Saturday, January 31, 2015

Visual vibes

One of the nicer and most beautifully shot Canada tributes.

This one by Ben Brown. I think he likes it here.

Beverage logic

Ways to increase productivity

  • Create list of to-dos
  • First task should always be difficult
  • Take an ocassional fresh air break
  • Take a momentary distraction, especially something funny
  • Stretch / deep breathing for 5 minutes
  • Protein snack
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don't multitask
  • Avoid distractions

Photrealist artist from Malaysia

Things I learned lately - 31 Jan

  • People have had their Instagram accounts closed because of posting pictures where a little pubic hair showed on the outside of a bathing suit.
  • There is a cafe in London (with plans to expand), called Cereal Killer. It sells nothing but 120 kinds of cereal to make a bowl to eat with 12 kinds of milk to pour onto it.
  • Each seed in an apple is genetically unique. So planting a seed will not grow a tree with the same kind of apple you're eating.
  • At the Starbucks outlet in the CIA's Langley headquarters, baristas aren't allowed to write customers' names on their cups.
  • The most effective office regime is to work for 52 consecutive minutes and then have a 17-minute break.
  • Dollar squiggles on the pavement denote electric cables below.
  • American teachers are allowed to whack children with a paddle (a wooden bat a little shorter and thinner than a cricket bat) in 19 states.
  • "It's dead to us. Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can't really leave." ~ a teenager
  • In a new McDonald's near its HQ in Oak Brook, IL, customers don't all queue at the counter. Some go to a touch screen, choose a bun, toppings and sauces from 20+ premium ingredients. This includes grilled mushrooms, guacamole and caramelized onions. Then they sit, wait about 7 minutes and a server brings their burger to the table. "Create Your Taste" burgers is planned to roll out in up to 2,000 restaurants, by late 2015.
  • How to get an ice cube out of the tray without spilling them. Twist the tray like you normally would. Lick your finger and touch it to the top of a cube. The saliva freezes to the cube, turning your finger into a mini-crane. Lift and enjoy.
  • At least 15 scientific studies have proven that vitamin C supplements do nothing to prevent the common cold. Linus Pauling promoted the benefits of vitamin C (and other supplements) since 1970. Every one of his claims have been scientifically refuted. Getting your vitamins naturally is the only proven way to reduce illness.
  • Sand typically contains particles of quartz, feldspar and hornblende with a dash of calcium carbonate (fragmented sea shells). Most of the sand on North American beaches is around 5000 years old.
  • Carbonated water was first made in 1767.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pendulum wave demo

This is truly one of the most amazing demonstrations of a pendulum wave ever.

I could watch this for hours, it's so hypnotizing.

Lyrics I love: Travis - Side

We all live under the same sky
We all will live, we all will die
There is no wrong, there is no right
The circle only has one side

Rogue apostrophe!

Things I learned lately - 24 Jan

  • Alberta has more working poor than any other province.
  • Cheese Whiz has no cheese in it. It used to, but not anymore.
  • Eclipse, a dog in Seattle, has figured out how to take the bus to get to her favourite park, all by herself.
  • Of the almost $183 billion Apple made in revenue in 2014, 72% was from iPhone and iPad sales.
  • The first album by a Canadian artist to sell a million copies in Canada was Bryan Adam's 'Reckless'.
  • The 1991 Bryan Adams album 'Waking up the Neighbours' didn't qualify for priority airplay in Canada because according to CRTC Canadian content rules, it wasn't Canadian enough. This was due to it being produced by a Brit (Mutt Lange) and having been recorded outside of Canada. Bryan fought the CRTC on this and won, forcing them to broaden their criteria.
  • Dogs, unlike wolves, establish eye contact with people.
  • There are people whose job it is to taste test dog food. The wet kind that comes out of a can.
  • The expression, "As American as apple pie" developed in 1902. An English writer had criticized Americans for eating too much apple pie. They should limit themselves to only two times a week. An unnamed New York Times editor responded: "[Eating pie twice per week] is utterly insufficient, as anyone who knows the secret of our strength as a nation and the foundation of our industrial supremacy must admit. Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents the calendar of changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished."
  • Coronation Street, the TV program, has been on the air since 1960.
  • The last frigate in the US Navy is about to sail its last patrol, ever.
  • The code A113 is implanted in every Pixar movie.
  • There are more bicycles in Copenhagen than people.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I'm a bit bemused by the way that modern washers and dryers are sold.

