Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Haddasah's first blog

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that last bit was a guest blog by my niece Hadassah. I'm not sure this laptop will ever be the same.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Great Pockets!

This is a really hilarious "ad" thats been on the web for a while apparently.
Have fun exploring greatpockets.com.
You must have speakers for this.

ps: the contest is over.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Elyssa Rachel Foster

I am now an uncle x2. Elyssa Rachel Foster was born last night at 7:40 pm. We immediately went over to see her. She weighs 7lbs 14 oz. Baby and mother are doing quite well.

Here are some pictures of the cute kid when she is only 3 hours old. What an amazing miracle babies are. It really puts life into perspective. All of a sudden nothing else matters. No one can look at a little baby and not be totally amazed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kill To Get Crimson

I am not sure about the title but the disc is typical Knopfler. Its not bad.
But the best part is this......
Vespas on the album cover!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Surface Computers - the future?

I was alerted to this new technology by a colleague and than started stumbling upon it everywhere. As everybody knows the Iphone with its multi-touch screen (you can touch more than one thing at a time) has been a huge success. Couple that with the older Bluetooth and Wifi technology and you get the computers of the future: Surface Computers.
Developed by Microsoft (what happened!?!) they are designed to interact with any electronic device. The potential applications are enormous. So as usual they are predicting that eventually every surface (fridge, coffee table, desk, shopping carts) is going to be an interactive LCD surface. um yeah. sure.
Currently the only uses are in high-end bars and casinos where the table will read things like your credit card (surprise) and glasses, and the usual digital paraphernalia (cameras, cellphones). Check out the video to get a better idea or do a search for 'Surface Computers' on youtube and you will be amazed at how many videos there are. Probably all microsoft marketing videos.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

TV - that doesn't suck!


Yes that's right. Last night I actually sat on my butt and watched the tube. I haven't really been paying attention to the TV for the last while what with the house shenanigans. But we decided to devote a night to doing nothing. It was pretty good - but what made it absolutely amazing was the discovery of an awesome show. Pushing Daisies is a so different from everything else on TV. It's got a touch of Lemony Snicket and reminds me of a cross between Emilie and a Tim Burton film.
But I am sure it won't last. The only shows that seem to survive are mediocre (read boring) sitcoms, sleazy reality shows and over the top crime dramas.
Oh well, maybe they will release a dvd. Its better that way - no commercials.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Psalms and Hymns

Today we got introduced to some new Hymns which look pretty cool and remind me of the type they use in the Reformed Presbyterian Church only I think we will use instruments.
I also have been notified of a website for the new Psalms (mostly thanks to my Uncle Bill Helder) and stumbled across a website that contains sheet music for the current Psalms. That last site isn't much use for me but I just thought it would be good to have these links archived on my blog.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Animals are NOT People!

While surfing the net I came across this article (thank you Google News) about some animal activists in Austria trying to get the courts to say that some chimpanzee is a person. I should have seen this coming. While living in our apartment building there were several people (young and old) who treated their pets like spoiled children. It was disgusting really. But this seems to be taking that attitude to a whole new level. It reminds me of the Walkathon for dogs which was held about a month ago in Ottawa. It raised an outrageous amount of money which was on par with some many other charity events raise for something like sick kids. People are nuts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A New Type of War

I always wondered if and when it would happen. It seems like a sci-fi movie or book but this article shows that it could and did happen.
It is fascinating that there is almost no good, organized way to combat an organized attack from hackers. I mean they shut down a whole country. That is amazing and scary.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Killacycle

You know the whole environmentalism thing has gone too far when they start doing this kind of thing.
We can learn several things from this:
1. Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle (especially fast ones)
2. Only professionals should attempt burnouts (not tech geeks trying to impress other tech geeks)
3. Gas is overrated.
4. Calling your motorbike the 'Killacycle' is probably not a good way to market it. (Especially if it kills you while you are trying to market it)
5. People (read americans) are idiots.
6. Don't let some random blond model girl tell you where and how to do a burnout.

