Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (96)

The woman is asking "Do these jeans make me look fat?"

The very badly drawn Pinnochio is saying "Not at all!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dance, Monky! Dance! - Part II

A little ago I wrote about my family's non-materialistic Christmas this year. Today was that day.

It started out the same as usual. We had our Christmas morning brunch. We did the Advent Wreath and devotional. Then we moved into the living room to unwrap Christmas presents.

I know I said we weren't doing presents this year. And we really weren't. Many of these presents were just chocolates, or books, or DVDs that were on sale wrapped or stuffed into gift bags.

To contrast, here's last year's Christmas tree:

And here is this year's:

Then came the highlight of the day: Dance, Monkey! Dance! My dad played "Silent Night" on the piano. It was the first time he played the piano in many years. He played with both hands. That's beyond my skill level.

My mom played a couple of tunes on the bells. She did a good job too.

My brother played a song from Sound of Music. I don't think I can pronounce it. And I certainly can't spell it. He learnt to play it by ear. He's really good at that.

My sister will cook us a meal soon.

I unveiled my piece of "art." Normally I would show this on my Coffee Cup Art series. But here it is:
The rough-looking character is saying "I'm the angel in the Christmas Play. Yous got a problem wit dat?"

And that was out Christmas. We all enjoyed not having to run around doing Christmas shopping.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Thought of it First

How do you feel when you do some work and later find someone else did the same thing?

Long time readers will remember in July of 2008 I published a Coffee Cup Art entitled "Don't Maze Me, Bro!" This was the piece:

I noticed that "don't maze me bro" has become a popular search term leading to this blog. So I Googled it. And look what I found:

This can be found here:

So, now whats next? Do I email this guy? Does my lawyer email this guy? I published mine in July or 2008. He published his in December, 2008. So I got to it first.

What do you think? Leave a comment with your suggestion/vote.

UPDATE: And now I find this:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Now What Do I Do?

Just last week I shared an article on the evil record industry.

Earlier this week I wrote a piece, to be published today, on the OC Transpo strike.

What a difference a week makes!

Almost everything I wrote in the bus strike piece is out of date. The city and the union may start talking tomorrow. I thought that in this case the drivers weren't getting any sympathy from the public. Then I heard that lack-of-sympathy is shifting to the city. I won't be publishing that piece.

Then this! According to Today's Article, the record industry (RIAA) is changing their strategy. They've decided to stop suing the little guy. They're going to start working with ISPs to target piracy.

I want to be clear on an issue. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how I feel about the recording industry. You probably think I'm some kind of libertarian who believes all intellectual property should be free to everyone.

That's not the case. My CD collection is over 200. I used to wag my finger at people who "shared" music. Then two things happened:
  1. I read the Canadian Copyright Act which said that copying music for personal use did not constitute piracy. We also pay a heavy levy on our blank media to pay for this personal copying.
  2. The recording industry started suing single mothers, a homeless guy, a dead guy, disabled people, etc. This made me just sick with them.
I started to only purchase independent music.

The recording industry isn't dropping any outstanding lawsuits. They're just not launching any new ones.

So, what do I do now? Do I buy some music? Do I continue the boycott until they drop the lawsuits? Maybe just buy some non-DRM music from iTunes Music Store? I believe good behaviour should be rewarded, and I've had my eye on David Gilmour's Live in Gdansk.

Before I decide that, I will say this to the recording industry:

Thank you! Good for you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (94)

We must have been talking about time when I drew this.

The clock sliding off the table is a rip-off of Dahli's work.

The clock with the huge pendulum is a rip-off from a Pink Floyd animation for their song Time as seen in the Delicate Sound of Thunder.

The woman, with the perfect hour-glass figure, is asking "Does anyone have the time?" I should have had her say "Does anybody have the time?" It's punnier.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Latest Record Company Evil

I still maintain it's wrong to not "steal" from the recording industry (RIAA).

According to today's article they're suing a 19 year old woman, Ciara Sauro, who has pancreatitis, and is a transplant patient. She has to go to the hospital every week. She also suffers from depression. Life is expensive for this young woman, and her mother, with whom she lives (who makes $8.25/hour). Not only is it expensive, it's likely very busy.

The recording industry wants thousands of dollars from her for sharing 10 songs on the internet. I think that's excessive.

They sent her a 60 page document explaining they want thousands of dollars, and that she has to respond within a certain amount of time or the judgement is ruled, by default, against her.

Ciara didn't respond on time. So the judgement has been made against her. Now a lawyer has offered to help pro bono. He'll try to get the courts to reopen the case.

I can't blame her for not responding on time. First of all, she would probably need a lawyer just to understand the document she received. Her life situation makes her poor and busy. This is just one more thing she does not need to deal with.

She and her mother allege the internet account in the lawsuit belongs to her father. He opened the account after he moved away from them.

I'm not sure if this is worse than the time they tried to sue a homeless guy, or the time they sued a stroke patient, but it's still repugnant.

The RIAA is a bunch of recording companies, including, but not limited to, Sony BMG, EMI, Universal, Integrity, Maranatha, and many others.

Here is a list of RIAA labels. At the top of that page you can search for an artist or album to see if they're associated with the RIAA.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (91)

The guy in the theatre is shouting "Don't tease me, bro!" because they're about to show movie trailers and teasers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dance Monkey! Dance!

Christmas is the time we wrack our brains pretending we all have the love-language of Gifts.

I have become rather non-materialistic over the last few years. I don't want more stuff. I have enough stuff. I have too much stuff! If there is anything I want I can probably afford to buy it myself. If I can't afford it, then neither can anyone in my family.

I suggested to my parents that maybe this year we could do something different. "Let's have a gift-free Christmas." They talked with my brother and sister. They agreed it was a good idea.

Then they decided we should do something different this year instead of gifts. We're going to share our gifts (or talents) with each other. My brother is going to do something with the guitar. I'm not sure what my sister will do, but my parents do have some suggestions for her.

My talents tend to be of a different kind. I'm a good programmer, but I wouldn't be able to come up with a cool program in a month's time.

Some people tell me they enjoy my (blog) writing. That's fine, but I don't see me writing a blog entry for my family. (I don't think any of them even read this blog.)

I play drums, but drums are more of a back-up instrument, and my drums are (staying) in Ottawa. There are no drums for me in Halifax.

I play guitar. Brother Jack is playing guitar for his talent. If I do that too, there's always going to be that comparison thing. He's a better guitarist than I am. Furthermore, I play acoustic guitar, and mine is staying in Ottawa. Jack has 2 electric guitars.

I'm good at getting people to switch over to Apple computers. But I've already demonstrated that to the family. They all have Macs now.

