Wednesday, November 30, 2005

So, what does 'elbow and send' mean anyway?

   I don't know if any of you read WWdN or not, but if the answer is 'not.' you're missing out. "Missing out on what?" I hear you ask, and well you might. Nobody wants to miss out.
   What you are missing out on is
Jesus' Favorite. A short excerpt follows:
Annie: "Fine. Best out of three."
Wil: "No. One time."
Annie: "Why once?"
Wil: "Cuz I only do it once. FACE!"
Wil: "Point for me!"
(we were keeping points which is a whole other story.)
Shane: nerd laugh.
Wil: nerd laugh.

Annie: "Ok. Here we go. One, two, three."

Annie: "Go! One, two, three."

Annie: "Come on!"
Wil: "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Annie: "Yeah. Come on."
Shane: "Oh, by the way, if you lose, you have to name your blog 'Jesus' Favorite.'"
Annie: "What?"
Shane: "Jesus' Favorite. Like you're his favorite."
Wil: nerd laughing.
Shane: nerd laughing.

Annie: "Fine. Whatever. I'm not gonna lose."

-I know, I know.-

Annie: "Go!"

Annie: "One..."
Annie: "Two..."
Annie: "Three..."

"...ROCK...kind of...morphing into paper because paper beats rock, no wait, its scissors beats rock, ah, wine in my head, uh, throw, much nerd energy around...uh..."

And before I could do anything, the 2 kings are having a nerd celebration with Ewoks and capes.

Wil: "Ha Ha. You gotta blog. Ha Ha!"
Shane: HA HA!
Annie: " No, we didn't finish it! I never really threw anything!"
Wil: "FACE."
Shane: "Yeah, FACE!"
Annie: "Shut up Nickerson!"
Wil: "We'll expect it tomorrow. Elbow and Send."
Shane: "Nailed you!"
Wil: "Nailed you- na na na na na!"
Shane: "...Internet poker, we love ourselves, boo bitty boo yeah yeah!"
Wil: "Seriously, I love me."
Shane: "I love you too."
Wil: "What?"
Shane: "What?"
Wil: "What?"

   Funny stuff. Why are you still here?


An evil, atheistic attack on Christmas

   In my never ending quest for new Cowboy Poetry websites, I came across this: The Last Nativity.
It seems things are always changing and I reckon not for the best,
But then something happens to you, that puts your meddle
[sic] to the test.
Slowly I'd noticed everyone taking our Christ out of Christmas--
Like others I was silent and just didn't raise much of a fuss.

First thing they switched the name from Christmas to the "holiday" season,
Saying that some folks might take offense or other nonsense reason.
Then they quit singing carols because they're "too religious" by heck--
Non-denominational songs are now politically correct!

