Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heavy is the Cost

Recently a friend commented that I am pretty opinionated. I had to stop and think but I had to agree. I don't know why but I seem to be getting more opinionated. I have always wanted to become more laid back but maybe this is what happens when you get older. At this rate, I will be one extremely crotchety old man when I retire (if I live that long).

But at the same time I feel like someone has to think about certain issues. Everyone goes about their lives not thinking about certain issues. I am reminded of the Stars song Personal where Amy Millan sings 'Sorry to be heavy, but heavy is the cost. Heavy is the cost.' I sometimes feel like I am being "heavy" but it really is the cost of life. I can't just go around not caring about anything. I am passionate about things and being opinionated is the cost.

Being opinionated is the cost.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Realistic Sound

Here is a great ad I stumbled across.

I have a feeling certain people will appreciate that.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Searchlight Winner Announced!

The Searchlight winner for best live music venue in Canada was just announced on CBC Radio3.

Here is the top 10 list:
Aeolian Hall, London ON
Amigo's Cantina, Saskatoon SK
Baba's Lounge, Charlottetown PE
Call The Office, London ON
The Capital Bar, Fredericton NB 
George's Fabulous Roadhouse, Sackville NB 
The Grad Club, Kingston ON 
Phog Lounge, Windsor ON 
Starlight Social Club, Waterloo ON 
Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa ON

And the winner is:
Phog Lounge in Windsor ON

It is pretty clear that all of these places are great venues.  So now I have a new goal in life....check all of them out.  Especially the Phog Lounge.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Economic Crisis Visualized

I am one of those poor schlubs who can't really understand what exactly going on with the economy because of the big words they use in the Financial Post.  
Luckily for me some guy put together some helpful graphic videos to explain what happened in more simplistic terms and with lots of moving diagrams.  It is perfect for my graphic oriented, instant gratification generation.

Here is Part 1:

And Part 2:

Nothing is Free in this World except....

SNOWI set up this sign at the end of my driveway this morning. I saw it somewhere else on the internet and I thought it would be funny. So far no one except people I know have approached me on it (granted I am rarely at home long enough to be approached and we do live in the suburbs). Irene did see someone drive up, get out and take a picture. I'd bet it is on facebook or flickr by now.
Actually, I am hoping that someone from one of the local ski hills will take my snow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gobama once again

Our city of Ottawa was all in a tizzy today because of the 6 hour visit by Obama. Traffic was crazy, mailboxes removed, manhole covers welded shut, buses rerouted, roads closed, crazed Obama fans, security details, secret route to and from the airport, helicopters circling overhead. These where just some of the things that where happening in Ottawa just because some guy was here.
I was safely in Kanata away from most of the action but Irene had her own 'harrowing' experience with the transit system since one of the routes to the airport goes right by Carleton.
My father-in-law is a big fan of Obama and his speeches. He constantly uses Obama rhetoric in his lectures to spur his students on to further greatness. 'Yes We Can'. He knew when Obama's plane would be leaving the airport (as did anybody else who turned on the internet, radio or TV) and based on the wind direction he knew that it would take off over Barrhaven (where we live). So he watched for the plane to take off over Barrhaven and snapped this picture of Air Force 1 as it is leaving Ottawa.This was his great brush with greatness today. I hope it is a while before Obama comes back again otherwise the news people may start dying of heart attacks.

Net Neutrality in Canada

For us in Canada there are actually two notable things going on that have to do with bit torrents and net neutrality.  

First of all there is the more international news of the popular swedish bit torrent site 'The Pirate Bay' which is in court right now with some major record labels (Warner Bros, MGM, EMI, Colombia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Sony BMG and Universal) in Stockholm.  It was 
announced yesterday that half the charges were dropped which is pretty significant but here is what the lawyer for the labels said:

"It's a largely technical issue that changes nothing in terms of our compensation claims and has no bearing whatsoever on the main case against The Pirate Bay. In fact it sim
plifies the prosecutor’s case by allowing him to focus on the main issue, which is the making available of copyrighted works."