But as idiotic as this thing is, I still have to admit that I am impressed. Its like a having a wind-up car as a kid. In reality though it doesn't really make sense because it has way to much useless power. Its like an american muscle car.
The other thing is I have never really understood the concept of saving energy by using electricity because thats energy too. It makes you wonder what ever happened to that Steorn perpetual energy machine.....

oh it was nothing. big surprise.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ticketmaster: Part Deux

As this article shows we, the masses, are finally making a dent in the ridiculous monopoly that is Ticketmaster. I hope everybody learns something from this namely: Monopolies promote crap service and higher cost while eliminating the competition which undermines the very industry in which they operate.
I think Microsoft (the worst monopoly ever) is finally feeling the effects of this with the onslaught of internet based software (Google) and slick design (Apple) which is good. The problem is both Google and Apple are trying (and succeeding I think) to create their own niche monopolies. Something to watch out for anyway.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

americans...

This is just one of the things that makes americans so funny. Everything there has to be to the extreme. Why?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Animal Battle



This movie was pointed out to me a few weeks ago and I have finally got a chance to post it after spending my nights either house searching, driving, flying or camping. By now most people have probably seen it already but it is so good that it deserves to be posted again.

It is like a huge production but it is totally unplanned. Some tourists with a crappy video camera stumble upon several species of animals interacting in a violent but funny way. You just have to think that stuff like this must go on all the time without anyone noticing.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

HD Photos

I got a buddy of mine to do some HD photography stuff with my little point and shoot camera. He does some amazing stuff with his high tech stuff. Check out his website here.
Anyway essentially what we did was take 3 pics at different exposures and merge them using Adobe Photoshop. Using the mini tripod we set up the camera on my balcony. Since my camera doesn't have a auto-bracketing feature we had to do 3 separate pictures with the timer to minimize the shake. Even so they did not match completely but still pretty good for a 2 year old point and shoot.

Here is the original. Sorry for the crookedness. (I will straighten it with Picassa sometime)
and after it is merged... notice how much more colour there is.

The original.
and after it is merged. You pretty much see what your eye sees.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ticketmaster = Microsoft

Both have a monopoly on providing sub par (but necessary) services while charging outrageous 'convenience' fees when there actually is no convenience in their service.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Piaggio

So after several months of looking (and drooling) at scooters I have pretty much decided which one I want. I am pretty sure I want to buy a new one because I really don't know enough to be able to fix them and I don't know anybody who is either.

Anyway here are the specs for my Piaggio Derbi Boulevard 150 (which I still have to buy)
Manufacturer
Derbi

Model Year
2007

Model
Boulevard 150

MSRP
Request a Quote

Engine
4-stroke, 2V, forced air-cooled

Displacement
149.8 cc

Bore x Stroke
62.6 x 48.6 mm

Carburetion
28 mm

Compression Ratio
11:1

Ignition
Electronic CDI

Starting System
Electronic

Transmission
CVT with centrifugal clutch

Suspension
Front: 35 mm hydraulic fork, effectual run 76 mm
Rear: Lineal gas single shock, effectual run 60 mm


Brakes
Front: 220 mm disc
Rear: Tambor


Tires
Front: 130/60 x 13 in.
Rear: 130/60 x 13 in.


Length
73.2 in. (1,860 mm)

Width
27.2 in. (690 mm)

Height
45.9 in. (1,165 mm)

Wheelbase
51.4 in. (1,305 mm)

Fuel Capacity
2.4 gal. (9 l)

Oil System
Oil pump

Maximum Speed
11.5 CV @ 7,000 rpm

Colors
Black, Blue, Red, Silver

It is an Italian made bike with the same engine as the Vespa LX 150. That is the bike I really want. The main difference between the two is the Vespa has a full metal body and is put together all by hand. The Derbi is what is known as a plastic scooter because the body has plastic panels. It also is more modern looking and happens to be about $1000 cheaper than the equivalent Vespa. But the Vespa is better looking and retains its value. The decision to go with the Derbi is mostly economic and because I am just getting into it.

