Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can't sleep, memes will kill me

I am:
a clipped-out Dilbert® cartoon
Letting the world know that the person displaying it is in the office but not of it.

Which office supply are you?

Dawn's A to Z

   Here is another alphabet meme. Dawn says her version is shorter than Cin's. I say, "WTF?"

A     Apple or PC?

PC, although I really aren't so much, am I?

B     Banking... online or in person, and if in person, drive thru or inside the bank?

My wife works for one of the major Canadian banks. I haven't seen the inside of a bank branch since she moved into head office nine months ago, and even before then it was almost always only if I dropped by to have lunch with her. I just go by the ATM when I need cash.

C     Coffee and Chocolate!  The two most important 'C's  Favorites please.

Espresso. Regular coffee just can't live up to the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee we drank on our honeymoon, so it doesn't really matter. If it's hot, and brown, I'll drink it. Which has led to some pretty amusing practical jokes at my expense over the years. Chocolate? I don't discriminate. I love all chocolate equally. As does my tailor.

D     Dogs.  Do you have one?  If yes, what kind and it's name and why you named it that.  If no, then if you had one what kind would you choose?

Y'all have seen Shadow, right? Do you remember when he was a puppy? When people ask me what kind of dog he is, my standard answer is 1/3 border collie, 1/3 Australian shepherd, and 1/3 wooly mammoth. We expected him to grow to between 45 and 55 pounds. He's more than 80.

E     Elvis.  There was only one.  Favorite song, and if you ever or your parents ever, saw him live.

I was a huge Elvis fan as a kid. A very young kid, I might add. I've spent a few minutes looking over some of his biggest hits, all of which I can hear in my head immediately, and I had a lot of faves. However, I think the one for me that best defined the Elvis I wish he had always been was Hound Dog. He got sappy with all the movies they made him make, and then he turned into a pathetic lounge act, with those silly white jump suits. Hound Dog seethes with the attitude upon which rock and roll was founded. That's my Elvis, and always will be.

F     Flowers.  Do you have a favorite to receive and/or a favorite to give?


G     Grandparents, do you have any left and if you are one, to how many?

My grandparents are no longer with us, but I do remember them all quite well. My grandmother on my mother's side lived long enough to meet her great grandson. Hopefully it will be quite a few years yet before I am a grandparent.

H     Handy or call for help?

Both. I am not bad in the handy department. I usually call my Dad for help, and between the two of us, we can usually muddle through a job in about triple the time it should take. To date, neither of us has experienced a major injury, or done enough damage to require outside intervention. Still, there's time.

I     IOU's any out there to a person, a friend or family?

Not that I can remember. Doesn't mean no. 

J     Jello.  Love it?  Hate it?  Favorite flavor?  With whipped cream or cool whip or neither?

Whenever I think of Jello™ I remember a comedian who said he didn't trust Jello™ All other liquids, he said, when you cool them, and they become a solid, turn back into a liquid when you heat them again. Not, Jello™ though. Once Jello has become asolid, he said, the only way to make back into a liquid is to put it in your mouth, and swish it back and forth, and in and out of your teeth. Of course, he made the swishing sound with his mouth, which was right on the mark...I guess you had to be there.

K     Kiss.  Do you remember your first real kiss?  Where, who?

Gee, not sure. The one I remember was a girl named Lynn. We were hanging out together, all alone in a secluded place at the school, and it came time for us to go back to class. She said, "do I get a kiss, or what?" So, I kissed her. It wasn't until much later that I realised she had been waiting for me to "make out" with her, but I was oblivious. Yeah, I led a sheltered life.

L     Language.  Do you speak any others?  Fluently or a little?

Little bits of French and Italian, but not with any useful fluency.

M     Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck?

Mickey Mouse. Donald was just too hyper.

N     Neighbors.  Do you know their names?  Occupations?  Phone numbers?  Or not?

We try to make friends with our neighbours. At least the ones on each side of us. We really don't know very many people along the street. Pretty sad, considering we've been here for fifteen years. 

O     Olympics.  Do you watch?  Which is your favorite winter or summer?

I think the Olympics are losing some of their relevance in today's world. They have become a war of the pharmacists against the doctors, and the pharmacists are winning. I still watch, and have more interest in the winter games. Canuck<~~ 

P     Pluto.  What is your take on the planet being downgraded? 

It didn't rock my world. "Words, words, words..." Who said that? Shakespeare?

Q     Quiche.  Have you ever had it?  Do you like it and what is your favorite?

I remember, back in the seventies, a book came out called, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. It was one of those pop culture phenomena, much like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books today. Kinda the Pet Rock of the publishing world of the time. Today, I have my own saying based on that: Real men eat quiche if they want to, and they don't give a f--k what anyone says about it. I don't eat quiche, though.

R     Refrigerator.  Name three things in your refrigerator that you think are unusual.

Well, we don't have any urine in there right now. Big bottle of apple cider, but you couldn't get the two mixed up. Some fresh eggs, but those never last very long. Also, rapini. Are any of those things unusual? No. Do I care? No.

S     Safari.  Have you ever been to Africa on one?  A theme park version?

No. Haven't even been to African Lion Safari, in Guelph, Ontario.

T     Telescope.  Have you ever looked thru a telescope? 

When I was a kid, I had a small telescope. I farted around with it a little bit, but never got really into it. I was a bit too young to appreciate it. When I got a little older, and might have been more interested, one of the neighbour's little brother's had taken it apart, and we never did find all the pieces, so it was unusable.

U     Umbrella.  Do you have one and what is its design?

Got a few floating around here. Big golf umbrella hasa Wilsonlogo, I think. Also have a little collapsible one from SONY.

V     Vintage.  Do you have a favorite wine to share?  Or drink?

We're pretty enthusiastic about Australian wines right now. Yellow Tail, maybe. Also, Chilean wines.

W     Willies.  What gives you the willies?  You know, that shudder you can't stop?

Yeah, I'd have to go with spiders, too, Dawn.

X     X-ray.  Last one?  What body part and why?

This was on Cin's quiz, Dawn. What, no originality? Where's the question about Xylophones, Xanthan gum, St. Francis Xavier, or xenophobia? Beware Planet X. The end of the world is near.

Y     Yolk.  How do you like your eggs?

I like eggs. Soft boiled, sunny side up, scrambled, poached on toast, raw in nog, you name it. Last year, the father-in-law had a couple of ducks for a while. Fresh duck eggs are something worth having if you ever have the chance.