I'm the fastest ATM user I know. It's hard to demonstrate that in a talent show.

My mother suggested I do a sketch and frame it. But, really, I just doodle on styrofoam and call it "art". I do find it funny that my mom suggested that. Growing up, my brother was the good artist. Not me. When I first showed them my coffee cup art, they said "What? We thought Jack was the artist in the family!"

What do you suggest?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Test blog post

Testing something new.....nevermind this blog....all your base are belong to us!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

My New Hobby And An Old One

It is now November. The days are getting shorter. The weather is starting to get worse. When it precipitates, it could be snow, hail, freezing rain, or a mixture. As this becomes the norm for the next few months I won't be doing any flying. The days are too short for me to fly after work. I've decided to study for the Private Pilot's written exam.

Studying for the written exam is like being back in school. There's reading, note taking, memorization, and the information I'm memorizing has a loose connection to something in reality. After learning to actually fly an aeroplane, this book stuff is pretty boring.

In doing this studying for my new hobby, I've discovered an old hobby I had when I went to school: procrastinating. When I finished school a couple of years ago I stopped watching TV. I stopped watching movies. When people would ask me "What shows do you watch?" I'd say "I don't watch TV. I'm too busy living." People would talk about computer/video games. Same thing. I didn't play those games. I was too busy living.

Now that I have studying to procrastinate from, I'm watching TV again. I saw three movies this weekend. I've even started playing video games again. I've beaten Zelda; the first and second quests. I'm working on Link. I've rediscovered Spy vs. Spy. I've even cleaned my room! Twice! That hasn't happened since I was in chemistry!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (89)

This guy is saying "Don't erase me,bro! mate!

Today's post requires a bit of explanation.

In discussing my "Don't *aze me, bro!" series of Coffee Cup Art, a friend from Australia suggested "Don't erase me, bro!" I said "But 'erase' doesn't really rhyme with 'taze'." She said it did. I showed the rest of her family an eraser and asked them to tell me what it was and what it was used for. I also asked other Canadians.

Indeed, the Canadians pronounced "erase" like it rhymes with "lace", and the Australians pronounced it like it rhymes with "taze".

So, I decided to do draw it as an homage to Australia. The guy being erased is saying "mate" instead of "bro."

While standing in Canada I tend not to lean at all. My angle with the Earth is pretty much exactly 90 degrees. Therefore, Canada must be at the very top of the globe. Australia is on the opposite side of the globe as Canada. Therefore, Australia must be at the very bottom of the globe. Therefore I assume they must all walk around upside-down. I don't know how they don't fall off the planet. Magnetic boots, perhaps? Perhaps it's some evolutionary thing? Dropping things must suck because whatever you dropped would just fall off the Earth and into space.

I kid! I kid! I went to school in Canada! Not the USA! (Ba-Zing!)

Actually, the worst thing about drawing this one upside down was the lap full of scalding hot coffee I received. Looks like it's time to sue.

I kid! I kid! I'm from Canada! Not the USA! (Ba-Zing!)

Friday, October 31, 2008

This Is Within 100 Miles Of Bordering On Insanity

Americans are usually protected by their constitution from things like random searches, detainment, etc. without a warrant or probable cause. These rights don't exist at the border. As anyone who's visited the United States from away knows, they, their car, their suitcases, etc. can be searched by border patrol officers.

National security. Fair enough.

Now, according to today's article, the American government says that the border exists from the actual border to anywhere within 100 miles of that border. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, two thirds of Americans live within 100 miles from a border. So, two thirds of American citizens are subject to random searches, as though they were entering the country.

If you want to know if that includes, you, the ACLU provides a map of the "constitution-free zones".

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (87)

How would you like to see this at your bachelor party? It's a guy saying "Yeah! So I live in a weddin' cake. Wanna fight aboud it?"

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm Sorry Canada....I think...

Today is Election Day in Canada. I just returned from performing my "civic duty."

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about politics. They readily admitted they neither knew nor understood many of the issues pertinent to this election. They did not understand the platforms of the different parties.

I talked with that friend again today before we each voted. This person knew which party they were going to vote for. I asked if they had read the party's platform, or any of the other party's platforms. They hadn't. I asked if they had done any research to better understand any of the issues pertinent to this election. They hadn't. I said "So then you're on your way to inflict your ignorance on Canadians?"

I didn't feel good about this person voting because they admitted that they didn't understand many, if any, issues. (I think they picked the party because someone they respect picked that party. It seemed like this other person was getting two votes; theirs, and my friend's.)

As I was giving my friend a hard time for voting out of ignorance, it occurred to me that I'm not much better. I estimate I have a 20% greater understanding of the issues than they do. I don't understand monetary policy. I don't understand foreign policy. I don't know what to think of the Carbon Tax.

Suddenly I didn't feel good about me voting. I was about to inflict my ignorance on the people of Canada.

Note to Canada: If the person I voted for gets elected, and things don't turn out well, I'm sincerely sorry.

As I stood in line I wondered how many people there understood much about Canadian history, law, and political system. I took several Law courses in university. I think the average Canadian's understanding of the legal system comes from having watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound was off, but they think they got the gist of it.

You're average person can't program their VCR. How can they make an intelligent decision on how to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels? How can they decide which is the better monetary policy to help us through these tough economic times?

People say "If you don't vote, you can't complain."

Why not? You can complain about anything you want. This is a free country. You can complain about things you can change and things you can't. Complain all you like!

Some say voting should be mandatory because people fought for us to have the right to vote. I don't know my Canadian history well enough to tell you which war, or wars, were fought to secure the right for Canadians to vote. Either way, any war fought for democracy is a fight for freedom. Freedom includes the right to vote, and the right to not vote. If you don't have the right to not vote, it's not true freedom.

I assume that each of the major parties receive votes from smart, well informed people. If that's true, then intelligence and informedness don't seem to actually contribute to making good electoral decisions.

Of course, we probably make our voting decisions the same way we make most decisions: non-rationally. Thats why the tall guy with better hair usually wins.

Friday, October 24, 2008

These Laws Are Driving Me Crazy!

A while ago I wrote about how harsher prison sentences haven't worked in the States, yet Canada (while experiencing an 25 year low in crime) is following the model. There is talk of continuing to follow that model. There is talk of changing the Youth Criminal Justice Act to try youth as adults for serious crimes.

When I first heard that, I thought "It won't noticeably reduce youth crime." I didn't expect to find many people who would agree with me; mostly granola-crunching Birkenstock-wearing hemp-smoking left-leaning hippies. I didn't expect law enforcement personnel to agree with me. I certainly didn't expect Ottawa's Police Chief to agree with me. But, according to today's article, he does.

