Friday, December 28, 2007

Download, Then Purchase

When I tell you guys to download music, I don't mean you should also purchase it!

According to today's article, a Canadian independent study was commissioned by the government. They found that people who download music using a peer-to-peer file sharing system are also more likely to purchase it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (49)

A moment in the office. Or, at least I assume so. I'm on vacation in Halifax!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Tree

The McQueen's got their Christmas Tree.

Max is happy because we finally have indoor plumbing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Suspect The Canadians

They did it once, they'll do it again.

BTW: Happy Winter Solstice everyone! People say today is the shortest day of the year, but I always thought the shortest day of the year is when we set the clocks forward in the Spring.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (48)

A coffee-swilling beaver.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Should Be Delayed

I think Christmas should be delayed until sometime in the last 2 weeks of February.

The time of the year we celebrate Christmas, especially from a Christian point of view, is arbitrary at best. We know that Jesus was most likely not born on December 25. We know that we don't really know when Jesus was born.

So, why do we celebrate His birth on December 25? December 21 is the Winter Solstice. December 25 is the Winter Solstice on the Julian calendar. The Winter Solstice was a holiday in pagan religions celebrated around the world, including the Roman Empire. I think December 25 was also Mithras' birthday. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire a few Christian things were combined with pagan things. Christmas was one of those things. (So was Easter. More on that in a further post.)

I am writing the blog post well in advance. There aren't too many lights out right now, but soon there will be. The lights. The decorations. They give one a morale boost in the dreary winter. As summer dies a long death and gives way to winter, the days get shorter, the temperature falls, leaves change colour and fall off the trees. The next thing you know the sky spews for ice and snow. For the next several months that's all we have to look forward to until Spring comes around.

Not all is lost. We have Christmas to look forward to. We take a week, or two, and spend time with family. The lights help offset the effects of SAD. Then Christmas is over. Then we have one week before the biggest party of the year, New Year's Eve. After that we have January, February, and maybe March, depending on your climate. In those months there's not much to look forward to. Nothing to celebrate, except maybe Easter. Easter may come in April. We also don't make a huge deal over Easter. Not like we do with Christmas.

If we moved Christmas to the end of February, then we'd have it to look forward to all through the winter. We could put up the lights and decorations in December, or maybe right after New Year's Day. It would really offset the dreariness of the long, cold winter. Then, once Christmas was over and done with we'd have Spring to look forward to.

There are a few other changes I'd like to make to Christmas. We could do away with the materialism of it all. We're killing the planet with our consumerism. We could trade the pagan tree in for, say, a manger.

To be clear, my main point of moving Christmas is essentially to have the pretty lights for longer, making winter easier to get through, not for Christians to take back Christmas, although I wouldn't be opposed to that.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Conrad Black Sentenced To 6.5 Years

After 6.5 years away, I can't help but wonder about how long it will take him to clear his Inbox when he gets out.

That's gonna be a lot of spam!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (47)

A Frenchman saying "Comment ca va?"

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Car, My Hassles (Part 5)

I think it's time for an update on my car situation. For those of you new to this blog, you might want to read my previous four posts on my car-buying adventures, starting with Post 1.

Let's see, where were we. My car is in Ontario. It's been registered in Ontario. I have paid the Ontario provincial tax as well as the Nova Scotian provincial tasks.

Edgar is still dead.

When I left you in Part 4 I had sent in a form to the CRA to get my Nova Scotian provincial tax money back. The only thing the form requested from me was that I fill in the form, and send the original bill of sale with the form. I did that.

I sent the form to the CRA on May 4.

Four months later on August 16 I received a letter from the CRA entitled "Notice of (Re)Assessment GST/HST Rebate Application". They rejected my application for a rebate because I did not send in proof that the vehicle has been moved from Nova Scotia to Ontario.

It makes sense that they would want to see proof of movement. But, as the Bible says, "Ask and ye shall receive." (Matthew 7:7). But the CRA didn't ask. Until now. So I had to resubmit my rebate application, this time with proof that I registered the car in Ontario.

Oy.

On December 4 I received a letter from the CRA saying "We got your request for a (re)assessment, and we are looking at it. We will send you the results in another letter."

It seems to me that it would save time, and money to skip that step, and just send me the results. But, that's just me.

I'm still awaiting the results. I'll let you know what happens next.

UPDATE:
On December 14, over 8 months since this whole fiasco began, I received a cheque from CRA to reimburse my Nova Scotian tax.

That closes this story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and way more than I enjoyed living it. The morale of the story: Don't buy a car in a province other than the one in which you live.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (46)

He's saying "Nary a lass can out dance William Wallace!"

Monday, December 03, 2007

If You Can't Stand The Heat...

...then come over to our house.

I woke up in a very cold bed this morning. It's November and the weather is getting cooler out, so I thought nothing of the coldness.

When I returned home from work I was greeted at the door by Robin who told me the furnace had died. Wendy said that the house had finally warmed up to 17 from 14. Cooking dinner served to heat the kitchen.

Last night at about 1:30 AM as I was out cold (if you'll excuse the pun) the furnace made a buzzing sound. I did not hear it even though I sleep somewhat close to it. Wendy heard it from her bedroom upstairs. After a brief buzzing sound all went silent. The motor had given up the ghost.

Wendy called the furnace repairman. He had a list of houses to get to first. By the time he got here it was about 9:00 PM. He came downstairs and looked at the furnace. He told us the motor had burnt out and he'd have to go back into Ottawa to get a new one. Then he would return and install it. So it's at least an hour to go to Ottawa and back. Then it'll be an hour or so to replace the part.

He left here at about 9:30. So he won't be back until probably 10:45 at the very earliest. So, we can't expect the job to be done until 11:45. It has been suggested I sleep in Bruce's room. There will be no sleep for me in the basement. I doubt it's a quiet job to replace the motor.

I just took a trip up to Bruce's room. It's flipping freezing up there!

So, here are my options. I can either stay up late and sleep in a quasi warm basement, or I can go to bed soon and sleep in a really cold room. But I can sleep now, instead of 2 hours from now.

What would you do?

UPDATE: The furnace guy returned, installed the new motor, left us with a large bill, and left. I went to bed at about midnight that night.

Friday, November 30, 2007

That's One Less Right We Have

In a recent post I stated that when arrested Canadians do have a constitutional right to remain silent. According to today's article this is no more.

Well, it still does technically exist. But it seems more imaginary than concrete. Yes, you can remain silent. You have that right. You don't have to talk during interrogation.

But police can still interrogate you to their heart's content.

I haven't been in that situation, but I can imagine it would be hard to not say anything when they keep harping on you. Let's compare mental states, shall we? But before we do, take a look at this second article saying we have one centre in our brains for self-control. After exercising that area, it gets tired and becomes harder to use. From the article:
"As humans, we have limited resources to control ourselves, researchers say; all acts of control draw from one source. So when using this resource in one domain, such as dieting, we’re more likely to run out of it in another domain, like studying hard. "
The police, usually with more than one present, have strength in numbers. They're the hunting, not the hunted. They're not being worn down. At the end of the day, they take you back to your cell. They go home to their families, have a sleep, come back the next day ready to roll again.

The suspect has had his life interrupted. He's taken from his world and locked in a cell with a bunch of other people he likely doesn't know. He's constantly being hounded with questions by trained interrogators. They're professionals. He may have never been in this situation before. He may know he doesn't have to say anything, but his resistance is wearing down. You can only say "I have nothing to say. I don't want to talk about it." so many times. While the police are at home being rejuvenated and refreshed with their families in their comfortable houses, delicious dinners, and warm beds, the suspect is in a cell with a number of others, with no privacy, no comfort, no freedom, and probably little-to-no sleep. Only fear and fatigue.