The Vespa LX150
The Derbi Boulevard 150

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Europics!

For anybody who is interested I have added the rest of my Eurotrip pics to my picassa site. I also discovered a cool feature where you can link the albums and pictures to Google Maps and Google Earth (the coolest program ever). I did it with the Provence album so you can see exactly where I took those pictures. Google does some amazing stuff.
Anyway here are the rest of the albums. I tried to keep them short but there we saw and did so much....

Paris


Provence


Montserrat


Barcelona

Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Michael 'shaddup already' Moore

A few nights ago I couldn't fall asleep because all I could see when I closed my eyes was that most annoying documentary filmmaker known as Michael Moore.
The reason was I had been reading an article earlier in the day about him and it had triggered a memory from Europe. When we were in Provence, close to Cannes (where the film festival was underway) we took a day to explore one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Europe (called St Paul de Vence). While Irene and I were exploring the tiny streets I noticed a fat american looking guy whole I am convinced was Moore. When I saw his buddy it confirmed it. His buddy was wearing an 'I Hate Bush' shirt and looked extremely american too. Those americans stand out quite a bit in Europe.
Anyway, Irene disagreed with me and talked me out of walking up to moore and kicking him in the crotch. But I know it was him because I have read too much stuff about the guy. I have always had a deep dislike of the way he makes movies and the way he talks/shouts. Personally, I would rate him the most annoying person on the planet. He is worse than Michael Jackson, Prince and all those annoying rappers and their wigger fans combined.
So here I am lying in bed thinking of all the things I could have said to him (tell him to keep his fat american chops shut for once) or done to him (pushed him off the ramparts - probably more productive). And when I told Irene she just laughed at me and told me it wasn't even him.
It took me forever to fall asleep and when I did it was a fitful dreaming type of sleep with lots of kicking. If only I had kicked him - just once.
But then he would probably just counter with a documentary on violent Canadians abroad and how the Bush administration is to blame.
Yup should have lured him to the ramparts and tripped his fat lazy american butt.

Monday, June 18, 2007

And you thought the rabbit in Monty Python was bad...

This is the kind of article that makes you wary of traveling to countries like Poland were the local animals are not what we are used to.
The second last sentence makes this article.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Westfest

On Saturday night we went to Westfest on the spur of the moment. I had read about it but forgot that it was this weekend. Karin and Josh called us up and invited us to come. It was a great time with tons of people there (mostly because there was no game 6). They closed off most of Westboro, one of the chicest (sp?) areas of town and all the awesome (but expensive) restaurants can spill onto the street to mix with all the vendors of other expensive merchandise. Anyway, they also put on a decent concert which turned out to be headlined by Ottawa's folk/alt/country singer song writer Kathleen Edwards with her buddy Jim Bryson. She put on a great show for a crowd of about 10000 (thats what it said in the paper). Great voice and smooth sound. I think one of her guitars was like Lawrens new acoustic (gotta check that out though). She was supported by some other capable Ottawa area artists such as Ana Muira, Jason Collett (of Broken Social Scene), Lily Frost and Lindsay Ferguson (they were the ones I had heard of). One of the coolest things about this group of artists was they all seemed to relate to Ottawa music scene so well. They all were/are regulars at the Black Sheep in Wakefield so they all mentioned that on their sets. Overall it was very encouraging to see the Ottawa music scene so pumped up and clearly doing quite well. This all bodes very well for the Ottawa Bluesfest..... anyone wanna come?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Unjetlagged

I am finally back in the country and all unjetlagged so I guess I should throw a blog up.
These are the pictures from some of the places we visited. I have not uploaded everything due to some coordination issues and an uncooperative memory card. Paris, Provence and Barcelona will be up eventually.
We had a fantastic time and one thing I can say is that these pics do not do Europe justice. Half the time I didn't bother taking pics because I knew that whoever looked at them could never understand how amazing it was.

