Tuesday, December 30, 2014


During the shoot for Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, actor Skyler Gisondo, who played Ben Stiller's son, was missing the time of year at his school when his friends were asking girls to the prom.

So with the help of costars Ben Stiller and Robin Williams they shot a video proposal to his intended prom date.

YYC events

I love how the majority of public events in our city now use the YYC airport code. It's possible that we're doing that more than any other Canadian city, I don't know. doorsopenyyc; jazzyyc; yycwine; yychotchocolate; yycfoodtrucks; TEDxYYC; yycpizzaweek; yycgifts; yycburgerweek.....

The Copenhagen Wheel

This is a very practical solution for making cycling even more efficient than it already is. The key benefit here is that you don't need to buy a new bicycle to enjoy an electric bike.

The Copenhagen Wheel is a universal rear wheel that contains all the technology, including the batteries. There are no wires. The wheel is controlled by an app on your phone. It learns from your pedalling and helps you when you need the help.

Pine. Apple.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Things I learned lately - 27 Dec

  • If you habitually lose things, it can help if you focus on the act of putting something down instead of just doing it in passing. It also helps to mentally create a precise visual scene of the place. Take note of the surface on which you're resting an object. Is it wood, steel, or concrete? Red or blue? Is there a photograph or an object nearby that you can keep in mind? Noticing these details can be key to establishing an emotional connection to the item, and this connection can help you recall the memory. Lastly, it helps to put stuff in the same place each time.
  • Quebec will offer electric vehicle (EV) incentives and gas vehicle penalties based on engine size. They will offer an $8,000 rebate for EV purchases, plus up to $1,000 toward the installation of a home charger. They're also imposing additional registration fees for fossil fuel vehicles based on the size of their engines. Beginning in 2016 cars with 4.0-4.9 litre engines will be charged an extra $50, 5.0-5.9 litre engines an extra $100, and cars with 6.0+ litre engines will cost an added $200 to register.
  • Car2Go now has 1,000,000 members.
  • Milan is motivating drivers to go transit by using black boxes to tell when the car is at home. Every day an owner leaves their car at home between 7:30am and 7:30pm will get $1.84 via coded text, enough to buy transit fare using that same text.
  • AudiShare is a new car sharing program starting out in Sweden where up to 5 drivers can share the lease on any Audi model and schedule usage via an app.
  • The sports bra wasn't invented until 1977.
  • Washington DC city council may pass a 'living wage' bill that would require large retailers to pay employees at least $12.50 per hour. The current minimum wage is $8.25/hr. Wal-Mart workers across the country have been striking for better pay, healthcare benefits and sick days. Wal-Mart has said if this bill passes it will halt plans to open stores in Washington DC. Ahhh, so that's how you get rid of WalMart......
  • The average ticket price to see The Rolling Stones in concert is $370. Per person.
  • The next (planned) Mars rover will be able to send samples back to Earth. I sense a great sci-fi horror movie plot possible here.
  • The iPhone camera doesn't actually take the picture until you 'release' the shutter button, so you can hold the button while you frame the shot.
  • A Canadian team of engineers won a competition to build and fly a human-powered helicopter (named Atlas) to an altitude of 3.3m for at least 60 seconds.
  • Bottled water costs as much as 2000X as much as tap water.

Charging devices through the air

uBeam is using ultrasound waves to wirelessly charge your phone. The technology behind uBeam is something that's unprecedented. It converts electricity to inaudible sound waves, which travel through the air. The sound waves get converted back to electricity, which then charges up your devices. In order to work, the uBeam system needs a charger (which can be attached to a wall) and a receiver (which gets put on each device you want to charge).

They've developed a powerful and intelligent ultrasonic transmitter that beams high intensity ultrasound through the air. The ultrasound in the air hits a receiver, which can be in the shape of a case around an electronic device or can be embedded within a device. The receiver vibrates in response to the sound at a frequency too fast for people to feel, and then converts that vibration into electrical power.

The technology has one caveat: it can't beam sound waves through walls.

You'll need a cooling table and a warming table

If you've ever wondered how they make candy canes - or at least the big, hand-made ones, then check out this video.

We're talking fast

Remember that maglev train I posted about a year back?