It is also known that with enough interrogation you can get people to confess to just about anything.

Wow. The Supreme Court of Canada really dropped the ball on this one.

If you live in Canada then I implore you to write your MP. This ruling cannot be fixed in the courts. The highest court in the land made this ruling. The fix now needs to come from parliament.

You can find out who your MP is, by your postal code, from this page.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Good Use For An Extra Dimension

Sometimes you need to schedule events pretty far in advance. By the time the event is to happen you've forgotten all about it. Thanks to computers we have a solution. You put that event in a calendar program, like Outlook, Google Calendar, KCal, or Apple's iCal. You can also use a PDA, an iPod, a cell phone, or if you're a geek like me, your watch.

When the event approaches, the program reminds you. You can usually tell the program to either send you an email, open a pop-up reminder, ring a bell, etc.

This works very well for events, but not for physical things. Someone just sold me a ticket for a draw that won't happen for another 4 months. I will likely loose the ticket, or forget about the draw. I would like to be able to put this ticket in a place where I won't see it again until the day before the draw.

Wouldn't it be neat if scientists could develop a way to use one of the other 7 or so dimensions some predict our universe might be made up of? We're only exposed to three. Some people argue that time is a forth. I could just stuff my ticket into the fifth dimension, for example, and take it out at the appropriate time. Of course, this will still allow me to forget about it. It would be better to put it some kind of space-time warp where I could send it to the future. From now until the the before the draw date, the ticket wouldn't exist. Then suddenly, on that one day *puff!* there's my ticket!

</useless_post>

Friday, November 23, 2007

Facebook Grievances

Today's article tells us of common Facebook grievances. They include posting pictures of yourself with uglier people to make yourself seem more attractive, using the relationship status option, "stealing" friends, requesting Facebook friends that you have never met in real life, and more.

My only real grievance is how some people write things on people's wall that are better left for private messages. Some people seem to lack discretion in that area.

That's why my Facebook wall has been turned off. I had turned it on at one point, but only took a couple of weeks before someone wrote something on it that should have been private.

Yes, I know you can delete wall messages. But There are some days I can't check Facebook. So a private message can exist on wall for a day or two before it's deleted. Yet, the message shows up on other people's news feeds almost right away. It's just easier to turn access to my wall off.

If I can figure out how to exclude individual people from writing on my wall, without deleting them as a friend, I'll probably turn it on again.

In the meantime, if you want to send me a message, either send me a Facebook message, leave a comment on my blog, MSN me, or best of all, email me.

UPDATE:
I found a way to turn your wall on, but to not let certain people have access to it:
  1. Turn your wall on.
  2. Give your offending friends access to a "Limited Profile".
  3. In the "Limited Profile" settings, turn wall access off.
This prevents some people from seeing your wall.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Insomnia

Lately I've been having trouble sleeping. When I lie down at night I get to sleep pretty quickly, but then I wake up a few hours later. I don't wake up groggy so I can just close my eyes and go back to sleep. Instead I lie wide awake. Awake enough to operate heavy machinery. I drift off back to sleep about 10 minutes before my alarm sounds.

With insomnia nothing is real. Everything is far away. Everything is like a copy of a copy of a copy.

When you have insomnia you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake. Nothing is real.

Some people define a 'person' as a continuity of consciousness. When you go to sleep and wake up, you've broken consciousness and started again. This means that every time you wake up, you wake up as a different person.

If you can wake up as a different person, can you wake up in another city?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another Tax!

According to today's article the Copyright Board of Canada has approved a new fee to be placed on "legally" downloaded music. So, when you buy a song from the iTunes Music Store, Puretracks, etc. 3 cents goes to the recording industry to compensate artists for people downloading music and not paying for it. (I hesitate to call it "illegal" downloading because it's not strictly illegal in Canada.)

How do you like that, gang? You're being taxed to pay for people doing something "illegal" that's not actually illegal. So if you're like me and want to stick it to the record companies, it's a little harder now. So now I can't buy a song by an independent artist from the iTunes Music Store.

Here's the best part. It's retroactive to 1996.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (43)

The Incredible Sulk.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Good Job

Today I have a question for all of this blog's readers, or anyone who happens to stumble across this post.

What would you say makes a job a good job, or a bad job? I'm not talking about performance, like "Good job out there, son!" I'm talking about jobs as in career-type things.

What was your best job? Why?

What was your worst job? Why?

Leave a comment (anonymous or otherwise), email me, or talk to me in person. I'm just interested in how people see a job as being a good job or a bad job.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Turn Your Radio Down

In Today's article a UK auto-body chain is being sued for copyright infringement.

How did they violate copyright law? They played the radio so loud that the public could hear it.

Normally this is where I'd rant about the idiocy and greed of the recording industry, and use that as a reason to incite you to "stick it to the man" and download music using your favourite peer-to-peer file sharing system. But the article speaks for itself. Heck, what I've told you speaks for itself.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (42)


The Scotsman: "The kilt is nice, but the high heels are killing me!"
The Old Man: "Turn up the volume! I can't hear the piano!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Looking For A Perl Of Wisdom

Learning new technologies can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, lots of free documentation is readily available on the internet. On the other hand, most of it is not written by writers, but by techies. Techies (like myself) tend to make terrible writers.

Right now I'm trying to deepen my knowledge of a programming language called Perl. There's tons of useless documentation on Perl.com. I say it's useless because it's not written very well. It's riddled with spelling mistakes. Spelling mistakes in technical documentation can be bad. The right kind of error in the right spot makes you ask the question "Wait...is that a typo, or does that word actually mean something special I don't know about?"

And you can't find the documentation from the home page. I had to find it by Googling something specific.

It's also not the most clear. I'd wager that it's written by programmers. Technical writing is a special talent. In order to be a good technical writer you need to be able to understand technical concepts. You, then, need to be able to communicate that to the masses in writing. And you need to make it simple and understandable.

I think programmers approach technical writing with certain assumptions of the reader's knowledge. A good writer makes no such assumptions, at least without stating the assumptions.

I find a great divide exists in technical writing. There are three broad levels of expertise. I'll call them "beginner", "intermediate", and "advanced." Documentation written for beginners is necessarily simple. It's aim to get the reader from knowing nothing on a subject to being functional.

Documentation for advanced people seeks to inform of things little known, or advanced tricks. It assumes intermediate knowledge. It assumes more than what basic documentation will give you. It intends to make you a guru.

Documentation for intermediates is to bridge the gap between beginner and advanced. It assumes you're familiar with beginner level concepts.

In my experience, very little intermediate documentation exists. I'm in the unfortunate position of being intermediate on many computer technologies. Books for Dummies and Complete Idiot's Guides don't do much much good. Many other books would require a lot of research effort just to read.

Where's the documentation for intermediate's like me?!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Peer Pressure Increasing

Last week we saw an article dealing with minimum sentences for drug dealing in Canada. Two weeks ago we saw a woman having to pay the RIAA $222 000 for downloading 24 songs.

Last week I promised an example of a deterrent not working.

According to today's article despite all the law suits going on, use of peer-to-peer music sharing is increasing.

Q.E.D.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (41)

As today is the eve of All Saints Day, aka All Hallow's Eve, aka Halloween, I present to you a witch.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Not A Lawyer, But...

Apparently there is still a lot of confusion about defence attorneys. I will attempt to clear that up for you now.
  • A defence lawyer does not need to believe in the innocence of his client.
  • A defence lawyer's role is not to defend the actions of his client.
The role of the defence attorney is to:
  • defend the constitutional rights of his client thus ensuring his client gets a fair trial.
This is important. Without defence lawyers the government could push people around at whim. There would be nothing preventing police from barging into your house and going through your stuff. Even with a constitution, there needs to be people defending it. Most average citizens wouldn't be able to do this. I wonder how many Canadians know we even have a constitution?

