Saturday, April 25, 2015

California winter snow pack in 2010 versus 2015

Old tech

What's the oldest piece of consumer electronic technology in your home?

My oldest is a 1991 JVC 32" television.


This is one of the cooler inventions I've seen in a while. A fist-sized ultrasonic device that you put in a sink filled with water along with a few dirty clothes and some soap. After 30 minutes you have clean clothes that just need a rinse.

This would be great for business travellers.

Did it seem warmer than normal?

As you can see, during the period Jan-Mar 2015, the only land mass in the world that was colder than usual was eastern North America. The rest of the world's land mass was warmer than usual, especially western North America and all of Central America. We sure felt it here in Calgary. While Atlantic Canada were being dumped on by successive snowstorms, we were sipping beers on sunny decks.

Things I learned lately - 25 Apr

  • A test maglev train in Japan just broke another speed record for trains - 375mph (603km/h).
  • If you want the iPhone to add an apostrophe automatically, just add an extra last letter while you type. So if you type "shelll", it will correct to "she'll". Welll gets you we'll.
  • You can enable an accessibility option on the iPhone that will blink the camera LED when unread notifications exist. Great for when you're in 'do not disturb' mode.
  • We've only officially recognized the existence of other galaxies for 90 years.
  • Chevrolet's new all-electric car is named the Bolt. Insert joke here.
  • Treehouse, an online service for teaching web design, coding and more, has had a 4 day workweek since it started up in 2010. They never work on Friday.
  • When you hear an ice cream truck playing “Little Brown Jug,” you’re hearing an updated version of a 30 year old digital unit that replicated the sound of a 55 year old electronic unit, based on a 65 year old mechanical unit, which was based on a music box, which was invented more than 200 years ago. They've been using the same song for 70 years, and that song was written 75 years before that. The sonic equivalent of Instagram.
  • It cost more to make the movie Titanic than to make the actual ship.
  • 250 dead people are currently frozen, waiting to be revived with future technology.
  • North Koreans may only choose from 28 approved hair styles. I'm partial to the 'labour camp crew cut'.
  • A cat (named Stubbs) has been the mayor of Talkeetna Alaska for 18 years.
  • Mexico's 34th president ruled for less than an hour, then resigned.
  • The founder of lost his girlfriend to a guy she met on

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Donald Trump is a dick

If you ever needed definitive proof that Donald Trump is a sad man, you don't have to look very far. He stepped in it again this week: (this was tweeted, then hastily removed)

"If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?"

"The more relaxed you are, the better you are."

"Someone told me some secrets early on about living. You have to remind yourself that you can do the very best you can when you’re very, very relaxed. No matter what it is, no matter what your job is, the more relaxed you are, the better you are. That’s sort of why I got into acting. I realized that the more fun I had, the better I did it, and I thought, Well, that’s a job I can be proud of. I’d be proud to have that job, if I had to go to work and say, ‘No matter what my condition or what my mood is, no matter how I feel about what’s going on in my life, if I can relax myself and enjoy what I’m doing and have fun with it, then I can do my job really well.’ And it’s changed my life, learning that. And it’s made me better at what I do. I’m not the greatest or anything. But I really enjoy what I do."
~Bill Murray

If you're a fan of science fiction....

You need to see Jodorowsky's Dune. It's the story of the design of the biggest sci-fi movie never to get made and the eventual fallout that resulted.

It's the story of a cult film's vision of Dune as a mind-altering, life changing messiah story for youth that scared Hollywood out of its wits.

But more importantly, it's proof, in Jodorowsky's own words, that even if you fail, the journey is in trying.

The movie that never got made was still a heavy influence on sci-fi films that came after.

You can currently watch this documentary in Netflix.

Lyrics I love: Pink Floyd - Breathe (reprise)

Far away across the field 
The tolling of the iron bell 
Calls the faithful to their knees 
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