Then a few atheists complained about our school's small Christmas tree,
So before you could blink your good eye, there were no more left to see.
Then they even went and done away with the yearly Christmas play--
No more kids dressed like shepherds and kings or the star to show the way.
I felt that the message board in question was not the place to respond to the sentiments expressed in the poem. The purpose of that board is for people to share their poetry, not have political discussion. I did not want to let it go unremarked, however, as I have a strong opinion on the topic.
   The poet is making a common complaint in today's society. People are objecting to what they perceive as the loss of a part of their culture when they are confronted with the increasing secularization of Christmas. Traditions that they grew up with, like the giant Christmas tree in the town square, or the Nativity scene on the front lawn of City Hall, or the annual school pageant, are being stopped all across the United States, and in Canada.
   General secularization is not protested as strongly. Sure, people object whenever the Ten Commandments are removed from some public edifice, but not in anywhere near the numbers as when a traditional symbol of Christmas is removed. Why? Because these are all things we remember fondly from our childhood, and we feel their loss personally.
   What does the protagonist in this poem do about the situation?
I didn't breathe a word -- just walked on over to that manger scene
And stood right before it as I folded my arms and acted mean.
The policemen looked some nervous and one said, "what ya doin', son?"
Then I pulled back my old brown jacket, so that they could see my gun.
   This is probably the most common reaction among those who decry the loss of these public displays of iconography. Not the gun part, but the attempt to stop the removal of said displays. Unfortunately, that response is prompted by a complete misunderstanding of why the public endorsements of Christianity by a municipality need to be ended. To understand why, we need to go back to the founding of the United States.
   The United States began as an ideal. Almost 300 years ago, many people in Europe were being persecuted by their own governments for their religious practices. Not for their beliefs mind you, for they were Christian, and so was the establishment, but for the way they practised their Christianity. They were being persecuted for choosing to worship their God in a method different than the establishment would have them worship the same God
. They made a difficult decision to leave the homes in which their families may have lived for generations, to make a perilous journey across the sea, to a new, raw country, following the ideal of freedom. Freedom to worship their God their way.
   These same people, in their New World, lived their ideal, and desired to extend the invitation of that ideal to everyone. They drafted a document that became the foundation of a new-born country, and a sigil to be held up in the darkness as a beacon to all those who were being repressed in their own countries: The Constitution.
   Into this document, they put every right and freedom they had been denied in the past. They remembered every wrong done against them, and pledged that none of those wrongs should be done against others in the future, in The United States of America. They knew not what they had wrought.
   When they decreed a separation between church and state, and afreedom of religious worship, they did so only in remembrance of the way their former states had attempted to decree the way in which they should worship. They had no thought of a future America which was not exclusively Christian. They had no thought of a future in which religion and science, who had long since buried the hatchet, would once again become enemies. But their ideal was so strong, and so pure, that the document they forged addresses those concerns, even today, over two hundred years later.
   Let's put the shoe on the other foot for a moment, or, to use a truly American metaphor, let's walk a mile in another man's moccasins. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that you are a Christian, and that your town celebrates the holiday season with a public display of a Menorah on the lawn of the town hall, and no other religious iconography. Would you be upset? Would you feel insulted? Would you feel that your rights as an American were being trod upon? That is how people who are not Christians feel every holiday season, confronted by religious displays endorsed by their own municipal governments, that are contrary to their own beliefs. They feel that their own government gives no thought whatsoever to the non-Christian residents of the community. Many of these people are very devout, God fearing people, just not Christian. Is it right for the government to ignore them, and push a Christian agenda down their throats?
   The Constitution of The United States says that it is not. The Constitution of The United States says that it is wrong for the government to make any segment of the population feel uncomfortable for being different. The government is meant to represent all the people. That includes the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, and any other religion that might be represented within any community. A government that displays a Christian religious icon is not representing all the people. Therefore, all such icons must be removed from government property. Why? Because the Constitution says so. The very thing that makes America great, decrees it.
   Does that mean that those who are Christian, and do feel strongly about Christmas, should just take that lying down? Of course not. Another key freedom ensconced in the Constitution is the freedom for any man to speak his mind on any topic. As long as, in doing so, that man does not abridge the rights and freedoms of any other. I do not think that the protagonist of the poem should have taken no action. I simply think he should have taken a different action.
   Upset that the town hall is removing the Nativity scene from its lawn? Go out and get your own Nativity scene, and erect it on your front lawn, or in your place of business, and light it up with floodlights. Disappointed that the public school has cancelled the Christmas pageant? Organize your neighbours, your church groups, and hold your own. Publicize it heavily. Invite the whole town. These are the freedoms granted you under the Constitution. This is the difference between being reactive, and proactive. You are perfectly free to celebrate your Christmas in your way, just stop asking other people to celebrate your Christmas in your way for you. Instead of attempting to abridge the rights of another, go out and exercise your own rights. In America, this, too, you are free to do.
   Merry Christmas.


Monday, November 28, 2005

No more, the mighty Quinn

There are no words.

Christmas is coming

LED_lights   Everybody seems to like these new LED Christmas lights. They last about 10 times as long as regular light bulbs. They use less than one tenth of the energy of traditional lights. In our area, the local Electric utilities are sponsoring trade-in programs whereby you can take in a string of old lights, and receive a discount on a new set of LEDs, or, in some cases, a whole free string. What's not to like?

   I don't like them.

   I've decided not to buy them for our house. My neighbour pointed out that, while they are only slightly more expensive per string than traditional lights, the strings are shorter. While he and I can use two strings of incandescent lights each to line our roofs, he needed three sets of LED lights to cover the same distance, so, they are significantly more expensive to purchase. That's not why I'm not buying them.
   My father pointed out that, because they don't get hot like regular lights, when they get covered with snow, they stay covered with snow. The old style lights will eventually melt the snow around them, and become visible again, often illuminating the snow around them for a very pleasant effect. The LED lights stay covered with snow, and effectively become invisible. But, that's not why I'm not buying them.
   My problem with the new LED lights is that they don't sparkle. They glow with a constant and coldly efficient light that reminds me more of computers than Christmas. Incandescent lights twinkle like stars. They are Merry. LED lights are not Merry. They are... they're... well, they just are. They are not participatory. Their cold light does nothing to add the the warmth of the season.
lights   So, this week I'll be dragging out my boxes of Christmas lights from the basement. I'll be sitting down with Matthew to decide what pattern of colours we are going to put the lights into. I'll be putting up the lights, and then spending an hour poking and prodding those few sockets that don't want to light up. I'll be spending several days replacing lights that give up the ghost early after a year of storage. And later, I'll be found standing at the end of the driveway, gazing up at the house. And I'll be smiling.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm not here

   I see that no one has claimed to have been the 20,000th hit on my AOL hit counter. Must've been one of those people who don't read my journal...