Imagine the police just walked into your house tomorrow and found a smoking gun and arrested you for murder. What would you do? If you're the average person, you probably don't know the law in detail enough to raise the proper objections with constitutional basis. After arresting you, the police would likely interrogate you. You would likely talk. Most people do. Even if you've never seen that gun before. I think that most people don't know that in Canada you have the right to remain silent. But you do. It's in the constitution.

You can joke about defence attorney's all you like. I know I like to. But when it's your son that's arrested, suddenly a defence attorney is your best friend.

So, on what basis can I clear up misconceptions on defence attorneys? Why should you listen to me? I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. What are my credentials?

That's easy. I used to be an avid fan of Law&Order. I own the first two seasons on DVD! So there!

Oh yeah, and I took a bunch of law classes in university, but I'm not sure if that counts for anything.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (40)

The Afternoon Lull




Friday, October 19, 2007

That's An Expensive Suit

The RIAA won it's first case against a song downloader. A single mother of two downloaded 24 songs, and possibly uploaded them using Kazaa. The RIAA was seeking over 3 million in damages. But they were awarded $222 000. For 24 songs? Come on! That's over $9 000 per song. How can that be?

Again, I think it's wrong to not steal from the RIAA. The RIAA is a group of large music companies like Warner, Universal, BMG Sony, etc.

I use the term "steal" loosely. It isn't really stealing. It's copyright infringement. There's a huge difference. Either way I say stick it to the man!

I don't understand the RIAA. Instead of adjusting to new technology trends and times they whine and cry that their cheese has been moved. Good companies understand they have to keep up with the times. Not just keep up, but adjust and change.

Instead, the RIAA sues. Suing is never a good business plan. Especially when big companies sue private individuals. It's usually better to accept the change and ask "How can we make money from this?"

How could they have made money from this? Seems impossible doesn't it? People are sharing music with each other. Record companies can't regulate it. No one can. So they throw their collective hands up in the air, call their lawyers, and sue their customers.

Apple, on the other hand, asked "How can we make money from this?" They realized people were tired of paying $15 for a CD when they only want one song. They knew that if they made single songs available for download, and if the download price was cheap, and the if the download and payment process was easy then they'd have a hit.

The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) does all of those things. You create an account using your credit card number. When you visit the store in iTunes you search for a song and click "Buy". The song downloads to your computer, and a 99 cent charge shows up on your credit card. It's so easy. And it's a hit. The iTMS isn't hurting for business.

A problem with the law suits is that they alienate fans and potential customers. Perhaps 15 years ago it was very hard for people to find new music. It was probably hard to find indie bands. I don't know how I would have done it. But times have changed. It's so easy now! So you can still boycott the RIAA and still find and buy new music.

To find new music:
  1. download iTunes (for free)

  2. Install iTunes

  3. Run iTunes

  4. In the left-menu bar click "iTunes Store"

  5. On the left, in the store, there's list of things in the iTunes store including "Music", "Music Videos", "Audiobooks", etc. Click "Podcasts".

  6. Search for podcasts to your heart's content. When you find one, click "Subscribe".

  7. iTunes will automatically downloaded the podcasts to your computer. Then you listen when it's convenient.
You can also subscribe to podcasts without using iTunes. I'm not sure how though. I'm sure you could Google it.

Podcasts aren't just for music, by the way. You can also get university lectures, sermons, cartoons, news, or learn a new language! All for free! You will only need to give your credit card number if you want to buy songs. You don't need to use your credit card if all you want to do is download podcasts.

But if you're looking for indie music, I highly recommend the CBC Radio 3 podcast. It plays Canadian Indie music of many genres.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (39)

This is a plummer named Don. Here we see the crack of Don.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Different Ways To Learn

Sometimes I wonder if there's any real such thing as intelligence or is it just our imagination?

Some of you may have witnessed someone with a "learning disability" have great difficulty in school. Eventually they take some psychological tests and they're told they have a "learning disability." Along with that, they're usually told how they have to learn. For some, they need to draw what they're learning. Some need to explain what they're learning to someone else. Or they need something else. When they find that something else, they're fine and can do quite well in school.

I have witnessed many examples of people who, by our public "education" system aren't very smart, and have low chance of success. But they found that they learn differently. Once they found out how they need to learn, and put their new learning techniques into practice, they become much more successful, and by our public "education" systems' standards, smart.

After seeing enough cases I have to wonder if there's any such thing as absolute intelligence, but rather different kinds of intelligences, and different learning styles. If you think you're stupid and incompetent you're probably not. You just haven't figured out how you learn. If you know someone who appears stupid and incompetent, they may well not be. They might have yet to learn how they learn.

You may have noticed I put "learning disability" in quotes. "Learning disability" implies that they're disabled; ie: unable to do something. I'd rather call it "learning differentability." They just learn in a different way than what the public "education" system thinks everyone should learn. You'll also noticed I put "education" in quotes. But that's for another post.

At this point you may think I have confused intelligence with school smarts. Right now the best measure of intelligence we have is the IQ test. IQ tests were originally developed to predict academic success in children. If you've taken enough IQ tests then you know they're just testing you in a small set of skills. You can improve upon those skills. Sometimes you see a problem solving question that you already know the answer to so you don't need to use any mental horsepower to solve it. This artificially boosts your test score. The more you practice those types of problems, the better you are at solving them. But your mental horsepower hasn't necessarily changed.

So IQ tests don't actually test your inherent mental horsepower, but your ability to solve certain types of problems. They're meant to predict academic success in a given teaching/learning model. However, it is noteworthy that many people with learning differentabilities have exceedingly high IQs. But I have no actual statistics to back that up. Just the availability heuristic.

Anyway, my point/theory is that there are multiple types of intelligences/learning models, not just one as generally imagined by the mass populace.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Men Are From Earth, Women Are From Earth

Are men and women similar?

According to pop psychology, yes, totally different!

According to real psychology, yes, but not that different.

When perusing the shelves at the local book store one would think that men and women come from completely different planets. (Mars and Venus specifically.)

One of the first things you learn when studying the science of psychology is that men and women are much more the same than different. You'll notice when reading articles that talk about the differences that they say things like "Women are more likely to...." or "Men tend to...." but they rarely give hard data or numbers to back that up. Are they 50% more likely to? 20%? 90% 0.1%? That's important.

Today's article substantiates that with some science. Only in the following three areas do men and women significantly differ: sexual attitudes, aggression, and motor performance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (38)

And speaking of ailments...

And you thought you were having a bad day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Dose Is All Stupped Up

When you talk with old people, the conversation inevitably turns to their ailments.

I am getting older. I will now talk to you about my ailments.

When I was a kid getting a cold meant nothing more than having the sniffles. I think I got my first sore throat when I moved away to college when I was 18.

Now that I'm older I find that colds take more of a toll on me. It starts with more than usual sneezing followed by unexplainable fatigue followed by a pre-sore throat sore throat followed by a sore throat followed by the nasal congestion.

Right now I seem to be passed the sore throat stage, but I haven't experienced congestion though. As much as I don't like congestion I find it encouraging. It means the immune system is doing it's job.

You may wonder why I am blogging about this. I think the answer explains why old people discuss their ailments. When you're not feeling like you're at 100% health, whatever's bothering you is always on your mind.

UPDATE: I am now getting over the congestion. Yay! Cold almost gone!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hurry Up and Slow Down!

