Saturday, July 29, 2006

I want to ride my bicycle

  I was on my way into my local Canadian Tire store this morning, and I  saw a woman who looked familiar. After a moment I recognised her. It was a girl I went to high school with, walking out with her three sons in tow.
  "Hi," she said. "Do you know anything about bikes?" I allowed that I do know some little bit about bikes, and inquired as to what she wanted to know.
   It seems she had just purchased a shiny new bike for her eldest son. He was proudly perched on it as we spoke: sparkly blue paint job, gleaming chrome trim, black stunt pegs protruding from the rear axles. She explained that she had bought him a different bike the previous day, but upon getting it home, it was nixed by Dad. Today she had returned the first bike, and this was the second choice. Her question was, did I think this bike was likely to meet with Dad's approval.
   I smiled a little bit, and bit my tongue. Inside I was telling her that she wasn't really asking me if I knew anything about bikes, she was asking me if I knew anything about her husband. I have never met the man. All I said was, "I don't think I can be of any help with that."
   As we parted company, I couldn't resist. I said, "if Dad doesn't like this one, maybe he should come with his son to pick out the next one." The response I got from both my friend and her son led me to believe that that would not be happening any time soon.
   It is to weep.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Don't show me your breasts

   So, I'm browsing through my news feeds, and I come across this article: 'Breast' cover gets mixed reaction - Yahoo! News. Well, if there's one way to get my attention, the word 'breast' is it. The article is somewhat surprising in that the referred to breast (nipple occluded by a nursing infant) appeared on the cover, not of some tawdry girlie mag, but of babytalk magazine.
"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third.

These readers weren't complaining about a sexually explicit cover, but rather one of a baby nursing, on a wholesome parenting magazine — yet another sign that Americans are squeamish over the sight of a nursing breast, even as breast-feeding itself gains more support from the government and medical community.

Babytalk is a free magazine whose readership is overwhelmingly mothers of babies. Yet in a poll of more than 4,000 readers, a quarter of responses to the cover were negative, calling the photo — a baby and part of a woman's breast, in profile — inappropriate.
   It really isn't that surprising a response, when you think about it. We are, after all, talking about a publication distributed in the United States, where they are only a couple of years shy of putting pant legs back on pianos. I would have thought the negative response might be much higher, seeing as we are told that 75% of Americans believe in some form of God, and modifying great works of art.
   I was about to click through to the next entry when one line, halfway down the article caught my eye:
Ash, 41, who nursed all three of her children, is cautious about breast-feeding in public..."I'm totally supportive of it — I just don't like the flashing," she says. "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."
   Yeah, I had to read that again, too. In case you can't believe your eyes, let me reassure you, it really does say:
"I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."
   A breast they didn't want to see. Like such a thing exists. I mean, we're men. We'll get our willies sneaking a peek at the withered, pancake, pygmy breasts in National Geographic if it's the only thing we can find. I can guaran-damn-tee you if a young woman on the street pops one out while we're walking by, we wanna see.

   Ok, so that's flippant. If I happen to walk by a woman on the street who's breast feeding, I'm not going to crane my neck for a better view or anything. I'll probably glance her way, realise what's happening, and look away, out of respect for her and her child. If I happen to see a flash of nipple, big deal. It's not like it's something I haven't seen before.
   Then again, I am a forty one year old married guy who's seen his share of breasts, both in mother nurturing child and...uh...other situations. I'm not some teen or twenty-something geek-a-zoid still dreaming of getting to second base one day for whom a flash of lactating breast would be the highlight of the month.
   But my outward circumspection doesn't change the fact that I'm still walking down the sidewalk, smiling to myself, and thinking, "heh, heh, heh...boobies!"

   My title for this entry? Hell, that's just me investing a dime in the hopes that reverse psychology crap really works.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What's the dilly-O?

   I have been experiencing an unprecedented spike in traffic over the last couple of days. Not the three hundred plus hits per day I received during the week I was guest editor last year, but still. As of nine thirty this evening I had received one hundred and twenty five unique visitors today. More than three times my average thirty five to forty hits per day. Yesterday I received one hundred and seventy seven unique visitors and two hundred and eighteen page views. The infuriating thing is, I have no idea why.
   My hit counter, due to AOL journals restrictions on using java code, does not show me any referral stats. I don't know what site my visitors are arriving from. I can only assume that somewhere, someone with a high volume of traffic has linked to me, but I do not know who that might be.
   If you are a first time visitor, drop me a line, and let me know where you came from. Please?

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's Tuesday

   CarnivAOL is here again. Well, not really here, as such. More like over there.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Nick, nick, nickety-nick

   Via Dan, I have the latest and greatest silly list meme on teh internets.

