Saturday, July 30, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
OK, fine! A ton of blogs are abandoned wastelands, and a huge number of them are bot generated spam disseminators, but if only half of those are legit blogs, I'd still be in the top 1%. Pretty cool, I think.
It seems not a week goes by without a newspaper or magazine article demanding a government investigation into collusion by the major gas companies. It seems to be the norm these days that people want other people to solve their problems for them. The funny thing is, it is pretty dang easy to reduce the impact the price of gasoline has on your wallet. Use less gas.
That's it. It's not complicated. Use less gas. Here follow a few very simple strategies for reducing the amount of money you spend on gas each week.
1) Drive less often. Simple. Going down to the corner store for milk and butter? Don't take the car. Walk, or ride a bike, or roller blade. Not only will you use no gasoline, you will be contributing to a healthier you. But, I hear you say, milk and butter are more expensive at the corner store than they are at the super-multi-mega-store on the other side of town. Are they? After you have factored in the gas, maintenance costs, and insurance costs involved in using the car, are they really?
2) Share the load. Start taking public transit to work, or start up a carpool group at your office. Not only will you be saving on transportation costs, you will also be reducing your stress levels, and getting time to read those books you've had gathering dust on your shelves. The social aspects are great, as well. Some of the best conversations I have ever had have been with strangers on a bus.
3) Buy a more fuel efficient car. Unless you're already driving one of the fancy new gas/electric hybrid cars, you can improve your gas mileage considerably by moving to a more fuel efficient model the next time you buy a new car. The effect on your wallet will be immediate. Not only will you have spent less on the car, as smaller, more fuel efficient cars tend to be less expensive, you will be using smaller bills to pay for your weekly fill ups.
These three simple suggestions will have not only the immediate benefit of leaving more money in your wallet for other things. They will have longer term effects as well. If a significant number of people follow these guidelines, people in general will be in better health due to increased exercise, and reduced pollution in our air. Reduced pollution in our air will lead to a slowdown in the progression of global warming, leading to a better future for our grandchildren. And, surprisingly, the drop in the local demand for gasoline will cause prices at the pumps to drop. Talk about a win-win situation.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
And Canada renews its commitment to the war on terror...in a location where the war on terror is actually going on.
No word on whether the viagra users suffering from sudden blindness are single or married.
Monday, July 25, 2005
In 20 attempts to send a word via telepathy to his "receiver", he did not succeed once.The applicant has been asked what occurences initially led him to believe he had such an ability, but to the best of my knowledge, that question has not been answered. More details as they become available.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Friday, July 22, 2005
Muslim leaders expressed concern at the shooting. Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said he had spoken to "jumpy and nervous" Muslims since the shooting. "I have just had one phone call saying `What if I was carrying a rucksack?' It's vital the police give a statement about what occurred and explain why the man was shot dead," he said.I have a suggestion. When the police yell at you to stop, don't run away, vault the barriers at the subway station, and attempt to board a train. When the police yell at you to stop, stop. When the police yell at you to lie down with your hands behind your head, lie down with your hands behind your head. when the police determine that you are not a threat, you may request of them an apology. Only the guilty run.
Weekend Assignment #69: You've been hired to create a whole new ice cream flavor that's never been thought of before (so far as you know). What flavor do you create? For this assignment you can pick any flavor -- or combination of flavors -- that you like, but, you know, try to make it something that you'd actually want to eat. Also, try to give it an ice-creamy name, like how Ben & Jerry's chocolate and cherry ice cream is called "Cherry Garcia." Mmm... Cherry Garcia.
Extra Credit: Oh, fine. Create an utterly inedible ice cream flavor, too. Try not to make it too gross, and definitely don't make it a TOS violation. But it can include ingredients that you wouldn't really put into food. Usually.
I sat and wracked my brains for some time trying to come up with an assortment of ingredients that would make the perfect ice cream. I finally realised that there is only one ingredient in the perfect ice cream.