A couple of years ago I was having coffee with a social worker or two and someone went speeding by at a ridiculous speed. I wondered aloud if the number of traffic violations could be cut down significantly if they gave insanely high fines? My friends assured me that harsher sentences never work. This was a bit of news to me. I knew capital punishment doesn't work as a deterrent. But to say 'harsher sentences never work?' I was open to the idea.

That idea didn't surprise me for crimes that come from the depravity of man, such as murder, rape, theft, drugs, etc. But traffic violations? A few years ago in Nova Scotia they passed a law whereby if caught speeding, even 10 km/h over the limit, you would loose your license for a week, plus a fine. For the last summer I was home in Nova Scotia I knew that I could not afford to be without a license for a week. I might be able to pay a fine, but not loss of licence. So I slowed down.

Now something similar is happening in Ontario. As of last Sunday, according to today's article, if caught going over the limit by 50 km/h or more, you could face a week without a license, an impounded car, and a $2000 fine without right of appeal.

So it will be interesting to see if this actually works. Will people slow down? Will fatalities be reduced? Where's the laws against tail-gating? Will the new law stand up to any constitutional challenge?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (37)


I wondered what a 3-legged woman would look like. Here she is again saying "I think I grew an extra foot last night."

Monday, October 01, 2007

What Are You Running For?

I would like to cheer on everyone who ran in the CIBC Run For The Cure that took place this weekend.

I hope you will cheer me on this week as I participate in the Run For The Bus all this week. And next. And the week after. And so forth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (36)

She's saying "I hate being Siamese twins joined at the arm."

Monday, September 24, 2007

I've Been There....It's a Real Dump

In a recent post I mentioned the acquisition of a new appliance from a dump. I have a feeling that a number of my readers think this to be an odd practice. Why would someone throw something out unless there was something wrong with it?

When I moved from the Sault to Ottawa I knew I couldn't take much of my stuff. In fact all I could take was four Saturn Ion loads. Saturn Ions, unlike Jettas, are not very spacious.

I couldn't take anything big. I was able to take my books, CDs, and DVDs. I could take my desktop computer and my laptop. I could take some odds'n'ends. I could take the contents of my filing cabinet. I could take my stereo. I could take my golf clubs and guitars. I took one lawn chair.

I couldn't take my filing cabinet. I couldn't take anything from the kitchen, except the microwave. I couldn't take my TV. I couldn't take my bed. I couldn't take my desk. I couldn't take more than one lawn chair. I couldn't take my office chairs. I couldn't take my dresser. I had to get rid of those things.

I sold my TV, a 27 inch Panasonic. It was only about 3 years old. The DVD player was a 5 disc player. When I sold the TV I threw the DVD player in with it. Without a TV I didn't need a DVD player.

I was able to give my book shelves, some chairs, and filing cabinet to some friends. However, I had a desk that was only about a year and a half old. It was a nice desk. I couldn't take it.

My bed was a single-sized bed. I couldn't give it away. It easily came apart for convenient storage in a basement or spare room. No one would take it. I donated my couch and chairs to the church.

If I had a truck I could have taken some of these perfectly good things to the dump. However, if I had a truck I could have brought these perfectly good things to Ottawa.

En tout les cas. That's my story. That's just one scenario which could lead someone to throw perfectly good things away.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Animals Make Lemonade

When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.

According to today's article a number of animals do just that. When trying to get animals to mate with less than ideal mates, the animals would compensate. Females who were forced to be with utility males laid more eggs. Males who were forced to be with homely females also produced more output.

The theory is that since the odds of having good offspring are reduced then the creatures jack up the odds by having more offspring. Chances are at least one will survive to pass on their genes.

I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that the girls I date seem to want to have 63 kids.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (35)

The shirt says "All your BASE are belong to us!"

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Plethora of Dryers

A month ago we didn't have a dryer. Now we have 3.

A while ago I mentioned how our dryer had died and I was spending my Thursday nights at the local laundromat. Someone at church said that they had a dryer. All we needed to do was get a truck and get it.

So, we eventually got a truck and went to pick the dryer up. It was an old-school one. It was actually this guy's mother's dryer from way back when. The front door was small. And you'd better believe it didn't have one of those "Energy" stickers on it!

But, hey! It's a working dryer! It's better than the one we had before.

So the McQueens used the truck to take the old dryer to the dump. While there they found another dryer. Jack decided to bring it home to see if it still worked. If you've never searched a dump you may think that to be an odd thing to do. It may be, but believe it or not, a lot of people throw away perfectly good things! When Jack told me he got the dryer I told him "You know, generally when people throw things away, there's a reason."

He didn't buy my logic.

We set both dryers up in the garage to test them before moving them into the laundry room. Guess what? Jack was right! I was wrong! The new dryer from the dump works! I don't know why it's previous owner got rid of it. Maybe they were moving out of town in a hurry and didn't have time to sell it? En tout les cas. It doesn't matter.

So now the dryer from the dump is moved into the laundry room. Someone else gave us a dryer too. I think it has to be fixed. I find this funny. Usually we get working appliances and use them until they break. In this case we skipped the middle step and went straight to having a broken appliance. I'm not sure what's wrong with it, or how much effort or money it will take to fix.

So we have three dryers. I wonder if there's a market for lint?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Holiday I Won't Get

How would you like a statutory holiday in February? I know I would. As today's article explains, if you live in Ontario, and if the Liberals get re-elected this October you may well get one.

Or, if you're like me, you live in Ontario but work in Quebec you will be met with the royal shaft this February. All the kids won't have to go to school on that day.

Being February, there will probably be a blizzard that day. Pastor Jack, Wendy, and Robin will stay home, sleep in, have snowball fights, hide out in their respective snow forts, followed by sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows by the fire. The buses will run on a holiday schedule forcing me to drive in. And since I live 3.2 parsecs away from work I won't want to drive in that day because of the blizzard. So I'll have to call in sick. But since everyone at work knows I live in Ontario, they'll assume I just want the holiday.

Of course the Liberals might not be re-elected. Or if they do, they might not keep that promise. My contract is over before February. If I'm not extended then that'll be just another day I can enjoy my unemployment. If I still am working here I actually hope to take my vacation time in February. I actually like coming into work during the summer. But I hate leaving the house in the dead of winter. So there are many ways it may work out for me.

One of the main lessons I picked up in college is that some days you get the elevator, and some days you get the shaft.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (34)


This is the coffee cup version of a picture I drew in my notebook at work:

I like the notebook one better.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Physical Work == Health-Food

Physical work is the health-food of living.

Health food is good for you. Most people don't eat health-food because it tastes good. They eat it because it's good for you. (mmmmmm.....rice cakes.) You eat junk food because it tastes good, and it's readily, cheaply, and easily available. Opening a bag of chips and a can of pop is easier than making a meal consisting of some meat, rice, and vegetables.

Physical work is good for you. Your body wasn't designed to sit at a desk in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. Doing physical work is better for it. Most people tend towards the lazy (or higher efficiency). Sitting at a desk is physically easier than paving a road.

There are some people, I'm sure, who like health food for it's taste.

There are some people, I'm sure, who really enjoy doing hard physical work for the sake of hard physical work.

When you eat a lot of junk food, you get to a point where you're full, meaning you don't feel like eating any more. But you don't feel satisfied. Not like after you finish a good meal. The feeling of fullness is quite different. You feel much better after eating a healthy meal than you do after eating a full bin down at the Bulk Barn.

There's something satisfying about doing manual labour. I disdain hard work as much as the next guy, yet I think my best job ever was being a ramp-rat at Air Canada. Sure, it was hard work. But there's something satisfying at the end of the day when you've earned your pay by physical work. I don't get the same satisfaction from my desk job.