Five things... my refrigerator.
1) Strawberries
2) Beer
3) Cream cheese
4) Maple syrup
5) A box of Arm & Hammer baking soda my closet.
1) A Minolta X-700 camera outfit with 28mm, 50mm, 70-210mm lenses, motor drive, flash unit, tripod, and various and sundry accessories.
2) A duffel bag containing pairs of curling shoes, grippers and gloves, a stop watch, and a baseball cap.
3) A rack containing about fifty ties, of which I have worn one in the past year.
4) The suit that goes with that tie.
5) Tom Cruise. my purse.
1) nothing
2) nothing
3) nothing
4) the kitchen sink
5) nothing my vehicle.
1) A tarpaulin
2) Sawdust
3) Entrenching tools
4) A big old bag of leaves
5) A set of industrial bolt clippers
"...if you're stumbling home, after the dance,
oh my God, you haven't got a chance..."

   I know, none of you got that last bit. Don't worry about it, you never had a chance.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Weekend Assignment #121: This One Goes To Eleven!

Weekend Assignment #121: Do whatever you want, so long as it somehow involves the number 11. Memories of being eleven, lists that have eleven positions on them, collections of eleven similar objects -- hey, whatever you want. As long as the number eleven is somehow involved, it's all good. For those of you thinking about being sneaking and using binary notation: no "11, base 2." We're talking binary number 1011 here, pal.

Extra credit: Grab a book, open it to page 11, and write out the 11th sentence.

My favourite uses of the number eleven:

1) The title of this assignment, "this one goes to eleven," is, of course, a quotation from the most excellent 'mockumentary/rockumentary,' This Is Spinal Tap. Starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, the "folks" who brought you A Mighty Wind, Best In Show, and Waiting For Guffman, Spinal Tap is a mock documentary about a fictional British heavy metal group billed as the loudest rock band in the world. If you are a fan of any of the other three mentioned films, or were a heavy metal headbanger in your youth, you owe it to yourself to check out this film. It also spawned the quote that I find best describes this journal: "treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry."

2) J. R. R. Tolkien's epic tale, The Lord of the Rings, begins with the hobbit Bilbo Baggins celebrating having reached the grand old age of 111, or, as the hobbits call it, eleventy-one. That is so delightfully quaint that I immediately adopted it. I first read the trilogy almost thirty years ago, and have not used the expression "one hundred and eleven" since. In fact, I often substitute the phrase "eleventy-one" in place of multiple exclamation marks, you know, for fun.

3) Canadian band Finger Eleven's
website has organised the band's bio page into lists of eleven things, including where the band name came from. There are some music samples to listen to on the band's music page, if you are interested.

4) One of my favourite rock bands has always been Pink Floyd. I was saddened to hear about the recent passing of one of the founding members, Syd Barret. Here is a list of
eleven reasons why Syd Barret was cool.

5) I do this blog thing because I enjoy writing. I suspect many of you are the same. In the spirit of that, here is a list of eleven of the most commonly violated rules of writing, grammar, and punctuation.

6) Pictures at Eleven is the name of the first solo album released by Robert Plant after the demise of Led Zeppelin. I remember buying it almost immediately after it came out in 1982. Although it did not enjoy any significant commercial success, I quite enjoyed it. In fact, it was one of my favourite albums for a while. I must remember to add it to my list of old vinyl albums I need to replace on CD.

7) There are eleven players per team on the field during a normal soccer match. I am coaching my son's house league soccer team. With a roster of eighteen boys, scheduling even and fair substitutions can be all encompassing, to the point that I have actually missed seeing a significant portion of the goals scored by my team because I have had my head down studying my clipboard. I am exceptionally proud of the fact that my guys are currently in first place in our division (we are Royal Blue/France).

8) Schoolhouse Rock. Who doesn't remember fondly the educational musical vignettes that used to be shown between our favourite cartoons on Saturday morning? The Good Eleven was a segment of the Multiplication Rock series. "Eleven almost makes multiplication fun." I love the use of the word 'almost' there.

9) Here is a web page representation of a hydrogen atom. The electron is represented as a single pixel. That makes the proton a thousand pixels across. If your monitor displays 72 pixels per inch, the entire page will be eleven miles across. Wow! Science is so freaking cool, isn't it?

10) I have always been intrigued by Arthurian legend and lore. I am still trying to muscle my way through Le Morte Darthur, by Sir Thomas Malory. Here is a website called the Camelot Project. It is a part of the University of Rochester, in New York state, and features a collection of Arthurian texts, images, bibliographies and basic information. On that website can be found the entire text of a book called Sir Gawain: Eleven Romances and Tales. The language has not been modernised at all. It is even harder slogging that the version of Malory I am reading.