Lets look at some anecdotal evidence to support my opinion that harsher sentences don't deter crime, shall we?

First: The Safer Roads to a Safer Ontario Act.

One year ago, Ontario passed the Safer Roads to a Safer Ontario Act, A.K.A.: The Anti-Street Racing Act. If caught going more than 50 km/h you can face fines ranging from $2 000 and $10 000, your license being suspended on the spot, your car being impounded on the spot, and even jail time.

I'd call those pretty tough measures. If I was in a hurry, I'd be keeping that speedometer needle at no more than 49 km/h above the posted limit. If you think tougher laws lead to changed behaviour, you might expect to see a marked decrease in the would-be deterrent law. The desired effect of this law was to reduce traffic related deaths. If tougher laws work, we should see less traffic related deaths.

So, how did the law do?

In the year it's been in effect, there have been almost 9000 charges laid under the act. That averages out to one driver every hour being charged under the act. The average age of the drivers was 31. Four people have been busted three times. Forty two people have been charged under the act twice.

According to this article, there have been 233 fatalities so far in 2008. If that trend continues, there should be 310 by the end of the year. There were 354 fatalities in 2007. That's a reduction of 12%.

That reduction could have come from anywhere. According to this article Canadians drove less in the past year than before. All things being equal, less cars on the road logically means less accidents.

Second: The Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Many Canadians would agree Canada is too soft on youth crime. If that's true, and if it's true that harsher sentences would deter youth crime, then we should see a much higher crime rate for kids than adults.

According to Statistics Canada, the youth crime rate in 2006 looks like it was between 6000 and 7000 accusations per 100 000 population. The overall crime rate was 7518 per 100 000 population.

The youth crime rate is lower than the overall crime rate. So much for a soft youth crime act leading to high crime rates.

A few years ago the government passed the Youth Criminal Justice Act. When I was studying law in university, we had a guest speaker come in to explain that new law to our class. I can't remember if she was a judge, a justice of the peace, or a crown attorney. Anyway, she was more of an expert in the law than I'll ever be. She explained how the new law was designed to find alternate justice for convicted youths. Try to keep the kids out of prison. Our class was in shock. "The kids will be running amok in the streets knowing they have a free pass!" was the general sentiment in the class.

According to Statistics Canada, the youth crime rate dropped after that law was passed.

Note about statistics: In an uncontrolled environment, like the real world, it's really hard to determine cause-and-effect relationships. Laws are passed to change people's behaviour. To see if a law is effective, after the law is passed, watch people's behaviour. The best way to do that is with statistics. But statistics don't show causation. They only show correlation. The best you can hope for is a strong correlation.

For example, the 12% drop in traffic-related deaths looks pretty low to me. I'm not a statistician. It might actually be really good. I don't know. People might be slowing down because driving fast uses more gas. Gas has been expensive this year. Maybe there has been less deaths because cars are being built to be more safe. Perhaps, with more people buying smaller cars (due to high fuel prices) people are being hit with compact cars instead of big, heavy trucks. Maybe that has something to do with it? I don't know. Nobody does.

Frankly, I'd like to see at least a 50% reduction in traffic-related deaths following the enacting of such a law. Something significant. Even that would be a win/lose situation. On the one hand, less people would be dying in traffic accidents. On the other hand, I would be denied the pleasure I derive from being right.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (86)

I drew this bit of "Pew Art" when Pastor Jack was preaching out of Exodus on the time the Hebrews worshipped the "Golden Calf".

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stayin' Alive Keeps People Stayin' Alive

According to today's article the timing for the Bee Gee's popular disco song, "Stayin' Alive" is almost exactly the right timing to use when chest compressions giving someone CPR.

"Stayin' Alive" is good because "...Everybody's heard it at some point in their life. People know the song and can keep it in their head."

The article does not mention if you need to inhale helium to make your voice go as high as the Bee Gee's lead singer when giving the mouth-to-mouth portion of CPR.

BTW: Don't use the version played in Airplane (the movie). It is over 10 beats per minute faster than the record version.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (85)

The unlucky skydiver is thinking "Rats! First I leave my parachute in the plane! Now my teacher will never believe why I don't have my homework ready!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't Taze Me, Bro!

If you've been following my blog lately, you've noticed a certain theme in my coffee cup art.

I've been spoofing the "Don't taze me, bro!" meme. I have found that many people are unaware of this meme. It comes from the following video:

And to prove it's a meme, check out this User Friendly comic.

In case you found that video to be a bit disturbing, check out this one. It should lighten the mood:

To recap, here is a list of all the variations on the theme I did:

  1. Don't phase me, bro!

  2. Don't glaze me, bro!

  3. Don't raise me, bro!

  4. Don't maze me, bro!

  5. Don't haze me, bro!

  6. Don't blaze me, bro!

  7. Don't amaze me, bro!

  8. Don't graze me, bro!

  9. Don't praise me, bro!

  10. Don't raze me, bro!

  11. Don't craze me, bro!

  12. Don't braise me, bro!

  13. Don't braze me, bro!

  14. Don't gaze at me, bro!

  15. Don't haze me, bro!

  16. Don't raise me, bro!

  17. Don't hollandaise me, bro!

  18. Don't *aze me, bro!

  19. Don't erase me, bro!

  20. Don't mayonnaise me, bro!

  21. Don't tease me, bro!

  22. Don't polonaise me, bro!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (84)

The coffee cup is saying to the artist "Don't *aze me, bro!"

And so ends the "Don't *aze me, bro" series. There will be a bit of an explanation on Monday's post.

Monday, October 06, 2008

All Is Revealed

A few weeks ago, I posted a Coffee Cup Art piece with a bonus question. I asked what that piece was making reference to.

It's supposed to be a picture of the Battersea Power Station in London, built along the River Thames. That's where the pictures for the artwork of Pink Floyd's Animals album were taken. The picture I used when drawing this can be seen here.

A few interesting facts concerning this post:
  • The Battersea Power Station was used for some filming for the Dark Knight movie.
  • There were 2 parts to the power station. Part A was decommissioned in 1975. Part B was decommissioned in 1983.
  • The power station was used for the cover art of the 1977 Pink Floyd album, Animals. An inflatable pig (as depicted in my coffee cup) was used for the photo-shoot. The pig broke away, and flew into Heathrow's flight path.
  • I posted this coffee cup the same week that Pink Floyd's keyboardist, Richard Wright, passed on to play that great gig in the sky. I didn't plan on that. I uploaded this post months ago. Pure coincidence.
  • Battersea Power Station was designed by the same guy who designed London's red telephone booths.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (83)

The egg is saying to the chef "Don't hollandaise me, bro!"