How youth see a stop light

Things I learned lately - 18 Apr

  • The CEO of a credit payment processing company increased the minimum wage of every employee in his company from $48k to $70k per year. He then decided that this should be his salary too.
  • College students in a small Dutch town get to live in a nursing home for free as long as they spend 30 hours per month with the elderly. The ratio is 6:160. 
  • Every animal with a spine has a liver.
  • The UK just discovered 50-100 billion barrels of oil underground near Gatwick airport. They may only be able to get at 5-15% of it though.
  • The base Tesla model S electric car just dropped in price to $75,000 before tax credits, but adds a whole lot of features, like all-wheel drive. It has a range of 240 miles (386km). This car started out as a $110,000 car.
  • Bottled water is still being drawn from California, which is in the middle of one of its worst mega-droughts.
  • The most expensive hotel room in the world is in Geneva. It's the Royal Penthouse suite at the Hotel President Wilson and it goes for $67,000 per night.
  • Bill Gates has donated $28 billion of his own money so far.
  • 22 million chickens are eaten in the US every day.
  • A 2.5GB disk drive in 1980 was the size of a fridge and cost $40,000.
  • Early Christians were called Atheists by the Romans as they didn't pay tribute to Pagan gods.
  • At one time, movie trailers played after the feature film, ergo the name.
  • In the Arabic version of The Simpsons, Homer is named Omar Al-Shamshoon.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

No media for 24 hours

Your assignment:  Find a 24-hour period during which you can pledge to give up all media: no Internet, no newspapers or magazines, no TV, no mobile phones, no iPod, no music, no movies, no Facebook, no PlayStation, no video games, etc.

Could you do it?

Here are some actual responses from (young) people who tried it:

“I began going crazy.”
“I felt paralyzed, almost handicapped in my ability to live.”
“I felt dead.”
“Emptiness overwhelms me.”
“Unplugging . . . felt like turning off a life-support system.”
“I sat in my bed and stared blankly. I had nothing to do.”
“The feeling of nothing passed into my heart . . . I felt like I had lost something important.”
“I felt like there was a problem with me.”
“I counted down minute by minute and made sure I did not exceed even a single second more!”
“I felt so lonely.”
“I went into absolute panic mode.”
“It felt as though I was being tortured.”
“I was edgy and irritated.”
“I felt a strange anxiety.”

Karl’s Alberta Election 2015 synopsis

I’m going to try to write this post as unbiased as I can, bearing in mind that I do typically lean Liberal in my political choices, but am definitely not married to that party at a provincial level. Or any level for that matter. OK, here we go.

So, the conservatives have had the run of the province under a variety of leaders since 1971, or 44 years. The electorate today seems to be divided into 3 groups. Those who like the Conservatives and have no issue with what they’re doing. Second are those who traditionally vote Conservative but have been or are now disillusioned with their recent performance. And lastly, those who don’t vote Conservative. It’s rather unfortunate that the last group is in the minority, because they haven’t stood a hope in hell of ever changing the guard. There are a number of reasons for this. Among them:

  • The left side of the political spectrum isn't united. It is split between the Liberals and the NDP.
  • Albertans in general continue to have an obsession to shun anything named ‘Liberal’, due to a decision made by a federal Liberal Prime Minister who not only made said decision 35 years ago, but is also dead and buried.
  • There are still a lot of people who equate the NDP with communism or overt socialism.

There has always been a glimmer of hope with the group who typically vote Conservative, but aren't too happy with their party. They want to vote for someone else. They really do. But they have some baggage to unload before that can happen:

  • Most Conservative supporters in Alberta's big cities are what we call ‘small c’ Conservatives. They’re not extreme right wing people by nature. They already regard their party as about as Liberal as you would want to get, so going more left is risky at best.
  • Those that are ‘big C’ Conservatives were pretty much already disillusioned with the Conservative party as it was, and jumped ship when the Wildrose party was created.
  • Conservatives in general are obsessed with taxes. They are anti-tax. Tax is a four letter word. They are convinced that any other party is sure to add taxes and increase the ones that already exist.

So I feel it is my duty to speak directly to these people.

The risk to voting for Wildrose is not only simple, it’s overt. The most extreme Conservatives live there. If you give them a mandate, you may as well start shutting schools and hospitals down. The poor will suffer like never before, and the well-to-do will be walking around like there’s nothing wrong, because they can still afford to pay for all the things that now cost extra. Private schools and private clinics in droves.

The risk to voting Conservative, again, is straight forward as well. You’re basically sending them the message that it doesn’t matter how inept, out-of-touch and power-hungry they have become. Nothing’s going to come of it. Worse, they’re making it up as they go. Once they finally understood that the health system can’t afford any more cuts, they brought in a health tax. Unlike the former health care premiums we used to pay, which employers could pay if they wanted, and the poor got subsidized, the new tax is applied across the board. Great for the rich, not so much for the poor. Once the Conservatives realized that the new Cancer Centre had been put off long enough, they used smoke and mirrors to make like they were going ahead. Folks, they’re building a half-centre. The other half can be dealt with later. Will the new centre be accessible to mass transit? No. Will the Conservatives find a new way to generate more revenue? No. They increased our income tax. They took a small cut in pay. Will it make much of a difference? No. There is no courage to do what is necessary to right this ship.