This has not stopped the founders of The Pirate Bay from trying to turn the trial into a gong show.  They are showing up in a multi-coloured bus, twittering from the trial and generally getting the bit torrent community/internet all riled up.
The second big event concerns just Canada and our net neutrality laws.  Last year the CRTC ruled that it was ok for Bell to throttle the internet speed of it's customers.  Bell was doing this on the pretext of preventing illegal bit torrents.  But they are also preventing legal internet uses like Skype and Google Video Chat.  The interesting thing about this is that both of those services could be seen as competitors to Bell's phone service.  If people are using either of those free services they may not use their phones.  That, my friends, should be illegal.
So the CRTC set a deadline for all the companies to submit specific information regarding
 internet use.  That deadline was last week.  The companies of course waited till the last minute so that nobody would be able to comment on their data.  However the data was so surprising that the CRTC extended the time limit on comments until April.  One of the things that interested me was that the broadband rate of use was not as high as everyone thought.  There was a point where everyone was getting high speed and so the rate of growth was very fast.  But in the last few years that growth has slowed considerably because most people now have high speed.  That means that the internet providers claims that the internet is getting clogged by people using bit torrents is actually false.  There is quite a bit more room for growth than was
 previously thought.  Here is another article from Ars Technica that explains some other points on this issue.

So I hope the CRTC makes some good decisions here.  Canada is seriously lagging when it comes to Net Neutrality.  We aren't quite as bad as China but we are nowhere near the level of most European countries.  Even the States, especially with Obama, is way ahead of us in this respect.  This is one of the worst problems with our current government.  C'mon Steve!  I hope his meeting today with Obama (which is causing serious transportation woes in Ottawa today) will touch on this but somehow I think the economy will be at the top of the list.  One can always hope though.  It really is a very important issue.  Far more important than people realize.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Searchlight Top 10

In a sad turn of events the Black Sheep Inn (or Le Mouton Noir)  has been eliminated from the latest Searchlight poll for 'Best Canadian Music Venue'.  The top 10 were announced at 3:00 today and although Ottawa's Zaphod's Beeblebrox made it the venerable Black Sheep was eliminated.

The winner is announced next Wednesday.

Friday, February 13, 2009


This Friday at 6:31 (exactly when this post was put up) is 1234567890 Day.  At 6:31 pm EST the Unix time will have been 1234567890.  I have no idea what that means exactly but I did find this description online:

"Unix time [is] defined as the number of seconds elapsed since midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) of January 1, 1970, not counting leap seconds. It is widely used not only on Unix-like operating systems but also in many other computing systems."

Does that explain it better?  Yeah, me niether.  But happy 123456789 day anyway

Searchlight:Best Live Music Club

CBC is currently doing a web pole to find the best live music club in Canada.  The list was recently whittled down to the Top 20.

You can view the list and vote here.  I, of course, will be voting daily for the Black Sheep Inn which should give a good run.
There is currently a small controversy going on around the internet concerning this contest because the larger cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver are underrepresented in the top 20 list. I think this is slightly ridiculous because it was clearly done by voting.  More people voted for the smaller town venues.  I think people are not going to pick the most well known place that has the most shows with the biggest bands (like the Horshoe Tavern in T.O.)  because they aren't as memorable or special.  Everyone has a special show that was really memorable and usually that is partially because of the atmosphere.  And usually that special show was not at the place that everyone goes to all the time.  I am pretty sure that none of the venues on the list hold more than 200 people.  That just makes the show more intimate and the people who run it more down to earth.  Sure it is wierd that Winnipeg has 3 and Vancouver has 0 but they were voted by radio3 listeners.  
I hope the Black Sheep wins but even if it doesn't I think each of the other places are probably similar scenarios.  Now I know where to see a show anywhere in Canada.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh Wikipedia

I came across this story on Slashdot about Wikipedia which illustrates exactly why it can backfire on itself even with it's relatively good checking mechanisms.

Here is the story:
'Germany has a new minister of economic affairs. Mr. von und zu Guttenberg is descended from an old and noble lineage, so his official name is very long: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. When first there were rumors that he would be appointed to the post, someone changed his Wikipedia entry and added the name 'Wilhelm,' so Wikipedia stated his full name as: Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg.' 

What resulted from this edit points to a big problem with wikipedia:
Several reputable media outlets started using the wrong name from Wikipedia.  Although wikipedia had been corrected it was looking for proof of the correct name.  The proof was quickly found on the same newspapers and internet sites which had used the wrong name in the first place.

In short, this is what can happen:
Wikipedia states a false fact, a reputable media outlet copies the false fact, and this outlet is then used as the source to prove the false fact to Wikipedia.

