Friday, March 30, 2007

An update on Shadow

   Well, there he is, out for a walk in the woods with owner-boy (me). Dawn's been bugging me for an update on Shadow's health situation since the last time I mentioned him.
   So, how's his health? Just fine, thank you very much. He has not had another seizure, and the vet could find no underlying reason for him to have had the first one.
As these things go, he might never have another one. Or, another one could be right around the corner. There's no way of knowing.
   Although there is medication available, they hesitate to use it unless the seizures are severe and frequent. For one thing, the medications are sedatives, so the dog becomes lethargic, dopey, and clumsy. For another, there are risks of long term liver and kidney damage, which could dramatically shorten the lifespan of an animal.
   At this point we are simply hoping it was an isolated incident, and never reccurs. I mean, what else can we do?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I never wanted to do this for a living, you know.

   This is all kinds of awesome:

via: One Good Thing

Can you say, "centrist?"

   Actually, these quizzes are parodies, and not meant to be taken seriously. They espouse only the most outrageously extreme positions of either side. I would be seriously leery of anyone who scored more than 30-40% on either of these tests.
   As far as representing my political opinions, tests like these are useless, because the political stage in Canada is so much different. Our multi-party system allows us to vote in a more moderate way. There are more choices than simply black or white.
   That's a serious problem you Americans need to address. The extreme polarization of your political parties is tearing your country apart, and nothing good can come of continued extremism, on either side of the fence.

You Are 8% Republican
If you have anything in common with the Republican party, it's by sheer chance.
You're a staunch liberal, and nothing is going to change that!

You Are 20% Democrat
If you have anything in common with the Democrat party, it's by sheer chance.
You're a staunch conservative, and nothing is going to change that!

via: Courage

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday photo shoot

   I beg your pardon? What do you mean, "what does this picture have to do with the topic?"  It's a photograph of my wife working out, outside. What do you mean, "too many 'outs'?" John said to post a picture of someone working out...


Working outside.



This is all I got.

, ,

CarnivAOL #36

   It's that time again, Ladies and Gentlemen of the AOL blogging community. Time to blow your own horn! Do you have an older journal entry that didn't receive as much attention as you might have liked the first time around? Or a brand new entry you are particularly proud of, and would like more people to read? Well, submit it to this week's CarnivAOL.
   Our host this week will be Dawn, at Carpe Diem, and she has just thrown open her e-mail in-box for your submissions. Just send her an e-mail that includes a link to the specific entry you want featured before midnight Sunday, and she will include it in next week's carnival, which will be published on Tuesday, April 3, 2007.
   Unsure of what CarnivAOL is all about, or wondering if there are any submission rules and guidelines? Check out the CarnivAOL blog for more information. Pay particular attention to the links in the "All About Me" section.
   See you on Tuesday, at Carpe Diem.

"A rose by any other name," and all that

   From Dawn, via Cin. The rules are, every answer must begin with the first letter of your name. Just so's you don't forget, we'll begin with...

Your Name: Paul

Famous Music artist/group: Pink Floyd - I mean, who else?

3 letter word: Pip. (When used once, refers to a member of an American musical group - "Oh, you were a Pip? What was Gladys like, anyway?" When used twice, is very British - "Pip, pip. Stiff upper lip, and all that."

Color: Puce - I didn't even know what puce looked like before. I had to go look it up. Puce is a colour generally considered to be dark rose to brownish purple.

Gift/present: Porsche - Only in my dreams. For Christmas, I got a new pocketbook. OK, I call it a wallet.

Vehicle: See above. Or, Prius - let's be ecologically responsible, shall we? Although, there is some debate over whether these hybrid vehicles are really as ecologically responsible as they sound.

TV Show: [The] Partridge Family - ah, fine memories of television of days gone by. Pinky and the Brain - "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?" "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!" Police Woman - Does anyone remember Angie Dickinson? Hubba-hubba! Prisoners of Gravity - A cool show. Too bad it's not on anymore. Check it out.

Pridnestrovie – Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (also rendered as Transnistria)

Boy's Name: You mean a different one than my own? Peregrin.

Girl's Name: Picabo, or Prudence.

Alcoholic drink: Panty Dropper.