My ice cream recipe may not be entirely original, but I don't know if it has been done commercially to this extreme before. Start with chocolate ice cream. Not just any chocolate ice cream, but the thickest, richest, creamiest, chocolatiest ice cream you can make. Add chocolate chips. Not the shaved chocolate bits that you usually find in a chocolate chip ice cream, but the big, drop shaped chips you use in homemade chocolate chip cookies. Mix in a generous helping of chocolate fudge brownie chunks; the richest, moistest, fudgiest brownie chunks you can find. Through it all, run a swirl of chocolate syrup, just like you would find drizzled over the finest malt shop sundae.
What would I call it? Well, descriptively, it would be Chocolate Chocolate Chip Chocolate Fudge Brownie Chocolate Sundae, but that seemed a little unwieldy, so I asked my wife what she thought. She didn't even hesitate. My ice cream is called Better Than Sex.
Extra Credit: Creamed Corn Au Gratin. Mmm.
July 23, 6:40pm. Edited to Add: I was perusing Olddog299's entry, and was inspired to create a new flavour as a tribute to Canadian legislators. I have combined peach champagne and pink bubblegum flavoured ice creams in a delicious mixture I call Gay Marriage.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Monday, July 18, 2005
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Weekend Assignment #68: Take a moment to appreciate something French. Tell us about that French thing you most appreciate. It could be anything, from a particular French wine to your favorite French filmmaker to the fact they like Jerry Lewis more than we.
Being Canadian, I don't have to reach as far as France to experience The French. We have a whole province of them right here. The Actual French sneer at their colonial cousins, considering them not really French at all; merely Quebecois. Certainly, the language has drifted over the years, to the point where speaking Parisian french in Quebec will get you sneered at, and vice versa. To be fair, the French are not the most insufferable language snobs on the planet. That honour falls to the Swiss, who claim to speak the purest form of the French language. In reply, and I believe I can speak for most of the rest of the world, I say, "whatever."
It is fitting, then, that my favourite French contribution to the world comes, not from France, but from Canada. I don't know who it was that first had the idea of sprinkling some white cheese curds over a plate of French Fries, and then smothering the whole thing in steaming hot gravy, but that person deserves some kind of monument. Poutine is one of the true pleasures in life.
Of course, many fast food establishments around North America serve something they call Poutine. Do not be fooled. The only poutine actually worth eating must be accquired from a Chip Truck, examples of which can be found scattered around Quebec and Eastern Ontario.
Extra Credit: Been to France? Some of your vacation pictures would be nice to see.
I did say I have never been to France, but here's a picture of a very young me trying to look sophisticated over a boule de cafe au lait in Lower Town, Quebec City.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
stolen from Skatje.
1. Take the lyrics to a favorite song.
2. Go to Google Language Tools, tranlate the lyrics into German, then from German to French, and finally from French back into English.
3. Post the results verbatim.
4. Invite friends to guess the song based on the interesting new lyrics.
Under the city two strike the machines of heart of hearts, which per night thus offers in the race of rooms to be slept, which by whispering the soft refusal closed with key is and given then in the uptown of tunnel have the rat dreamer that it cuts down, whereas projectiles to the bottom it halls in the night aucunes clock, if the ambulance drawing aside or, whereas the girl concludes from the light of room to be laid down outside road on fires in material deathwaltz enters, which real meat and which to the bottom here imagination and the poets are, nothing all writes back and him right all echoes and in the fast night they during their moment to reach and test, with the form, but it rollings up not even completely this night in Jungleland wounded an honest place upwards
Friday, July 15, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
Well, here we are in the middle of a hot and sultry summer: What better time to remember the crisp, cool days of winters past?
Your Monday Photo Shoot: Cool down on a hot summer day by posting one of your favorite pictures from winters past.
Here is a picture of Matthew proudly displaying his handiwork. He shovelled the entire driveway himself, without being asked. I thought I'd better take a picture, because I didn't think anybody would believe me when I told them.
I had no idea what prompted him to do it, until I watched him for a few minutes. He would pick up a shovel full of snow at one end of the driveway, and walk all of the way up to the other end to deposit it. I eventually realised he was putting all the snow in the same place. He was stockpiling for future snow fort building activities. Suddenly the look on his face in this photo makes sense.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
I wrote earlier about looking at where hits to my journal are coming from. In examining the various statistics provided to me by StatCounter, I noticed some regularly recurring locations and ISPs. That's the coolest; the knowledge that I have regular readers. At least I assume that there aren't several people in, for example, Oakville, Ontario, using Cogeco Cable, visiting my site. I suspect my friend, Paula (Queen of the Servins)(don't ask) comes by almost daily (thank you, Paula).