I'm not about to give up my current diet for a health-nut type diet.

I'm not about to leave my computer programming job for a construction job.



This blog entry has been brought to you buy a lazy, tired, busy, ill-prepared, pestered Andrew.

Goodnight everybody!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Not Milk

In last week's article I talked about cutting back on meat. I also mentioned that some people have researched milk and have decided to stop consuming dairy products. (Thanks everyone for your comments!)

I decided to do some research myself. Today I bring you not an article, but a web page with many articles. It's all about the harmful effects of milk. There are countless articles there. I didn't read many of them, and realistically I'm not going to.

I did read an article or two on prostate cancer and how it's growth and spread is linked to a hormone in milk.

I started to read a long one on Crohn's disease. That's some scary stuff! That article is not for the faint of heart. It's a nasty chronic disease that's apparently on the rise, and is very closely linked with a type of bacteria found in milk that does not get removed during pasteurization. In one study they found that bacteria in 100% of Crohn's patients, and 0% of non-Crohn's patients. Mind you, I didn't read the article all the way through. I think that's just correlational . It doesn't mean that that type of bacteria causes Crohn's.

Of course, I suffer the same problem here as I do in many other areas. I'm not a chemist, nor am I a biologist. So they could be lying to me; pulling the wool over my eyes and I'd have no idea.

So do I believe these people, or do I believe mom/the teacher/the dairy council? My decision will not be based not on the facts, but how much I like milk verses how much effort it would take to lead a non-dairy consuming life. Chances are, that's how your decision will be made too. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing.

I'll start with the easy things. For example, I won't take milk in my coffee. Instead I'll take cream.

I think milk will win. I can't imagine a life without cereal.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (33)

This guys hands are ping-pong paddles. He's challenging you to a game of ping-pong.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Last Words

Our church has been graffitied!

I just returned form an event at church called Last Words, an event which Bruce McQueen and our youth pastor, and  put together. It was a graffiti event. There were bands, graffiti artists, and apparently break dancers which I missed by a few minutes.

The artists painted on boards that had been affixed to a fence along the edge of our church's property. Other people pained the walls in the portable used by the youth of the church.

There were no coffee cups, so I was unable to participate.

Here are some of my favorite pieces:







Friday, August 31, 2007

We Should Try And Meet The Farmers Half-Way

Today's article warns of an impending cost-of-meat increase. This is a result of two things:
  1. More people on the Earth means more people eating meat. Demand is rising. When demand increases, so does price.

  2. Meat giving animals (such as cows and pigs) need to eat grain. The price of grain is increasing because oil prices are increasing.
The first thing I think about is cutting back on meat consumption. I'm not sure what the effects on my health would be. I'm not a dietician, nor do I play one on TV. So I don't really know what I'm talking about. But it seems to be that the people who have researched it come back saying that we should eat less meat, not more. Same thing with milk. It seems that anyone who's research of milk has gone beyond "mom/teacher/the Dairy Council told me" has switched to Soy milk.

People who continue to eat meat, despite what they're told by the educated vegetarians usually have a line of reasoning similar to:
  1. I like meat too much to try any alternatives.

So, every now and again I think about becoming a vegetarian. I've had tofu-dogs where I couldn't tell the difference. If all meat alternatives were like that I probably would switch. But then a few weeks ago the McQueens had a BBQ and they got vegeburgers. I tried one.

YUCK!

I could barely finish it. There goes my notions of vegetarianism.

Mind you, there are various kinds of vegetarians. I used to go with a friend to KFC every week for about a year. Then one time we were at a BBQ together and I noticed she wasn't eating anything. I asked why not. She told me she was a vegetarian.

So I was all like "What, there's no meat in KFC "chicken"?"

She said "It's not that. I just don't eat red meat."

If anything I could give up chicken. But I like red meat. It goes with red wine.

But giving up chicken doesn't solve today's problem. In fact it would place heavier demand on cows and pigs. A good alternative is fish.

I could not give up fish. Especially in the form of sushi. Fish has the advantage that it lives in an area that we can't really use for much else (unlike fields). And there's lots of that environment around. Most of the earth is that environment. Fish also eat stuff that we won't use for much else. So until more carbon dioxide leaves the ocean, killing ocean plant-life, starving, and thus killing, fish, it's a pretty good source of meat.

Fish is supposed to be good brain food. Maybe if I ate more fish I could make more sense out of the meat/vegetarian and milk/soy milk arguments and cut through the rhetoric and figure out the truth.

Besides, I like fish too much to try any alternatives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (32)

This is a picture of me on the bus. Sleeping.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My First French Post

Note:This blog post will be in all French. In the spirit of the Official Languages Act I will provide the English translation at the bottom.

Here goes nuthin'...


La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la


English Translation:
The the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the the

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (31)



I drew the woman because I saw the picture on a web page and I wanted to know if I could draw it.

A few weeks after that I added the stink-lines coming from her armpits.

I added the guy a few weeks later, and the text a few weeks later still.

He's saying "Ewww! Being a deodorant tester really stinks!"

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Unofficial Jay-Walking Rules

The Law has lots to say about how to behave on, and around public roads. I'm going to give the unofficial jaw-walking rules in today's post.

If you cross the roads at a cross-walk, then you must obey the law of the land. The pedestrian has the right of way except when facing a red light. There are many particulars to this law, which I'm sure many of you are aware. I won't go into them here except to say that it's motorists who are responsible for looking out for pedestrians.

When jay-walking, it's the opposite. It's the motor vehicles that have the right of way. The pedestrians have to watch out for them. Now, with jay-walking being illegal I have never done it, and I wouldn't know the thrills and chills that come with it. But I have friends who have friends...

Now, these friends of friends tell me that when they jay-walk, they look both ways, take a mental note of all cars, and their current speeds. Then they calculate how fast they need to walk, and what path to take to ensure their safety. Their path is calculated based on the current speeds of the cars under the assumption that they will continue to go that speed. Nothing is more frustrating than a "nice" car who slows down for the jay-walkers. This causes the jay-walkers to have to perform last millisecond recalculations and adjust their paths. There is always the possibility that there will be no good, safe way to cross, and by this point it may be too late to safely turn back.

Now, they know this car is just trying to be helpful, and provide an extra measure of safety, but if any car is going to be responsible for the death of the pedestrian, it's the "nice" car.

The best thing for drivers, upon spotting a jay-walker, to do is to keep going as you were before. Keep going your current speed, or accelerate at a normal rate.

The friends of my friends thank you for your consideration.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (30)

A picture of a concert which was inspired while I was listening to a Natalie McMaster jig on my iPod.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Gotta Learn Me Some French

I am from Nova Scotia. I am a product of the Nova Scotian educational system. Like any educational system it has it's strengths and weaknesses. One of it's strengths is, I think, math. It seems to have done a good job of teaching that.

One of it's many weaknesses is French. They are absolutely terrible at teaching French. As a result most Nova Scotians, unless they're from Acadia, don't speak French. And since no one around speaks it, that which people learnt in school quickly gets lost. Use it or lose it. Well, none of us uses it, so we all lose it.

Now I work in Quebec. I still work close to the Ontario border. I live in Ontario. I recently got a new job which put me even further into Quebec than before. That extra 15 minute bus ride shows quite a difference in the populace.

Nearly everyone in Hull speaks very good English. Especially those in customer service. But just 15 minutes away into Gatineau and that changes. Sometimes ordering food at a fast-food restaurant at the local food court is hard. The customer service agent will have a very thick accent, and you can tell they're having trouble understanding English.