The one that goes from the airport in Shanghai?

Well, I found a much higher quality video.

You have to see this train to believe it.

Wait until you see the other train pass it in the other direction.

Real cats

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

He'll park your car without racing it!

Meet Ray, the robot concierge that parks your car for you at Dusseldorf airport in Germany.

Tax the non-residents!

There's been some talk from certain corners that people who live outside of Calgary should have to pay to use our roads because they don't pay taxes in Calgary. Although that may sound like a good idea in theory, allow me to illustrate why it's the dumbest idea ever.

For starters, the 'let them pay' camp suggest that out-of-towners are getting a free ride and that Calgary citizens are subsidizing their use of our roads. The funny thing is, the people of Canmore probably could say the same thing about Calgarians. You want to use our trails and scare our bears? Deposit your fee on your way in.

The thing is, out-of-towners also live outside of town. That means they're not using up our real estate, clogging up our parks, filling our schools. Which leaves more for us. One thing they are doing for sure, is working and doing some shopping, otherwise, why are they on our roads?

Let's say that we did charge them to use our roads. What then? They would be more likely to stay away. This would result in stores and offices closing, which would severely reduce what we collect in taxes. So you see, we do get tax money from them, it just isn't as obvious.

Jar Jar Abrams

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Things I learned lately - 21 Dec

  • Lowe's is testing robots in one of their chains of hardware stores that can scan items customers brought with them to assist with finding a match. The robots can also tell a customer if an item is in stock and guide them to the exact location in the store.
  • Australian researchers have worked out a way to convert more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar panel system into electricity, double the average rate, and the highest efficiency ever reported.
  • The most famous food in Iceland is hot dogs from Baejarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavik.
  • 76.6% of American convicts released from prison re-offend. Research has shown that they are angry, not rehabilitated. In Norway, only 20% of convicts released from prison re-offend, because 80% are rehabilitated.
  • Hipsters are now decorating their beards for Christmas. No, really.
  • Unlike on a computer, closing apps on an iOS device won't speed up the device, because except for apps that make use of 'background app refresh', the other apps not on the main screen are suspended and not using CPU power at all.
  • "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy" is an example of a 'mondegreen'.
  • Finland has a 'wife carrying' contest that has its roots in gang-initiation-women-stealing in the 1800s.
  • Michael Bolton did a bit of hair metal before he became known for his pop ballads.
  • Classically trained pianist and composer Tori Amos started out as the front woman for a cheesy 1980s synth pop band called "Y Kant Tori Read".
  • The Russians built a memorial to those who lost their lives in America on 9/11. It's called To the Struggle Against World Terrorism and is 100 feet high with a 40 foot stainless steel teardrop. It's in Bayonne NJ.
  • Apparently, furnishing every home in America with solar panels on their roofs would cost less than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, plus save taxpayers more than $162 billion per year.
  • The Canadian military's Ombudsman suggests that more than 1/3 of military members posted to the Air Force base at Cold Lake Alberta take second jobs just to make ends meet.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

So travel

You know a government has a great sense of humour (Stockholm) when they create a Doge ad to promote their transit card.

Special effects are cool

I absolutely LOVE this video of Imperial Forces having taken over Frankfurt Airport.

I especially smiled at the Star Destroyer parked on the ground and the death star up in the sky.

Why our workday hasn't been reduced

The 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

We've been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.

Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"I wonder what this button does…"

The guys from the Norwegian comedy Kollektivet got a DJ gig and finally have a chance to try all the equipment.

Too bad they have never used any of it before.

See more from their TV show here.

'Popeye' on the drug war

"People like me can't be stopped. It's a war. They lose men, and we lose men. They lose their scruples, and we never had any. In the end, you'll even blow up an aircraft because you believe the Colombian president is on board. I don't know what you have to do. Maybe sell cocaine in pharmacies. I've been in prison for 20 years, but you will never win this war when there is so much money to me made. Never."