What interested me was the fact that Paula drops by almost daily, regardless of whether I have updated recently, or not. Perhaps some others of you do as well. I know I used to spend hours clicking on each and every one of the sixty plus blogs I read, only to find that only about 20% of them had updated since that last time I checked. A definite time waster.
Then I discovered Bloglines.com. Bloglines is a web based syndicated feed reader. If you are staring at your monitor right now in uncomprehending, slack jawed blankness, I will explain. Many blogs and journals provide what is called syndication feeds. AOL journals do, automatically. You don't even have to turn them on. Every time an AOL journaler publishes a new entry the AOL journals software generates syndication feeds. In this case, RSS and atom feeds.
What good are they? Well, you can get a piece of software called a feed reader that will go and look at all your favourite blogs every time you sign on to the Internet, and tell you which ones have been updated since you last checked. Then, you need only visit the ones with new entries. A huge time saver.
Bloglines is for those that are not comfortable downloading and installing software. Just go to the website, create an account, enter the urls of the blogs/journals you read, and it will generate a list for you, which you can visit in your web browser whenever you want.
I just looked at 'my feeds' on bloglines. I am subscribed to 65 feeds. Probably fewer than twenty of them update daily. Which means that when I click on 'my feeds' in the morning, I probably don't have to spend the time to visit forty or more of my favourite blogs that day.
Another time saver is the fact that I can read many of the blog entries right there in the the reader on the bloglines site. I don't have to click through to the journal in question unless I am moved to comment. Not all of the blog feeds offer the full entry in the reader, but many of them do. Those that don't typically have revenue generating ads on their site, and if you don't click through, they don't get paid.
So, if you are finding that you take an inordinate amount of time browsing through blogs and journals, check out a dedicated software feed reader, or Bloglines.com.
Weekend Assignment #67: Bad Movie Marathon! Share your favorite bad film of all time. Tell us why you love it so.
Extra Credit: Your favorite quote from the aforementioned film.
My first thought when I read this assignment was the 1986 movie Highlander, starring Christopher Lambert and sean Connery. Then I thought, "wait a minute! Just because some people think Highlander is a bad movie doesn't mean it is a bad movie. I liked it. I like it. I bought the DVD, and I can watch it again and again.
Sure, it's not Shakespeare. It is fairly badly filmed, and the DVD soundtrack is notorious in the industry for how poorly it is reproduced. The characters are cartoonish, and the story is fantastic, but come on, it is a story about immortals. If you aren't capable of suspending your disbelief, perhaps you should be sticking to documentaries.
Connery imbues the character of Ramirez with a huge amount of fun, and Lambert, although he can't act in English to save his life, has enough smoky intensity, and animal charisma to drive the narrative forward with pace. Clancy Brown, as The Kurgan, was larger than life. A bigger ham in a movie I do not think I have seen. And Roxanne Hart, who's work since includes a stint on the prime time soap Chicago Hope, and the made for TV docudrama Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story, manages to share most of her screen time with either Lambert, or extras, making her appear, respectively, invisible, or adequate.
So, the story is over complex, the pacing is all over the map, and some of the scenes are so disjointed as to be incomprehensible... Hangon. This is a bad movie! But in a good way. It's a good bad movie. Am I making any sense here?
No, when I thought further about it, and did a more detailed inspection of my DVD collection, I realised that I have another candidate, that I spent good money on, that I actually went out and searched almost a dozen stores looking for, that is a truly bad movie. A film that was originally intended to be a medium budget, science fiction television series, but was cobbled together into a theatrical release after the unprecedented success of Star Wars.
I am talking about Battlestar Galactica. Where Star Wars had Sir Alec Guinness, Galactica had Lorne Greene. Where Star Wars had Harrison Ford, Galactica had Dirk Benedict. Where Star Wars had a clever robot, Galactica had a mechanical dog
Maybe it is not fair to compare the two movies... What am I saying? By attempting to capitalise on the success of its predecessor, the producers of Battlestar Galactica invited comparison.