Occupation: Paleoseismologist. Nah, wouldn't want to be something I can't pronounce. How about Porn Actor. No, wait. Pirate. Arr!

Flower: Peach blossom.

Celebrity: Paul Lynde.

Food: Potato and Leek Soup.

Something found in a kitchen: Poultry scissors - I don't actually own a pair of those.

Reason for Being Late: Procrastination.

Something You Shout: Poopy Head!

Friday, March 23, 2007


   My good friend Vinny reminded me that everything is on YouTube. D'oh! I can't believe I didn't look there. Here, forthwith, is an example of the fine musical stylings of Big Sugar. There's more to be found there.

John Scalzi's Weekend assignment: The Fridge

Editor's note: this entry was repaired 1/12/2011. The link to Scalzi's original entry has been disabled, as it no longer goes anywhere.

Weekend Assignment #157: So, what's in your fridge? Be honest. If you include a picture of the current state of the fridge, that'd be nifty.

Extra Credit: What's the oldest thing in the fridge?

Fridge320x240 Do you ever get the feeling that some Thursdays John looks up at the clock, realises it's after four o'clock in the afternoon, says, "shit! I forgot the weekend assignment again," then runs around the house in a panic trying to think of something - anything - to ask us to do? Ever wonder why he has the occasional assignment designed by his daughter?

Here's how I think it works. Athena is sitting at the kitchen table, colouring a picture of Cthulu eating the current president of the SFWA, when John runs into the room, smacking himself loudly on the top of his bald head, and gibbering incoherently. She puts down her blood red crayon, and regards him calmly.

Athena: You forgot to think of a weekend assignment again, didn't you?

John: Buh, guh, buhruhmuh.

Athena: I don't know why you obsess over something so simple. Just tell them to take a picture of their fridge or something like that. It's not like it has to be smart or anything. You know these people. They'll do anything you say. They're stupid that way.

John: Muh, buh, fuh, fruh...fridge. FRIDGE! Thanks, honey.

John quickly bends down and kisses Athena on the top of her head, and runs back out of the kitchen, waving his arms in the air, shouting, "woo-woo-woo," and sounding absolutely nothing like Daffy Duck. Athena watches him go for a moment, then shakes her head and picks up her slime green crayon. As she inclines her head back down toward the paper on the table, her eyes start to glow, just a little bit. She thoughtfully begins a drawing of Cthulu eating the future president of the SFWA.

Yes, I know that's all just wild speculation, but consider this corroborating evidence. This week John told us to take a picture of our fridge...and I did! I swear, sometimes I think I'm going to be among the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Anyway, click on the picture above for a better view (and labels).

Extra Credit: You can't see it in the picture, but way in the back corner, on the bottom shelf, resides a jar of Tostitos Salsa (medium). Now, I haven't had chips and salsa for a long time. Months. Months and months. Gotta be last summer at least. But there it sits, two thirds empty, gently mocking me.
I reached in - way in - and pulled it out, shook it a bit. Didn't seem to be anything growing on it. I opened it, and waved it under my nose. Smelled like salsa. I couldn't find a best before date anywhere on it. I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing.
I put it back where it was and closed the door.

Yeah, one thing I am rather proud of? Nothing in my fridge tastes like ass.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Brothers and Sisters are you ready?

   There has been some discussion in the comments thread of my last entry about the band I mentioned glowingly, Big Sugar. Simon is already a fan, and joined me in lamenting their demise (we'll have to hoist a pint in their memory next time we get together, Si). Cin and Mary expressed interest in experiencing the sound for themselves. 
   Well, I have not so far been able to find any samples of Big Sugar's music on the web, but try this little conceptual exercise for fun. Visit the MySpace pages of
Grady (new project of Gordie (Grady) Johnson, former singer and lead guitarist), Mr. Chill and the Witness (harmonica virtuoso Kelly Hoppe's new band), and Truth and Rights (a Toronto band featuring Big Sugar alumni Garry Lowe, and Moja).
   Did you give them all a good listen? OK, now imagine those three sounds all squished together into one band. That, my friends, is the awesomeness that was Big Sugar.

edited to add: If you have iTunes, you can go to the iTunes store and do a search for Big Sugar. Short samples of each song are available for preview.

A music meme

   This came from Cin, although I've seen it around quite a bit elsewhere since I first saw it at her place.