A Hollandaise sauce is a sauce made with eggs, among other things.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Vacuum Sucks Hard Again

The McQueen's house has one of those central-vacuum systems. The machine part is in the garage. Covered holes are located throughout the house. When you plug the vacuum hose into one of those holes, the circuit is closed, the vacuum turns on, and you can clean the house.

All the holes must me covered for the vacuum to work. If a hole is uncovered, the vacuum pressure is divided between that hole and the vacuum hose. The suction is reduced.

A while back, one of the covers for one of the holes fell off. In order to rectify the situation, the McQueens found a hand-puppet of a bear. The bear had a big head. They stuck it—body first—into the vacuum system hole. This didn't work 100%. But it was good enough.

Then, one day, Robin's boyfriend, Arthur, mentioned he had an extra wall hole with a cover. (I don't know what you call those things.) He came over one day and replaced the old hole with the new one.

And the vacuum sucks hard again. Thanks very much Arthur.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (82)

The sister is saying to the brother "Don't raise me, bro!" (Cuz that's her parent's job.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Cold Winter

Last week a major cold-front moved across Ottawa. One day, it was so warm you could barely sleep. The next night it was so cold I needed two duvet covers on my bed.

"Why would one need two duvet covers on one's bed?" you ask.

"It's cold in my room!" I answer.

"Turn up the heat," you suggest.

"I can't!" I answer.

"Why not?" you ask.

"Read today's blog," I answer.

For, you see, the story goes back to the summer. When the McQueens were on their family vacation, on the day they were to come home, when I got up in the morning, I came downstairs to a loud humming noise. I tried looking for where the noise was coming from. Every time I felt like I was getting closer, the noise would stop.

After a while, the noise would return, and I'd start my search. Eventually, my search took me to the basement, then to the furnace. The loud hum was coming from the furnace. This is upsetting because, as long-time blog readers will remember, the McQueens had their furnace fixed last December. In fact, the motor had to be replaced. Now, something is wrong with it again.

When the McQueens got back from vacation, they heard the hum. When they found the source, they turned the furnace off. That was at the beginning of August. The hum went away. The house was kept warm by this big, blazing ball of fire in the sky.

Until earlier this week when it got cold.

One day, as I was sitting in my room, Jane walked into my room with a duvet cover and threw it on my bed, and told me "You're going to need this. The furnace is broken, and it could be a while before it gets fixed."

Even though its starting to get cold at night, I'm not that worried. The furnace will be fixed soon. I think I have a higher tolerance for cold than most other people in the house. I figure that others will put the pressures on the powers-that-be to get the furnace fixed before it really bothers me.

Until then, I have my two duvet covers, and a third one waiting to go.

Friday, September 19, 2008

He's a Mac AND A PC!

According to today's article, the new "I'm A PC" commercial that MicroSoft recently launched to counter Apple's "I'm A Mac" ads was created in Adobe's Creative Suite on a Mac!

All I can say is LOL!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (81)

The sky is saying to the smoke stacks "Don't haze me, bro!"

Extra Credit: Can anybody tell me what today's picture makes reference to?

HINT: Here's another picture, from a better angle.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (79)

The copper pipe is saying to the welder "Don't braze me, bro!"

"Brazing" is like soldering, except at a higher temperature.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (78)

The ground beef is saying to the frying pan "Don't braise me, bro!"

To "braise" is a method of cooking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No Food, No Place To Sleep

We had one of the biggest thunderstorms of the year yesterday. We lost power in the afternoon before I got home, and didn't get it back until about 8:30 that evening.

Earlier in the day, Robin decided she needed to paint her room. If the paint was still wet at bed time, she'd probably sleep in Jane's room. It's not good to sleep in a room with wet paint. The fumes aren't great for you.

As the paint was drying, Jack called home telling us we were having a guest. There's this guy who's raising money for charities by biking across Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax. He calls ahead to churches to see if there was someone in each stopping point who could take him in for a night. When he got to Ottawa, we took him in. Unfortunately, due to various communication issues, we didn't have as much advanced notice as we would have liked.

Ever since the McQueens rearranged the house, we're not as able to take in guests as we used to. The living room, which had a very nice couch for sleeping on, was turned into an art studio. The basement, which used to be mine, is now Bruce's. It has also been converted into something of a den. The basement now contains the nice sleeping couch from the former living room. But the basement isn't the greatest place to put a guest. Robin's room, with the wet paint, isn't the greatest place for anyone to sleep.

My room is in no shape to house a guest. Especially on such short notice.

So, we have this poor guy, who's been on the road for over 3 weeks, coming to stay at our house for a night. We have no place to put him to sleep. We have no power to cook dinner. Luckily, Wendy made chicken before the power went out. By the time Jack and the cyclist got home and sat down for dinner, the chicken was cold!

Ahhhh, just another day in the life with the McQueens.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (77)

The windshield is saying to the rock that's flying at it "Don't craze me, bro!"
"Crazing" is to cause fine cracks to appear, often in ceramics, or glass, etc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (76)

The city is saying to the falling bomb (labelled "BOMB", btw) "Don't raze me, bro!"

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

My New Hobby (Part 2)

Long time blog readers will remember that I've decided to get my pilot's license. It's time for an update.

Things are coming along really well. When I first started, I was flying a Cessna 150. 150's are thought of as "tin cans with wings." On one hot and humid Saturday, the instructor and I were not able to get off the ground in the 150. It was then that I decided to switch to the Cessna 172.

My next flight went really well. We flew to Ottawa MacDonald Cartier International Airport to practise flying in a control zone, and runway switches. When we went back to Rockcliffe, we did a simulated engine failure in circuit. I managed to put the plane down on the runway.

About a week ago I got my Student Pilot Permit. Then I had my (second) First Solo earlier this week. (I have 14 hours of solo flight time logged from my days at Sault College, so this isn't a real First Solo, but it's still an accomplishment.)

Here's a picture of my First Solo landing:

Here's my checklist of things I must do before I'm finished with my goal of obtaining a PPL:

  • Get a valid CAT III medical

  • Register with Rockcliffe Flying Club.