Z     Zodiac.  What's your sign and does it fit your personality, in your opinion?

I am rolling my eyes as we speak. There's this woman who has a blog who offered to do a free astrological reading for any skeptic, but, she lamented, no one would take her up on it. So I did. I sent her my birth info, and she told me she'd get back to me in a few days. It's been almost two weeks. Where's my free astrological chart? Huh? Where? I'll let you know if she ever comes through, and what she says about me.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Life's ABCs

   From various sources (including IndigoBlueGreen{I got it from Cin}), here are Life's ABCs...

Altitude. What is the highest altitude you have ever been at without being in a pressurized cabin? Standing on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, at 2500M, or about 8200 feet.

Boxing. Sport or just people beating each other up? Sport. Not one I have any interest in watching, but definitely a sport. UFC? More of the just people beating each other up side.

Cars. What do you do in traffic jams? Sit.

Distance. What's the longest distance you've ever walked in one day? I have absolutely no idea.

Eighties. What is your favorite movie from the 80s? In order to answer the question, I had to refresh my memory about 80s movies in general. My first stop was a website that listed every movie made - one page per year. I got through all of 1980, and up to the Ds for 1981 and realised this was a much larger task than I had the time, or the inclination to perform.
   My next strategy involved a web search for lists of the "best movies of the 80s," the results of which led me to believe that the vast majority of Internet users were born between the years 1970 and '75. I've never seen so many John Hughes references together in one place before in my life. Yeah, I thought The Breakfast Club was a pretty good movie, too, but the best movie made between 1980 and '89? Come on! Every single cast member currently resides on the "where are they now?" list.
   Oscar.com wasn't any help either. It seems I have seen precisely 50% of the films that won Best Picture honours during that decade. The five I haven't seen, I have no desire to see, either. Out Of Africa? Terms Of Endearment? Puhlease! Might as well just ask me to watch Titanic.
   I did jot down a quick and dirty list of movies from the eighties that I liked. Looking back at Oscar.com, I see that Rain Man is on both lists. But where is The Empire Strikes Back? ET- The Extraterrestrial? Die Hard? Anyone...Beuller...Beuller? (That's just a pop culture cliché, not a suggestion Ferris Beuller's Day Off should be mentioned - although I did come across several people who think it's the finest film ever made - in the history of the universe. Really.)
   OK, after much thought, speculation, and laughing at people who still have a crush on Molly Ringwald, I have decided that my favourite 80s movie has to be, Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Why? I don't know. I'm making this up as I go.

Fun. What's the most fun work you've ever done, and why? Fun? Work? Not sure I've ever put those two terms together before. OK, that's not fair. I've had several fun jobs, but they were fun because of the nature of the workplace and the co-workers, not because of the nature of the jobs themselves.

Gas. Do you put gas in the car when it is half empty...a quarter...running on fumes? I tend to put gas in the car when the price goes down. I don't know what it's like south of the border, or in other Canadian provinces, but here in Ontario, buying gas is like a game of chess. At-the-pump prices go up and down like yo-yos, with ten cent per liter (think thirty cents per gallon) daily swings a common occurrence. So when gas is running about eighty-one cents per liter (USD$2.60/gal.), and you see it drop to seventy-four cents, you pull in and fill up. It doesn't matter if the tank is full, and it's all you can do to squeeze three bucks worth in.

Hayride. Ever been on one? Yes.

Internet. What are your favorite music-related internet websites? MySpace. Close your mouth, the flies are getting in. Yes, I said MySpace. Yes, I know you have heard me rant in the past about how much I hate MySpace. Probably several times. And I do, truly I hate it. I mean, 99.9% of all MySpace pages I have seen are painfully eye-searing examples of horrendously bad design, jam-packed full of mind-numbingly inane content. However, MySpace were the first service to offer all kinds of easy to implement widgets like animated photo album displays, and the like. Their little streaming audio player widget works well, and is just the thing to allow upcoming amateur and indie musicians to easily get their work out to a larger audience. The musical community on MySpace is among the most vibrant on the web, and it is the place to go to find new and interesting artists.
   Runner up: the new kid on the block, YouTube.

Junk Mail. What do you do with it? Put junk in its place.

Key. Do you have keys to cars and doors and things that you no longer own? No.

Lost. Have you lost anything lately? Probably.

Missing. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? I'm married. Think about it.

No-frills. Tell us about the cheapest motel/hotel you've ever stayed in. I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I may not be required to incriminate myself.

One hundred. Ever driven faster than one hundred miles per hour? I'm not a real speed demon. I have, at times, pushed it a bit. Still, I think the fastest I've ever driven any car was about 150. Uh...that's kilometers per hour, not miles. Pretty fast, but its not 100MPH. Plus, I scared the crap out of myself.

Postal. If you could send a package to your postal worker to show your appreciation, what would you send them? Cookies. Everyone deserves cookies.

Quick-frozen. Name three things currently in your freezer. A big bag of peas. Never opened. We don't eat 'em. They're for icing down knees, or other injured body parts.
   Three (3) different flavours of ice cream. I think there are three more in the chest freezer downstairs. What? I buy them on sale.
   Fish. Lots of fish. Mostly Tilapia and Rainbow Trout, but I think there's some salmon in there as well. I think I've eaten more fish in the last year than I have for all the rest of my life to date. Good for the cholesterol, don't you know.

Radio. What three songs from your own collection would you play right now if you were in charge of a radio station's playlist?
King Crimson - Epitaph
Traffic - The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused

Suck. What is your favorite thing to suck through a straw? Root Beer.

***Extra Credit: Name something you can do with a straw besides suck things into your mouth with it. Spitballs.

Tunes. What was the last music you bought? Sarah McLachlan - Wintersong. It's her new Christmas album.

Underwear. Do you wear it daily? Yes. But no bra. (Yeah, I just didn't bother changing Cin's answer for this one)

Victoria's Secret. Ever shop there? No. What's that place in the mall called? Oh yeah, La Senza. I've shopped there.

Weird. What if some nice, polite, peaceful aliens landed at your house one day. What would you do? Offer them coffee. And maybe ice cream.

X-ray. What parts of your body have been x-rayed? Lots of teeth. Wrist, once. That's all I can think of.

Yard sale. What is one (or more, if you can remember) thing(s) you have bought at a yard sale or "pre-owned" on EBay that you still have today? I don't go to yard sales.