Lyon, France


Geneva


Zurich

Monaco Grand Prix

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bach

Here is a video of my father-in-law playing a Bach peice on his new organ. Clearly he is having (too much) fun.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Busy Week...

I have been neglecting the ol' blog lately due to some hectic craziness as of late. I am sure all of my avid blog readers really care but I am going to explain why anyways. We have kind of stopped looking at houses because of our Europe trip. Plus we need more $$$ for a down payment I think. I am also thinking we should get pre-approved for a mortgage and maybe line up a mortgage broker. Really I am new to all this and everyone seems to have their own idea of what to do.
Speaking of the Europe trip, we have been getting prepped for leaving in 22 days! I have to get an international drivers license for renting a car in France. Hopefully I don't get in any accidents with crazy French drivers.
Two weekends ago we went down to Hamilton and saw Ben Folds play the Kool Haus in Toronto. That was an amazing show - he can seriously play a Steinway.Work has been really crazy lately too. One of our biggest projects is well on its way in Brockville. I have been getting to know the millwork very intimately lately. Oh well, busy=job security as far as I'm concerned.I also helped my dad measure up his front yard to do a site plan so he could sketch some ideas for reworking the driveway. Apparently there is too many cars in the family now. (Lawren bought a sweet Grand AM with confusing electronic controls)
Last weekend my father-in-law had his organ installed. It is one sweet instrument. I want to get a video of him playing up on youtube eventually.And of course, who could forget the playoffs. Its pretty cool being in Ottawa and seeing the city come alive as they duke it out with the Pens (they are up 3-nil in game 5 as I write this). A few people I know are even at the game. I thought about it but $80 for 3rd level seats was a little steep for me.
I am trying to save up some money for a Vespa after all. Hey I'm allowed to dream right?Last of all I have to confess that I learned something about myself on Monday. I am a sucker for a big bin of pillows. We were at The Bay after sushi night with Karin and Josh and I couldn't resist leaning back on a bin of huge pillows. The problem arose when it turned out they couldn't support my weight. I started sinking in and eventually would have drowned if my wife hadn't heard my calls for help. Needless to say we left rather quickly.
What can I say - Good Times in Ottawa.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Looking at houses

I haven't posted anything lately partly because I started looking at my facebook account and actually using it. That was a mistake because apparently it gets addictive fast. Luckily it died down after finding every person I have ever known.
Anyway, the other thing I was busy with was looking at houses with my wife. We had thought we had found the deal of the century. An older house that could use some updating but with an awesome location. Perfect for flipping. But upon closer examination the structural issues with the house and the mildly creepy, on its way up, neighborhood outweighed the price. The completely unfinished dirt basement was a little unnerving too. You had to go down this tiny trap door to get there and once you were there it felt like a world war 1 trench. I mean, usually these dirt basements are at least quasi-flat.
At least it was a good experience and we still want to buy in that area. But as much as I want to live in a chic part of town with all the hip shops and awesome atmosphere and markets just outside your door I really don't want to give up the view we have every single day.
You clearly will not find this view from a lowly house in the middle of the city. That'll be hard to lose.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Awesome Show

Currently Listening To: I Saw You In The Wild by Great Lake Swimmers
From: Bodies and Minds