  • Buy study materials

  • Write PSTAR (The written prerequisite for a Student Pilot Permit)

  • Write the Transport Canada written exam

  • Do flying exercises
    • Do Pro-solo exercises

    • Do first solo

    • Do post-solo exercises
      • Circuit exercises

      • Steep Turns, Slow Flight and Forced Approaches

      • Forced Approaches

      • Precautionary landings

      • Diversions

    • Do dual cross-country to Cornwall

    • Do solo cross-country to Cornwall

    • Do dual cross-country to Kingston

    • Do solo cross-country to Kingston

  • Pre-Flight Test

  • Pass Transport Canada flight test

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Dangers of Bisphenol-A (Part 2)

A while ago I wrote an article on BPA in dental sealants and composite fillings. Just a few days ago I saw a relevant article and decided to feature it on today's article.

Apparently, most tests on BPA have been done on rats, or something, but not on people. The EFSA has found that "adults and infants rapidly metabolize BPA and eliminate the substance."

When I wrote part 1 of this series I had one unanswered question. I found the question to be very hard to research. I saw my dentist yesterday, and finally got my answer.

My question was "Can dental sealants be removed?" The answer was "yes, but you might do more damage that way." She said in order to remove them she'd probably have to drill them out. The drill would likely drill away at the underlying enamel. That would make the tooth more susceptible to cavities.

My next question was "Since acid was required to etch the enamel to allow the sealant to bond to the tooth, when the sealant eventually comes out, won't my tooth have these etchings which will make it more susceptible to cavities?"

She said "Oh no, it's such a little bit of acid. When your saliva hits the etching, the minerals are replenished and the etchings disappear. Your tooth will be smooth again."

In conclusion, according to one study, BPA might not be as bad as we thought, and dental sealants can be taken out, but there's a risk of damaging enamel. If you don't want them, unless you have a real immediate need to have them removed, it is probably best to wait until they fall out on their own. This can take 5 to 10 years, or even longer. My dentist told me that they might be there for life.

UPDATE: According to these articles BPA may be harmful to human health. People with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were more likely to have heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest levels.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (74)

The grass is saying to the cow "Don't graze me, bro!"

(Yes, that's a cow. I know. I suck at drawing cows. I know it looks more like a dog. As a matter of fact, I know a dog that looks like a miniature cow.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (72)

The house on the right is saying to the house that's on fire "Don't blaze me, bro!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (71)

The guy being tied to the chair is saying to the guy tying him to the chair is saying "Don't haze me, bro!"

I'm assuming this is in the army, or high school initiation or something.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

How To Better Manage Your Money

In the past I have made some financial mistakes. These mistakes have prompted me to take actions that have turned out to be some of the smartest moves I've made. I will share these with you so you don't have to live through the mistakes. You can learn from my mistakes.

Once upon a time I used to balance my account with that little book they give you when you get a book of cheques. Eventually, I stopped doing that. It was too much hassle. I was pretty good at keeping track of my money with my head. As time went on, my money situation got more complicated. I got a job, which meant I had income. With great income comes great expenses.

Then, within the space of about a month, I wrote three rubber cheques. When I wrote those three cheques things got a little jumbled in my head. The cheques were cashed earlier than I thought they would be. This resulted in a $35 NSF charge for each cheque. One of the cheques was a rent cheque. The apartment company charged me for the inconvenience of the bounced cheque. I ended up spending about $100 in NSF charges. Not cool.

I decided it was time to keep closer track of my banking transactions. I knew that recording my transactions in that little book that comes with your cheque book wouldn't be enough. I tried that already, and eventually gave up. Instead, I bought Accounting For Dummies. Then I enrolled in an Intro to Accounting course at the local university. I started using GnuCash, an open source accounting program.

That was smart because it helped me to understand all the accounting concepts and lingo. Now I meticulously keep track of my money. I know where my money goes. I close my accounts at the end of every year. I can go back and see where I spent my money in an given year. I can see how much I spent on entertainment, rent, gas, etc. in a given year. I can see when money will be transfered from one account to another. I haven't bounced one cheque since I started doing this.

Just over a year ago, as long time readers will remember, I bought a car. This was the deal: $0 down, 0% financing.

Sounds like a good deal, right? Well, yes and no. If you have money to put down on the loan, it's only smart to not put it down if you're going to invest that money. Otherwise you should put it down. I did have a bit of money (that I haven't invested) that I didn't put towards the loan. I should have.

When you put $0 down on a loan, it makes your monthly payments rather high. I had just gotten my government job, so I was thinking "Hey! I'm rich! I can afford this!" But it turned out to chew up most of my disposable income. When that loan gets paid off, I'm going to feel like I won the lottery!

My problem was that, for all my knowledge of how much I was spending where, and how much money I was making, my picture of my finances wasn't exactly what I needed to determine what I should have done regarding the car loan. I had a great record of all of my financial transactions. But I had no general picture of my regular monthly income/expenses. So I recently fixed that.

I set up a simple spreadsheet where I list all of my monthly expenses and income, and calculate my monthly disposable income.

In the first column (A) I list predictable, consistent monthly expenses: rent, car payments, etc. No one-time expenses: TVs, stereos, computer equipment, etc.

In the second column (B) I put my predictable, consistent monthly take-home pay. No tax returns, bonuses, or insurance reimbursements.

In the third column I calculate my disposable income. Income minus expenses (Column B - Column A). It allows me to know how long a one time expense will take to pay off. It allows me to know if I can afford another monthly expense.

If I had been doing that before my car loan negotiations, I could have said "Ouch! That's too much! How much money do I have to put down to get my monthly payments down to $x/month?"

To summarize:
  1. Take an accounting or book-keeping course at a local university or college and apply what you've learned. This might be harder for those among you who aren't used to employing overkill methods to solve your problems.
  2. Set up a quick'n'dirty spreadsheet to track your basic monthly income, expenses, and disposable income. This might be harder for those among you without predictable income or expenses, like if you run a business, or have kids.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (67)

The random Klingon in a Starfleet uniform with a Klingon sash on the left is yelling "Freeze!" to the man on the right, who responds "Don't phaze me bro!"

Friday, June 06, 2008

Now We Only Have One National Anthem

According to Today's Article the CBC is dropping the Hockey Night In Canada theme song they've had for 30 years. This has many Hockey fans dismayed. (Check out the number of comments at the bottom of the article!) Heck! I'm not even a hockey fan - I don't even know how many innings are in a game of hockey - and I'm dismayed!

That theme song, aside from being my cell-phone ring-tone for about 3 years, is considered Canada's unofficial national anthem. They're getting rid of our unofficial national anthem! I'm sure more people know the words to that song than the official anthem.

I'd wager that CBC is doing this to generate outcry from the people. The CBC will eventually give in. Then they'll keep using the theme. That way, we'll appreciate it more. We'll thank the CBC the same way you thank the police officer for knocking your speeding ticket down by 10 km/h.