Name your top 10 most played bands on your iPod or stereo or whatever. You know, this past week.

1. Triumph
2. Ozzy Osbourne
3. Big Sugar
4. Stevie Ray Vaughan
5. Pink Floyd
6. David Bowie
7. The Trews
8. Joss Stone
9. Led Zeppelin
10. Genesis

What was the first song you ever heard by #6 (David Bowie)?

   Hmm, tough call. Probably Space Oddity, as that would have been the big hit of his during the time I was first getting into music.

What is your favorite album of #2 (Ozzy Osborne)?

   Diary of a Madman.

What is your favorite lyric that #5 have sung (Pink Floyd)?

as the windshield melts
and my tears evaporate
leaving only charcoal to defend
finally I understand
the feelings of the few
ashes and diamonds
foe and friend
we were all equal in the end

How many times have you seen #4 live (Stevie Ray Vaughan)?

   I was lucky enough to see Stevie live once. The show was held in what was then called the Skydome (now the Rogers Center) here in Toronto, so the sound quality was mediocre, but what a show! Local guitar legend Jeff Healy opened up, and was followed by Jeff Beck, before Vaughan finally took the stage. During the encore, we got to see - and hear - all three of them play together. Truly a great concert for a guitar fan.

What is your favorite song by #7 (The Trews)?

Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me. When I was looking for the album, based solely upon hearing this track on the radio, and didn't know who the band were, I described it to the girl in the record store as sounding kinda like The Black know, before they sucked.

What is a good memory you have involving the music of #10 (Genesis)?

   Went to see them live in good old Maple Leaf Gardens back in high school, and took a really cute girl I liked. She didn't really like me. She just wanted to see Genesis. Oh, well. Still had a great time seeing a great band perform a great concert with a bunch of great friends.

Is there a song of #3 that makes you sad (Big Sugar)?

   Every Big Sugar song makes me sad, because it reminds me that this absolutely fabulous band broke up, leaving us fans high and dry, and yearning for more. But I guess you're looking for a song title, aren't you?

100 Cigarettes

Lord I smoked 100 cigarettes
Waiting on your call but it ain't come yet
I'm waiting for your footsteps in my hall
And I'm watching for this ash to fall

And while I'm counting my regrets
I'm gonna smoke 100 cigarettes

What is your favorite lyric that #6 has sung (David Bowie)?

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth
You pull on your finger, then another finger, then your cigarette
The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget
Ohhh how how how, you're a rock n roll suicide

How did you get into #3 (Big Sugar)?

  A former coworker introduced me to their music. I believe the song he played me was Butterball:

Baby, baby, beauty queen
I can see by your size
You're much too lean

Baby, baby, beauty queen
I'm a man who needs more woman
Than you've ever been

'Cause my baby, she's got
A butterball, she's got, she's got it
Well, my baby, she's got (it)
A butterball, she's got she's got it

What was the first song you heard by #1 (Triumph)?

   These first song questions are hard. I really don't know what the answer to this one is. Hold On, or Lay It On The Line were the big singles at about the right time, so one of those might be the one. Although if I was first introduced to them by my friend Arun, it was probably 24 Hours a Day, or Blinding Light Show (one of my favourite songs to this day).

What is your favorite song by #4 (Stevie Ray Vaughan)?

   So many great songs, so difficult to choose. Let's say Cold Shot.

How many times have you seen #9 live (Led Zeppelin)?

   Never did. John Bonham died, and they disbanded just as I was coming of age musically, and I didn't really get into their music until a few years after that.

What is a good memory you have involving #2 (Ozzy Osbourne)?

   The Blizzard of Ozz album came out during my first year of high school, and was pretty much my soundtrack for that year.

Is there a song of #8 that makes you sad (Joss Stone)?

   Not really. The two albums of hers that I have are mostly old Soul standards. She's got an awesome voice, and the albums are quite well recorded. I love listening to them.

What is your favorite album of #5 (Pink Floyd)?

   Again, so many albums, so hard to choose just one. I'll have to go with The Final Cut.

What is your favorite lyric that #3 has sung (Big Sugar)?