Friday, November 25, 2005

What's the password?

   So, I thought I'd see what Blogger had to offer. was the first blogging service I investigated several years ago when I first thought about starting one of these things. Long before anyone at AOL had even considered offering journals, blogging was a hot trend on the web. Blogger was one of the first companies to offer tools to the average user to make blogging easy to do. I joined up, and went about the process of starting a blog.
   At that time, Blogger had two options. If you had your own ftp space in which to store the files that make up your blog, you could use it, and have an ad free blog. If you did not, you could use Blogger's space, and they would place a banner ad at the top of your blog to pay for that usage. Not wanting ads on my blog, I chose the former option, only to find out that the Blogger software would not work with AOL's ftp format for some reason. I abandoned the attempt, and the whole blog concept at that time, and about two years later, started AWV here on AOL.
   Fast forward to today, and I have been fairly happy here in AOL J-Land for about a year and a half. Reading the many former AOL journalers who have moved to other services discuss the new features they can make use of that AOL does not offer awoke in me the desire to explore some of those things as well. I typed into my browser, and looked to see what I could see. My first thought was that I had already registered with blogger, albeit several years ago, perhaps I didn't need to go through the entire sign up process again. Tap, tap, tap, went my finger against my temple, trying to prod some kind of memory of what my login ID and password might have been.
   My first attempt was met with an error message saying that the login ID was not found. My second attempt resulted in an error message saying that my password was wrong. Progress! I had found the right login ID. Now I just had to figure out what my password was. I tried several passwords that I have used in various places over the last couple of years with no success, and finally succumbed and clicked on the link that says: "did you forget your password, schmuck?"
   That took me to a screen with two options. The first was to type in my user ID. After doing that, and hitting enter, I was told that an e-mail had been dispatched to the e-mail address associated with that account, and should arrive within fifteen minutes. Nope. Fifteen minutes, an hour, twenty four hours, no e-mail was forthcoming. The second option was to type in my e-mail address, and an e-mail would be dispatched with my correct User ID and Password contained therein. Here's where it gets interesting. I typed in, only to find that there is no user in their records registered with that e-mail address. Hmph! I must have used a different e-mail address. I used to get broadband access via a third party, and use AOL's BYOA (bring your own access) plan. Perhaps I had used an e-mail address associated with that ISP.
   I tried entering a couple of e-mail addresses that I (to the best of my memory) had used back then, with no luck. Blogger still kept telling me that no account existed with those addresses. Not that I could have retrieved mail sent to those addresses, I was just curious. I was left with two possibilities. One: I had mis-remembered my old non-AOL e-mail address, or Two: the user ID I had typed in actually belongs to someone else, and my old registration from so many years ago had long been discarded.
   Not that any of this was important at all. It would be child's play to simply start a new account, with a new user ID and password, and go from there. But I was, as I have mentioned, curious. On their help pages, they have a section on login problems, and they say this:
If you signed up with an old email address that you no longer have access to, or if you made a typo in your email when registering, then you will not be able to use the login recovery functions. In this case, you'll need to write to us for help.
You'll notice that the words 'write to us' are in the form of a hyperlink.
   Now, a hyperlink made out of the words, 'write to us' might lead one to expect that link to pop up a compose e-mail window with the address already filled out. Or, one might think it would lead to a web form in which one could fill in one's e-mail address, and describe the problem one is having. The last place one might expect to be directed to, after having clicked on a link saying 'write to us' in the context of having a problem logging in to a website, is that website's login page.
   I kid you not. On the website, there are several places where users are told, "if you have forgotten your user ID and/or password, click here." In every instance, the link provided takes one to a page asking for a user ID and password in order to log in. Am I crazy to think that there's something wrong with this picture?