Although, it kinda makes sense if you think about it. We're loosing our unofficial national anthem, which is associated with one of our two national sports - hockey. At the same time, we're loosing our hockey teams (and players) to the states.

Now that I've gotten an emotional reaction out of you, and caused you to make up your mind that the people running the CBC are a bunch of moonshine-swilling baboons, I'll confuse you with some facts.

The company that licenses that theme to the CBC is suing the CBC for $ 2.5 million for using the song too often. For the $500 per game fee the CBC pays, they're allowed to play it only during hockey games shown within Canada. They allege the CBC has been using it for games shown outside of Canada, and in other programming. Perhaps this has something to do with the CBC ditching our secondary national anthem?

UPDATE: You may resume think of the CBC management as a bunch of moonshine-swilling baboons. They let the anthem get away. CTV bought the rights to the music. CTV owns TSN.

Now that we can continue to hear the music, I suspect no one will boycott the CBC. We, the people, have been appeased. Besides, people are way to obsessed with hockey. The devotion of the fans has lead to a hockey season of, what feels like, 14 months every year. And that's before the play-offs. The market exists to allow that to happen. With that market, no theme song is going to stop people from watching.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (66)

The Hunchback says "Oh goodie! It's hump-day!"

FYI: "Hump-day" is Wednesday because it's the middle of the week you need to get over to get closer to the weekend. There is no double-entendre here, I just couldn't resist the pun.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (64)

The Unfortunate Demise of Sax and Violins.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against music featuring either violins and/or saxophone. I enjoy that music very much. In fact, I am listening to Mozart's Symphony No. 40, Allegro Assai at this very moment. In case you haven't noticed, my art tends to be a bit on the dismal side.

Besides, I could I resist the pun.

Frankly, I'm just impressed that I could draw a broken violin on my first try.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Have No Chemistry with Chemistry

I would like to euthanize a nasty rumour floating around about me. A couple of years ago I took a intro chemistry course by correspondence. My final mark ended up being 94%.

That's when the rumour started. People started thinking I was good at chemistry. After all, anyone who can get a 94% in chemistry must be good at chemistry, right?

Not quite. Here's why:

The average university course takes about 13 weeks, with 3 hours of class per week. Science classes that have a lab component often have a 3 hour lab every week. That's 6 hours of classroom instruction per week.

6 hours/week × 13 weeks = 78 hours.

The rule of thumb I heard when going to school was that for every hour you spent in the classroom you should spend two hours outside class doing homework and studying.

(78 × 2) + 78 = 234 hours.

Add an exam onto the end. Let's round up. 240 hours.

My average mark in university was 86%. That's an average of 0.358 percentage points per hour of course.

I know most courses don't require that much time to complete. I don't think I followed the 2:1 study time requirement for any of my courses in college or university. I'm being generous for the sake of argument.

Compare to a class I was good at: Computer Data Structures. I went to most of the lectures. I typically slept, or read a novel during class. I did the assignments. I probably put 1.5 hours/week into that course (including any lecture time when I may have been paying attention).

1.5 hours/week × 13 weeks = 19.5 hours of work.

My final mark was 97%. That's 4.97 percentage points per hour worked.

Chemistry took me from June to November to finish. That's 28 weeks (compared to 13 for the average course). From June until September I worked on chemistry for about 41 hours/week. (5 hours a day Monday through Friday, and 8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays). That happened for about 16 weeks.

41 hours/week × 16 weeks = 656 hours.

From September to November (12 weeks) I worked for approximately 11 hours/day on week days, with 8 hours/day on weekends. That's 71 hours/week.

71 hours/week × 12 weeks = 852 hours.

852 hours + 656 hours = 1508 hours.

Starting about a week before my exam and midterm, I took practice tests (which were very similar to the real tests). My marks were in the 50s and 60s. Those practice tests allowed me to see my strengths and weaknesses. I had about a week to work on them. When I wrote the tests, and got a 90% and 91%. Combined with my lab marks, and assignment marks I got a final mark of 94%.

1508 hours. That's 6.28 times more than the average course, and 79.4 times more than a course I'm good at.

That's an average of 0.062 percentage points per hour worked.

That's awfully low for something I'm supposedly good at.

In order to do 1508 hours of study for a normal course of 13 weeks, you'd need to study for more than 16 hours per day, every day.

Here's a table for the visually inclined:

A course I'm good atAn average courseIntro to Chemistry
Time spent studying
19.5 hours240 hours1508 hours
% per hour

And what did I get from it? What do I remember a year an a half later? Here is a list of things I remember from that class:
  1. If it looks like water, it probably is. Taste to make sure.

  2. Acids eat things. They poop out water. The opposite of an acid is a fortress.

  3. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  4. If your trousers are rapidly oxidizing, check your moral compass. You may be lying.

  5. Paraffin doesn't work for Tyler Durden

  6. The Addams Family tree is actually a table.

  7. Most chemists have mole problems.

  8. Many of these moles have lots of gas.

  9. Some of these moles are brave and noble.

  10. If you're really radioactive by insisting on calling in for all the contests, requesting your favorite songs, you may be only living a half-life.

  11. Giving your girlfriend coal earrings and insisting that they're diamonds because they're made of the same stuff will give you the opportunity to find a new girlfriend.

  12. Watching Pink Floyd's The Wall while experimenting with Acid will cause you to either mess up the experiment and/or miss some of the movie. And then the movie won't make any sense.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I'm Not An Artist, For Now (Part 3)

Yesterday I received a package in the mail. It was my camera from Canon. A few weeks ago I mentioned that my camera broke and that there would be no further coffee cup art until it was fixed.

There was a note with my camera with my description of the problem, along with some other technical details, but nothing about if the problem was fixed or not.

I put batteries and a memory card in, turned the camera on, and it worked.

I am in the process of taking pictures of my recent coffee cup art. They will return to this blog next Wednesday.

It was a bit of a pain being without a camera though. I sure wish I had my camera last week when I saw Big Foot kidnapping the Lindberg Baby from Amelia Earhart.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Blood From A Stone

Today's Article is interesting. The Recording Industry Artists of America (RIAA) is suing a homeless person! I'm really not sure how to feel about this. One the one hand, it still bugs me that big business is suing Joe Six-pack. On the other hand, there's a sort of humour to the idea of suing a homeless man!? Are they insane? Have they no discretion? How much money do they think they're going to get from this guy?

If they win, how will they collect their winnings? Are they gonna go after his shopping cart and collection of grocery store bags?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Dangers of Bisphenol-A

According to Today's Article the government of Canada intends to ban baby bottles built with the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA).

They haven't completely banned the use of BPA because our usual daily exposure isn't high enough to warrant concern. But, for babies, the margin should be greater.