   Nicotina (She's all that)

light it up

we've been a little more than just friends
and in most cases that's just where it ends
but i took the time to stoke up your flame
can i get a witness to back up my claim

now i'm standin' so close to your fire
if i say that i quit ya, you can call me a liar

now we've been a little more than just friends
and where we go now, i guess that depends
if i get myself caught up in your scene
black hair, black coffee, and hard nicotine

i can't sleep, i can't eat
need you to hold my hand so i can cross the street

oh yeah, she's all that
oh yeah, she's all that
sugar in my coffee
oh yeah, makes me mean

oh yeah, she's all that
oh yeah, she's all that
i'm her silver dollar,
she's my slot machine

oh yeah, she's all that
oh yeah, she's all that
oh yeah, why I call her
tina, my nicotine

What is your favorite song of #1 (Triumph)?

   I think I mentioned this one earlier. Blinding Light Show.

What is your favorite song of #10 (Genesis)?

   The whole Trick of the Tail album is really great. I'll say Entangled.

How many times have you seen #8 live (Joss Stone)?


What is your favorite album of #1 (Triumph)?

   Allied Forces was far and away their best selling album, but my personal favourite is Just a Game.

What is a great memory you have considering #9 (Led Zeppelin)?

   We went to see a bunch of buddies play in their band at the local high school one night. They were pretty much a Led Zeppelin cover band. That night they were introducing their new drummer, so the drum solo, Moby Dick, was on the set list.
   They wanted to introduce the song the same way it is introduced on the live album, The Song Remains The Same, where Robert Plant yells out, "John Bonham, Moby Dick, dick, dick..." using an echo machine. They had an echo machine, but it had been stolen the week before, and the best they could come up with was an analogue repeat guitar effect pedal. They ran the microphone through it, and the singer yelled, "Clint Stroud, Moby Dick, di-, blih..." Not quite the effect they were looking for.
   Clint launched into the solo with gusto, and made it a good portion of the way through before he got tired. There was no way he was going to be able to make the full twelve minutes of the live version of the solo, so he gave the band the familiar cue that he was wrapping it up: rat-a-tat tat tat, rat-a-tat! He looked around, but his band mates had left the stage, and were nowhere to be seen. A short pause ensued. Suddenly, the panicked face of the lead guitarist popped up from behind the amp stack, where they had been smoking a joint, and the rest of the band scrambled to put their instruments back on, and rejoin Clinton stage. Gamely, he went on with the drum solo for another twenty seconds, or so, until the boys were ready, and they finished the song.
   We all laughed long and hard about that at the after party. Well, until the band all passed out from too much Alcool and OJ, that is. 

What was the first song you heard by #8 (Joss Stone)?

Chokin' Kind. Great vocal track. Listen to it loud.

What is your favorite cover by #2 (Ozzy Osbourne)?

   Ozzy doesn't cover a lot of songs. Mostly other people cover his music. He did recently release an album of covers, though, as part of his four disc box set. Can't say as I"m all that familiar with them, though. Oh, I know I've heard one or two of them on the radio, but I don't think I'm familiar enough with them to pick a favourite.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well, it's not Layla, but...

   Speaking of Eric Clapton, here's a video clip Matthew made when he was fooling around with my camera a little while ago. The people in Ottawa he is speaking to are his Aunt, Uncle and cousins, for whom we are trying to get him to make a movie of him playing a song or two. As he hasn't actually made a final video for them yet, this will have to do until we can cajole him into completing the project.

   I'm not sure why he eshews the use of a pick so vehemently, but he prefers doodling around just with his thumb and fingers. I'm always bugging him to use a pick. Also, his guitar sounds out of tune here, what do you think?

Monday Photo Shoot: Night Shots

   John's theme this week is photographs taken at night. Here are a few.

   Here I am at four o'clock in the morning, on my way out to an event I wrote about a couple of years ago. That bright blob in the lower right corner is the car headlamp.

   Here's Matt playing guitar for us on the patio one night last summer. Luckily the neighbours are fans. In fact, one of our neighbours came running over one night, because she heard someone playing Layla, by Eric Clapton, and wanted to know who it was.

   This is a shot I took last year for Teresa's
NCYCEYGW (National Carry Your Camera Everywhere You Go Week) meme. This one didn't make the cut because it didn't fit into my eventual theme for that week.