4:00PM--edited to add: OK, so I'm a goof. I took a good look at the 'sign in' page blogger sends you to if you have a problem, and there is a link there labelled 'skip authentication' that allows you to access the help section without logging in. D'oh! Not all that intuitive, though (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it). But I have a new problem. I tried a different user ID, and that was accepted, too. So, now I have two valid user ID's that I do not know the password to, one or neither of which may, or may not belong to me. I think Karen's right. Starting over from scratch is the sensible thing to do here.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Different TV

   Monday night I was flipping through the channels when I came across the daily news and information program on the Discovery Channel Canada, Daily Planet. This week, they have a special series called Daily Planet Goes British. They have, as the title suggests, filmed a week's worth of episodes in Britain, concentrating on all things British, and scientific.
   The introduction mentioned the haunted Tower of London, a local nightclub called Hex, also allegedly haunted, and a psychic demonstrating the bending of nails. Much rolling of eyes ensued, along with repeated flipping of channels, but, as nothing else seemed to be on, I settled back on Discovery to see what they would make of it all.
   I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The nail bending 'psychic' was none other than English magician, and noted skeptic
Tony Youens, who was participating in a psychology graduate student's study of perception and the power of suggestion. The 'haunted' nightclub was investigated by Parapsychologist Dr. Ciaran O'Keeffe, who recently gained notoriety for revealing how out to lunch was medium Derek Acorah of the British TV show Most Haunted. As was to be expected, entirely mundane explanations for the haunting phenomena were found.
   And as for the Tower of London, they talked a lot about all of the alleged sightings there, but admitted that they hadn't seen anything even remotely ghostly while they were there.
   In this age of unbridled credulity, it was extremely refreshing to see a TV program espousing skepticism and critical thinking.


Counter watch

   I see that my AOL hit counter is creeping up on 20,000, only a few days after Rebecca's did so. If you happen to be the 20,000th visitor to Aurora Walking Vacation, drop me a line to let me know, so I can thank you for being the 20,000th person to make up their own mind about whether or not my shit stinks.



   Bigfoot, Yeti, Abominable Snowman, call it what you will, it has been the Holy Grail of seekers of the unknown for hundreds of years. Even the Loch Ness Monster pales in comparison to the popularity of this legendary creature.
   Let the truth be told! The elusive Yeti has been found, and in
this exclusive interview, the top is blown off years of credulous investigation. Don't miss this explosive piece of reportage at Mile Zero.

Brought to you by supporters of skepticism and critical thinking everywhere.


Monday, November 21, 2005

I came, I saw, I wondered what the hell they were thinking

   An interesting observation: many of the new non-AOL blogs that have been started by former AOL journalers, in their blogroll sections, are linking only to other non-AOL blogs of former AOL journalers. That kind of exclusivity seems to me to be a contradiction of the kind of thinking that promotes the healthy growth of communities. Kind of a "we're taking our dump trucks, and moving to another sandbox, and you're not allowed to come" kind of mentality that, if I remember being six years old, leads to lonliness on the part of the ones leaving, not the ones staying.
   I'm just sayin'...


CarnivAOL call

   It has been postponed by one week, but the call has gone out for the next (actually, the next two) editions of CarnivAOL. I am interested in submissions on any topic, but have made a specific request this week for links to your entries discussing the topic of the journals ad banners controversy. Remember, however, that in order for your submission to be considered, it must be published in an AOL or AIM journal. I look forward to your submissions. Click the link to go over to CarnivAOL for more information on this week's call for submissions.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

I am aghast

   I repeat, I am aghast. There are reports of AOL journalers being harassed for choosing not to close their journals, and/or leave the AOL service in protest of the new ad banners on AOL Journals. There are reports of AOL journalers who have chosen to cancel their AOL membership, and/or move their blogs to other services being harassed for those decisions as well.
   I can say only this:

Grow the hell up.

   Holy crap, people! I have been saying it publicly in various forums on AOL since this issue reared its head last Tuesday. Those who are the most outraged by it are acting in a decidedly unfocussed manner. If I recall, my exact words were, "headless chickens." I now choose to modify that expression to, "brainless chickens." Stupid, people, stupid.