Front load washers and dryers are made in a manner that makes it less than convenient to load clothes into them due to how low the door is to the floor. Of course, the manufacturers offer a pedestal that you can put your washer and dryer onto to make it easier to load and unload. But you have to pay extra for those pedestals. $250 extra. Per pedestal.

So I think about that for a few moments and it occurs to me that in effect, front load washer and dryer manufacturers are asking us to pay for a workaround accessory to compensate for their bad design. I find it funny that they manage to get away with this flaw and the workaround we have to pay for.

Imagine if when you bought a television, you also had to buy a TV stand to raise the television to a useful height. OK, never mind - bad example.

Imagine if when you bought a personal vehicle, you also had to buy a stool so you could load and unload the hatch or trunk. We would never put up with that, right?

At least the mattress industry cuts us some slack. When they sell you a mattress, they'll typically throw in the box spring for free.

Why beans do what they do

Adorable animated short on why beans are so musical.

Travel by drone

If you want to see the world from a bird's eye view, then head over to Travel by Drone, where all the videos are filmed on one of those quad-copter drones with a camera mounted on it.

Some of the footage is spectacular. This still from Hamburg.

Canadian Home Ec training

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Just don't do it

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion regarding free speech and the events in Paris, where journalists were killed as an extremist reaction to cartoons about the Muslim prophet. I thought I would weigh in after some serious deliberations.

We can all agree that freedom of speech is an important right that deserves to be protected, and exercised by everyone. Where I begin to draw the line is when the speech is hateful, disrespectful, or libellous. Depending on where you live, free speech is either unlimited or it can be restricted by law, not to include hate literature, etc.

The kinds of cartoons that Muslims find offensive are those in which their prophet is lampooned. They insist that this is a form of disrespect. I believe that this is the key. We should collectively know better than to do or say something that is considered disrespectful by a group of people. We have the right to do it, but we also have the responsibility to acknowledge and face the consequences of those actions. Does that justify killing someone over a disrespectful act? No. Killing the messenger is the act of an extremist and a coward. But it is a potential consequence of free speech and could have been easily avoided if the cartoons were never published. One could argue that if the cartoons were never published, extremists would have just used another reason to justify killing non-believers. This is true. But we're still missing the point. Is it right to disrespect others just because we can?

I have heard the argument from some Christians that it isn't a big deal and that they wouldn't be offended if their God was lampooned. Again, they're missing the point. It doesn't matter that you don't mind your God being lampooned, what matters is that Muslims consider it an insult. The Pope seems to agree and he represents the Christian faith.

I would have hoped that the Muslim community would gather together and peacefully protest against the cartoons at Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere, to make their feelings clear. But they chose not to exercise their own free speech. That's unfortunate, because there are probably some people unsure or unaware that lampooning the Muslim prophet is a bad thing.

In the meantime, I totally agree with and respect the CBC's decision not to publish these types of cartoons because they feel (as I do) that it is wrong to deliberately disrespect others, especially when you know it is a sensitive issue.

Yeah, even this

Whenever I say "If you can think of it, it's probably on the internet", some people be all like "Oh yeah? well i don't see no star trek voyager's engine drone for 12 straight hours anywhere...." Behold.

"Well, what about the engine drone from Enterprise from STTNG?" Done.

"Pffft! Bet you can't find 12 hours of the ambient sound of Deackard's apartment from Blade Runner..." Boo ya!

Just try a YouTube search on sound for 12 hours. Oh, and see you in a few months.........


Every day, 2000-3000 aircraft fly across the North Atlantic between Canada, the United States and Europe.

The Shanwick OCA is the busiest of all North Atlantic Airspace regions. It is often referred to as ‘the gateway to Europe’ and around 80% of all North Atlantic Air Traffic passes through it, demonstrating the strategic importance of our Prestwick Centre and UK airspace.

This visualization shows Transatlantic traffic over a 24 hour period taken from a day in August last year and shows 2,524 flights crossing the North Atlantic, of which 1,273 pass through the Shanwick OCA. At our busiest periods in the Summer, traffic can peak at 1,500 flights a day passing through the Shanwick OCA.