I took Irene up to Wakefield, Quebec for our 1 year anniversary. We had a great time. The town is beautiful (especially in the snow) and the music is sweet and harmonious.
I am blown away by amazing music once again. We saw the Great Lake Swimmers at the Black Sheep Inn. What a great band - even the opening act was amazing - and what an amazing venue.
I have been listening to GLS for a while after finding their link on 'The Acorn's myspace site it didn't take me long to find some of their music. But I was worried that they wouldn't be able to pull it off. Dekker's vocals are so pure at times that I felt that the cd had been a little to polished. How wrong I was. The guy has an amazing voice. When he was playing with just the acoustic guitar on songs like 'To Leave It Behind' I could not have been more impressed.
The other thing I loved about this guy was his slight awkwardness on stage during the between song banter. He wasn't there to pump the crowd or anything, he was just so real. And, although he started the band in Toronto, he is originally from Wainfleet (btwn Dunnville and Port Colbourne as he said). It got me thinking, could he be related to Crystal Dekker? I mean she is from around there somewhere..... anyone know? Anyway I never got a chance to ask him because it was 12:00 by the time we were leaving after the 3rd encore.
The opening band put on a great show too. This girl, Basia Bulat with her really skilled band really set it up for GLS. Completely loved it. You could tell she was blown away at the size of the crowd in a small town in the middle of nowhere none the less. She seemed really shy but all that went away once the songs started. Loved it. There is simply too much undiscovered good music in this world.And that is what this venue is all about. This was my first time there and after hearing so much about it (everything from 'its seedy' to 'its amazing') I am really impressed. This is clearly a real music venue. People don't come there to get high, mosh, scream or get trashed. They come for the music (and the great selection of local beers doesn't hurt either). I have never seen such an enthralled audience. During the songs everyone just watched and listened, soaking it in as much as possible. People are coming from all over for these indie shows in the middle of a quaint town on a lake. Overall - this place beats any venue in downtown toronto. Its so intimate. I mean, we ended the evening sitting on the floor against the side wall getting lulled to sleep by some soaring vocals and soft acoustic guitar.
What, I ask you, can be better than that?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Triple Washed...yeah right.

So we opened a brand new bag of baby spinach which was sold and described as 'triple washed.' To me, that means we can expect it to be clean. Maybe my assumption is too presumptuous but really what does 'triple washed' mean. Did they spray it 3 times with tap water?
Anyways we found this root structure that looks decidedly small to be from a spinach plant. (I could be wrong - I'm no botanist or gardener). After eating all this spinach without washing it I felt a little disconcerted. I guess it could be worse; at least it wasn't a finger or some other appendage. But still, what would you do...?
I was tempted to call the spinach plant and force them to give me triple washed spinach for life. But that plan was foiled when I couldn't find a phone number on the package.
Then I got to thinking, what if this root is from some drug operation that the spinach people are doing on the side. What if I had stumbled upon a massive grow-op disguised as a triple wash spinach plant. But that was shot down when I searched for marijuana root structures on the Google.
Too bad.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Well this just sucks....

Currently Listening to:
last.fm >Similar Artists To Sufjan Stevens

I just came across this article online and if what it says is true, good music may become harder to find. Basically the recording industry is trying to shut down (or grab profits from) all those great internet radio stations.
In my experience, the best one is last.fm. I have also tried iceberg radio and yahoo's launchcast. Iceberg was decent in the early days i guess but it is more for the mainstream crowd. Still, Launchcast is even better for mainstream stuff plus its rating system which works amazingly well throws new music at you based on similar artists, other users ratings and similar genres. I have worked up my ratings to the 'Fanatic' level. Ah yes, good 'ol college all nighters. Since college I have switched to Last.fm which, although it has a tendency to crash, it has the best music selection and a pretty good listener community. One of the features I really love is that it tells you what bands are doing shows in your area.
Anyway, the point is, all these sites will probably die when the U.S. starts this new legislation. Even though the music industry probably makes more money this way they don't like it because they can't control it. I think the record labels would shut down Pitchfork if they could. Even though the website indirectly sells millions of cds because of it's reviews the labels don't like it because the reviews were not endorsed by them. There are actually only 4 record labels in the world that basically control the world's popular music. It sometimes feels very Orwellian so thats why I try to stay away from mainstream pop music.