   On a different, but related matter, those who have moved to a new blogging service are entering a whole new world. The AOL journals community is a pretty insular little place, and few AOL journalers get much attention from the blog-o-sphere at large. AOLer Jaquandor, who writes the blog
Byzantium's Shores, has an offer for those of you who are new to the greater blog-i-verse: linkage. Drop him a line and he will mention your new blog in an entry. Sure, he's no Boing-Boing, but he's been around for some time, and has a good sized readership. Take him up on his kind offer.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Where the hell did you go?

warningsign   If you dropped by over the last three days and wondered what was going on, I apologise for temporarily disappearing. I am painfully aware that making your blog inaccessible for a period of time is in the top two or three things a blogger can do wrong. However, I felt the need to back up from the blogosphere for a bit while a little tempest in a teapot played itself out here on AOL.
   You see, last Tuesday morning, the Majority of AOL journals owners awoke to find a new addition to their blogs. When the free AIM journals were announced last May, AOL made a big show of telling their paying customers that they had an advantage over AIM journals in that the paid AOL journals had no advertising banners on them. No longer. As of November 15 of this year, all AOL USA journals have banner advertising along the top.
   I know, you don't see an ad above my journal. I am a member of the AOL international community, and we, so far, have not been affected. I am sure that will only last so long. Once the tees have been dotted and the eyes have been crossed, and agreements are in place regarding what proportion of the ad revenue will go to AOL Canada, and AOL UK, we will see those ads as well.

   The reaction in the AOL blogging community has been predictable. A rapid and vehement response from the journalers hereabouts has the message boards buzzing, and the membership rolls of Blogger, and other free blogging services swelling with AOL refugees. I don't know if the high uppity-ups at AOL really had any idea how big a deal this would be to many of the seasoned journalers here.
   A selection of comments from around the service:
   I have been sickened and dismayed since 6:15 this morning when I entered my journal and found that it had been defiled in my absence. I have been grieving the loss of a sacred space today, when normally I would be painting and enjoying my life. I have notified AOL through every means available, and have written a couple of letters to higher ups. Remember not that long ago they asked me to participate in that article for the Washington Post.
   I believe that AOL thinks that this will be a tempest in a teapot, and soon we will all go back to writing and making them look good, and they will continue to collect ad revenues from the signs pinned to our backs.
   I have thought long and hard today and feel that I have to make a stand against something that is ugly and wrong, even though it may cost me the support system I have found here. You all mean so much to me and have become my surrogate family, and that is what makes this decision so difficult.
   I will not write in this journal again until the banner ads have been removed, and I will be blogging solely at my blogspot journal.
                                                  -Judith Heartsong

i am angered that ANYONE at aol decided my thoughts, my life, my words are for sale

i am angered because i feel i've been forced to make a decision .. to take a stand against something i feel is wrong

the part that upsets me the most is that from the VERY beginning of aol Journals, we here at JLand have been treated like puppies attempting to play with "The Big Dogs" .. and they refused to let us play .. we didn't have REAL blogs .. they were only aol Journals .. anyone who was a part of the corporate aol giant couldn't have anything worthy of reading

because of my aol journal, i made the front page of The Washington Post .. proud that my journal had finally received some form of recognition outside of aol .. gathering from my email, guestbook and comments, i have a large number of readers who are not aol members .. they found me via the internet, some google search on lung cancer, or on some of the medical procedures i've undergone .. and now because of some decision some idiot at aol made, they've sold my journal as advertising space and pissed me off in the process

   Criminals snuck into my extremely PERSONAL journal pages last night and sprayed their graffiti across the top of my PERSONAL PAID for web pages without my permission.
   This intrusion is unacceptable, unforgivable, and unbelievable.
   I am completely disguested by this corporate decision.
   I do not enjoy being blinded by Quizno's and Bank of America Ads. Their mere presense on my pages ruins everything I have put my heart and soul into.
   My journal has become a cheap flashing banner page for AOL.
   I abhor this and the beautiful thing, is that there is a grand solution.

   My eyes have been yanked wide open by the realization that while WE pay for the service, WE are not the customers that AOL cares about.  They are concerned about their Corporate Advertising Customers.  Here we were offering our silly little monthly subscription and crumbcake, while they were pimping us out for $$$$ contracts.


   I can fully understand why everyone is so upset over this issue. AOL is selling content created by their members to their advertisers, without any recompense coming the other way. Many other ad driven blogging services offer their members some modicum of control over what ads appear on their blogs, and often the bloggers themselves receive payment, or credit for click-through on those ads. Not so here on AOL. The ads here are huge banners spanning the entire top of the journal page, and most of them feature some sort of garish, distracting animation. Many of them are ads for services which are wildly unpopular, like Bank of America, for example.
   A grassroots movement is afoot in an attempt to pressure AOL into removing the ads. Unfortunately, it will be a futile attempt. AOL desperately needs the ad revenue these banners represent, and the number of potential members that will be lost over this issue will almost certainly be negligible. They also have the confidence that their journaling tool is, by far, the easiest to use of any available. Many bloggers who leave to set up new residence on Blogspot, or Xanga, or Livejournal, will come flooding back in short order when they realise how much more difficult those tools are for the computer neophyte to use.

