Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hot dog hospital

I saw this as some kind of art display in the Inglewood neighbourhood a few months back. I find it humourous and disturbing at the same time.

Concert evolution

More Plesz history

So, I've blogged a few times about my quest to discover more history behind my surname, here and here.

I originally thought our heritage was German. After all, my grandparents spoke German. Based on some recent discoveries, my theories seem way off. Let's recap what we knew and add what we know now.

My Opa said the evolution of the name went something like this: Plac - Plas - Ples - Plesz. As I mentioned before, the World Names Profiler site shows the highest concentrations of Plesz in Poland, Hungary and Austria. Ples is found in Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.

My Opa said that our heritage is based in an area of Europe that over time was always becoming part of another country. I figured that this made the corner of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic a prime candidate for the origin of the name. I was a little off.

Now we have new information. My grandparents, according to official Canadian naturalization records, came from Yugoslavia. He's listed here as Adam Plesz, cabinet maker.

Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia. Slovenia has a town named Plac. Plac happens to be right on the border with Austria. The area that Plac is in was once part of Styria. Styria was once part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire and was eventually split, the northern part becoming part of modern day Austria and the southern part becoming part of Slovenia. In more recent times, Slovenia was annexed by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Hungary during WWII.

Now, this is all circumstantial, but places are usually named after families and we were once Plac. When you take into account that Ples and Plesz have high concentrations in Slovenia, Austria and Hungary, that seems to tell a big story. Plac has pretty much evaporated as a name as has Plas.

If anyone out there has any additional Plesz history, be sure to let me know.

Update: My grandmother's maiden name (from the naturalization records) is Rochbacher, which is predominantly Hungarian.

Things I learned lately - 28 Nov

  • Without your pinky finger, your hand would lose 50% of its strength.
  • In Canada, vehicles kill 4 times as many people per year as those killed in homicides.
  • Highways England will soon be testing a wireless charging technology for electric cars, where cars driving in a 'charging lane' will get their electricity through induction via wire loops embedded in the road. Recharge while you drive! 
  • Half of the top 25 coal mines in Central Appalachia are in bankruptcy.
  • The median monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,271. In Brooklyn, it's only $2,200.
  • The song Bohemian Rhapsody was on top of the charts in the UK for 9 weeks, until the Abba song Mamma Mia took its place. Coincidentally, the words 'mama mia' are in Bohemian Rhapsody: "Oh, mama mia, mama mia. Mama mia, let me go."
  • There are more people living in Tokyo than in all of Canada.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The simplest things make me laugh

Solar system model - to scale

What an inspiring video of these guys who decided it was time to create a scale model of our solar system.

So they made one. It's mind-boggling.

Use me please

Things I learned lately - 22 Nov

  • You do not lose most of your body heat through your head. It's a myth. Your face is however, more sensitive to temperature changes.
  • Los Angeles will soon be building a private airport terminal at LAX for celebrities, athletes, and politicians. So your chances of spotting your fave star will be greatly diminished. I'm going to predict that there won't be any security gate for them either.
  • The more road you can see from your driving position (higher), the slower the traffic in front of you seems to be going. This could be one reason why SUV drivers drive more aggressively.
  • In St Paul Minnesota, they're experimenting with a means of traffic calming in residential areas by putting signs with just pictures of people staring intently at you instead of the traditional 'please slow down' text sign. It seems to be working, because humans respond to faces and especially eye contact.
  • Drivers are more likely to behave rudely if they are alone in their vehicle.
  • Human drivers tend to overcompensate for the slowing vehicles in front of them and this is amplified with each driver behind. This is what causes traffic jams and why self driving cars will eliminate many of those jams.
  • People who drive convertibles are less likely to honk.
  • Just after college, Bill Nye won a Steve Martin look-alike contest in Seattle.
  • The first guest host on Saturday Night Live was George Carlin.
  • There are 13,381 McDonald's in the US.
  • Until September 2013, the letter 'Q' was illegal in Turkey.
  • On December 30, 1809, it became illegal to wear masks at balls held within the City of Boston, as its citizens believed this practice was “detrimental to morals.”

Saturday, November 14, 2015

His name is Rover...