Star Wars employed the latest special effects technology. The technical team invented many of the techniques used to show us spaceship battles in ways we had never previously dreamed. In contrast, there were only three or four effects shots ever filmed of 'colonial Vipers' flying in space. The entire Battlestar Galactica film used those few effects shots for every dogfight scene in the movie. In fact, no new effects shots were ever filmed for the TV series. The entire two year run of the series was done with those same three or four Viper shots.
Star Wars used classic art direction, and costume and set design. Thirty years later it still looks fresh. Battlestar Galactica opted for a more contemporary look, resulting in it looking dated by the time it entered reruns on TV. A recent promotional campaign for the series on Canada's specialty cable TV station Space used the tag line, "who knew the future would look so much like the seventies?"
In my own review of the DVD ofthis movie on one of my favourite websites, I wrote:
The movie... well, the movie proves that we remember our childhood fondly. It's nowhere near as good as I seem to remember it. This disc is only for the hardcore fans.
You know, I have just come to the realisation that I don't really like this movie after all. Yes, I own the DVD, but after watching it once, I put it on the shelf, where it currently sits, collecting dust. So, Battlestar Galactica doesn't really fit into the criteria for this weekend assignment.
Which brings us back to Highlander. I think I'm going to go watch it again.
Extra credit: The signature line of the film, of course...
"There can be only one!"
Friday, July 8, 2005
The above graph shows visitors to my journal during the period June 11 to July 7, 2005. June 24th was the Friday I was featured on the main journals page as the weekly Guest Editor. July 1st is the following Friday, on which day my spot in the limelight was usurped by Felicia.
So tell me, are readers just fickle, or is my blog boring? Perhaps this random bolding will liven things up a bit. What do you think, more interesting? No, I didn't think so.
All in all, it was an interesting week. I received hundreds of comments and e-mails, many of which I am still trying to catch up on replying to. As you can see from the graph, I averaged well over 250 unique visitors per day for the week; more than a fivefold increase in my daily traffic. Early returns indicate my regular traffic may be up from an average of 40 hits per day before my Guest Editorship, to about 50 hits per day now. I hope I can live up to the pressure of being unboring to 25% more people than I'm used to.
It was interesting to look at the stats for those visitors over the course of the week. In addition to cities from all across the US and Canada I received hits from:
Caloundra, Melbourne, Sydney and other Australian cities.
Milano, Bologna, Roma, and other Italian cities.
London, Sheffield, Wolverhampton, and other English cities.
Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia.
unknown locations in France.
Several Caribbean Islands.
Also notable were some of the domains from which I received visits:
WGRZ TV, Buffalo
County of Riverside, California
Universita' Di Pisa, Italy
Memorial University of Newfoundland
University of Arkansas
University of Iowa
Milwaukee County Gov't
Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto
9th communications squadron, Beale Afb, California
Oakland unified school district, Oakland, California
State center community college district, Fresno, California
US department of defense, Washington, D.C.
I suspect the numerous hits from University ISPs were partially due to one of my posts being featured on the skeptics' circle that weekend. This week's skeptics' circle went up yesterday, by the way. Head on over and check it out for a collection of skeptical blogging from the last two weeks.
OK, so you're saying, "how in blazes do you know all of that stuff about where your site visitors are from, Paul?" Well, I'll tell ya. <~~(Pretend you can hear my John Wayne impersonation as you read that.) I have an external counter attached to my site from StatCounter. Take a look over there in my left sidebar. At the bottom of my about me section you will see a six digit number. That is my stat counter.
"But, Paul," you ask further, "why is that number different than the number on your AOL counter?" The answer to that is that the AOL counter counts every single page load on your journal, including your own visits. If you are the kind of blogger that edits your articles mercilessly, like I do, you may notice that your counter goes up five or six digits just from editing and saving the page several times.
I have my StatCounter counter set to record only unique visitors. What that means, is that once a person visits my journal once, the counter will not register them again unless they go away for more than six hours. In addition, it does not register my own visits to my blog, so that number more closely approximates the real traffic here.