   What am I going to do? Probably nothing, at least in the short term. The ads are not affecting me yet. My preference is not to use AOL as my ISP. I had, in fact, left for several years ago. I returned to AOL at the urging of my wife and son, who prefer the ease of use of the e-mail system and organised content here. As well, the parental controls work very well for the sake of my eleven year old son. I am tied to AOL right now, for their benefit.
   I had recently been considering moving my blogging efforts to a different service, but for completely unrelated reasons. I am still considering it, but I don't do anything quickly, and a number of other puzzle pieces would need to fall into place before that happened. So here I am. I am sorry I disappeared this week. I promise I won't do it again. At least, not without a significant amount of advance warning.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Saturday Six

   Patrick's Saturday Six is a wildly popular, weekly meme that I have never participated in before. I don't know why, it has just never grabbed me. This week, the first question tickled me, and so, here are my answers to this week's Saturday Six.

   This first question needs a little bit of tweaking...

1. You are invited to spend a night, alone, in a large house that is believed to be haunted.  A close friend of yours whom you trust tells you of his or her own experience, and you have sufficient reason to believe that [they may be a complete nutter].  Without promise of any kind of reward for staying the night, would you agree to do so?

Of course I would, without any hesitation, because there are no such things as ghosts.

2. What do you most enjoy about your job?

That would be the part where I quit it 18 months ago.

3. Who was the last person you had a conversation with?  What was the main topic of the conversation?

"Matthew, it's time for bed."

4. Take this
quiz:   What kind of "smart" are you?

Naturally Smart

You're a naturally smart person. Your intelligence comes to you naturally, rather than from instruction - and you are better with applied or more real-world things... which comes in handy, here in the real world.

20% applied intelligence
60% natural intelligence
Take this quiz at

5. What was the last food that you totally ruined -- to the point that it was inedible -- when trying to cook?

I can't remember. A couple of weeks ago I totally overdid the ribs on the BBQ, but we ate them anyway. My screw-ups tend to be more on the minor, yet additively annoying scale.

6. STRANGELY-OBSCURE QUESTION #1:  If you had to do over again, would you change anything?

I would like to think that I would, and yet, I have a scary suspicion that I would be entirely unable to.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

The polite mask of pride

   The latest edition of CarnivAOL has been published. There are a whole bunch of interesting links to AOL and AIM journals to check out. So, why are you still here?


Weekend assignment

Weekend Assignment #85: What magazines do you subscribe to and why? This assumes you currently subscribe to a magazine or two, of course, but I'm reasonably confident most of us do. If you don't have any current subscriptions, however, you can list some of your most recent subscriptions or magazines you want to subscribe to.

Extra Credit: What was your first magazine subscription?

   We're not a huge magazine family. We used to subscribe to National Geographic, but the wife let that one lapse several years ago. To this day, I'm not really sure why. National Geographic is one of the best sources of information about our natural world that is available. We subscribe to a few, primarily because selling magazine subscriptions is one of the fundraisers my son's school does.
   This year, because Matt is taking guitar lessons, we've ordered a couple of different guitar magazines. One, which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of, is specifically aimed at beginner players, and the other is Guitar Player Magazine, one of the premier guitar mags on the market. Matthew also gets Nintendo Power magazine, and Game Pro magazine, because he is a kid, and he plays lots of video games.
   I subscribed to Golf Digest. I used to get it regularly. My wife would renew it for Fathers' Day every year. This year she let it lapse, and told me to go out, and pick up a few different magazines, and choose a different one to get. I read several different Golf magazines, and decided I liked Golf Digest best, so we subscribed to that one again. I added Score Golf, a six issue per year magazine, primarily because it is Canadian.
   My wife gets Chatelaine. She's not sure why she gets Chatelaine, because she let that subscription lapse last year, but the magazines keep coming, and she keeps throwing them in a pile unopened because she doesn't have the time to read them. I have recently received a couple of phone calls from Chatelaine looking for Pat, so I think the jig is up.

   The first magazine I ever subscribed to was PhotoLife, a Canadian photography magazine. It was the late 80s, and I was working at a camera store. I had about six years worth of that one stored in the basement until I tossed them all into the recycling bin this past summer.


Friday, November 11, 2005

And a meme...

