  • Portland, Oregon City Council unanimously voted to require that businesses offer sick leave to their employees. The policy says workers must get up to 5 paid sick days off per year.
  • Google may be working on its own smart watch as is (reportedly) Apple. Gigiddy.

Friday, July 05, 2013

She loved him and he knew it

Re-imagining Star Wars movies as pulp fiction.

Don't be so dim

Someone needs to explain something to some stores with lit displays.

If you were previously lighting up a store display using 250 W Halogen spots, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) is about as effective as not having any spots at all. The only difference is that now you're spending money on electricity that's not actually lighting anything up.

Wikipedia recent changes

Here's a site that shows you the occurrence of the most recent wikipedia article edits in real time, on a world map.

Hours of fun, no?

The dawn of gaming

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Barry's patties

Once upon a time, I lived in Kingston, Ontario. While I was still single, I found a cozy little rental on Wellington Street, downtown, above a dental practise in a fairly old red brick house.

Next door was a charming little restaurant, L'Auberge, specializing in French cuisine. It was in a very old limestone heritage building. The place was run by a Paris-trained Morrocan chef named Mohammed Bahri (spelling?). Everyone called him 'Barry' for short. His kitchen was in an add-on to the main house (now gone) and the back door to this kitchen was right next to the door leading to my apartment. Almost every day when I got home from work (in the military), Barry would come to the door, greet me and ask me to try some new concoction he was creating in his kitchen. He was the kind of chef that made everything from scratch. The things he would spoon or fork into my mouth were scrumptious. Does that sound lewd? It isn't meant to be.

I was planning for a party one time at my place and wanted to serve up some Jamaican meat patties at the gig, since those were the fad food of the day back then in my circle. On a whim, I asked Barry if he knew what these were. He didn't, so I described them. He had a good idea what I meant and so I asked him if he would consider making me a large batch for my party. I knew they would be great because of his talents. He agreed to do it.

So I ended up serving Jamaican meat patties at my party made by a Paris-trained Moroccan French cuisine chef. They were spectacular.

iPhone Karimba remix

Take one of the sound files from the iPhone and turn it into a piece of music.

Appsolutely fabulous.

See what I did there?


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Song of the day technical issues

My apologies that there has been no SOTD since 28 June. My host (Divshare) is having technical issues. Again. Song of the Day will be back as soon as they sort out their problem(s).

Hang in there

[Totally posed and taken for maximum effect]

Slap on the wrist

[old news alert]
So the total fines levied against all parties for Robo calls was $369,000. That includes individuals parties companies both federal and provincial.

Yeah, that's going to stop it from ever happening again.

Tesla supercharging network to grow dramatically

Now that Elon Musk has fulfilled his promise of creating an electric car that is as exciting as a gasoline powered one, his next plan is to establish a network of supercharging stations across America - in very short order. At these stations, batteries will be charged to 2/3 capacity in 20 minutes. On the Model S with the biggest battery pack, that's a range of 280km on a 20 minute charge.

56 acronyms and initialisms

Just watch it already.

And DFTBA (darling fetch the battle axe).

I'm your father...