CarnivAOL #35

   The thirty-fifth edition of CarnivAOL has just been published at No More Appetite for Destruction. Gina has gathered nine entries from journals around AOL J-land and put them together in one place for easy access. For good measure, she added a couple of her own to the mix as well.
   A big thank you to Gina for doing an excellent job hosting this week, and to all of the CarnivAOL participants for being a part of this little blog carnival devoted to AOL journals and blogs.
   The next edition of CarnivAOL is due to be published April third at
Carpe Diem. I know Dawn will be looking forward to hearing from all of you. I'm still looking for hosts for upcoming editions of CarnivAOL. If you are interested, drop me a line.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Well, which is it?

   I'm no winter hater. In fact, in any conversation in which complaints about winter weather crop up, I'm one of the first to say, "hey, it's Canada. We have winter. Get used to it, or move." Still, I am all for the onset of spring. I've had my winter fix. I'm done. Bring on the tulips.
   The last week or so around here has been an exercise in extremes. First, last week we had a run of several days of above freezing temperatures and sunny weather, which caused virtually all the snow around to melt. Then, Friday night we had a huge snowstorm, dumping enough of the white stuff to completely cover the ground again. The next twenty-four hours, or so, saw slightly warmer temperatures again, and again, the snow all melted. Today, it is snowing again.
   Make up your mind, damn it! Which is it? Is it still winter, or is it spring? I'm not the only one who wants to know, here. I see the trees budding - or at least almost budding, they're not sure if it's safe to go yet. Every time they get the signal of warmth and sunshine, and get ready to pop out the spring blossoms, you freeze their asses off the next day. And don't get me started about the maple syrup. Damn sap doesn't know whether to run or not.
   Stop, OK Mr. Lion? Just stop. It's time to step down and give the lamb his time in the sun. Seriously, just because you over slept and were almost two months late getting here is no excuse for trying to overstay your welcome. Vamoose.

   On an entirely unrelated note, here are a couple of Star Wars related things I stumbled across last week that I just know some of you will enjoy. First, we have Anakin Skywalker as a baby, and a little bit of foreshadowing.

   And next, this little piece of Star Wars fan art called Dark Leia can only be described as awesomely awesome in its awesomosity.

   I was right, wasn't I?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

...Or would you say Meme Monster?

You Are Cookie Monster
Misunderstood as a primal monster, you're a true hedonist with a huge sweet tooth.

You are usually feeling: Hungry. Cookies are preferred, but you'll eat anything if cookies aren't around.

You are famous for: Your slightly crazy eyes and usual way of speaking

How you live your life: In the moment. "Me want COOKIE!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CarnivAOL #35 call for submissions

   The next edition of CarnivAOL is due to be published on March 20th, at No More Appetite for Destruction. If you would like one of your entries included, send an e-mail to Gina, at before Sunday at midnight. Submissions guidelines and rules can be found in the 'All About Me' sidebar on the main page of the CarnivAOL blog.
   Get your submissions in early so Gina has lots of time to put her carnival together.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Let's just say it's a win-win-win-win situation

Cowboy Lawman
You scored 4 Honor, 9 Justice, 8 Adventure, and 2 Individuality!
You don't just want to explore the open plains, you want to tame it. You're a person with scruples and the steel nerves to back them up. You'd fit well with gunslingers like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. You're a Cowboy Lawman.

Wear your star and sixgun proud, Marshall. You're gonna do just fine!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Ninjinuity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Knightlyness
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Cowboiosity
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Piratical Bent
Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test written by fluffy71 on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Required reading?

   I found this little meme at Pharyngula, and have since seen it almost everywhere. This list purports to be the 50 most significant science fiction and fantasy books in the last 50 years. Some have complained that there are books on the list that were published prior to 50 years ago. Be aware that this list was originally compiled in 2002 by the Science Fiction Book Club, so books from as early as 1953 are included, and nothing in the last five years will appear.
   As usual, lists like these tend to spawn discussion over which books might not necessarily belong, and which other books might take their place, and I would question some of what appears here. However, for the purposes of this meme, I will simply go with what's here.
   I have bolded those titles I have read, italicised those I feel I should read, and struck those I don't see myself ever reading. I have also commented here and there.
   Turns out I have read just over half of these. Comments on my list? What does your list look like?