   Ok, so I'm at SINS' place, and she's been over to Tommy's, and brought back one of those meme thingies, right? It's based on some English radio program, where they ask what four CD's you'd want with you if you were stranded on a desert island. Also, they ask what eight individual songs you'd call must haves if you were making a mix CD to have with you on said desert island. No word on what palm tree you'd be plugging your CD player into, but I digress.
   I must say, I was happy to have four choices for albums. I'm used to the
Q107 desert island gig, where they limit you to three. Here are my choices:

What would be your Desert Island Discs?

1) Jeff Beck Band--Truth
2) Bob Marley--Legend
3) Rimsky Korsakov--Scheherezade
4) Pink Floyd--Meddle

8 Must have songs on a mix Cd on a Desert Island?

1) Led Zeppelin--Dazed and Confused (live version from the Soundtrack to The Song remains The Same)
2) The Band--The Weight
3) Dire Straits--Brothers In Arms
4) Eagles--The Last Resort
5) RUSH--2112
6) King Crimson--Epitaph
7) Jimmy Page and Robert Plant--Kashmir (from the album UNLEDDED)
8) Bruce Springsteen--Jungleland

   Wanna play? List your selections in your journal, and drop a link in the comments section here. Or, just list them in a comment. Whatever.


Do you doubt it?

   Also on the backed-up slate: The Skeptics' Circle, as in the latest edition has been published at Pooflingers Anonymous. Roll on over and check out this regular round up of blogging on the topics of skepticality and critical thinking.


At a snail's pace...

   I am getting all backed up by my limited access to the Internet. I have several things to address. I want to start with the Vivi awards.
   I did not address the awards prior to them, for a couple of reasons. First, because I saw how some people were almost pathetic in their self promotion, and I absolutely did not want to look like some of those I saw crawling around J-Land begging for nominations, and then votes. It was really sad how much this meant to some people. I was also saddened that those people, who most desperately needed the attention, the outside affirmation, those for whom it might have been most therapeutic, did not win. Do not let their bitterness affect you.
   Second, because it didn't really mean much in my category. No disrespect meant to the other to blogs that were nominated for 'Marquis of the Blog,' but let's face it, nobody in J-Land had even heard of those guys before the Vivi nomination process began. I can imagine the conversation that took place via e-mail or IM while the organisers were setting up the categories:
   "Hey, let's have a best Canadian journal category."
   "There are Canadian journals?"
   "Sure, AOL is huge in Canada. There's Paul, and... Hey, does anyone else know any Canadian journalers?"
   There was even a message posted on the AOL journals message board to that effect. I was the one who went over to Technorati, made a search for the domain, and posted some results in reply. Don't get me wrong, I think the other two guys who were nominated write great journals. It's just that of those people who participated in the voting, most of them had at least heard of me before, and the other two journals were brand new to them. Best outcome from this situation,
Jeremy and Mark have now received some attention. AOL J-Land has expanded to include them. If that has happened in the majority of the categories, and I think that it has, then these awards were truly a success.
   And, don't think I'm not pleased to have won. Personal validation is a part of what blogging is all about, and all the congratulatory comments and e-mails are very gratifying. But, I certainly would not have been sitting here holding my own personal pity party if I had lost. It's just the Internet, people.
   Next year's goal, to be nominated in a different category.

   On a related topic, why was it so hard to find Canadian journals to nominate? There have to be more than three out there. There are no official, public statistics available about how many AOL journals there are, but a source I consider knowledgeable estimates that the number could be on the order of several hundred thousand. Let's be conservative, and say 100,000. Some estimates say that as many as 66% of the blogs in existence are abandoned, having not been updated in more than sixty days. So let's say there are 34,000 active AOL blogs (OK, that's really way conservative. There are, for sure, a lot more than that. Just go with me for the argument's sake).
   (Think about that number for a minute. There are probably more than 34,000 active AOL journals. Quite likely two or three times that many. We had 901 votes for the Vivi awards [and that number can probably be reduced as well, as I am sure there are several people who worked out a way to circumvent the security in order to place several votes for themselves]. In reality, J-Land is but a tiny beauty mark on the face of the AOL journals Cindy Crawford. But I digress.)
   So, let's say there are 34,000 active AOL journals. The population of Canada is approximately 10% of that of The United States, and the proportion holds out over many statistics. If there are X number of something in the USA, there are likely X/10 of that something in Canada. Logically, there should be about 3,500 (or as many as 10,000) Canadian journals. Taking the same ratio, about 90 of them should be known in J-Land. We could find three.
   So, where are all the Canadian journals? There may, in fact, be fewer Canadian journals out there than we might expect, for a couple of reasons. Canadians subscribing to AOL get AOL Canada. Our software is slightly different, and our main information screen is different. It is possible that AOL Canada has not focussed on journals as aggressively as the parent company has in the US, resulting in fewer Canadian users being aware of their availability. As well, those Canadian users that do find out about AOL journals may not, as I have, get a address. I originally created two journals: this one, and a private test journal I use for fine tuning the look of entries before I publish them. This journal has an address, but my test journal has an address. Why? I have no idea. That's just the way they came out when I created them. So, there may be hundreds, even thousands of Canadian journalers out there who are not immediately identifiable as such by their journal address.