Zoom, zoom, zoom. Ever been in a car when it unintentionally left the road? Ooh. Have I! I was driving home from the curling club one night before I was married. It was nasty, snowy weather, and I was driving cautiously when my tire caught a runnel of snow/slush on the road. It seemed like I provided a proof of the existence of instantaneous translocation of matter. One second I was on the road, pointed south, the next I was in a deep ditch, pointing north. Zoom, indeed.


John Scalzi's Weekend assignment

Weekend Assignment #149: Reveal Your Teenage Fashion Disasters! Yes, whether it's big hair, Nehru jackets, acid-washed jeans or an ill-advised tattoo, let us know what about your style as a teenager you would change today.

Extra Credit: Are you kidding? Pictures, baby!
   Here I am again, working on one of John's weekend assignments on Monday morning, trying to squeeze it in before he starts updating. My teenage fashion disaster was one of  exclusion. There was no fashion.
   My high school uniform was runners, jeans, and a t-shirt. In fact, if you check out the annual school yearbook pictures I posted in this old entry, you'll see that, so unadventurous was my wardrobe, that I was wearing the same t-shirt in both the 1981 and '82 photos.

   No, if you want to talk about fashion disasters with me, you have to go back long before my teenage years. When I was quite a bit younger than that, my grandmother used to buy me outfits, for my birthday and Christmas, that were quite interesting. I'm sure they were the height of fashion...if I had been Austin Powers, maybe.
   What's that? Evidence, you say?


Oh, behave!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Belay the "Dr. Stubbs" jokes, people

via: Pharyngula

I am:
Hal Clement (Harry C. Stubbs)
A quiet and underrated master of "hard science" fiction who, among other things, foresaw integrated circuits back in the 1940s.

Which science fiction writer are you?

   Hmph. I have no idea what this means. To the best of my knowledge, I have never read a single thing by Hal Clement.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Five things (you probably didn't know about me)

   Local potty-mouth, big heathen Mike has tagged me to do the "five things about me" meme. I've been religiously (heh) ducking my head every time that thing has swung around for several months now. You see, there just aren't five things about me (that you probably didn't know) that are all that interesting. Nevertheless, I've been hard tagged, and according to blogosphere rules and regulations, if I reneg, I get castrated. Or is that castigated? I always get those two mixed up.
   Oh, well. Here you go. Read on at your own risk. Really, I recommend you go over and read Scalzi right now, 'cause he'll probably be able to keep you awake. Or at least his posts are shorter, better to fit your attention span. Anyway...

1)   I had braces on my teeth as a teen. This required me to have very regular orthodontist appointments, about one every six to eight weeks, to have the tracks aligned, or adjusted, or whatever. I don't know if they really needed to be adjusted that often, or whether the guy just needed to justify the price we paid.
   Anyway, it meant that frequently, during the school year, I would need to go down to the school office, present my note from the parents, sign myself out, walk down to the bus stop, and take a bus uptown to the orthodontist's office. During the several years over which I did this, I formulated a set of rules which governed the event, which I called, "Paul's rules for signing out and going to the dentist." These are the ones I can remember.

   ~ it doesn't matter what time of day you enter the office to attempt to sign out, of the five secretaries working, one will be on lunch, one will be busy with another student, one will be sitting at her desk, busy with paperwork, one will be sitting at her desk pretending to be busy with paperwork, and one will be standing in the middle of the room, staring into space with a blank look on her face, trying to remember what the hell it was she was supposed to be doing.

   ~ it doesn't matter what time you get to the bus stop, the bus will have just left. In fact, the length of time you missed the bus by will be almost exactly the length of time you spent in theoffice trying to catch the attention of one of the secretaries.

   ~ the next bus will be late. While youare waiting, three buses will go by that don't stop at that corner. This is just to rub a little salt into the wound.

   ~ when the next bus finally arrives, the exact change you carefully made sure you had in your pocket will somehow have become inexact change. If you are lucky, you will be over, so you can just throw it all in the collector and say, "screw it." If you are short, the bus driver, whom you recognize, will not remember that you were over the last time you rode his bus.

   Yeah, they went on like that for a while, but that's all I can remember of them. Oh, and the braces eventually came off. My top teeth are relatively straight, which is good, because they're the ones people see the most of. My bottom teeth, on the other hand, spent the next decade slowly shifting back to the same level of crookedness at which they started. Another odd thing: my teeth don't line up. When I bite down, the space between my front two top teeth is a good quarter inch to the right of the space between my front two bottom teeth. My right, your left.

Chickens2)   I have several avid fans who are chickens. No, they're not afraid of something, they're chickens. Brown ones. I'm not kidding. I visit them daily, and every time they are waiting at the door, eager to see me, falling over each other, in fact, to be the first to greet me. They gather around my feet, clucking and strutting, pecking and preening, as, you know, chickens do.
   They leave me gifts. Every morning. Gifts they laboured all night to create. Ovoids of marble-like material, filled with gold. They are precious to me, and I faithfully collect them and carry them home to my family every day. I am so appreciative of these gifts that I reward these tiny fans of mine upon every visit with the materials necessary to ensure their continued ability to create their miraculous masterpieces. Without my constant regard and provision, they would surely waste away in despair, and die of loneliness...oh, and starvation. Ah, the rewards, and the responsibilities of being looked up to...

3)   I have small feet. Depending on the way a particular make of shoes fit, I might be anywhere from a 6-1/2 to an 8, but am most commonly a 7 or 7-1/2. I have found that in recent years, I am more likely to require shoes in the upper end of that size range, whereas when I was in my teens and early twenties, I often wore shoes on the smaller side. In fact, I once had a pair of
Pumas that were a 5-1/2. I guess it's possible that my feet have slowly expanded a bit over the years, just as other parts of me have, but I prefer to look at it as a huge conspiracy by the global cabal of shoe manufacturers to make men believe their feet are larger than they really are.
   Think of it like the Dressmakers' conspiracy in reverse. It is 100% true that women's dress sizes have been shrinking. A dress labeled as a size four today would have been labeled as an eight less than a decade ago. All in an effort to make women feel better about the clothes they buy. The rationale is, if you fool a woman into thinking she's really a size six instead of a size twelve, she's more likely to buy the dress she is trying on. Maybe even more likely to buy more stylish, and therefore more expensive clothes than she otherwise might have.
   Well, you know what they say about the size of a man's foot, don't you? See those boots I'm wearing in the above photograph? Those are an eight. And they're tight. Yeah, baby!