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien - Required reading. Even if you don't actually like it, you should read it. It is the foundation of all fantasy writing since. Even my favourite author, Guy Gavriel Kay, who deliberately avoids using Tolkien as a source, and a direct influence, has admitted that his writing career has been shaped, in part, as a reaction to Tolkien's work.

The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov - Not deep, but well crafted, and fun.

Dune, Frank Herbert - Can be tough going, but ultimately worth it. With so many interlocking themes and levels, I can read this book, and its sequels, over and over again, and still take something new and interesting away from it.

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein - I have always felt that Heinlein was a bit over rated. Then again, maybe I'm just not smart enough to 'grok' him.

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin - Classic young adult fantasy.

Neuromancer, William Gibson - I've never been sure just what to make of Gibson, and his series ofinterconnected novels beginning with Neuromancer have always puzzled me. They are enjoyable reads, but I am always left thinking there was something more I was supposed to get out of them. I much prefer his short fiction,much of which can be found in the book Burning Chrome. Hinterlands has always been my favourite story by Gibson, and I highly recommend it to those who have found his novels inaccessible.

Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley - Chick lit. Not bad, but I wouldn't read it a second time.

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.

The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov

Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras

Cities in Flight, James Blish

The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett

Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison

Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison

The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany

Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson

The Forever War, Joe Haldeman

Gateway, Frederik Pohl

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling - Has absolutely no place here. Success does not equal significance. If it did, Cordwainer Smith would not appear on this list.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams - No one saw the world quite like Adams. He was truly unique.

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

Little, Big, John Crowley

Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny

The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement

More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon

The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith - Many people have never even heard of Cordwainer Smith. An oversight of tragic proportions. If you have never read any Smith, go out and find some. Now.

On the Beach, Nevil Shute - Perhaps somewhat less relevant than when I read it in the 80s, but only slightly.

Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke

Ringworld, Larry Niven
- One of the most inventive science fiction writers ever.

Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys

The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien - Can be a tough go. It's unlikely that anyone other than a true Tolkien fan will get through it.

Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut - Another classic must read. An example of how SF&F use other worlds and other times to comment on today.

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson - His most talked about novel. On my to read list.

Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock

The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks

Timescape, Gregory Benford

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

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Friday, March 9, 2007

A clerihew for P. Z.

Dr. Myers of the blog-o-sphere
Has turned fifty, it says so right
He's the scourge of creationists and fools,
Making ample use of all available, rational, semantic, and scientific tools.

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Saturday night and Sunday morning

   Dawn has been lamenting my lack of posting any what I call "soccer mom" entries here recently. I haven't said much about events in my life or about my family, or worse, my dog, lately. In my own defense, I don't do a lot of that anyway, but this past weekend was somewhat eventful for me, so I thought I would indulge the Princess a little. Get it? A Little? I slay me.

   Saturday, March 3rd was the date of an annual curling bonspiel called The Sinners' Brier that I make a habit of participating in every year. Brier because it takes place on the first day of the Canadian Curling Championships every year, traditionally called "The Brier," and Sinners, because it it is hosted by the "Sinners Section" of our club, so named because we get together and curl on Sunday mornings, when we should be in church (the fact that we tend to drink too much and tell off-colour jokes has nothing to do with it).
   My regular men's team was all set to enter the Sinners' Brier for the third straight year together when that schedule was changed. Remember that picture I posted a couple of weeks ago of the new patch I got? That was for winning what is called an OCA (
Ontario Curling Association) Zone competition. The province is subdivided into 16 zones, and we won ours (I was throwing second rock on a team of guys I don't usually curl with in the Intermediate division - over forty).
   Having won our zone, we were eligible to compete in the Regional Playdowns, the winners of which would go on to compete in the Provincial championships. And when do you think the regional playdowns were scheduled to take place? You guessed it, the same weekend as the Sinners' Brier. I was going to have to find a spare to take my place.
   Now, the spare (which my vice - our friend bpslider - ended up tracking down) was for the Sinners' Brier, not the regionals. See, the Brier is a big drunk up, as opposed to a serious competition, so there was never any doubt which I was going to curl in.
   OK, that's enough from the cheap seats. I was going to curl in the regional playdowns, because I had never curled at that level of competition before, and likely would never again, and damn it, the Sinners' Brier will still be a big drunk up next year.