11) Some things I noticed while Googling the word eleven:
-There are a large number of bands that have the word eleven in their name.
-There are a large number of Christian organisations and websites with the word eleven in their name.
-There seems to be a link to a website about the movie Ocean's Eleven on almost every page of Google results for the word eleven.
-I only Googled the word eleven. I did not Google the numeral 11.
-One of the pages I came across was titled The Eleven Satanic Rules Of The Earth, by Anton Szandor LaVey. I was going to include it here, simply because I thought it would piss people off, but I changed my mind.
Extra Credit: I have been rereading the novel The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay, and participating in a group reading and discussion of the book over at Here is the eleventh sentence on page eleven:
The land his father had bought with looted gold (mostly from the celebrated raid in Ferrieres twenty-five years ago) was on the other side of the village, south and west.
Here endeth the eleven squared edition of John Scalzi's weekend assignment. What better a way to end than in the way we began? Here is another quotation from This Is Spinal Tap:
"I  don't really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how - what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it? So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you."
--David St. Hubbins


Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Natural" medicine headline.

British doctors issue cancer warning over Chinese liver tonic.

   Offered without comment. I mean, what more is there to say?


Thursday and Thursday

   It being Thursday once again, and two weeks have passed since the last such announcement, let me inform you of the publication of the latest edition of The Skeptics' Circle. The Thirty-ninth edition has been posted at the blog Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant. "Jinkies, that's keen!"

   The Thursday of every second week has also become the regular time for me to solicit entries for
CarnivAOL, my own little blog carnival exclusively for AOL and AIM journals. Please send me a link via e-mail to the journal entry you would like to submit. Get them to me before Sunday at midnight for inclusion in this week's edition. Dawn, I haven't forgotten that I owe you two spots this week.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"My" Space

   I have, so far, resisted creating a My Space account. Until today.

   Here's what happened. I was visiting a My Space page, and wanted to find out more about the person. Of course virtually any link on a My Space page you click on takes you to a screen telling you that you must be a My Space member in order to view that information, and inviting you to log in, or register.
   Up till now, I have always clicked away at that point, because who really cares what Bobbys2hrthunnybear is doing these days anyway. Today, though, I was really interested in the person's page I was at, and decided to take the plunge and register for my very own My Space account. I filled in the form and submitted it. And got back a message that the e-mail address I entered was already in use by a My Space account.
   "That's odd," I thought. I was pretty darn sure I had not previously created a My Space page. Still, one never knows what things might have transpired late at night with a couple of nightcaps under one's belt. I tried logging into the My Space account using my e-mail address, and my common password (I try to have all of my online accounts under one password for ease of use). No dice. I tried a couple of older passwords that I no longer use. Nope. Finally, I clicked on the "duh, I forgot my password" link, and received a message telling me my password had been dispatched to me via e-mail.
   Sure enough, in short order I received an e-mail from My Space containing a combination of letters and numbers that bore no resemblance to any password I have ever used, or would ever consider using. Curious, I typed that password into the box, and logged in to "my" My Space account.
   I put the word my in quotations because the account was not, of course, mine. Someone, named Paul Little, in Houston, Texas, had created a My Space account for themselves, using my e-mail address. I can only assume that they mistyped their own (very similar to my) address by accident.
   What did I do? I changed the password, and edited the profile information to reflect me, rather than him. I hear your gasp of incredulous consternation. How could I have done such a thing? Easy. The account was under my e-mail address. Therefore, it was my account. I simply corrected the erroneous information.
  What else would I do?


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Breakfast television

   I have made several entries about a local morning television show I watch. I have talked about their interviews with homeopathic and naturopathic medical practitioners, and most recently, with a local psychic. I have been rather cutsie about the identity of that show, neglecting (deliberately) to name it, and the announcers referred to. Thinking about it this morning, I have decided to change that decision. I will explain my reasoning in a bit.
   The television show in question - if you are local to the Toronto area, and have ever flipped through the channels between six and nine AM on a weekday, you have probably already guessed - is called Breakfast Television, hosted by
Kevin Frankish, Frank Ferragine, Jennifer Valentyne, and until recently, Liza Fromer. On local station CityTV, it has been a staple of Toronto television for years, and mixes news, traffic, and weather reports with human interest stories and interviews.
   What changed my mind? The host who was pregnant had her baby. Liza Fromer gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday, July 15, 2006 - my most hearty congratulations to her and her husband. When I heard the news, yesterday, my first thought was about the psychic who had predicted she would give birth on July first or second. I sent an e-mail to the show:
Subject: Liza Fromer and May Miller

Dear Kevin and the BT team,
   Congratulations to Liza Fromer and her husband on the birth of their son. I wonder if anyone remembers the predictions made approximately four weeks ago by Toronto "psychic" May Miller on your television show. Certainly she counts on the fact that they will not.
   She predicted that Liza would have her child one week early, on July first or second. She was wrong by two full weeks. In addition, she predicted that Germany would win the World Cup, and they did not even appear in the final game. Wrong again. And, to date, it appears that Jennifer Lopez is still not pregnant.
   So far, May Miller is batting 0 for 3 on her "psychic" predictions, and I am keeping track of the others she made, which will not be able to be evaluated for some months yet. Will you mention May's record to date on air, or will you continue to support and promote charlatans who fraudulently take people's money in return for absolutely nothing?