~Jhon 'Popeye' Velasquez (Pablo Escobar's right hand man)

No half-assed jingling

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Things I learned lately - 14 Dec

  • Historic Route 66 is about to undergo an electric revival. The Illinois Route 66 Electric Corridor will have charging stations along a roughly 300 mile section between Chicago and St. Louis. The city of Normal is also home to a large number of Mitsubishi i-MiEV and other electric cars, thanks to an aggressive infrastructure and incentive program.
  • At Whole Foods, everyone knows what everyone else gets paid. Also, exec pay is capped at 19x what the average worker gets paid. This is quite low.
  • There are more than 37 million motorcycles in Vietnam.
  • A study says at least 86% of vegetarians go back to eating meat at some point in their lives.
  • There is no evidence to support the notion that students learn better when they are taught information via their preferred modality, such as auditory, visual or by doing.
  • Indonesia has a male birth control pill made from the gendarussa plant that is 99% effective.
  • Watching a crackling fire reduces blood pressure and promotes relaxation.
  • In Iceland, fairies are a big deal. So much that there have been protests to stop a road that might disturb them. The new route would slice through the Alftanes peninsula and the protesters say that the beings who live among the rocks would be disturbed.
  • Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong) grew up in Calgary, hung out with 'the brothers', joined several bands and was signed by Motown to Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. Tommy co-wrote their one hit single, 'Does your mama know about me?'
  • It is a myth that you need to drink 8 glasses of water per day. Most of the water you need is already contained in the food you eat. How much more do you need to drink? Drink whenever you're thirsty.
  • Sugar does NOT make kids hyper. It's a myth.
  • Your tongue's receptors can taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savory).
  • At one time, you had to pass a literacy test to vote in the US, which prevented non-educated (blacks) from voting. This was happening as late as the 1960s. 
  • If you're at a crowded table and you can't remember which bread plate or glasses are yours, just remember BMW - from left to right - bread, meal, water.
  • Florida should really be named 'the lightning state' as it has more of that than any other state.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tesla P85D

In case you hadn't heard, Tesla updates its Model S sedan with a new version, the P85D. What's new? The big improvement is the addition of a motor on the front wheels, giving the P85D a 691 horsepower rating.

I love what the professional automotive journalists are saying about the car, using their beautiful words:

"The last time I drove anything that steps as smartly off the line as Tesla's new P85D I was sitting in a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse." 

"Stamp your foot on the pedal and the car hitches up its petticoats and flings itself at the horizon in a departure as silent and instantaneous as a model glider escaping a giant rubber band. I'll wager the Tesla hits 30mph faster than anything else out there except an anvil kicked off a cliff."

~Anthony ffrench-Constant

"The torque impacts your body with the violence of facing the wrong way on the train tracks when the whistle blows. Within the first degree of its first revolution, 100 percent of the motors' combined 687 lb-ft slams the sense out of you. A rising-pitch ghost siren augers into your ears as you're not so much accelerating as pneumatically suctioned into the future. You were there. Now you're here.

"In the first 1/20th of a second, the car is four feet ahead of the fastest-accelerating sedan Motor Trend has ever tested, the Audi RS 7, and has a zero-to-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds."

~Kim Reynolds

Boom... there goes the BMW

Calgary has its share of bad drivers. This one has no clue what they're doing, unless they're trying to master the classic 250-point turn. They also left the scene of...... well I'll just let you witness the whole thing.

You can't have it both ways

I'm sorry Federal Conservatives, but you can't adopt a former Liberal initiative, in this case, the replacement Veteran's Charter, tout its brilliance, make some changes to it, continue to tout its brilliance and then suddenly, once people alert you that it isn't as grand as you claim, blame the party who introduced it in the first place. You bought into it, you get to wear it.

And before the Federal Liberals get all smiley, you folks were the ones who introduced the flawed Charter in the first place. So before you get to criticize the Conservatives for bumbling veteran's affairs, you need to admit that it was your plan in the first place and that it was ill-conceived.

No ponies!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

"Dancing Queen" as a sonnet

It blows

Watch this mesmerizing time lapse of CO2 concentrations across the globe over a one year period.