4)   I like good food, and good drink. I don't think that will be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog. When my wife and I go out for dinner (an all too infrequent event these days), we tend to visit nice restaurants, and we are always on the lookout for new places with good food. It doesn't have to be a hoity-toity fancy dress place, but the food has to be good. For example, there are a couple of sushi places in town. The one we used to go to was really reasonably priced, and we ordered take out from them about once a month. Recently, they were taken over by new ownership, and are now a part of the Sushi Sushi chain. The prices are still reasonable, but the sushi isn't as good anymore. So, we tried the second place last week, and found that it was quite a bit more expensive. The sushi, however, was excellent, and we will gladly spend the extra money there, rather than eat cheaper, but less enjoyable food.
   Likewise, for beer, wine,and spirits. I can't drink Molson Canadian, or Labatt's Blue anymore. Those mass produced, fizzy, yellow, vaguely beerlike beverages just turn my tastebuds. When I buy beer, I spend almost as much on a sixpack as most people spend on a case of twelve, in order to get a good craft beer with some character, and actual taste.
   We travel to Ottawa, or even to Quebec, to buy maple syrup. No Aunt Jemima in this house. We have to go to the Italian cheese store to buy parmesan for our pasta, and we have to buy the most expensive of the three kinds they sell: Parmigiano Reggiano - twenty five bucks a kilo.
   I love to cook, and I love to experiment with new recipes. When I find a recipe I like, every time I prepare it, I change it a little bit, trying to make it better. This has resulted in several dinner table horror stories, but it has also resulted in several dining experiences worth remembering.
   Of course, you know all this. Why am I telling you all this? Well, you see, I have a dirty little secret.
**I like McDonalds.**

   Sure, Wendy's burgers are made of beef that is "fresh, never frozen," and Harvey's use of Canada Grade 'A' beef, "makes a hamburger a beautiful thing." McDonald's, of all fast food restaurants, has been the most criticised for their food quality and flavour (or lack thereof). Still, if I want a fast food lunch, it's a Double Quarter Pounder™ with Cheese Meal, with a Root Beer to drink. Is that so wrong?

5)  I am relatively proficient in basic plumbing and electrical work. Enough so that I did all my own wiring when we finished our basement. I hate soldering copper pipe, though. There are a couple of places in the house where I did a somewhat sub-standard job. They leak intermittently, but I haven't fixed them because it'll be a huge hassle, and besides, they only leak intermittently. There's this one spot where there used to be one of those little needle taps connected to the copper piping, to feed water to a furnace mounted humidifier. Instead of cutting out a small section of pipe, and replacing it, I simply wrapped the pipe very tightly with about twenty layers of electrical tape, and put a pipe clamp over it. That was more than a decade ago, and it hasn't leaked yet.
   If you're a town of Aurora by-law inspector, pretend I was just joking when I wrote all that.

   There. That wasn't so bad, was it? Was it? Hello?

   Wake up!

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Meta blogging at its finest

   I can't seem to finish a blog post to save my life these days, so in the most venerable tradition of blogging around the world, in order to post something so as to keep the blog active, here is a list of unfinished blog entries in my test journal.

1) A meme called the ABCs of Life that I found at Cin's place. I just picked it up from her today, and haven't had time to look at it yet. I do remember beginning to formulate my own responses to its questions as I read Cin's, but who knows if I'll actually remember them by the time I get around to completing it.

2) A meme that's making the rounds everywhere I look right now called Five things about me you probably didn't know.
Mike tagged me a few days ago, and I've been struggling with it. I'm up to four.
   So far I've seen three people, who I might otherwise have tagged, find it somewhere else and complete it, whilst I muddle along, trying to come up with five things that aren't completely inane. Perhaps I should just take
Simon's cue and pick the five grossest things I can think of and have done with it.

3) Weekend assignment: Cats or Cheese - there can be only one! Oh, well. I guess I can delete this one.

4) Spam e-mail subject lines that caught my eye. This one may never see the light of day.

5) Statutory holidays - why?

6) There is no sixth thing.

7) A skeptical post about statistical significance that I abandoned after it became evident (sorry for that) that it was borrrrrrinnggg! Simon, who could write about shredded paper bags and make it interesting, offered to have a look at it and make suggestions. After he read it, he rescinded his offer. "You're on your own, pal," he said, or something very similar.

8) A Guide to Selecting a Chick Flick. This was a brilliant idea almost eight weeks ago, but writing it didn't fit into my schedule at the time, and inspiration eventually left me, and it, by the roadside. I may get back to it if Teh Funny one day comes back by and kisses me on the butt.

9) Did you know...? Currently sitting at two items. Not enough to turn it into a real blog entry.

10) It's about money. An article about how most Christian organisations in America consciously choose not to pursue avenues traditionally associated with the teachings of Jesus because there is not enough money in it. This one's been sitting there since September, and I don't know if I can generate the vitriol necessary to do it justice.

11) A most outrageous fairy tale. Started in March of 2005 for a Judith Heartsong artsy essay contest. I completed a chapter, and kind of lost my way. Another one I will probably never return to.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Heads up!

   I have published, on time for a refreshing change, the latest edition of CarnivAOL™.It is the thirty-first, and chock full, as Scalzi might say, of bloggy goodness. It contains links to ten different blog entries from around AOL J-land. I recommend it to your attention.
   Or something like that.

Friday, January 19, 2007

tun'd his pipes wi' grave grimace...

   I was looking at a website for a local business today. They are located at a corner which abuts a town park named after the founding residents of this fair burgh. Aurora, Ontario used to be known as Machell's Corners, after Richard Machell, who was the first merchant to set up shop at the spanking new crossroads of Yonge Street and Wellington Road in 1804. This business (the one whose website I was perusing, not Richard Machell's), which is located in a plaza across the street from Machell Park, has a map to their location on their website provided by Microsoft MapPoint™. What caught my eye was the fact that the name of the park, no doubt typed in by a tired and/or bored data entry clerk who was used to the plethora of Scottish and Irish derived place names in southern Ontario, was rendered as MacHell Park.
   I'm wondering, is that where the piper's will be practising before tomorrow's Robbie Burns Day dinner?

, , , ,

Brother, can you spare a spoon?