BPA can be found in plastic drinking bottles, the lining of tin cans, CDs, and other electronics.

However, there is another source of BPA that I haven't seen listed in any of the articles I've read.

Dental fillings and sealants are made from BPA derivatives. They're white, and the shade can be matched to your teeth colour. You cannot tell if you have a resin filling simply by looking, if it's done right. The traditional amalgam fillings are silvery and are quite visually apparent.

Sealants, in case you haven't been to the dentist in a while, are made of BPA derivatives, like fillings. Dentists put them in the pits of your molars where food, bacteria, and acid are likely to settle, and where your tooth brush is unlikely to clean out. They put the sealant in there to make sure you don't get cavities. It's a lot cheaper than a filling. My dentist put 7 sealants in my mouth recently. All 7 of them cost less than one filling.

In the hours following the fillings or sealants, some BPA can be found in the saliva.

Before you run out and get your BPA fillings replaced with old-fashioned amalgam, read about the risks of amalgam fillings. Summary: Amalgam filling have been linked to multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Lou Gerig’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and the notion of a winter sport being played in June isn't just alright, it's a good thing.

Compare that to this article which says that after a day no BPA was found in the saliva of patients who received dental sealants, and the amounts of BPA were 50 000 times smaller than the maximum BPA limits.

That article was from so it may be a bit biased. Here's another study that's not so optimistic.

Amalgam fillings just sort of get wedged in there. Composite resin fillings bond to the tooth. Composite resin fillings can lead the tooth to be sensitive to hot and cold for a few weeks, as well as sensitivity while chewing. I got my fillings 2 months ago (to the day). I'm still a bit sensitive to hot/cold drinks. It doesn't hurt. I can tell it's there.

After a few days my one filling really started to hurt when I ate. My dentist shaved it down (something that probably can't be as easily and safely done with amalgam) and now it hurts a lot less. I could probably get it shaved down some more, but I'm thinking about leaving it there as a painful reminder to have a better diet for my teeth.

It would be better to have your amalgam fillings replaced with the composite resin fillings and live with the small amounts of BPA you might get. I'm not sure how easy or expensive that would be. I'll talk to my dentist the next time I'm there.

As for sealants, lots of dentists recommend them. If you search the internet you're going to find lots of pages singing their praises. Most of these pages are written by dentists, so they're somewhat biased. When reading stories from people who have had them, the story seems to be a bit different. If the sealant isn't put in just right, if one thing goes wrong (the tooth isn't dry enough, etc.) then cavities can form underneath the sealant. Those cavities are very hard for the dentist to find. They cannot be visually identified. Some web sites say that even the x-ray won't find them. You have to wait for the sealants to come off on their own, then you may find them. (Other sites say that it takes an x-ray to see the sub-sealant cavities.)

Let's not forget, when the sealants start to wear down, they will come apart in bits, and you'll likely swallow them. That's a lot of BPA at once. When the sealants break down, it's a wonderful opportunity for bacteria and acid to settle underneath the sealants, where your toothbrush can't get to.

Here's a page with a few anecdotal stories of how sealants ruined teeth.

One more thing to keep in mind: BPA is not water soluble. So it's fat/alcohol soluble. Think about that the next time you take a swig of wine out of your plastic water bottle.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Not An Artist, Too - For Now (Part 2)

This week, instead of a Coffee Cup Art, I have news relevant to my coffee cup art. According to Today's Article, Turner Valley, a town in Alberta has decided to ban the use of Styrofoam. Styrofoam is made from petroleum. This ban is good for the environment, but bad for my art. (Although, it could make my art even more valuable!)

Mind you, I don't live in Turner Valley, or even Alberta, but it is possible this could turn into a trend. Despite the lack of canvas I would have to work with, I'd be in favour of the ban. We have a limited supply of oil left in the world. We need to try to save any way we can. Drive a Toyota Corolla instead of a Hummer. Dry your clothes on the clothesline instead of the dryer. Turn out the lights when you leave a room. Try minimize the time your fridge/freezer are open. Make sure your house isn't leaking heat. Only turn on your air conditioning at night, for sleeping comfort.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to engage in my latest pleasure. I'm off to the airport to fly.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Full House With No Royal Flush

When I got home on Friday night I had a long list of things I wanted to do that evening. When I walked in the front door, the toilet from the downstairs washroom was sitting in several pieces strewn from the washroom into the surrounding hallway. There were also several buckets, tools, and towels lying about.

So much for my to-do list. I knew I'd be helping out with the toilet for the night.

Jack was out. Wendy told me about their day. They found out the toilet was leaking, dripping into the basement. (For the first time I was actually glad I was living upstairs instead of the basement.) Jack was out getting replacement parts. We needed a new wax ring to sit in between the flange and the floor. Wendy was watching toilet repair videos on the internet.

Robin was having some friends over that night for a sleepover. They planned on sleeping in the basement. We were also having a bunch of lunch guests on Sunday. This was a situation with no easy solution, with a promise of comedy.

When Jack got home, he and I put the new wax ring down, and reassembled the toilet. Jack went to the basement to watch the pipe as I poured water down the toilet, simulating a flush, to see if it would leak. It did. Big time. (We had buckets, and a plastic sheet downstairs to catch the leak.)

We realized the problem was that the flange was sitting too low in the floor. We needed a new wax ring, and possibly a flange extension. It was too late. Rona was closed.

We bought the parts we needed on Saturday, but didn't have time to fix the toilet. On Sunday night as I was on my way to bed, Jack installed the new parts, and reassembled the toilet. Wendy flushed as Jack watched the pipe in the basement for a leak.

Hallelujah! No leaks!

So our toilet was out of order for the whole weekend, so I've been holding it all in since Friday afternoon. If you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My New Hobby

"A fatal attraction is holding me fast
How can I escape this irresistible grasp?"

-Pink Floyd's "Learning to Fly"

A couple of weeks ago I decided to try to get my pilot's licence.

Last week I got my CAT III medical. My first flight was yesterday. It was a pretty simple flight. The instructor did the take-off, landing, and some attitude demos. I did some climbs, descents, turns, and cruises. The instructor said that next time I would do the take-off and landing.

It has been several years since I was in a small aeroplane. It was good to get back in the saddle again. But I was disappointed by how much I had forgotten. At first, it took me hours to get comfortable talking on the radio. Then I finally got it. Yesterday I saw that I had lost it. I hope it won't take long to get it back again.

I also forgot how to climb and descend. (For the non-pilot's reading this, it's more complicated than "pull-back to climb, and push forward to descend.".)