Federal legacy

Federal programs and research facilities that have been shut down or had their funding reduced:

  • Environmental Emergency Response Program
  • Urban Wastewater Program
  • Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Smokestacks Emissions Monitoring Team
  • Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission
  • National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Winnipeg Office
  • Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey
  • Environmental Protection Operations
  • Compliance Promotion Program
  • Action Plan on Clean Water
  • Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL)
  • Sustainable Water Management Division
  • Environmental Effects Monitoring Program
  • Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan
  • Chemicals Management Plan
  • Canadian Centre for Inland Waters
  • Clean Air Agenda
  • Air Quality Health Index
  • Species at Risk Program
  • Weather and Environmental Services
  • Substance and Waste Management
  • Ocean Contaminants & Marine Toxicology Program
  • Experimental Lakes Area 
  • DFO Marine Science Libraries
  • Centre for Offshore Oil & Gas Energy Research
  • Kitsilano Coast Guard Station
  • St. Johns Marine Traffic Centre
  • St. Anthony’s Marine Traffic Centre
  • Conservation and Protection Office (20 locations)
  • Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures Program
  • Species-at-Risk Program
  • Habitat Management Program
  • DFO Institute of Ocean Sciences (Sidney, BC)
  • Freshwater Institute - Winnipeg
  • Oil Spill Counter-Measures Team
  • Maurice-Lamontagne Institute’s French language library
  • Canadian Coast Guard Management
  • Water Pollution Research Lab (6 locations)
  • St. Andrew Biological Station
  • Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility
  • Ice Information Partnership
  • Motor Vehicle Fleet
  • Inshore Rescue Boat Program
  • Species at Risk Atlantic Salmon Production Facilities
  • Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
  • At-Sean Observer Programs
  • Financial Management Services
  • Pacific Forestry Centre, Satellite Office (Prince George, BC)
  • Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing
  • Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program
  • Isotopes Supply Initiative
  • Clean Energy Fund
  • Sustainable Development Technology Canada – Next Generation Biofuels Fund
  • Program of Energy Research and Development
  • Pacific Forestry Centre
  • Astronomy Interpretation Centre – Centre of the Universe
  • MRI research, Institute Biodiagnostics
  • Polar Continental Shelf Progam
  • Canadian Neutron Beam Centre
  • Aquatic Ecotoxicology, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
  • Molecular Biochemistry Laboratory, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
  • Plant Metabolism Research, Aquatic and Crop Resource Development
  • Human Health Therapeutics research program
  • Automotive and Surface Transportation program
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research
  • Environmental Risks to Health program
  • Substance Use and Abuse program
  • First Nations and Inuit Primary Health Care program
  • Health Infrastructure Support for First Nations and Inuit program
  • Interim Federal Health Program
  • Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
  • Environmental Knowledge, Technology, Information, and Measurement program
  • Science, Innovation and Adoption program
  • Rural and Co-operatives Development program
  • Farm Debt Mediation Service
  • Centre for Plant Health (Sidney, BC)
  • National Aboriginal Health Organization
  • First Nations Statistical Institute
  • Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth
  • First Nations and Inuit Health
  • Fertilizer Pre-Market Efficacy Assessment program
  • Enforcement of Product of Canada label
  • RADARSAT Constellation Mission
  • Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research station
  • Kluane Lake Research Station
  • Bamfield Marine Science Centre
  • Microfungal Collection and Herborium
  • Biogeoscience Institute
  • Coriolis II research Vessel
  • OIE Laboratory for Infectious Salmon Anaemia
  • Canadian Phycological Culture Centre
  • Brockhouse Institute
  • Polaris Portable Observatories for Lithospheric Analysis and Research
  • Mount Megantic Observatory
  • Smoke Stacks Emissions Monitoring Team
  • National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy
  • Environmental Protections Operations Compliant Promotion Program,
  • Sustainable Water Management Division,
  • Environmental Effects Monitoring program,
  • Fresh Water Institute
  • Canadian Centre for Inlands Waters (Burlington)
  • World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre
  • Environmental Emergencies Program
  • Parks Canada
  • Montreal Biosphere
  • Statistics Canada
  • Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
  • Laboratory for the Analysis of Natural and Synthetic Environmental Toxicants
  • National Ultrahigh-field NMR Facility for Solids
  • IsoTrace AMS Facility
  • Canadian Phycological Culture Centre
  • Canadian Resource Centre for Zebrafish Genetics
  • Neuroendocrinology Assay Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario
  • Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding
  • Portable Observatories for Lithospheric Analysis and Research Investigating (POLARIS) (Ontario)
  • Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
  • Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research
  • St. John’s Centrifuge Modelling Facility
  • Quebec/Eastern Canada high field NMR facility
  • Félix d’Hérelle Reference Center for Bacterial Viruses
  • Canadian Neutron Beam Laboratory
  • The Compute/Calcul Canada
  • Center for Innovative Geochronology
  • Biogeoscience Institute
  • Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences
  • Pacific Northwest Consortium Synchrotron Radiation Facility
  • Centre for Molecular and Materials Science at TRIUMF
  • Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
  • Canadian Cosmogenic Nuclide Exposure Dating Facility
  • Atlantic Regional Facilities for Materials Characterization
  • The Canadian SuperDARN/PolarDARN facility