   Here in AOL J-land there is a significant sub-community of journalers who suffer from diseases and conditions that manifest themselves primarily in pain and fatigue; things like Lupus, and rheumatiod arthritis (feel free to add to the list in comments), which for the most part are invisible to the world at large.
   Those of us who are generally healthy cannot understand the trials and tribulations of those who suffer from these conditions. I was going to use a modifier in that sentence; cannot easily understand, or cannot really understand, but the truth is, we do not even have a frame of reference with which to approach understanding of what these people have to go through every day of their lives.
   Occasionally, some little thing suddenly reaches out and slaps you in the face, bringing your attention abruptly to your lack of comprehension. For me, recently, it was a post by
Dawn, in which she participated in a meme I had stolen from Dan. I got as far as her first answer, and stopped, dead. The question was, "When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?"
   Dawn's answer was, "Damn, I need to put my hair in a ponytail, but my hands hurt." Did it stop you the way it stopped me? Her hands hurt too much to even put her own hair in a ponytail. I have watched my wife put her hair in a ponytail with a flip, flip motion that is so practiced she doesn't even have to think about it. Dawn has to think about it, and some days, she has to decide not to even bother trying.

   In order to make an attempt at educating a friend about her condition several years ago, Lupus sufferer Christine Miserandino (how's that for an appropriate last name?) came up with what she called
The Spoon Theory. She gave her friend a handful of spoons, and then started taking them away as she described her day. When her friend ran out of spoons before her day was even close to being over, a light went on. 
   Click on that link, and read Christine's description of The Spoon Theory, then head on over to Dawn's blog, and read about her day to day travails. Another good blog to visit is Loretta's
Life Beyond Lupus, where you can find links to many other blogs written by sufferers of Lupus and other similar conditions, as well as many websites explaining the conditions I have mentioned.
   As well, if you know someone in real life who suffers from a condition that causes chronic fatigue and/or chronic pain, why don't you pop over and give them a hand with some of their daily chores. Lend them a few of your own spoons. After all, you've got more than you need.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's Thursday, Savvy?

   It's Skeptics' Circle Thursday, and this week's edition, the 52nd, can be found over at Frank the Financially Savvy Atheist. Lotsa great skeptical writing highlighted over there, and - blush - one of mine this week, as well. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I'll take 'how not to make the same mistake twice in a row' for $100, Alex.

   A week ago I was faced with the prospect of trying to put together a CarnivAOL entry having received only two submissions. This was entirely due to my own oversight in failing to publish a call for entries the previous week. So, in an effort to forstall a repeat performance, I hereby, officially, call for submissions for the next edition of CarnivAOL, to be published next Tuesday, January 23, 2007.
   If you would like to be included - and goodness knows I would like you to be - email your submission to me before Sunday at midnight. If you are unsure exactly how to go about doing that, explore the links in the 'All About Me' sidebar on the
main page of the CarnivAOL blog.
   I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Monday photo shoot

   Blogger John's weekly meme, the Monday Photo Shoot, is called "Out Your Window," this week. He says:
Your Monday Photo Shoot: Pick a window in your home. Take a picture out of it.
Pretty simple.


   One day a few months ago I was sitting at the computer, which is in the basement, and happened to look up at the window above me. What did I see? Shadow, looking in at me. But that wasn't the assignment, was it? So, I just picked up my camera, tromped upstairs to my bedroom, and took a picture out the window, showing the back yard, where Shadow was looking in at me from. See all that snow? It wasn't there 48 hours ago.


Psychic Nikki predicts the Golden Globe results

   I was clicking through some of the links on my AOL Canada welcome screen yesterday, and came across this one: Who Will Win This Year? A Psychic Predicts! (I don't know how long that link will stay active, but it was still working this morning at 9:30 when I started writing this article. Edited to add: As well, that link should work for everyone now. I still don't know how long it will stay up.)
   So, noted
Toronto Psychic, Nikki, who's claim to fame right now is writing an advice column that appears in the daily news magazine distributed for free on the morning Go train, predicted the outcome of several categories at the Golden Globe awards. How did she do? What do you think? Really, this is like shooting fish in a barrel.

1) Helen Mirren will win Best Actress in a Drama, for The Queen. Yep, she got this one right, but really, did anyone, anywhere, pick anyone else? Further, says Nikki, Mirren will play Margaret Thatcher in an upcoming movie, and will also be in a romantic comedy along with a "young Hollywood starlet" within the next twenty-four months. Only if she can beat Meryl Streep two out of three pinfalls, I'm thinking.

2) Leonardo DiCaprio will win Best Actor in a Drama, for Blood Diamond. Uh, no. Does Nikki not read any entertainment news? Forrest Whittaker was pretty much a lock for this one. Has been for months. Nikki also adds that Leo needs to "be careful of a kidnapping within 24 to 36 months." Huh?

3) Johnny Depp will win Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for Pirates of the Caribbean II - Dead Man's Chest. Nope. That one went to Sasha Baron-Cohen, for Borat: Interminably Long And Grammatically Incorrect Movie Title For To Make People Laugh Before Movie Even Start. A surprise win, I thought, but I still wouldn't have picked Depp. I'm not impressed so far, Nikki.

4) Beyoncé will not win, but will win other awards over the next two years. Well, this was true, she did not win in either of the two categories in which she was nominated, but with five competitors in each category, it's notreally going against the odds to pick one person not to win, is it now? I don't see how I can even count this one as an official result. It's like flipping a card off the top of a deck, and predicting that it's not going to be a face card. You have better than a three in four chance of being right. Oh, and Nikki says Beyoncé needs to "be careful of robbery." Uh huh.

5) Best Picture, Drama: The Queen. Sorry, Nikki. Wrong again.

6) Best TV Drama: Grey's Anatomy. A hit! A palpable hit.

7) Best TV Musical or Comedy: Entourage. Oops. A miss.

8) Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy: America Ferrara, for Ugly Betty. Yes!

9) Best Actor in a TV Drama: Keifer Sutherland, for 24. No!!

10) Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, for 30 Rock. Yes!!!

11) Best Actress in a TV Drama: Ellen Pompeo, for Grey's Anatomy. No!!!!

   So, leaving out number four, because a psychic has to do more than simply play the obvious odds, Nikki's record on these predictions was 50%. For a woman who claims to have "the power to see objects or events that cannot be perceived by the senses," and "acute intuitive insight or perceptiveness," she has demonstrated neither with these predictions. Had she simply gone to her favourite gambling website, looked up the Golden Globe odds, and picked all the favourites, she would have had better results.