I work beside a big mall now. It's not very exciting for me. It's mostly shoe stores. However, there is a cool bookstore in there. It's bigger than Coles, but smaller than Chapters. It has games in there, and a big comic book section.

One problem: 99.9% of the books in there are French. I'm the sort of person that can spend hours in a good bookstore. This bookstore is one of the few stores around here that interests me, but I don't understand anything in it! How frustrating! The store draws me to itself. But when I get there I find myself to be illiterate.

Sometimes I wonder how the French customer service agents would take to my French. Usually when I speak French, French people start speaking to me in English. I figure my accent either makes their day by giving them something to heartily laugh at, or my bad accent insults them, their language, their culture, their homeland, their parents, their ancestors, and their gods.

So, kids, stay in school. Learn French. Watch the French channel! Eat French Fries! Read a French book!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sucks to be the German RIAA

Today we have two articles. Both deal with Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing.

A judge finally got it right. Unfortunately, the judge is in Germany. Actually, it is more than one judge. It seems a few judges in Germany consider "Offering a few copyright-protected music tracks via a P2P network client was 'a petty offense.'"

Compare that with this judges order ruling, among other things, that the "defendant was required to provide the name and address of each person who used his computer during the three years prior to commencement of the lawsuit."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (29)

Poor guy is about to get it in the back of the head. Probably from playing his music too loud.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's Finally Here

I have been waiting so long and its finally here. I have worked so hard to get this. Harder than anything else I've ever done. And, now I have it in my hands.

I am talking, of course, about my university degree. It's a Bachelor of Science with a major in Computer Science. I, indeed, did graduate Cum laude.

But wait! There's one more thing.

I also receievd a $50 cheque that came with the Award of Excellence in Computer Science (Bachelor of Science), which I also received. I believe that means I graduated at the top of my class.

And now I work for the government.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (28)


In case you can't read what they're saying, the parson is saying "Till death do you part?" And the bride is answering "I do!"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Who Reads This Drivle?

For about a year now I've been tracking this blog's hits with a hit counter. It tells me all sorts of things, like the IP addresses of each hit, their domain names, their browser, operating system, how they got to the site, etc. Using the IP address the system can guesstimate where in the world the visitor is from. (Relax. If I know you read my blog, it's because you've told me, or left a comment. If you read my blog with a reader, or on Facebook then I have no idea you read it, unless you tell me.)

I have a few readers that I know about who read this blog occasionally, or regularely. But every now and again I get a whole bunch of random hits from all over the world. It seems that the random hit number is inversly proportional to the usefullness of the most recent post.

If I wrote that I found the cure for cancer, and wrote in detail what that cure is, I'd be lucky if my usual readers would read it. But if I wrote a post with the following exact content: "lalalalalalalalala" my hits would go through the roof.

What's the deal with that?

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Different Kind of Cat Scan

ATTENTION residents of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I.:

Do not let this cat take a nap beside you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (27)

What we have here is a nerdy accountant type guy talking with a beer-swilling, sports watching, mullet-having, truck driving redneck.

Redneck: What kind of truck do you have?
Nerd: Are you a man or a woman?
Redneck: Where I come from, it don't matter.
Nerd: I drive a hybrid.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Things Dry Out

Last week was a good week with the McQueen's. In one day we got a new mini-fridge for the basement, and a dehumidifier. Now I can keep my Pepsi and bottled water cold, and the basement dry.

We still need a new dryer. Or I need more clothes. I go to the laundromat every week. I only have one weeks worth of clothes. It turns out that a week's worth of clothes is also about one load of laundry.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Time For a New iPod

In today's article we see that the CD levy will soon be applied to iPods and other media.

For those who don't know about the CD levy, in Canada whenever you buy a blank CD you pay a hidden tax on it. The money from that tax goes to the recoding industry to compensate artists because it's presumed that the CDs will be used to copy music and give to people who haven't bought it. It's sort of like punishing your kids for the rules they may have broken that you didn't catch them for.

On the plus side, it's what exists to allow music downloading in Canada legal.

It's making it harder and harder to steal from the recording industry that so richly deserves it. I might have to upgrade my iPod before the tax is actually applied.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (26)

A woman who seems to like that guy, who we'll see more of next week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Book Review: L'avion de Gaston

Today I am going to review the first French book I was able to read, L'avion de Gaston by Nathalie BĂ©lineau.

It was a relatively easy read. There were only 4 or 5 lines of text per page. The pictures were well done with a reflective metallic looking airplane. The pages are made of cardboard, giving the book good durability. As a student of French, I got plenty of vocabulary from this book. I found it entertaining and delightful.

I found the book had several problems with it though. While there was plenty on the protagonist, Gaston, the book entirely lacked character development. There is an Air Traffic Controller, a mechanic, and a slightly anthropomorphic bird who's names aren't even mentioned.

I was curious about the bird. The bird wears a scarf and goggles and flies very close to the plane. I guess the bird is unaware of the hazards of bird-strikes. The bird will surely be killed by getting chopped up by the propeller. The propeller will likely be damaged by the bird. Gaston may crash and die. But, he seems to have a parachute.

This is supposed to be a children's book. But I'm not sure we should be exposing our children to that level of glorified danger!

The front cover shows Gaston flying directly above a cloud. Does he have his IFR rating? The book doesn't explicitly say, but judging by a picture of the cockpit, I don't think the plane is equipped for IFR flight. I don't even think he has a radio with which to communicate with the tower and other aircraft! (Not to mention how dangerous, and uncomfortable it is to fly directly above a cloud!)

As a student pilot, I am well aware of the dangers of Gaston's flying style. But most children will be oblivious. This is a potentially very dangerous book!

In summary, I can recommend this book only to adult student pilots, but in the hands of a child it's just a recipe for disaster. That's a risk I just don't want to be responsible for.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The New Rules Are The Bomb!

You can now use words like "bomb" at the airport. You'll get a warning instead of being arrested.

But I think it has to be in certain context. "That concert last night was the bomb!" or "That movie really bombed." will get you a warning. "I have a bomb and I'm gonna blow everyone to kingdom-come!" will get you arrested. In the old days, all three would have gotten you arrested.

(To my international readers, this applies to Canada. It's probably not the same elsewhere.)

These rules still beg the question "How many acts of terrorism have been prevented by these laws?" I figure if someone is intent on getting a bomb on a plane, they're probably not going to mention it, regardless of the rules. You wouldn't want anyone to know your intentions.

On the other hand, if you were the unwilling participant you might want to be arrested. But, even without the law, you could mention it, get arrested (for having the bomb, not mentioning it).

But, on the plus side, I'm no longer afraid of seeing my friend, Jack, on a plane and yelling "Hi!" to him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (25)

It's a three-eyed fish, like in The Simpsons. That's what I call "nuclear fishin'".

Monday, July 09, 2007

We Need to Get A New Dryer

I can't believe it! Two McQueen stories in a row! Just like old times.

On Thursday I came home from work. I asked if the laundry machine was free. Wendy said that she had to transfer some clothes from the washer to the dryer. She did that as I went downstairs, and got my laundry ready to be washed. When I had come up stairs, she had finished the transfer and was in the living room. I put my clothes in the washer and started the load. Then I went into the living room.

Wendy tells me "The dryer doesn't work."

Me: "What?"

Wendy: "When you try to start it, it just makes a buzzing sound."

Me: "Can it be fixed?"

Wendy: "The last time it broke the repairman said that if it ever broke again it wouldn't be worth repairing, and it should be replaced."

The McQueens are heading out for a vacation for a week. (By the time you read this, they'll be back.) So they probably won't take care of it until after they get back.

So, looks like my Thursday nights for the next few weeks will be spent in a laundromat.