Paul Little
   I have, to date, received no response. In fact, I have sent several e-mails to the show over the last few months. Here they all are:
Subject: Attn. Kevin Frankish. Re:Astrology

   As a regular viewer of Breakfast television, I would very much like to see some more honest reporting on things like astrology, palmistry, and psychics. Your guest of this morning is just one more of a long list of fraudsters who take advantage of people. For more information about the actual validity of Astrology, look here: I understand that the silly woo-woo stuff may interest many of your viewers, but would you report news stories that were patently false because you thought people would find them interesting? Should your personal interest stories be any less honest?
   I invite your comments on this issue.

Paul Little

Subject: Attn:producers

Why was your guest wearing a stethoscope around his neck?

   This is an important distinction. A "naturopathic doctor" is not a medical doctor, and is not licensed to provide actual health care. Your guest was wearing a stethoscope around his neck to add the appearance oflegitimacy that he did not actually rate. This is disturbing to me.
   His advocation of acupuncture goes against recent, peer reviewed, clinical studies that show acupuncture has no efficacy beyond that of placebo. I missed exactly what it was that he was injecting into Frank's arm, but was an actual medical doctor consulted before that procedure was undertaken? If not, the television station has placed itself into a precarious legal position should there be complications.
   This is dangerous stuff. Naturopathic, homeopathic, and faith based healers tacitly encourage people to eschew traditional medical treatment in favour of untested, and usually useless, but always expensive alternative treatments. While I would prefer to see CityTV stop airing shows with questionable guests, at the least you should air a strongly worded and highly visible disclaimer telling people to always check with a real medical doctor prior to taking any alternative therapy.

Paul Little

Subject: Homeopathic "Doctor"

Dear Liza, Kevin, and the BT producers,
   I would like to see you present a more balanced view on alternative medicine on your show. Today's show marked the third time in the last several weeks Breakfast Television has featured a "Doctor" who practiced Homeopathy and/or Naturopathy. You have consistently presented the things they say as fact, and many of your viewers may believe that there is some validity to the practice of Homeopathic and Naturopathic medicine based on your program.
   It is possible that you do not have a strong understanding of exactly what the practice of homeopathic medicine entails. I invite you to read this article explaining in brief homeopathy's history and practices. Serial delusions.
   One of the ways people defend homeopathic and naturopathic therapies is by pointing out that they are safe. Even those critical of them may consider them harmless. It is important to understand that alternative therapies that are ineffective are not harmless. For more illumination, I offer you this article from a doctor involved in cancer research. Respectful Insolence (a.k.a. "Orac Knows"): The Orange Man.
   Presenting alternative therapies without skeptical comment encourages people to seek them out instead of traditional medicine. Sure, today's segment was about allergies, but allowing that guest to present his unevidenced claims without challenge allows your viewers to place one foot onto a slippery slope that might, in future, lead to them seeking alternativeremedies for more serious conditions. For more information on naturopathic medicine, you might have a look at this website: Naturowatch.  
   The station might want to consider the legal ramifications of a viewer, based on your recommendations, seeking out alternative therapies for a serious illness, and having that result in a more serious condition, or even death.
   I see that tomorrow you have a psychic scheduled. Kevin and Liza claimed today that they were going to approach him from a skeptical viewpoint. We shall see if they stick to that tomorrow. Will the show do a follow up in future to check his results?


Paul Little

Subject: re:Psychic.

Attn: Liza,
   You said yesterday that you were going to express skepticism in your segment with the psychic today. You did no such thing. You were entirely credulous. Kevin also expressed the desire to ask the psychic skeptical questions, and he wasn't even included in the segment. I am disappointed.
   Do you plan to post the predictions on the website so they can be checked later?

Paul Little
   I have never received any response from the hosts or producers of Breakfast Television. They have not, to my knowledge, made any statements of disclaimer about the subjects they present. It is clear that they do not care.
   As far as I am concerned this is irresponsible behaviour. They are in a position of trust in the community. People think, "if they show it on TV, it must be real." Certainly, going to a Naturopathic or Homeopathic medical practitioner for vitamins and other basic health maintenance seems harmless enough even if the vitamins or remedies actually do nothing. It is not, however, harmless at all. By not examining the claims of these people skeptically, the television station is giving them a tacit seal of authenticity that they may not merit. By allowing people to believe that it is OK to see these practitioners for "vitamins" they imply that it is also OK for people to see them for other, more serious ailments as well. Ailments for which these practitioners will glady provide remedies (for a fee) that do nothing. People's health is being endangered by the mere fact that the media do not report on these things honestly.
   The same television station runs an ombudsman segment on their evening news program in which they expose renovators who defraud the public by convincing people they need expensive home repairs that are actually unnecessary, or garages that overcharge people for unnecessary automobile repairs, or car dealers who sell cars that have been previously written off after serious accidents without full disclosure. Yet they will not apply the same level of protection to those members of the public who watch their morning show.
   In fact, they are complicitous in promoting charlatans and fraudsters who take money from people in return for exactly nothing: medicines that are no more than sugar pills, and psychic predictions that do not come true. Shame on you, Breakfast Television. Shame on you, CityTV.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm mad at Lissa 'cause she thought of that title before me

   ...a meme for you to steal, if you like (I did).