   Nonetheless, Psychic Nikki will shortly be trumpeting on her website the fact that she correctly predicted Golden Globe wins by Helen Mirren and America Ferrara, and making no mention of those predictions that were incorrect, and her gullible fans will eat it all up. Psychics are getting bolder and bolder with making these predictions openly, and not worrying about whether or not they get them correct. They are secure in the knowledge that it doesn't matter how many complete misses they throw out there, the believers will still believe.
   Jonathan Swift once said, "you can't reason someone out of something they didn't reason themselves into," and popular belief in psychic phenomena is a classic example of this truism. People don't believe in psychics because they have seen any compelling evidence to suggest they are real. They believe because they think it would neato if it were true, and so they decide to believe, despite the fact that all available evidence suggests that these people cannot do what they claim to be able to do. So, when they see reports of psychics missing the boat, like this one, they engage in all kinds of mental gymnastics to allow them to discount the misses, only focus on the hits, and continue to believe. George Bernard Shaw once said, "the moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become 
blind to the arguments against it."

   Speaking of quotations, I made reference to four in yesterday's post, and promised I would reveal their source today. I needn't have bothered, as Dawn was on the ball, and identified three of them right away.
   The first, "a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being 
right," was indeed Thomas Paine, and could be used as another answer to the question, "why skepticism?" An outspoken skeptic, like myself, sees himself as providing a service to the public, in not allowing wrongs things to achieve a "superficial appearance of being right." By not speaking out against wrongs, one becomes the undesirable side of the "if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem" equation.
   The second quote: "the first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to
fool," was, as Dawn pointed out, Nobel prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman. His words were aimed at science students, and were intended to highlight a fundamental principal of the scientific method, that one's aim should be to attempt in every way possible to disprove one's own hypotheses. They do, however, fit in very well with the Swift quote I referred to above, in that people who believe in psychics have chosen to fool themselves, instead of critically examining the available evidence on the topic.
   Invoking Jon Swift brings us to the third skeptical quote, another of his own: "old men and comets have been reverenced for the same reason: their long beards, and pretenses
to foretell events." What does that mean? Well, in Swift's time, men old enough to have long, white beards were almost as rare as comets. He refers to the fact that we seem to attribute special meanings to rare events, like the appearance of a comet, or the fact that a manlived long enough for his hair to turn white. In fact, old men may, or may not be wiser than anyone else, and comets are just little balls of ice that follow very long orbits. Neither are any more special, or important that any other person or event. we must learn to judge people on their own merits, not attribute certain things to them based on their appearance. Likewise, we must learn to judge events as they happen, not think they are somehow special because they coincide with a piece of clockwork astronomical ephemera.
   The last quotation from yesterday was, as I said, not so much a skeptical point of view, but a good piece of advice about life in general. It was Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quixote, who said, "there's no taking trout with dry breeches." what he meant was, if you don't just wade in and start something, it's pretty unlikely to ever get done. Good advice. I should learn to take it.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

John Scalzi's (late) Weekend Assignment

Weekend Assignment #147: Make a Warning Sign For Everyday Life. Because life needs warning signs sometimes.

Extra credit: Ever ignored a warning sign you should have paid attention to?
   That was John Scalzi's most recent weekend assignment, posted last Thursday afternoon. I created the warning signs at the site to which he linked, but I didn't get a chance to actually write an entry to go with them until now. A little late, but here it is.

   At first I was kind of at a loss over what to do with these. I'm pretty sure I've used this generator before, but I couldn't find that entry (if, in fact, I ever wrote one), and nothing clever was coming to mind. At some point over the weekend I was perusing my text file crammed with some of my favourite quotations, and it occurred to me that many of them would work here.
   So, below you will find three general purpose warning signs encouraging you to take a skeptical view on life. Do any of you recognise any of the quotations?




   And one more, not so much a skeptical quote, but a good rule of thumb for everyday life:


Did you recognise any of the quotes? I'll identify them tomorrow.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What it means to be Canadian

   Here's an interesting read. If, that is, you're not a Canadian. If you are, you already know this, because you live it every day.
   I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but last year, when my wife and I were in Italy, her relatives and their friends who didn't know us very well were continually asking us where we lived. When we told them Canada, they invariably said, "oh, so you're Americans." We would have to explain to them that Canada was a completely separate country, and not a part of the United States. It was clear that many of them simply did not believe us.

A skiffy meme

"I found this nifty quiz over at Jason Bennion's blog, and given its focus on books and sci-fi, it's right up my alley."
   So says Jaquandor of Byzantium's Shores, and I concur. Forthwith, here are my answers.

1. Science fiction, fantasy, or horror?

Not horror. I used to own a couple of H. P. Lovecraft books, but I never really got into them. "A Cask of Amontillado" is about as horrorish as I get.

2. Hardback, trade paperback, or mass-market paperback?

I like hardcovers, but they're so damn expensive these days. Trade paperbacks are the work of the devil. Sure, sell me a paperback, and charge me almost the same as a hardcover? Why would I think that was a good idea? Trade paperbacks have all the fragility of a mass market paperback and none of the convenience. So for me, it's mostly mass market paperbacks. The exception is if I don't want to wait the year for a book to arrive in that format, or if I want the hardcover for personal reasons.

3. Heinlein or Asimov?

Both. The genre wouldn't be the same without either of them. However, if you were going to make me choose, I'd have to say Asimov. Sometimes Heinlein's oh-so-perfect characters get on my nerves.

4. Amazon or brick-and-mortar?

Brick-and-mortar. I'm with Jaquandor on this one. I have never purchased anything online, with the exception of a few CDs by an obscure artist that I tried to special order from a brick and mortar and just couldn't get. I want to pick up a book and flip through a few pages to get a feel for it. Call me old fashioned.

5. Barnes & Noble or Borders?
[Jaquandor says: I suppose that Canadians answering this quiz should do Chapters or Indigo.]
Uh, Jaq, Chapters and Indigo are the same company. As is Coles. In fact, it's hard, in the great wilds of Suburbia to find any book stores that are not a part of the great evil bookselling empire that is Chapters/Indigo. There are a couple of really good used bookstores in my area that I do not spend nearly enough time visiting. I believe I shall remedy that this year.

6. Hitchhiker or Discworld?

Never read any Discworld. Should I? Am I missing something good?