Fun names for wi-fi networks

  • Tell my wifi love her
  • Pretty fly for a wifi
  • Bill Wi the science Fi
  • Ehrmagerd wer fer
  • You kids get off my LAN
  • It hertz when IP
  • Abraham Linksys
  • Password is password
  • Drop it like its hot spot
  • Bobs unsecured house of wifi
  • Mom use this one
  • The promised LAN
  • LAN-Ho!
  • A LAN before time
  • A van down by the river
  • Series of tubes
  • I am the internet AMA
  • Silence of the LANs
  • Wi believe I can Fi
  • Router? I hardly knew her
  • Wu-Tang LAN
  • I can haz wifi?
  • This LAN is your LAN
  • Wifi art thou Romeo

Droid baby

Things I learned lately - 14 Nov

  • Government subsidies, in Canada, for the fossil fuel industry in 2013-14 were CAD$3.6 billion. I wonder what kind of energy landscape we would have if those subsidies were eliminated and the industry had to survive on its own merits. 
  • Amazon just opened a physical book store in Seattle.
  • The importation of haggis is banned in the US. Maybe not for much longer though.
  • Bagpipes were played for the first time in space on the ISS this year.
  • The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by the US will not, nor has it so far, prevented any oil from Alberta from getting to its destination. Rail, re-purposed existing pipelines and boats on the Mississippi have taken up the slack.
  • Uniform regulation in the British Army between the years 1860 and 1916 stipulated that every soldier should have a moustache.
  • In medieval times, barbers performed surgery as well as extracted rotten teeth.
  • Jupiter's moons are all named after either Jupiter's (Zeus's) lovers, favourites, or descendants. NASA named the mission to Jupiter Juno. Juno is also the name of Jupiter's wife. So basically, NASA is sending Jupiter's wife to go check on Jupiter and his lovers and affairs and kids.
  • Trakky dacks: What Australians call sweat pants.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Aw ye-

Forget PRT, it's Google time!

This article sets the stage for my view on the future of mobility.

An excerpt:

"The technological differences are really just the beginning of the disruption Google has planned. In Google's world, you won't just quit driving cars, you'll also quit owning them. Forget investing in an expensive and depreciating asset that sits idle 97% of every day. Fleets of autonomous vehicles will circulate through town, pick you up when you summon one via smartphone or whatever, drop you off, and move on to the next fare."

This is the new replacement to the old PRT transit offering that never went anywhere in volume. PRT is a transit technology where automated pods follow customized roads to get you from point A to point B faster than pretty much any other mode, while serving as a feeder into higher capacity modes like BRT or LRT. The problem with PRT is that you need separate roads and the cars can only drive on those roads.

Thanks to Google's autonomous car, getting driven from A to B no longer requires a custom road. It solved a number of issues, starting with 'no driver required'. This not only makes the trip safer, you omit the cost of paying someone. When you have a dense network of automated cars driving around an area of town, driving yourself becomes a lot less desirable. This in turn makes the road safer, because there are no selfish, distracted, amateur drivers putting the rest of us at risk.

So what's my point? Once again, after seeing the development planned for University District in Calgary, the new Cancer Centre on the NE corner of FMC, and the planned development at the old Stadium Shopping Centre, we're going to see a transit vacuum affect mobility.

The area including Market Mall, University District Alberta Children's Hospital, Foothills Medical Centre, University of Calgary, the new Cancer Centre, the new Stadium development, and perhaps Motel Village, may be served well by transit at its periphery, but getting from one of those aforementioned places to another of the same is not easy, nor fast. But if this entire area were served by autonomous cars, it would be a breeze to get around.

On the map, the red asterisks indicate where major developments will be happening and the blue area would be well served by autonomous cars.

'tis but a scratch

Things I learned lately - 6 Nov

  • Morocco is building a solar farm that will eventually produce half of the country's electricity.
  • The Large Hadron Collider is a ring tunnel 17 miles (27km) around. The particles are being driven so fast around this ring, that they complete the circle 11,000 times. In one second.
  • A 70kg person would need to drink 70 cups of coffee to risk dying from too much caffeine.
  • The Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party is a real thing. They never registered as a political party, yet, but they do have a leader.
  • Print to PDF is natively available in Windows 10. Anything that can print can also be converted to a PDF.
  • Mercurochrome, or Merbromin, or dibromohydroxymercurifluorescein, was a common antiseptic used to treat minor cuts and scrapes. Because it contains mercury, the US banned it in 1998. Germany and France halted sales in the 2000s. It is still readily available elsewhere.
  • Jell-O has been around since 1897.
  • The first Twinkies were filled with banana cream, but once the banana rationing of World War II started, they switched to vanilla cream.
  • Oreos have been around since 1912.
  • The modern pretzel’s predecessor was first made in the 6th century by an Italian monk, who used it to reward young church attendees. The word pretzel is from the Latin word pretzola, which loosely translates to little reward.