• What is your salad dressing of choice?
Salt, olive oil, and either red wine or balsalmic vinegar. The wife usually asks me to dress the salad because she always puts too much vinegar.

• What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
Lissa said Swiss Chalet. I've never considered Swiss Chalet a fast food restaurant. I guess if that qualifies then so does St. Hubert, so that's my pick. Of course, I have to go to Ottawa or Montreal to find one.

• What is your favorite sit down restaurant? 
The wife and I quite enjoy going to a little place in Bolton called Allegro. Wonderful Sicilian food and atmosphere.
• On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant? 
The wife worked a waitress in school, so we tend to tip well. A waiter or waitress who impresses us will get at least 20%. Attentive and adequate service will net a server 15%. Less than adequate, and the percentage starts dropping like it was pushed off a cliff.

• What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of? 
• Name three foods you detest above all others.
Brussels sprouts (have I said that before?) Any vegetables that have been boiled into a paste-like consistency. Liver.

• What is your favorite dish to order in a Chinese restaurant?
Peking Duck (if the restaurant is worth its salt, you have to order it the day before).

• What are your pizza toppings of choice?
   Steak (damn, I miss Dante's).

• What do you like to put on your toast?
   Butter and peanut butter. Kraft Smoothie only. Occasionally grape jelly. Used to really like Grandpa's crabapple jelly, but Grandpa's not around to make it anymore.

• What is your favorite type of gum?
   Rarely chew the stuff. Usually whatever Matthew has lying around.

• What do you consider to be your best physical attribute?
   I generally don't consider my physical attributes.

• Are you right handed or left handed? 
   A droit.
• Do you like your smile?
   No, I think I look like the guy The Joker hit in the mouth with his cane.

• Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
   You mean, like, surgically? No.

• Would you like to? 
   Have surgury? What kind of a question is that?
• Which of your five senses do you think is keenest?

• When was the last time you had a cavity?
   I have cavities right now (they don't go away, you know).

• What is the heaviest item you lift regularly?
   My ass.

• Have you ever been knocked unconscious?

• If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?

• If you could change your first name, what would you change it to?
   Westforth. Or Cornwall. I'm joking.

• How do you express your artistic side? 
   I guess you could say this is it (Lissa's answer to this question made me laugh long and loud).

• What color do you think you look best in? 
   Can't say as I ever really think about that.
• How long do you think you could last in a medium security prison?
   I don't understand the question.

• Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake? 
   Hasn't everyone, at least unintentionally, at some point. On purpose? No.

• If we weren’t bound by society’s conventions, do you have a relative you would make a pass at?
Oh, prolly.

• How often do you go to church?
Couple of times a year (more often than I pray).

• Have you ever saved someone’s life?
Not that I’m aware of.

• Has someone ever saved yours?
   Not that I’m aware of.

For this last section, if you would do it for less or more money, indicate how much.
• Would you walk naked for a half mile down a public street for $100,000?

• Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?

• Would you have sex with a member of the same sex for $10,000?

• Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?

• Would you never blog again for $50,000?
That's per year, right? When do the cheques start coming in?

• Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000? 

• Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?

• Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?

• Would you shave your head and get your entire body waxed for $5,000?
Easy, peasy.

• Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000?
   Sure. That's annually, again, right?

stuff and junk


Friday, July 14, 2006

Weekend assignment

   This week's weekend assignment from our most emminent and respected blog-father, John Scalzi, is actually not from John Scalzi at all. This week, John enlisted the help of his lovely wife, Kristine, who said, "John, dahlink, stop playing with your little electronic toys, and come and play with me for a little while."
   "Can't do it, dear," replied John. "I have a commitment to my faithful readers. If I don't publish a weekend assignment every Thursday afternoon, I let them down."
   Kristine applied to her face the most alluring pout she knew how, and purred, "but John, what's one little Thursday out of a whole year?" She replaced the pout with a mischievous grin. "If you blow off your readers, I'll...well, you know."
   But John would not be swayed. His dedication to his duty to be a stalwart blogging example to all of us kept him at his keyboard in the face of temptation that might have weakened the knees of Christ himself. Try as he might, though, no matter how hard he wracked his brain, he could not come up with one single idea.
   Kristine's stilettos click, clicked across the floor, and she leaned down over his shoulder, and softly murmured in his ear, "just tell them to Google a pet name and report on the results, or something like that, and then come to bed, my little light sabre wielder."
   He closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to his forehead as the stilettos click, clicked back across the floor of his office and disappeared into the muting of the hallway carpet. Could he really get away with such a lame assignment? Was it fair to his readers? Would AOL pull his paycheck? He drew a ragged breath. If he didn't write something, and fast, he would likely spend the rest of the night in some discomfort.
   His fingers flew across the keyboard.
Weekend Assignment #120: Do a Web search on a pet's name and let us know some of the interesting things that pop up. It doesn't necessarily have to be a current pet -- if you've got a previous pet whose name will elicit more interesting Web results, by all means use that one instead.