Oh, and one more thing. Did I mention the dehumidifier gave up the ghost? Now it makes an awful squealing noise. According to the internet it's probably the motor and should be replaced. I don't know how much work and cost we're talking here, but it might be time for a new one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hey! Who Turned Out The Lights? (Part 2)

In a recent blog post I sent you (my readers) to an article discussing the dangers of fluorescent light bulbs. The article discussed potential problems with people throwing old fluorescent bulbs in the garbage unaware of the mercury content and it's potentially environmental harm.

In the article was a story of a woman named Brandy Bridges who dropped a bulb and it broke. She called Maine's Department of Environmental Protection. They recommended a cleanup that would cost upwards of $2 000.

An alert reader/commenter sent me a couple of articles discussing that story. The first article basically said that it was a half-urban myth. It's a half urban myth because it actually happened, but the urban-myth part is that in the end she could have cleaned it up herself. Cheaply. A fact that was mentioned in the article I linked to.

From the article:
"While cases like Bridges are rare and she was told later by the DEP that she could have cleaned it up herself."

This raises the question "How does one clean up a broken fluorescent bulb safely?" This is answered in the second article that was sent to me by the reader/commenter.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (24)

Here I was experimenting with cuteness (thus the teddy bear) and someone walking. Drawing people walking towards you turns out to be pretty hard.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fridge Update

I think it's time for another McQueen update.

If you've been keeping up with the amount, and placement of fridges and freezers in their house, you probably either: 1. Live here, or 2. have no life.

I live here.  So I'll catch you up.

The McQueen's had a fridge in the kitchen.  This fridge had no freezer component.   But it's a nice, big fridge.

They also had a second fridge in the garage.  This fridge wasn't doing very well.  It had a freezer component, but it wasn't very big.  The seals on the door were breaking.  This caused the fridge to demand lots of juice from the power company.

The third fridge was also in the garage.  But it was really bad.  The fridge part was not noticeably working.  The freezer part, which was small, was operating as a fridge.

A fourth fridge was in the basement.  I kept water and pop in this fridge.  It worked fine.  It was dirty though.  This fridge had the best freezer in the house, and it was used to freeze things (as freezers are wont to do....except in this house).

Also in the basement was a deep-freeze which, if you remember, does not work.

Edgar is still dead.  Jack is at a cross-roads.

The McQueens decided to buy the freezer unit that matches the kitchen fridge.  The delivery people came by last week to drop if off.  As part of the deal they took all our fridges and freezers, except the one in the kitchen.  Now we only have the two.  It's a matching set.

In order for them to take the fridges away, we had to empty them out.  The fridge in the basement had lots of stuff in it.  Stuff we haven't used in a long time.  The McQueens took the stuff out and, for the time being, left it on a shelf in the basement.  There was no room in the main fridge.  It got really hot down there.  Now that stuff is no longer fit for consumption.

So I dumped it down the toilet.  I wasn't as discriminating at this as I should have been.  The contents of the toilet quickly became quite opaque.  I didn't always know what I was pouring in the toilet.

Eventually I put something in that had some chicken bones.  This ended up clogging the toilet, causing Pastor Jack and I to use a plunger to get them out.

This process also caused an absolutely foul odor  to fill the washroom.  After several flushings and some washings, a faint remnant is still can still be detected.

So, now I'll leave you with a picture.  Click to enlarge, if you dare.

McQueen's Toilet

Friday, June 29, 2007

Violence Escalates in Newfoundland

In Today's Article we see that in Deer Lake, Newfoundland some young'uns have taken to drive-by Timbit peltings.

I'm too tired and sick to come up with something more witty, but I think in this case the humour writes itself, so I don't have to.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (23)

A random guy and a random woman.

Monday, June 25, 2007

This Year's Pity-Prize Goes To...

You know who I might pity right now? I  might pity the folks down at Classmates.com. These guys come with a good idea; to re-unite old classmates. You sign up and get a minimal account for free, but if you want any bells and whistles you have to pay for them. You tell it what high school and what class you graduated from. Others do the same, and eventually you'll get to meet up with your old classmates from high school.

But if you want anything nifty, you have to pay for it.

Okay. Fair enough. Not everything on the interweb can be free. But then they come along. Yes. Them. Those who offer that service, and a whole lot more. For free. I am talking, of course, about Facebook.

When you register for Facebook, you can tell it what year and from what high school you graduated. You can join, or form, a group for people in your graduating class. This reunites you with old classmates. All for free.

Facebook isn't limited to high school reunions. It's a social networking site. But I'm not here to give Facebook free advertising. I just wanted to say I feel sorry for Classmates. Unless they're doing well. Then I don't feel so bad for them.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hey! Who Turned Out The Lights?

We're all trying to conserve energy these days. If not for environmental reasons then for money saving reasons. One very simple way of doing this is to switch your old-school light bulbs for the energy saving bulbs. I think they're a little more expensive per unit, but they last for a long long time, and they use about a third the power per unit light.

In my room in the Sault I had a ceiling fan with three light bulbs in it. I found 60W bulbs weren't bright enough so I put 100W bulbs. That was plenty bright, but I didn't want my rent to increase because of all the extra energy I would be consuming. Also, when the lights started burning out (which didn't take very long for the first one) I didn't want to keep buying new bulbs. Furthermore, I am a bit of a tree-hugger. So I went out and bought some energy-saving bulbs and used those. All three together, as bright as three 100W bulbs, was still consuming less than 100W. That's less than three 60W bulbs!

After reading Today's article I'm really glad I never dropped and broke one of those bulbs.

It turns out that these bulbs contain mercury, and breaking one can cause your room to be a bio-hazard zone, and can cost upwards of $2000 to clean up.

I'd call that an inconvenient truth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (22)

This is a tea bag in a cup of tea.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Cost Of My Time

One of the problems with being a professional is that people want your services, and often for free. If you're a doctor, people want you to tell them what their ailments are. If you're a real estate agent, people want you to tell them how much they could get for their house.

Being a computer guy is no different. When people find out you're a computer _________ they want you to fix their computer. (Most computer professionals aren't technicians.) I am a web programmer. I don't fix computers. I hate fixing computers.

So, instead of telling people "I'm a computer programmer" I tell them "I develop web-based database driven applications." When I tell them "I'm a computer programmer" people hear "I am an expert at fixing your computer and I can't wait to help you with any problems you may be having." But when I say "I develop web-based database driven applications" they hear "I blah blah blah blah."

But that doesn't work 100% of the time. Sometime people hear "I develop web-based blah blah blah" then they ask me to make a web page for their cats. Then I tell them my price. Then they say "Oh. Ummmm.......we've been getting a lot of rain lately, haven't we?"

In the past couple of months I've gotten two "clients" and I've hardly looked at the work I said I'd do. But these are not paying clients. So my motivation is somewhat lacking.

If you remember my typical week you'll remember I don't have a lot of disposable time. I work for 8 hours a day on web programming. Minus sleep, eating, bathroom breaks, and commuting, I have exactly 37 minutes and 23 seconds to myself each week, and I don't want to spend it doing your work!!!

If you have work for me to do, fine, but understand it's going to cost you. Not only are you buying my skills, you're buying my time. And my time is in short supply. When I had more time, I charged $25/hr. But my time isn't as plentiful now as it once was, so I'm upping my rate to $50/hr. However, if I can solve your problem in 15 minutes or less, I'll give you the 15 minutes for free.