Things I learned lately - 17 Jan

  • Silicon Valley was born of the dean of engineering at Stanford University's desire for graduates to start their own companies in the area as early as the 1940s.
  • The calorie amounts on food labels are useless, because processed food is almost fully digested, whereas raw, real food only processes the nutrients, proteins and sugars.
  • In the 17th century, beach goers used bathing machines to protect their modesty. Swimmers would step fully dressed into a horse-drawn cart topped with a hut. As the horse plodded out into the surf, the swimmer would change into his long-sleeved bathing suit. Only when the cart had reached a suitable distance from the shore would the swimmer emerge to frolic. When finished, he'd climb back into the cart and raise a flag to indicate he was ready to head in. The swimmer would change back into street clothes and emerge on the sand looking dapper.
  • Aerospace engineer Clayton Anderson was rejected from NASA's astronaut training program 15 times. He was accepted on the 16th application. He has spent 167 days in space and 38 hours on space walks.
  • Travellers going to the UK could have their cell phones seized by police, without grounds, and their data downloaded without their consent as part of the country's anti-terrorism laws. This applies to anyone arriving in the UK via rail, sea or air. Should border police confiscate your phone, they can download your photos, contact lists and call logs and hold onto them for as long as necessary. The contents of texts and emails are safe from prying eyes, though any contact information gleaned from messages are fair game.
  • Soon, your voice may be the only password you'll ever need. A voice biometrics platform is on its way from the makers of Siri.
  • The most famous example of a Google service that came out of a '20% project', is GMail. 20% projects are where Google gives its engineers 20% of their work week to focus on personal projects.
  • 10 things that exist because of Linux: Android OS; TiVo; NYSE; CERN; air traffic control; Google, Amazon and Facebook; nuclear subs; robotic milking systems; Japanese high speed train system; Toyota's info-tainment and comms system.
  • To know when to mate, a male giraffe will continuously headbutt the female in the bladder until she urinates. The male then tastes the pee and that helps it determine whether the female is ovulating.
  • It's becoming more commonplace for physical retailers to track you from the moment you enter the store. Physical retail stores still account for 90% of all purchases. Some retailers are gathering customer data from smart phones and using video surveillance to determine optimal store layouts and customized coupons offerings. Using Wi-Fi signals from your smart phone, retailers can learn how much time you spend in the store and each section, as well as how long it takes you to browse before making a purchase.
  • Comic-Con in San Diego has been going for 43 years.

Wire fairy

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rate rider?

I always get a kick out of the many line items of fees and charges on my natural gas bill.

You got your fixed charge and your variable charge and your admin fee and your carriage fees. But my favourite one is the vague yet official sounding 'rate rider'. What the frick is a rate rider and how do I know they're not just spinning a wheel to determine what I get charged?


Lyrics I love: The B-52s - Planet Claire

Some say she's from Mars 
Or one of the seven stars 
That shine after 3:30 in the morning

Relief. That's all.

There's a reason I'm looking forward to the day when marijuana is legal, but it's not what you might think.

Darlene suffers from fibromyalgia. Long story short, she's in persistent pain. The only thing that changes is the level of pain. But the pain is always there. Yes, there are drugs she can take. They all make her feel like a zombie. The drugs adversely affect her ability to sleep, her memory, her digestive system, her emotional state, her focus.

But there is one thing known to provide at least temporary relief. Marijuana. She wouldn't even necessarily have to smoke it either.

And here we are. So can we please get this done?

Bohemian Rhapsody as sonnet

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Things I learned lately - 10 Jan

  • The F-35 has 2 new problems: It can't use fuel that's heated up in the sun and its cannon has software issues that will need 4 years to fix. We're not still buying this thing, are we?
  • The Three Gorges hydro-electric dam in China is the world's largest power plant by installed capacity with 22,500 megawatts. Alberta's entire generation capacity, which includes all coal, gas, hydro, wind and any other forms of power generation, operating at maximum tilt, puts out 16,151 megawatts.
  • "We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective." ~Michael Eisner (while CEO at Disney in an internal memo)
  • "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." ~Pat Robertson
  • At one time, there was coloured toilet paper.
  • There are 56 cognitive biases that affect everything we do. 
  • The vinyl edition of Pink Floyd's final album 'The Endless River' (2014) became the fastest selling vinyl album since 1997.
  • Ontario no longer burns coal to produce electricity.
  • Adolf Hitler was Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year' in 1938.
  • The French love intellectual conversations so much that they’ll even bring their utmost abstract and grandiose ideas to the dinner table. From religion to politics, everyone’s prepared with their own opinions and it doesn't matter whether you’re an expert or not. Opinions are thrown out no matter how someone may agree or disagree with them. Except about money.
  • Teens now use AirDrop to pass files and pics around in class.
  • The federal NDP party is offering proportional representation to replace our current first-past-the-post election system if they are elected. Interesting.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Multitasking bad for your brain

Research conducted at Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. People who are bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.