Christmas art from P.J. McQuade

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Things I learned lately - 6 Dec

  • "No one uses Facebook anymore. Facebook is just for old people posting pictures of their kids and grand-kids." ~a Gen Z-er
  • Unpopular kids will occasionally try to become more popular by following popular kids on Instagram. The popular kids, however, may respond to this overture by blocking the unpopular kids. For an unpopular kid, being blocked by a popular kid is worse than being passively ignored by the popular kid, because everyone can see that you're blocked. And when you're blocked, you can't see or share or comment on anything that the popular kids post, so you don't even know what the popular kids are thinking or saying or liking or talking about. You also can't even search for the popular kids, because their names won't show up. It's like you don't even exist.
  • The family of Bob Marley and a Seattle-based private equity firm are launching the first global cannabis brand with marijuana products sold under the brand Marley Natural. It will include various blends of the herb and concentrates, oils and infused lotions.
  • Before the early 20th century, both boys and girls wore dresses. There was no gender connotation. A dress was easier to fit and made diaper changes easier too.
  • The reason a sheet of aluminum foil is only shiny on one side is because two sheets are put through the final set of rollers at the same time. The side of the sheet that touched the other sheet instead of the roller is matte.
  • Cost of daycare per child, per month in Canada: Montreal - $152 (subsidized by province); Winnipeg - $651 (capped by province); Toronto - $1676.
  • Mexico will have a high speed train before Canada does. Mexico.
  • Thorium powered nuclear reactors may finally see the light of day as both India and China are making huge progress on them.
  • The Netherlands has come up with a way to save money and energy on road lighting - glow-in-the-dark paint. Lit up lines have been painted on a stretch of highway in Oss. The paint contains a photo-luminising powder that charges up in the daytime, releasing a green glow for up to eight hours at night. 
  • Doom used to mean 'judgement'.
  • Bully used to mean 'lover or brother'.
  • Welch’s grape juice started out as a non-alcoholic substitute for sacramental wine.
  • Brave used to mean 'show-off'.
  • Awful has opposite meanings, good and bad.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Can we please just get this done already? For the kids...

Well it didn't take long for our new Premier to screw up.

If you want to see how completely messed up Alberta politics is, just read this timeline on the Gay-Straight Alliance initiative. I'm ashamed.

"We're progressive. And by progressive, I mean we just don't talk about or deal with sensitive subjects rather than verbally assault them like Wild Rose does."

Nobody said that. That's just me pretending to mimic a pretend Alberta PC member.

Can you become my regular provider in Canada?

My Canadian provider of mobile services in the US who only offers mobile services in the US (Roam Mobility) just upgraded my SIM to LTE for $2.

My regular mobile provider doesn't even do stuff like that.

Congratulations Mom!

This is what Finland gives all expectant moms for free.

They've been doing this since 1938.

Resume fodder

"Your kids don't leave until the pizza is DONE!"

I'm driving by this place on McLeod Trail and the sign says (in big writing) EMPIRE SHISHA, then (in small writing) And Pizza Lounge.

All I could think was (in even smaller writing) 'and child daycare'.

Then I imagined what the TV ad for that would look like:

"Your kids don't leave until the pizza is DONE!"

Then I pictured the kids lighting the hookahs.

"Come on down to Empire Shisha. Have a pizza and a hookah and then take your kids home."

Disclaimer: Parents must supply hair nets for their kids.