What about the Liberals? Well, Raj was a huge disappointment. He became leader, but he didn't really lead. Maybe the Liberals in Edmonton don't have their volume turned up very high, but we rarely heard a peep from them in Calgary. Now Raj has quit and what was old is new again. Dr. Swann, former Liberal leader is back at the helm. What are you going to do this time? My guess is – not much. I’m a Liberal for crying out loud, and I don’t have any faith in their ability to make a difference. I think I am not alone in this conclusion.

Alright. Let’s talk about the NDP. I didn't know much about the NDP (in Alberta) before this week. But I have noticed that a lot of people are talking about them. What does their leader, Rachel Notley, stand for? She says that she stands for "better public health care and education for Alberta families, and for protecting vulnerable Albertans." That doesn't sound very radical to me. The NDP candidate running on our riding is a health care advocate and is also a strong proponent of properly funding legal aid in Alberta, which I know from experience has seen huge cut-backs, even though nobody talks about it.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Taxes. Get over it. You can't buy, live in and look after a house without the money coming in. And we don't have the money coming in. We are the only jurisdiction that doesn't have a sales tax, and up until now, we've been able to squeak by. But now we're in such a tight spot, we can't even afford to keep up with the natural increases in sick people, students and infrastructure.

So sit down, think real hard, and ask yourself, doesn't another party deserve a chance? What's the worst that can happen? You get 4 years of damage and then you get to elect someone else.

Elect someone else.

No, not Rube Goldberg, Rude Goldberg......

Things I learned lately - 11 Apr

  • In Seoul, transit users have RFID cards to pay for trips. The system automatically calculates their fees and bills them based on exact distances travelled.
  • The largest population group consists of 4 billion beings. LEGO people.
  • Amazon is testing their flying delivery drones in rural BC, near the US border.
  • Engineers at Michigan State University announced that they had developed the world's first transparent solar panels.
  • Until about 150 years ago, the city we now call Tokyo was known by the name Edo.
  • The standard fee at most Vegas ATMs is $5.99
  • At its peak, AOL dial-up internet subscriptions were at 27 million. Today, they're down to 2.2 million. Yes, there are still AOL dial-up subscriptions.
  • It's estimated that 275 million stars are born every day.
  • The furthest away that a picture of the Earth was taken is 3.7 billion miles away.
  • The US prison population increased 800% since 1971, which marked the beginning of..... that's right..... the war on drugs.
  • 90% of all volcanic activity occurs under the oceans.
  • Many hotel chains are doing away with the in room mini-bar.

Friday, April 03, 2015

No hipsters?

Does owning a gun work?

I'm curious about: gun ownership as a means of self-defence.

It would be interesting to find out how many times in the modern history of Canada that someone with a licensed (or even unlicensed for that matter) weapon managed to defend themselves or anyone else against an attacker.

If any incidents were found, it would then be quite interesting to see if those people got charged, because you're only allowed to use deadly force in this country if confronted with deadly force in a situation where you believe your life was in imminent danger.

Side note: You're not allowed to use deadly force to protect your property in Canada.

Time lapse of our sun

If you've ever wanted to see what the sun looks like in a very high resolution time lapse - this is the video right here.

It has some violent weather, let me tell you.

Buh... GOK!

Things I learned lately - 3 Apr

  • Google Maps is only 10 years old.
  • Volkswagen still makes the Scirocco, they just don't sell it in North America.
  • The soundtrack for the movie 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was the first in history to land at Billboard's #1 spot without any new songs.
  • People with 'face blindness' also have trouble recognizing cars.
  • Dogs will sneeze to tell other dogs that they're playing. That way, when they're playing rough, it doesn't turn into a fight.
  • There's a city in Texas named 'Earth'.
  • In China, you can buy pears that are shaped like babies.
  • Canada can fit in the Pacific Ocean 16.5 times.
  • An IMAX projector costs $5 million.
  • If you search 'do the Harlem shake' in YouTube, it will do the Harlem shake (let it get warmed up - it takes a few seconds).
  • The word mortgage comes from a French word that means 'death contract'.
  • People pace while talking on the phone because they don't have visual feedback, so the body reacts by moving around.
  • Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, wants to make Uber so affordable that riding Uber consistently becomes cheaper and easier than owning a car.