Since I hate fixing computers my rate for that is even higher. (That $50/hr price is for development work.) I have to charge $75/hr to make it worth my while to figure out why you're not getting your email. But, since I don't use Windows I don't have much experience. So my expertise is probably worth about $15/hour. So, your best bet is to go ask someone else. Besides, I'd probably accidentally erase your hard drive.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Cost of Environmental Friendliness

In Today's Article we read of a guy in North Carolina who modified his car to use vegetable oil as fuel. So, here's a guy who's trying to reduce his dependence on fossil fuels, and do us all a favor.

So, what happened? Got got fined by the state for $1000 and is expected to get another fine from the feds for avoiding motor fuel tax.

Does this not seem right to anyone else? It seems to me he should have gotten a tax break from the government over and above not paying the fuel tax. Not t'other way 'round.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (21)

This is a guy wearing cement galoshes and thrown into a coffee cup. There's a fish in there too.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Missing Links

It seems to me, after talking to my many readers that many people were not clicking on the links I provided in My Car, My Hassles. This should have led to total confusion in last week's post, My Apology. So, if you haven't clicked on the links, go back and do so. Starting in Part 2 about half way down. If you didn't click the links, you're missing a good 25% of the fun.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Let's Talk About....

Slow news day. Or maybe I'm just really tired, and it takes more to catch my interest. Or perhaps it's just that the last time I sprinkled my blog post with references to sex, my hits went through the roof. Whatever the reason I have an article from Psychology Today dispelling five myths about men and sex.

The most shocking part of this article is about sex drive in men and women. Men have constant sex drive, and women's drive plummets after entering a secure relationship. After four years in, less than half of women want regular sex. After 20 years, only 20% did.

Ouch!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (20)

This is what water molecules look like.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Behavior Expected From Lawyers

In Today's Article we hear of Native Chiefs in Manitoba want payment from Manitoba Telecom Services for "every cellphone signal that passes through First Nations land, saying the airspace should be considered a resource like land and water."

Now, I'm not a scientician, but it seems to be that cell phone calls don't use up air, the way drinking takes up water. In fact, it seems to me that cell phone signals don't actually use air. They can pass through space where there is no air. I thought they used the electromagnetic field that's, sort of, everywhere! I didn't think it could be said that it belongs to anyone.

But, then, I'm not a scientician.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm An Artist Too (19)

A guy with one of those safari hats. This guy just looks rich.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My Car, My Hassles (Part 4)

So where were we?

In last week's post the car was brought to Ontario and I am now in possession of it. I have a 30 day Nova Scotian trip permit allowing me to drive around. I have yet to register my car in Ontario. I found out that in order to get my Nova Scotian tax back, I have to apply to the CRA. This could take upwards of two months. They want my original Bill of Sale.

Edgar and Milo have something in common: they're both dead. And, for a change, instead of Chloe downloading schematics to Jack, Morris downloaded some schematics to Chloe.

So I'm ready to go and register my car with the MTO. So one day I leave work and head straight there. I take my number and wait. When I'm called up I explain the situation. The worker looks at my driver's licence, bill of sale, and all other pertinent documentation. She notices my birthday is coming up in a couple of months and asks if I'd like to renew my plates so they won't have to be renewed until next year.

Sure, why not?

Then she notices my driver's licence expires soon and asks if I'd like to renew that while I'm there.

Sure, why not?

The list of things I'm doing there, and therefore paying for, keeps piling up. But I might as well take care of it all in one shot. She takes my picture, gives me a temporary licence and tells me the real one will arrive in a few weeks. (Somehow, they can give you a photo licence in about 20 minutes in Nova Scotia, yet it takes Ontario weeks.)

She looks at my bill of sale, and tells me how much tax she'll be charging me. Fair enough. She gives me the final bill and I pay for it. She gives my plates, and even a couple of screw drivers so I can put the plates on my car. Then she informs me the trip permit given to me by the dealership was not valid outside of Nova Scotia. (Not what an earlier MTO employee told me.) But it doesn't matter now. I have the real plates. The car is registered and insured.

I head out to the car and put the rear plate on. In order to put the front plate on I had to first put a plate-holder onto the front of the car. The dealership gave me one of these plate-holders, including instructions on how to attach it. I read the instructions. "Put rivets here and here, and screw onto car there." I'm looking at the rivets and wondering how I get them to where they're supposed to be. I figure the Saturn dealership in Ottawa will know. So I call them.

"Oh, you'll need a rivet gun to attach the plate holder. Do you have a rivet gun?"

"No."

"Okay, come in tomorrow. We can do that for you."

So now I have to drive around without a front licence plate on. I wonder if I'll get pulled over? Why couldn't Saturn in Nova Scotia have done this, knowing I'd be out of province? Why couldn't the instructions have mentioned the need for a rivet gun?

The next day I start filling out the form to get my Nova Scotian tax refunded. But something odd is happening. None of the numbers are working out. There is no number on the bill of sale which when multiplied by 14% gives the amount of tax I paid in Nova Scotia. I'm very confused. I call Saturn in Nova Scotia and ask them to help me understand the bill of sale. It would figure that the person I needed to talk to is off sick, and it's Friday. But the person I did talk to was able to help me.

Here is the problem. The numbers on the Bill of Sale are out of order. The order they're listed is not the order in which they're calculated.

This is the order they're listed:
  1. Price of car

  2. Sales tax

  3. License or Transfer fee

  4. Extended Warranty

  5. Tire Environmental Fee

  6. Balance Due (Whatever that means.

  7. Balance Forward (I figure this and the Balance Due is because the Balance Due is the last thing in that column, and the Balance Forward is the first in the next column. It's the same number.)

  8. Less deposit

  9. Balance Owing

  10. Admin Fee

  11. Tire Warranty

  12. Total Financed (AKA: Final price. That which I owe them.)


This is the order in which they're calculated:
  1. Cost of the car

  2. Extended Warranty

  3. Tire Environmental Fee

  4. Admin Fee

  5. Tire Waranty

Take all those things, add them up, and that gives a non-taxed price of the car. Then add the 14% tax on that number. And then add the License or Transfer Fee. Subtract the deposit, then you have the "Total Financed" cost, that which I owe them.

You may have noticed things were a little out of order. See, first they calculated tax, then added the "License or Transfer Fee", but when they listed it on the Bill of Sale they listed the tax second! They listed the "License or Transfer Fee" third.

As a result it's very confusing. The actual cost of the car on which the tax is calculated is not shown anywhere on the Bill of Sale. No wonder the person at the MTO was confused. I still am. (I was hoping she would know better, what with it being her job and all to do that sort of thing.)

So the next day as I was trying to figure out how much tax to get back from Nova Scotia, and comparing it to the tax I paid in Ontario I noticed something was wrong. The tax I paid in Ontario was calculated on the cost of the car plus the Nova Scotian tax. I was paying tax on tax. Worse! I was paying tax on tax that I was going to be getting back!

So I call the MTO. They tell me that once they collect the tax it's out of their hands and to get a refund I need to talk to the Ontario Ministry of Finance. So I call them. They point me towards a form to fill out and send in. Oh yes, and they will need my Bill of Sale.

"@#$@! Will you need the original?"

"No. A copy will do. Why would we need the original?"

"The CRA wanted the original so someone couldn't try to use the same receipt to get a refund multiple times on the same purchase."

"Yeah, but a fake would be easy to make."

"You should work for the CRA."

So then later on in the week I receive a letter from the Ontario Ministry of Finance making sure I was being honest and paying all the taxes I needed to. For some reason I laugh. I find this somehow ironic. I'm not sure how. Maybe it's because they owe me?

Anyway, this brings us to the end of the car stories, I hope. I have yet to receive any refunds, but it's still early. If anything else goes wrong I'm sure I'll write all about it here.


UPDATE: Something did go wrong. I wrote all about it in My Car, My Hassles (Part 5).