Ok I am stopping the rant here before it dissolves into conspiracy theories.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Winterlude Pics

Currently Listening to:
Beck's Broken Drum from Guero

Winterlude has come and gone once again. Once again I missed out on a free indie concert which featured Amy Millan of 'Stars' among others. Ah well - there is always next year eh. Actually we are going to a concert in Wakefield with the 'Great Lake Swimmers' in March so my music fix should get satisfied. This year I went down to winterlude the most of any year. I was down at least once every weekend. The canal was ok but not amazing this year - thanks to global warming and hummers. Stupid hummers. They should be outlawed.
Ice Sledding - Mush! Lawren Mush!
Eureka!

Ice Mountie - Take that bad guys!
Cap'n Haddock looks eerily like my Dad.
Beavertails - anything will taste good when it's deep fried.
Look even the snow is jumping on the knitting trend.
Don't mess with this Care Bear!
Mmmmmm Tea.
Francine, Me and Tim on the Rideau.
Those lost children services are useful aren't they Tim?
Tim and Me enjoying the festivities.
PS I love the Nederland hat - almost as cool as my Peruvian Alpaca Hat.













Monday, February 26, 2007

A Space Oddity

We watched 2001: A Space Odyssey the other night. It is a Stanley Kubrick film so I guess I should have been prepared but even after my brothers warnings (he loves this stuff) I still wasn't fully prepared for the loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong cinematic sequences with scores of classical music and a box that sparks evolution (i think) and a series of lights that leads to immortality (i think) and so little talking that it drove me to fast forward through parts of the 150 minutes. To be fair, there were some very compelling parts to the movie - especially the man vs machine (HAL) moments which I thought were going to be a much larger part of the movie. Also without this movie we would never have had Spaceballs. But alas, I like so many others, have been trained to want movies that are fast and simple and easy to relate to. I don't think that movie would fly in today's hollywood which is sad. The truth is we looked at what was playing in the theaters and nothing was interesting enough to warrant paying for so we popped in the only movie we had. I am sure it was better than Jim Carrey's 23 or whatever else was playing.
Is this immortality?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Henderika (Oma) Helder 03/24/1918 - 02/16/2007

In memory of my Oma who passed away last Friday morning I have put together some of the digital pictures I have of her.
If anybody has any other pictures, especially really old ones, I would love to see them.





Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tampa in 24hrs

So Tampa was pretty cool. Actually it was pretty warm. We decided on Friday that we should leave on Saturday and come back on Sunday. A sweet 24 hr tour of Tampa Bay and the beaches. I'd say it was worth it. Traveling usually is worth it.
We rented a Mustang convertible - i hate salespeople because they can talk me into anything. Anybody who knows me would say "why didn't you rent a prius?". Well its because the only things you can rent there it seemed were Hummers and Mustangs. And we figured, while in America, may as well drive like an Amercan.
The other funny thing about Tampa is all the retired Canadians. We met some at breakfast in our hotel. Thinking back, it was totally obvious that they were Canadian. You just had to compare them too the people sitting opposite them. The loud, obnoxious, 'Get a load of this Martha' stereotype is so true.
Overall it was just amazing to go from -25 to +25 in a few hours. We kept bracing for a biting cold every time we went outside only to be hit with a blast of warm Florida air. But truth be told, I would rather live in Canada and vacation in Northern Ontario (in the summer). That point hit home as we were flying home and I saw an ad in a mag for the Muskokas. I had this picture of a windswept pine tree on a rock island on a perfectly still lake in the middle of the Canadian shield. That will beat Florida every time.Deicing in Toronto - It took 1.5 hours
A classic shot over Virginia
Tampa Airport
Irene in her element
Welcome to America
The 'Stang
Some refreshing architecture. Actually the real reason i posted this pic was because of the kid getting yelled at by the guy on the front steps.
Palm treeage.
Tampa Fountains Rule.
More palm treeage - i think it's the only thing that grows there.Beside a model of a Spanish church.
Funky, but useless concrete.