There are people who claim to have a gift for multitasking. The research found that heavy multitaskers were actually worse at multitasking. The multitaskers had more trouble organizing their thoughts, filtering out irrelevant information, and were slower at switching tasks.

Multitasking is technically unattainable because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks well.

Research found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines similar to someone who had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. The IQ drops put them at the average range of an 8-year-old child. So when you're writing your boss an email during an intense meeting, remember that your cognitive capacity is being diminished to where you might as well let an 8-year-old write it for you.

It was believed that cognitive impairment from multitasking was temporary, but new research suggests that time spent on multiple devices (such as texting while watching TV) has long term effects on the part of the brain responsible for empathy, cognitive and emotional control.

Multitasking is not a habit you want to indulge — it clearly slows you down and decreases the quality of your work. Allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail.

Watch what a trombone can do

What is it about music and cows? This is my favourite serenaded cow video so far.

I love the tails wagging. Then it's like a cattle mosh pit. More cows run over. Then they start mooing along.

I kid you not.

YouTube doesn't know your password

Something you might not know about your password and how it's used.

No seriously, watch this video.

New bus seat covers

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Express ride sans luggage

Getting to the airport with lots of luggage is a pain because you're stuck bringing it with you everywhere (until check-in) and have to lug it around if you're not going straight from hotel check-out right to the airport. And never mind the stress of taxis and traffic jams, if you opt for transit, bringing luggage on a train or bus isn't a picnic. In Hong Kong, there's a better way. It's called "in-town check-in", part of Hong Kong's MTR subway system with a line dedicated to airport travel called the Airport Express.

Airport Express travelers can check their luggage in town, then either proceed to the airport or tourist around unencumbered. If you have a 4pm flight and have to leave your hotel by noon, with in-town check-in, you could take a 10am shuttle to one of the two Airport Express stations with check-in service (Hong Kong or Kowloon), drop off your bags and get your boarding pass, then spend your waiting time touring the city or whatever.

The best part: you won't see your bags again until you land at your destination. When you arrive at the Hong Kong airport, you just go straight to security with your boarding pass and your luggage already processed.

You do need an Airport Express ticket to use the check-in service. But that's OK, the $13USD ticket is cheaper than taking a cab. And the Airport Express train has WiFi.

Not as much from OPEC

Where Americans think they get their oil from versus where they really get it.

We can, and we will

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Where is it? Episode 72!

Back by popular demand, I bring you - 'Where Is It?'

The rules are simple. Name the place and put your guesses in the comments on this blog (not in Facebook).

Name the country for 1 point. Name the place for 2 points.

The 10 non-commandments

Atheists were asked to suggest a secular list of good-to-live-by rules to replace the Christian 10 Commandments.

Here are the "Ten Non-Commandments:

1. Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
4. Every person has the right to control of their body.
5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognize that you must take responsibility for them.
7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you, and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
8. We have the responsibility to consider others, including future generations.
9. There is no one right way to live.
10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

"That's jacked up"

I love this smart short about a spare tire who just can't find a purpose.

Don't stop - in sonnet style

Things I learned lately - 3 Jan

  • In Germany some people play a popular game called 'headis'. It's played like ping-pong, using a ping-pong table, but they use a soccer ball and can only hit the ball with their head.
  • The Savino wine preservation system lets you open a bottle of wine, drink some, put the rest in the carafe and a float keeps the oxygen out and therefore keeps the wine drinkable for days.
  • Apple Pay's security is its biggest strength. Unlike paying with a credit or debit card, Apple Pay doesn't show merchants your payment information when you buy something. It uses a digital account number called a "token" to tell the merchant you're good for the purchase. That information is passed onto your cardholder, who charges you for what you're buying.
  • The MPAA is secretly trying to revive SOPA and make Google the scapegoat.
  • AT&T collected $24 million in fees for wiretapping for the US government between 2007-2011.
  • The average rent in NYC is $3017 per month (compared to $1000 in the rest of the US).
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote the first (known) recipe for ice cream in the US. Yeah, THAT Thomas Jefferson.
  • At Rick Moonen's RM Seafood, a restaurant at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, they feature an $18 sampling platter called 'Ricks's Tasting Game', featuring 16 flavours of sorbets and ice creams. You eat it blindfolded. If you can guess all of the flavours, you pay nothing.
  • The population of California exceeds the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota - combined.
  • Prevent a pot of water from boiling over by placing a wooden spoon across the top (as long as it's not over-filled).
  • New Jersey has the most 24-hour diner restaurants per capita in the world.