One last thing before I head off to bed, where I really should be already. In my Guest Editor article, I mentioned the concept of blog carnivals, like the Skeptics' Circle. I'm thinking of starting an AOL Journals blog carnival. Not a themed one, like the Skeptics' Circle, or the Tangled Bank, but a general Carnival of the Vanities. The concept is simple. Got a blog entry that you are particularly proud of, but hasn't been widely noticed by the community? The Carnival of the Vanities would be a showcase to get it out to a wider audience. Once every two weeks or so, I would put out a call for submissions, and you would send me a link to the entry you'd like showcased. Then, I would do a blog entry listing all of the articles submitted with links to them.
What do you guys think, are you interested in taking part? Let me know in comments, or in e-mail.
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
via AOL news.
GLENEAGLES, Scotland (Reuters) - Irish rock star and anti-poverty activist Bono Wednesday gave up his fight to persuade Canada to boost foreign aid -- but not before telling Prime Minister Paul Martin he was a pain to deal with.Bono was quoted as saying, "He's very difficult to deal with because he won't agree to things that he doesn't believe he can deliver...that is very frustrating and annoying and infuriating."
Bono, like his fellow Irish rock star Bob Geldof, had openly pressed Martin to give a date by which Canada would raise its overseas assistance to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
Martin refuses, saying it could be too expensive, and stuck to his guns during a meeting with Bono on the margins of a Group of Eight summit in Scotland. Bono reluctantly admitted he could not force Martin to change his mind.
You know, I've never thought of Bono as being stupid before, but it is blindingly apparent that these bleeding hearts and artists have no idea how the world works. Would he prefer Martin agree to something he believes is beyond his ability to deliver? Maybe that's just what he is used to seeing from politicians. I'm surprised to find that I have less respect for Bono, and more respect for Paul Martin than I had yesterday.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
And even if it isn't, what of it? What weight do you think the G8 leaders will give to a petition signed by approximately one half of one percent of the world's population? What weight will these world leaders give to the concerns of a group of bleeding hearts and artists?
Likely, none. The simple fact is, the issue is far more complex than Bob Geldof and Bono would have you believe. Forgiving the debt to many African countries does not equate to helping their starving masses in any way. It is simply forgiving the debt to the governments of those countries, most of whom did not use the money for the benefit of their people in the first place.
Misappropriation of first world aid and assistance is rampant in Africa. African Presidents sit in marble halls, like Kings, while their people die of disease and hunger. Any forgiveness of debt on the part of the G8 nations must be accompanied by the termination of all future financial assistance, unless safeguards can be put in place to ensure the money gets used as advertised. Said safeguards do not consist of, "we really, really promise to use the money properly this time."
Saturday, July 2, 2005
This has got to be one of the cleverest Internet memes around. Instead of me filling out a questionaire, and being told what kind of pirate I am, you can click on the image below, and vote for what kind of pirate you think I am. Found at Pharyngula.
Friday, July 1, 2005
We're right up on the July 4th Weekend (Monday off! Whoo-hoo!), and rather than give you something too complex and involved, I figure you'll want to be off waving sparklers and blowing up fireworks and otherwise celebrating the freedoms you enjoy as Americans. So here's a simple Weekend Assignment:The July 4th weekend is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar south of the border. No, not Mexico. I'm in Canada, I mean you 'Mericans. However, instead of calling it just The July 4th Weekend, I think it is important to use its proper name. Happy Independence Day, America.
Weekend Assignment #66: July 4 Haiku! A 17-syllable holiday poem, please!
Up here in Canada, we have a holiday about the same time. Three days sooner, actually. July 1st is Canada Day. we used to call it Dominion Day, as it is the anniversary of the day, in 1867, that Canada became a Dominion; a separate political entity from Great Britain. Of course, because most people have no idea what a Dominion is, or think it is just a grocery store, the name was changed some years back to Canada Day. We have fireworks that day, too.
If you don't mind (pretty sure you won't), I'll make my Haikus about our holiday. Happy Canada Day.
Not Dominion Day
Not for a few years at least
Bon Jour Canada
Bold on white background
Flapping lazily on high
A red maple leaf
Three days earlier
Than our American friends
Extra credit to follow...don't touch that dial.