I suspect by 'Hitchhiker' the books being referenced are The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (A Trilogy in Five Parts). Brilliant stuff, as are Adams' more recent Dirk Gently novels. There was a man with a sense of humour. I'm laughing just thinking about him.

7. Bookmark or dog-ear?

Grrr. Eef anyone dog-eerse one uff my books I weel keel them. Ditto to placing them face down open to save one's page. It just isn't done in this household.

8. Magazine: Asimov's Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction?

Either or. I don't pick up either one often, but if I'm in the mood, it will depend on which one looks more interesting that month. I used to have a subscription to Asimov's, but that was many years ago.

9. Alphabetize by author, by title, or random?

By author, then date of publication.

10. Keep, throw away, or sell?

I tend to keep books forever. I can re-read the ones I like over and over again. A couple of years ago we had a garage sale where I sold off a bunch of books. It was the first time I had got rid of any books in probably twenty years. I currently have a couple of boxes full in the crawl space that no longer rate a place on our limited shelving space. I really should cart them over to the used book store and trade them in. There you go, a good reason to visit.

11. Year's Best Science Fiction series (edited by Gardner Dozois) or Years Best SF series (edited by David G. Hartwell)

Neither. Years ago I used to buy all of the "year's best" SF books I could find, but I read less short fiction than I used to, hell, I read less in general than I used to, and I just don't have time for those.

12. Keep dust jacket or toss it?

Keep. I find it easier to identify books on the shelf if they are in their original dust covers. I may or may not remove the dust covers during reading depending on how unwieldy the book is.

13. Read with dust jacket or remove it?

Uh...yeah. See above.

14. Short story or novel?

Either, but read the answer to question #11.

15. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

My son has all the Lemony Snicket books, but I have notread anyof them. So, for now, Harry Potter. Maybe one day I'll read the other and make a fair comparison. Or maybe not.

16. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?

I prefer to wait until a chapter break to leave off, but some books have huge chapters. If I'm really ready to put the book down, I just try to find an obvious pause in the narrative.

17. "It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?

First lines are over rated. A great first line means nothing if the rest of the book doesn't live up to it. By the same token, I've never put a book down after reading just the first line.

18. Buy or borrow?

I prefer to buy, because, as I said above, I can read a favourite book over and over. It's just so darn expensive these days, that I find the lure of the public library to very strong.

19. Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation, or browse?

I usually only buy a new book by an author I am unfamiliar with on a recommendation from someone I know well. Or at least whose taste in books demonstrably runs similar to mine. Especially in the genre market, buying a book based on its cover and liner blurb is pretty much a crap shoot. It might turn out to be great, or it might be pure, unadulterated crap. I only put so much stock in reviews, because I usually don't know what the reviewer has liked in the past that I also liked. Just because Joe Blow in the local paper liked it is no guarantee that I will. In fact, I find I disagree with professional reviewers more often than not.

20. Lewis or Tolkien?

Tolkien. Lewis is children's literature.

21. Hard SF or space opera?

Generally Hard SF. Space opera has to be more than just space opera. If it doesn't rise above its genre, then it's just an SF version of Robert Jordan, and me no likee.

22. Collection (short stories by the same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?


23. Hugo or Nebula?


24. Golden Age SF or New Wave SF?


25. Tidy ending or cliffhanger?

Depends. A cliffhanger in a stand alone novel would be pretty stupid, wouldn't it? I think the cliffhanger outlived its usefulness when they stopped putting a new episode of a serialised movie into the theaters every week. Even in a series of novels, whenit might beseveral years until the next installment comes out, cliffhangers can be pretty frustrating.

26. Morning, afternoon, or nighttime reading?

Whenever I have time.

27. Stand alone or series?

Doesn't matter if they are good.

28. Urban fantasy or high fantasy?

Doesn't matter if they are good.

29. New or used?

I don't really care, as long as the book's in pretty good shape. (I simply left Jaq's answer in place for this one).

30. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

The Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy, by Ricardo Pinto

31. Top X favorite genre books read last year? (Where X is 5 or less)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, Susanna Clarke
Baudolino, Umberto Eco
Old Man's War, John Scalzi
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
Ringworld's Children, Larry Niven

32. Top X favorite genre books of all time? (Where X is 5 or less)

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Slaughterhouse-five, Kurt Vonnegut
The Holy Bible, Various Authors

33. X favorite genre series? (Where X is 5 or less)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Foundation Series, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Ringworld, Larry Niven

34. Top X favorite genre short stories? (Where X is 5 or less)

"Nightfall", Isaac Asimov
"Hinterlands", William Gibson
"Enemy Mine", Barry B. Longyear
"Fondly Fahrenheit", Alfred Bester
"A Boy and His Dog", Harlan Ellison
"That's it, folks! Tag yourself if you like the skiffy, move along if you don't." -Jaq

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All the news that fits in print

Dickhead   Last night, US President George W. Bush unveiled his "new plan" for Iraq on national television. For those of you who missed it, I have excerpted several key portions of his speech below. You should study this transcript in some detail, as it is important to keep abreast of what your government is doing to "preserve your freedom." I copied these from the transcript available on CNN.com. I stole the picture from there, as well.

President Bush on TV last night.

"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people - and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."

"So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefited from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group - a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States."

"For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. This troop increase will not only allow us to continue to make the same mistakes all over again in Iraq, it will allow us to plot a new course, to make bold new mistakes we have previously not undertaken."

"Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents - but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we will have the force levels we need to eliminate every living thing in the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods and kill every man, woman, child, and pet they encounter."

"This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. In fact, we can expect these attacks to increase dramatically as the Iraqi people continue to resist our best efforts to pacify bring democracy to them. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace. This is something we cannot allow."

"As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters in Iraq, and many other places where we can find no credible evidence of their presence."

"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity - and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. Our presence in Iraq can expect to be duplicated in those countries in the near future. Eventually, American freedom fighters will occupy any territory where a terrorist threat can be said to exist, including Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, France, and Red China."

"Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. There will be no triumphant return of American servicemen. We will simply declare that we have won, and expect the people of the United States to believe us, just as they have believed the rest of our lies to date."

"Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, resolve, and American and Iraqi deaths. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists, to say nothing of international law, and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will occupy our country for a new century. We can and we will prevail."

"We go forward with trust that the author of liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night."

Are cucumber sandwiches funny? I didn't think so.

   Why does Canadian Television suck so bad?