Extra credit: Tell us an interesting name of a pet that wasn't your own.
   "OK, now, save." Click. "Come on, come on, save, damn it!" Finally the blue edit entry screen was replaced by the front page of John's journal, and he virtually exploded out of his chair, took the stairs three at a time, and burst through the door of the bedroom to find his lovely wife, in lovely lingerie, in bed, sound asleep. Have a good night, John.

   Now, Shadow - you remember Shadow, don't you?


Shadow doesn't have an odd name, by any stretch of the imagination, but I did find some rather interesting things on the first page of Google results. Here, for example, is the web site of the US Naval Surface Warfare Center page about S.H.A.D.O.W., a software security intrusion detection tool. Apparently, S.H.A.D.O.W. stands for Secondary Heuristic Analysis for Defensive Online Warfare. I wonder how much the guy whose job it is to come up with these acronyms makes.


   I came across several pictures of shadow puppets. Shadow puppetry is an ancient form of entertainment that has traditional roots in many different regions of the world.


   This is what I thought the first search result for Shadow would be.


   It's funny how coincidences happen. After doing the searching that resulted in this entry, I went and read this week's commentary by James Randi, where he mentions the fact that Walter B.Gibson, the creator of The Shadow, was an acquaintance of his. In fact, he refers to Gibson as a friend. Not that great a friend, apparently, as Randi seems to have got the man's middle name wrong. According to all the information I can find, the 'B' stood for Brown, not Bains.
   I said that I expected a
web site about The Shadow to be the first result on Google. It was not. Upon reflection, it makes a lot of sense that the very first result, on a web search or an image search, was this.


   Shadow The Hedgehog is the dark doppelgänger of Sonic The Hedgehog. No one was really sure where he came from, or which side he was on until recently, when it was revealed that he was created in a lab by Doctor Robotnik but had lost his memory. Is it wrong for a video game to have that detailed a back story? Is it wrong that I know it?

   So, there it is John, my Google results for my pet, Shadow.


Aren't you glad I didn't pick Lady?


Extra Credit: One of my parents (I don't remember which one now. Dad?), when they were much younger and still lived at home with their parents, had a dog named Bud. One day someone pointed outthat Bud was actually not a boy dog, but was a girl dog. From that point on, the dog's name became Mrs. Bud. Yeah, it's not much, but it's all I got.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

More answers... questions posed by you, my readers.