The first problem here is a reputable media outlet getting it's info from wikipedia.  But the real issue is that we may have so much info at our fingertips but that info is doomed to be forever flawed with errors.  Oh well that is life I guess.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Crazy Cat People

Cats have never really bothered me with the exception of being allergic to them when I was younger.  It is really the cat owners that can be pretty messed up.  You get this with dog owners too but not near as often.  I am not talking about people who just have pets and treat them as pets.  No, I am talking about those people who not only treat their cat as a child but take it to the extreme and dedicate their life to all things 'cat'.  Everything in their life is oriented around their cat and cat related items.

Well this has got to be the most ridiculous cat related item I have ever seen! 
So many questions immediately fill my head after the shock and horror and vomit pass through first.  WHAT? WHY? WHO? HOW? WHERE? WHEN? And then I continue to feel sick.

I'm not even going to go into trying to answer those questions.  But I guess it might make sense because maybe the same people who buy those 'plates' that are always advertised in magazines are probably generally crazy cat people.

And while we are on the topic of cats, check out the cat remote.  As the link will tell you, "Cats are not known, however, for their ability to learn and obey the commands of their owners. That's where the Control-a-Cat Remote Control can come in handy." The remote also does not require batteries but relies on the power of 'wishful thinking' in order to get your cat to 'Stop Scratching', 'Show Affection' or 'Remain Aloof'.
What a fantastic invention.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Beams are GONE! aka Free Wood

Yes people, we are finally taking the plunge and starting the renovation of the main living space of our house. We have never painted it because the tape joints were so bad and we simply had to fix those first.I decided that the first step would be to remove the crazy 'beams'. They were definitely a talking point/conversation starter but you never quite knew what people thought of them. Some people tried to make compliments about them but you were always pretty sure that they were thinking the same thing we were: Why?
What had always held me back from ripping them out right away was the question of what they were covering. I wanted to do the whole room at once instead of having some glaring ripped up ceiling to look at for half a year. And my suspicions were correct. They were covering up some seriously mangled tape joints in the stipple ceiling. (Stippled ceilings, if you must know, are another one of the reasons I hate suburbs - more on that some other time.)
One was even glued on.And this the end result....Does anybody want some free wood? I'm serious, I'll be throwing it out but it is perfectly acceptable burning material for people who do that kind of thing.The next step: Scraping every bit of stipple off that ceiling. I sure hope it comes off as easy at the tape joints did.

Friday, February 06, 2009

One Scary Watermelon

Currently Listening To:
Bruce Peninsula
A Mountain is a Mouth

I have now stumbled across the most insane fruit picture on the interwebs.
I am not sure if it has been photoshoped but even if it has, who would want to give everybody watermelon nightmares for the next few weeks.
It actually reminds me the Monsters Inc. movie.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

On Driving

I have doing a lot of driving lately (due to the bus strike of course) and I am starting to get all my bad habits back again. I don't know why it is so important to get to work so fast but sometimes the guy in front of me is just driving insufferably slow. The most annoying are those guys who slow down 100 cars at a time by driving less than the speed limit. What is up with those guys? Do they ever look in their rear view mirror and notice the caravan of cars stretching into infinity? What do they think? Are they trying to be control freaks? Do they just not notice? Sheesh.

Now that the transit strike is over traffic should be getting better though. For a while there it was like living in Toronto. I'm glad we won't have that problem again until the next transit strike. I found the comic below on the city of Ottawa website which is pretty amusing in itself.On a more mellow note, I have been enjoying some good tunes on my drives. If I crank the volume usually it can mellow me out and I forget about that slow guy. There is this fantastic radio show on CBC Radio 2 called 'Drive' with Rich Terfry aka Buck 65. It is like having a bit of Radio 3 music plus some American tunes and then some wierd stuff. Basically I love 60% of it and like another 20%. This is pretty good for me and radio. With typical commercial radio I love maybe 20% and like another 30% plus you have to deal with commercials.
Recently I was in someone's car who was playing Live88.5 (probably the best commercial station in Ottawa) and I realized I had not heard commercials on the radio in a reaaaaaaaally long time. It sounded wierd. Maybe I should occaisonally listen to 88.5 just to keep my knowledge of pop music more current. I always just feel that most of the bands on that station have already been discovered and if I listen to more obscure stuff there is a good chance I will find some diamond in the rough. There are tons of obscure bands who I am more passionate about than the latest Killers song.

Sorry for the rambling - I'm off to work now.