   I just finished watching a new, half hour situation comedy on the CBC about a young, good-looking, Muslim, hot-shot, Toronto lawyer who leaves the bright lights and fat paychecks of Bay Street to become the destitute Imam of a makeshift mosque serving a small Islamic community in a rural town in Saskatchewan. We may need to call in an expert to count the implausibilities in that one sentence. Yes, I know what Shakespeare said about that.
   I first read about this new series, called Little Mosque on the Prairie of all things, in an article in one of Canada's national newspapers. "There's one I'll be giving a pass," I said to myself. I mean, silly premise set aside, it's a Canadian made situation comedy. That, in itself, is all you need to know.
   Then I thought, "you know, they really are tackling a sensitive subject. Maybe there's some promise there." Still of two minds, I read a couple of articles about it by Jeremy, over at
Popped Culture. This one includes a preview scene. After watching that, my on again, off again interest in the show was off again. Sure, a Three's Company style scene in which bystanders misinterpret the one side of a telephone conversation they can hear is a classic comedy idea. Unfortunately, no one told the writers that once you've had an idea, you can't just film that. The idea needs to be developed, elaborated on, stretched out. The gag is in how long the misunderstanding can be drawn out. The thirty second scene they shot just made me say, "yeah, I can see how that could be funny," but it didn't actually make me laugh.
   Still, I was flicking through the channels tonight, and there was absolutely nothing on - actually, I wanted to watch the Raptors' game, but every time I tuned in, they blew a lead, and every time I went channel surfing, they regained it, so I figured it was better for them if I watched something else - so I tuned in.

   Why does Canadian television suck so bad? I'm sorry, have I already said that?

   OK, first, if you are filming a television show about Muslims, doesn't it make sense to actually, you know, hire a few of them? Among those portraying mosque attendees are a British-Italian man, a Hindu East Indian woman, A black woman named Arlene Duncan (who might be Muslim, for all I know, but the Nigerian accent is about the fakest thing I've ever heard), and Sheila McCarthy. Yes, Sheila McCarthy (think a Canadian Shirley MacLaine - woo! woo!).
   Also, the main character, the Imam, played by Zaib Shaikh, just plain isn't funny. His bio stresses his distinguished stage and screen career, including many Shakespearian roles. Listen, if you're casting someone in the lead role in a comedy, don't you think it might be a good idea to look at, I don't know, comedians? I mean, the only reason I knew the guy was telling jokes was because of how badly he telegraphed each and every one of them. Dude, don't stop and wait for the laugh. It's television. They add that later.
   Hey, why does every Canadian show have to take place somewhere that nobody lives? How are the majority of Canadians, who live in cities of millions of people, supposed to relate to the inhabitants of a town of seventeen residents? Why can't these shows be set in Montreal, or Vancouver? No, every one has to be in a little town in Saskatchewan. And why does every other scene have to take place in a diner, where only one person works, twenty-four hours a day, pouring coffee into the same customer's cup every time we see her? Can't we do something different? Please?

   After it was over, my wife asked me how long I thought it would last. "I give it three episodes," I prognosticated. Then I thought about the fact that it was on the CBC, and as such was supposed to reflect some part of Canadian culture. Maybe three years. And then I remembered The Beachcombers. It could well be three decades.
   Hell, I think most of the cast, crew, and writing staff used to work on The Beachcombers. ::Sigh:: And they wonder why we all want American cable stations to watch.

   By the way, the Raptors won.

   Also, go back to yesterday's entry about (inter)National Delurking Week and, if you have not already done so, leave a comment.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Say hello

Leave_a_comment   I've just remembered that the second week of January is National De-Lurking Week in the blogiverse. Last year I had an excuse for missing it. I was computerless, and updating irregularly from the library. This year I do not. I just forgot about it until I saw it mentioned on another blog this morning.
   So, if you are a regular reader of Aurora Walking Vacation, but not a commenter, this is your cue to pop in and introduce yourself. If you think you can't comment because you are not an AOL member,
think again. It's free, people. Hey, I signed up for blogger, didn't I?
   So please, say hello.

   Also: CarnivAOL. A bit of a self indulgent edition this week. Still trying to get back to some kind of a regular schedule after the holidays. Do visit.

Picture stolen from paper napkin. Several different versions avilable at this link.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Justin Timberlake gets pwned!!1

   If you aren't sure what this is all about, it is a response to this SNL skit, featuring J-Tim. More information at MyBoxInABox.com.

Edit: 12 January, 2007 - You Tube seems to have disabled all of the links to the SNL sketch video, and the My Box In A Box video. You can view it at Bunny's blog.

Edit: 16 January, 2007 - The YouTube video appears to be working again.

Monday, January 8, 2007

In case some advanced planning can be done...

You Should Spend Your Summer in Europe
   You're into almost all forms of culture - art, music, architecture, food, and spending a summer at the beach sounds pretty darn boring to you. So head off to Europe, where you can have your tiramisu (and even eat it on the beach!)

via Cin

Friday, January 5, 2007

Bonfire Rides is not a Spanish political prisoner

   I had intended to post this last week, but today is the first time I have touched my camera since I took this picture. The town where I live puts on an annual New Year's Eve celebration called Family First Night. This year they placed mobile signs all around town to spread the word.
   The signs needed to get across the message that the evening was going to be free, that there were many things to do, among which were rides, and that there was going to be a bonfire. Unfortunately, the person who wrote the copy for the sign came up with this:


   Now, I don't know how you feel about bonfire rides, but the fact that they were free didn't make them any more attractive to me.
   Some vandals "edited" the other side of this sign, but it was changed again before I could get there with the camera. Some quick googling revealed that someone else did get
a shot of it. <snicker>Teenagers</snicker>.

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Sad devotion to that ancient religion

Star Wars Horoscope for Aquarius
   You can be cruel and torment people who disagree with you. Deep down, there is a peace-loving, friendly side to you. You have a knack for inflicting pain on people and use your intellect during battle.

Star wars character you are most like: Darth Vader

via Patrick's Place

Qui veut gagner des millions ?

   Via Randi's weekly Swift commentary I came across this video:

   For those who don't understand the French, the question is, "which of these objects orbits around the Earth? A) The Moon, B) The Sun, C) Mars, D) Venus." My favourite part is the look on the wife's face when she suddenly realises, "I'm married to a moron."
   My least favourite part is the fact that 52% of the audience got it wrong as well. It's a scary world we live in when half the people in it believe the Sun goes around the Earth, a theory that has been proven wrong for going on three centuries.