Amanda asked: If you wear a sheet on Halloween are you a ghost or are you a mattress?
   I would have to say that depends upon whether there are two holes in the sheet, or one.
Dan asked: When can we expect to see a novel from you?  You are writing one, aren't you?
   I am not currently writing a novel. I was going to make a joke here to the effect that I was writing a traditional, but I didn't think anybody would get it. If your comment that I should be was intended as a compliment to my writing, I thank you very much.
Dawn asked for a clarification of one of my answers from the previous entry. She said: In the me you said you have not taught your son anything about religion, which to me is totally different than not exposing him to belief in God.  Has your wife discussed her beliefs in God with your son?
   I do not think that she has, although I could be wrong. However, if you remember another one of my recent entries, I mentioned going to church with my sister's family in Ottawa regularly. Matthew accompanies us when we go, and joins his cousins in their version of Sunday school. As well, a couple of years ago, Matt spent a week up there without us, during which time I know he was exposed to religious teaching. His aunt has also given him the gift of a children's bible, which he has spent some time reading on his own.
   I have made no explicit statements to him regarding my beliefs (not that I'm deluded enough to think he doesn't know exactly how I feel), and I did not discuss with him the things his aunt talked to him about. If, one day, he decides to explore religion in more depth, that will be his decision, and I will not dissuade him.
Dawn also asked: If I were to suggest two books on mediumship for you to read, and the second one lists info regardingtesting and names of law enforcement supporters of this person, would you read them with an open mind?
   On the condition I can find them at my local library, yes. I won't be buying them. Send me the titles, and I will look them up. If I can find them, I will read them, and review them here.
One more time, Dawn asked: I have one sexual encounter with my hubby that always stands out above all the other wonderful ones, do you have one of these with your wife and would she agree?  Or are you like my hubby and the last one is always the best
   Hmmmm. Tough question. I would say that, while there have been some better, and some not so much better experiences, there is no one that stands out in my mind. What would my wife say? I have no idea. Although I would say to your husband, "isn't it the next one that is always the best one?"
Simon elucidates upon his first question: A previous entry of yours was titled (I think) The Island of Loss in The Sea of Grief.  It was one of your most memorable.  Does the event that led to your stay on that island have any bearing on your current atheistic stand?
   Duh! Sorry, Si, I totally missed that reference. I was thinking reality TV. The answer to that question is no. My beliefs about God (or the lack thereof) are based entirely on my intellectual examination of the available material, and were formed a long time ago, but thank you for phrasing that question so delicately.
Grwighter asked: Answer Dawn's [question] first!
   I'm not sure which one of Dawn's questions you were referring to, but if it was the one about my love life, that's really creepy, Dad.
Elleme2 asked: What was your profession/occupation before you became a volunteer house husband and what prompted you to make that change?
   I was, for the past twelve years, a salesman in an independant, upper end home theater/audio-video electronics retailer. I quit because I was tired of listening to my boss complain about how much he waspaying us,and looking for ways to pay us less.
Tam asked: If you had a million dollars and could spend it on only one thing, what would it be?
   The world's largest poutine? Nah, probably a nice house on a large piece of property.
Tam also asked: Do you have  any pictures of Italy ? If so, will you post one?
   I have done so. If you start at the entry "Well, I'm back," he said, and work your way forward, you can read about my trip and see several pictures.
Dianna asked: 1) Who really kidnapped the Lindburg baby?  and  2) Did Lizzie Borden really kill her parents?
   Now you're just getting silly.
Emily asked: As Mr. Mom, do you clean toilets and kitchen floors? Do you have pictures?
   Yes. No.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Answers... questions asked in the comment thread of the previous entry.

Teresa asked: Do you have a job? And if so, what do you do?
   I am currently not working, by choice. I am what you call a house husband, or Mr. Mom.
Dan asked: Who's going to win the Tour de France?
   I don't know. Who's touring?
Betty asked: Where's your favorite place to go on vacation?
   We went to Italy last year. I'd say that has been my favourite vacation, so far.
Dawn asked: Is your wife also an atheist?  And, if not, how do you handle that with your son?
   My wife believes there is a God, though she has had her battles with disillusionment with the Catholic church, and currently does not attend any church at all. We have not actively taught our son anything about religion, nor do I expect we will start in the future. I am trying to teach my son critical thinking skills which will allow him to examine things for himself with reason and intellect in the future.
Dianna asked: What made you finally start to think for yourself?
   I have been thinking for myself for as long as I can remember. While I have toyed with religion in the past, and attended Sunday school regularly as a child, there was no time at which I didn't recognise God stories as primitive mankind's attempts to explain a vast and confusing natural world. I have always intuitively understood that man created God in his own image.
Dianna also asked: Will you lend me $5000?
Emily asked: I lost my keys. Can you tell me where they are?
   The last time I lost my keys (yesterday), I was late for a Doctor's appointment and ran, panicked, through the house looking everywhere for them. They were in my pocket. Have you looked in your pocket?
Dianna came back again, and asked: Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
   I have no idea. Scientists are currently debating whether birds evolved out of dinosaurs, or vice versa. I will say this: I generally do not eat chicken for breakfast. Take from that what you will.
Simon asked: With all due respect to the delicacy of the subject matter (and a degree of privacy), would you say that there is a correlation (direct, tangential, whatever) between your atheism and your tenure to date on The Island?
   Simon, could you restate the question in a form that would allow it to make even an inkling of sense to me?
Dan asked: Have you, or have you not, ever been a member of the Communist Party?  
   I have not. I never get invited to parties.
Karen asked: How much is enough, and how much is too much?
   Sorry, Karen. Existentialism has always been a bit of a weak spot for me. I will say this, though: it depends upon whether or not I am driving...or stand a chance of getting lucky later in the evening.
Dan asked: If we're not supposed to eat them, why do paint chips taste so yummy?
   Dan, how do you know what paint chips taste like? On second thought, don't answer that.
Dianna (who seems to be having a whole lot of fun with this) is back again to ask: Why is an electrical outlet called an outlet when you plug things into it? Shouldn't it be called an inlet?
   It is called an outlet because electricity comes out of it. An inlet is a body of water.
Brent, who couldn't seem to find the right entry on which to leave his comment, asked: Why do you almost always set your rocks out on release? More importantly, why did you try to fix it?
   Brent, if you want to discuss your personal frustrations, start your own blog.
   Keep asking question. Post them in the comments thread here, or in the original entry, and I will continue to answer them. Remember, this is called Ask Me Anything.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ask me anything

   Feeling kinda uninspired the last few days. Instead of saying something interesting, I'll steal a game from Lahoma. It's called Ask Me Anything. Ask me any question you want, and I will attempt to give it a considered and serious answer.