   A little bit more searching, and I am still having trouble locating Canadian Journals. I did come across these:

Ebanks Adventures: written by the 'caymanadians,' a couple that are currently living in the Cayman Islands. It is not entirely clear, but one or both of them may originally be from Canada.

Rants n Raves from Canada: This one might fall into that category of 'abandoned blogs.' We'll see.

Juanaco's Journal: This one is fairly new. Although it is not explicitly stated, the subject matter appears to be Canadian.

My Journal: In this on it is explicitly stated. The journal of a grade 7 student. Almost a month since the last entry. Another one to wait and see about.

All About This Girl: Another young Canadian journaler. Another one that hasn't been updated for a little while.

the brown fly's views: A journal started by a new immigrant to Canada from the Philippines. Only one entry so far.

   I will bring you new Canadian journals from time to time, as I come across them. If you run across any, please let me know. And, hey, if you are a Canadian AOL journaler reading this, drop me a comment to say Hi.


Sunday, November 6, 2005

Thank you

   I just popped in real quick-like to say thank you to all those who have congratulated me here via comments or e-mail. And, congratulations to all of my well deserved fellow winners, and to all of the nominees, as well. I am having a temporary broadband crisis, and dial-up sucks, so I will not be around much for the next 24-48 hours. Unless, of course, good ol' AOL and Bell Canada get their hineys in gear and fix the problem faster than that.


Saturday, November 5, 2005

Awards night is upon us

OK, I'm ready for the party. I even changed the name back to AWV for the night.


   I can never get a shirt to fit properly.
   I know, it's early, but you know how it is. I want to get there ahead of time, to get a good seat. And, I really don't have any idea where I'm going, so I have to leave lots of time to drive aimlessly around in circles looking for the place. What? You don't actually expect me to stop for directions, do you? See you there.

Many thanks to Kell for the photoshop.


Thursday, November 3, 2005

The Call

   The call has gone out once again for submissions to CarnivAOL. Please drop over there to see what it's all about, and send me some stuff.


Wednesday, November 2, 2005

A sad story

Friday, September 30, 2005



   Everywhere you turn in Mandanici, you see evidence of a limited gene pool. For a community of 800 people, the frequency of some sort of handicap is exceptionally high. There are people with obvious, serious physical handicaps, like M.S. I have seen several people with less serious, but still visible defects, like cross-eyedness. And, there are a few people who are slightly mentally handicapped.
   There is a younger gentleman in the piazza across from the bar everyday. I couldn't say exactly what his age is. I say younger only as a contrast to the rest of the retired men who usually congregate there during the day. He is always wearing the same clothes (I don't know if he never changes his clothes, or if he simply owns several of the same outfit), sitting on a bench smoking, or wandering around smoking. He has taken to saying hello to me every time I walk by. I mean every
time I walk by. Even if the last time was only fifteen seconds ago.
   At first he would just nod, and say, "Buon Giorno." As time went on, he got bolder, and began walking up to me, and shaking my hand. Now, he has whole conversations with me, even though he has been told numerous times that I can't understand a word he is saying. He's a nice enough guy, but I don't have the time, nor the inclination to stop and say hello to him forty-six times every day. I'm beginning to see why many people around here cross the street when they see him coming.
   Good times.

Broken_doorway   This is a sight that has become all too common here in Mandanici. You can imagine that when a thriving community of almost three thousand shrinks to eight hundred people, there are left behind a large number of abandoned buildings. The problem, of course, is that it's a new world.
   Sixty years ago, my father-in-law used to ride his bicycle down the mountainside to the oceanside town of Roccalumera carrying a basket of fruit and vegetables. When they were all sold, he rode back up again. On a good day, he might have time to do it again. His family lived on that income.
   Not that they needed for much. They built their own homes, and grew their own food. Cut their own wood for the stone oven, and raised goats. Today, the young people have to leave town to find work in the larger cities. Mandanici is dying. In another sixty years it may be completely gone.