On the upside, it's a lot less stressful than Sault College. For one thing, I'm learning at my own pace. I take as much, or as little, time as I need. If I mess up I don't have someone biting my head off. But I do miss the Sault College aeroplanes; Zlin 242Ls. They're more roomy than the Cessna 150. They also have more equipment in them. The Zlin had more switches, knobs, dials, etc. It made me feel smarter when I knew what they all did. They were aerobatic aeroplanes, which allowed you to do more with them; turn at steeper angles, endure higher G-forces.

I also miss not having to pay for flying. Flying is expensive!! At Sault College, I just paid tuition like everyone else. At the time I think I paid about a thousand per semester. The provincial government paid the rest (about $35 000 per student). If I flew everyday now, I could drop a thousand in a week. Not to mention the medicals, the books, the head-set, the tests, etc. If you're looking to fly, you could spend $1000 before seeing the inside of an aeroplane.

Oh well. This is not about money. This is about chasing after a dream I've had since I was 5 years old. This is about me engaging in one of the most fun activities I've ever tried. This is about reaching a goal. This is about learning to fly.

For the summer, most of my "free time" will be consumed with flying. So, I'm sure you'll read more about it on my blog. Once I get my camera fixed or replaced, I hope to get pictures, and maybe some video's, up on the blog.

Here is a list of things I need to do to get my licence:
  • Get a valid CAT III medical

  • Register with Rockcliffe Flying Club.

  • Buy study materials

  • Write PSTAR (The written prerequisite for a Student Pilot Permit)

  • Write the Transport Canada written exam

  • Do flying exercises
    • Do Pro-solo exercises

    • Do first solo

    • Do post-solo exercises

    • Do dual cross-country to Cornwall

    • Do dual cross-country to Kingston

    • Do solo cross-country to Kingston

  • Pass Transport Canada flight test

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm Way Above Average... commute time, that is. According to Today's Article the average commute distance in Ottawa is 8.7 km. My commute is 52 km. Each way. Apparently, Ottawa has one of the longest average commute distances in Canada, but one of the shortest commute time.

Also, from the article, Ottawa-Gatineau has the fewest driving commuters. Instead people take the bus, or bike, or walk. I can see why. Driving in downtown Ottawa sucks! Too many one-way streets. Too many "No Left Turn" intersections that make no apparent sense. Highway exits that you can only get to going in one direction.

It also turns out Ottawa is one of Canada's healthiest cities. I noticed that right away when I moved here from Sault Ste. Marie. A lot of people walk/run/inline-skate along the canal.

Oddly enough, the Quebec Outaouais region is the most obese region of Quebec.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I'm Not An Artist, Too - For Now

My camera broke a few weeks ago. Until I get that situation taken care of, I can't post any new coffee cup art.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Water Myths

According to Today's Article 4 water myths have been debunked by a couple of kidney experts.

The truths are:
  • Drinking water before and after a meal does not suppress appetite. Water is absorbed too quickly, and does not produce any appetite-suppressing hormones (as far as they know).

  • Drinking more water produces more urine, but does not rid the body of toxins more.

  • Drinking more water improves your skin.

    I have to take issue with this one. At one point I had quite a few zits until someone told me to stop drinking sugared drinks, and drink water instead. I did, and in a little while my face cleared right up. Of course, that's anecdotal and could be because of the reduction of sugar, rather than the increase of water consumption.

  • Water does not get rid of a headache.

    I also have to take issue with this one. Headaches can be caused by many things: you slept the wrong way, dehydration, too much caffeine, not enough caffeine, meningitis, loud noises, trying to get Microsoft Windows to work. If the cause is dehydration, then drinking water should help.

    But, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

Also, note that drinking too much water at one time can cause your brain to swell, and you die. Also, apparently, long distance runners do more damage to their body by over-drinking than under-drinking.

And the old adage about needing to drink 8 glasses of water a day? That, like the "you only use 10% of your brain" adage is a myth.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (62)

The elephant is thinking "There must be peanuts in here somewhere."

In case you can't see it, that's a guy hanging out the back of the van.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'm An Artist Too (60)

He's saying "Some people say I have my mother's eyes. Some say I have my father's."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Computer Network, No Strings Attached (Part 2)

A while ago I needed to get a new router. I asked some people what recommendations they might have. I summarized their replies in a previous blog entry. I also said I would write about my decision. Here it is.

I walked into FutureShop looking, probably, for a Lynksys router. When I got to the computer section there was a table with "Open Box" specials. These were items that had been bought, then returned, and being resold at a discount. There was an Apple Airport Extreme. It's normally $199. The Open Box price is usually $179. This one was listed as $149. Plus, I had a gift-card to use at FutureShop. The Apple Airport Extreme ended up costing me about the same as any other N-router. I was also told that FutureShop had a 30 day return policy. So I had a month. So I bought it.

Setup was easy. At first I had a problem getting connected to the internet. It turned out that the cable modem was the culprit. I reset that, and badda-bing, badda-boom! I was on the internet.

I have been very happy with my purchase. The Apple Airport Extreme is a highly configurable router. I was able to give my laptop a static I.P. address. I was not able to do this on the Sympatico router. I was able to forward ports to my laptop. I was able to use several different types of encryption for network security.

Speaking of network security, I did try using an Access Control List, without any form of encryption. I was still able to get on the network even when my network card wasn't listed as one of the permitted ones. That wasn't so good.

My only real problem with it is I'm finding it has variable signal strength. On my Mac, I have a maximum of 4 bars of strength. When I'm in my room, I will have anywhere between 1 and 4 bars inclusive. One minute it will be at 3 bars. The next minute it will be down to 1 bar. 30 seconds later it will be at 2 bars. When it's down to 1 bar, things tend to run pretty slowly.

There could be many reasons for this, such as, I live in a big house, and I might be on the edge of the range. The placement of the router might not be the best. It maybe too close to the computer/monitor in the living room. Perhaps my laptop, when on my desk is sitting around all these other electronic devices which may be interfering with the signal.

I tried connecting a USB harddrive to the router. The data rates were slow. Other than that it worked like a charm. I couldn't seem to share a printer though. That may be because it was a Dell printer that my Mac doesn't recognize.

The Apple Airport Extreme does have one feature that I haven't seen advertised. If I knew it had this, I would have bought it right away without even thinking about another router. It can also act as a bridge. There may soon come a day when I will need a bridge in this house. I finally have one! Of course, when that day comes, I will need to get another router. Well, actually the McQueens will get the router. (They don't need the power and awesomeness of the Apple Airport Extreme. Any G router will do fine.) It's nice to know I can use the Airport Extreme as a bridge.