More questions

1.Have you ever been searched by the cops?  No.

2. Do you close your eyes on roller coasters?  No.

3. When's the last time you've been sledding?  Last winter, with Matthew.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?  I would rather sleep with my wife, not someone else.

5. Do you believe in ghosts?  No. I have not seen any reliable evidence supporting the existence of ghosts.

6. Do you consider yourself creative?  Sometimes.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?  Yes.

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?  I have to choose? I can't have both? Can't I be the creamy filling in an Angelina and Jennifer sandwich? Please?

9. Do you stay friends with your exes?  Huh?

10. Do you know how to play poker?  Yes. I even win once in a while.

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?  Don't think so.

12. What's your favorite commercial?  Huh?

13. What are you allergic to?  Stuff.

14. If you're driving in the middle of the night, and no one is around do you run red lights?  No.

15. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?  Probably not.

16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?  Neither. Toronto Blue Jays, though...

17. Have you ever been Ice Skating?  Silly question. I'm Canadian. I was practically born with skates on.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?  Never.

19. When was the last time you laughedso hard you cried?  No idea. It has happened before, but I can't rememberexactly when.

Can you name 5 songs by The Beatles?  Yes.

21. What's the one thing on your mind now?  Golf.

22. Do you know who Ghetto-ass Barbie is?  Couldn't care less.

23. Do you always wear your seat belt?  Yes.

24. What cell service do you use?  Penal system of Canada. Wait, did you mean something else?

25. Do you like Sushi?  Several months ago, my wife took me out for sushi for the first time. I expected to hate it, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I quite enjoyed it. Now we eat sushi regularly.

26. Have you ever narrowly avoided a fatal accident?  At least once, maybe twice.

27. What do you wear to bed?  My birthday suit.

28. Been caught stealing?  No. Do you still beat your wife?

29. What shoe size do you have?  7-1/2. Honest! Matthew passed me in shoe size when he was eleven years old.

30. Do you truly hate anyone?  No. There are people who I might hate if I payed any attention to them, but it just isn't worth the aggrivation.

31. Classic Rock or Rap?  I have an eclectic taste in music that includes examples of virtually every genre.

32. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?  Didn't we already cover this? Angifer...or was that Jennilina?

33. Favorite Song?  Don't be silly.

34. Have you ever sang in front of the mirror?  No. I sing (badly) all the time, but I have absolutely no desire to know how ridiculous I look while doing it.

35. What food do you find disgusting?  Brussels sprouts.

36. Do you sing in the shower?  Occasionally. Usually not. I can't carry a tune without accompaniment. OK, I'll be perfectly honest.I can't carry a tune in any situation.

37.Did you ever play, “I'll show you mine, if you show me yours?”  I think so.

38. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?  Probably. Stupidity is a disease to which none of us are immune.

39. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?  Yes.

40. Have you ever been punched in the face?  Not without the benefit of protective headgear.

Patrick's Place


Friday, July 7, 2006

What do you think?

   I have been called narrow minded. Discuss.


A day late and a dollar short

   I missed my regular every-second-Thursday post yesterday. So, a day late, please be informed of the publication of the 38th edition of The Skeptics' Circle over at Skeptic Rant. Very clever interface this week.
   Also, as is usual for the Thursday post that I missed yesterday, this is the call for
CarnivAOL submissions for next week's seventeenth edition. Please get your submissions in to me before Sunday at midnight.
   Oh yeah, one more thing, can anybody lend me a dollar?

, , ,

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Italy! Why did it have to be Italy?

   Some early results are in for the psychic predictions I wrote about two weeks ago. If you recall, the first prediction was that Germany would win the World Cup. In today's sports news I see that Italy defeated Germany by a score of two-nil in semi-final play. In other news - or lack thereof - no birth announcement yet for the interviewer who was told by the psychic her child would be born on July first or second.
   So, if you are keeping score (I know I am)...

Number of predictions tested: two
Correct results: zero

    Would you pay money for a psychic reading from "celebrated" Toronto psychic, May Miller? Do you think she offers a money back guarantee?
   Other predicitons we are watching: still no J-Lo pregnancy announcement. Of course, the prediction was that the news would come out "soon." Not all that precise a qualifier. More to come on that one. The rest of the predicitons were based on a longer time frame, and we really won't be able to comment on the first of those for about six months. Don't expect me to forget.


Tuesday, July 4, 2006

You know I could be just like you

You Are 90% "Average American"

You are average because you drink on occasion.
You are not average since you rate your appearance 4 or lower.

via. Patrick's Place


Happy Independence Day, USA

   Thank you for allowing us to exist on the same continent as you. We're glad you haven't rolled over and crushed us in your sleep.