   Which brings us to Saturday night. We drove home from the
Port Perry curling club that evening feeling pretty good about ourselves. We had won two games that day, and were scheduled to play in the 'A' side final on Sunday. My ride (hi John) dropped me off at the curling club in Richmond Hill, where I had left my car. Before I headed home for the night, I decided to drop in and see how my guys had done in the bonspiel.
   Now, I've been curling in this thing for years, always hoping to do well, and never quite managing to crack the top five spots or so. My vice - that bpslider guy (hi Brent) - was even more avid about doing well than I, and understandably, more disappointed each year when we failed to play as well as we believed we were able.
   As I walked in the front door of the club, I was greeted by a chorus of, "hey, Little, looks like you're out of a job," from the first row of seats clustered around the TV watching the actual Brier competition.
   "Why's that?" I asked. I shouldn't have asked. My team without me...had won the whole freaking bonspiel. Number one with a bullet! First four to the prize table. Big trophy with their name on it. Holy freaking cow!
   I was mildly jealous. Only mildly jealous, mind you, because I was well on my way to a berth in the Ontario Provincial Intermediate Men's Championship. And then they'd all be jealous of me. You see where this is going, right?

   Which brings us to Sunday morning. After having gone to bed relatively early so as to be well rested for our game Sunday afternoon, I was awakened shortly after one A.M. by a commotion in the living room of the house. I thought the cats were chasing each other around, or being themselves chased around by Shadow (
you remember Shadow, right, my 1/3 Border Collie, 1/3 Aussie Shepherd, 1/3 Wooly Mammoth cross?). I cursed, swept aside the blankets, and jumped out of bed, imprecacious maledictions spewing from my mouth. I stomped down the stairs, slapped on the light, to find my 88 pound behemoth of a dog lying on his side on the living room floor, and convulsing.

Full stop.

My heart, lungs, brain, the whole package. I went completely blank.

   Then I was on my knees beside him, one hand holding his head, the other frantically feeling for a heartbeat, breath movements, anything to tell me my dog was not dying. I had no idea if his convulsions were due to him choking on something, or a seizure from some other cause. I tried to open his mouth and look to see if there was anything in his throat. That was a mistake. His jaws were convulsing along with the rest of him, and he bit down on my finger, drawing blood.
   After what seemed to be several minutes, but was more likely only thirty seconds or so, his involuntary movements began to slow, which only made me more frantic. As far as I could tell, he was dying. I desperately clung to him, shook him, leaned in close to his nose listening for breath, moved my hand around his chest feeling for a heartbeat. My wife, who had been scouring the telephone book looking for an after hours emergency veterinary clinic began shouting at me, "Paul? Paul?"
   I wasn't listening. I was busy shouting, "Shadow? Shadow?" His heartbeat and breathing were slowing, but were they returning to normal, or were they on their way to stopping? I had no idea. Finally he lay still. "Paul?" my wife whispered. I didn't say anything for a moment. Waited. Then saw it. His chest moving up and down. "He's breathing," I said. At which point, we both started doing so once more.
   He lay totally still for several tens of seconds, and then, in a sudden surge, he lifted his head, and looked around. He scrambled to his feet, and began running all around the house, sniffing at every surface, peeking into every corner. He seemed aware that something was amiss, but couldn't quite put his finger paw on what, exactly, it was.

   Pat had found the address of the local emergency animal clinic. I got dressed, a wad of bloody paper towel clutched around my finger, pulled on my coat and boots, grabbed the leash, and loaded Shadow into the car. He was eager to go. Loves car rides, he does.
   The vet checked him over, tip to tail, and found nary a thing. Later in the week, we would take him for a follow up with our vet, where he would be checked over thoroughly again, and a full blood workup done. Nothing out of the ordinary would be found. The conclusion? He might have another seizure that night, or the next day, or week, or month...or never. No way to tell.
   So we spent the remainder of the night trying to sleep, but in reality just lying in bed listening for him. Shadow? Yeah, he got more sleep than we did. For some reason, he was plum tuckered out. Eventually, I fell asleep.

   The real Sunday morning - not the wee hours - was a sleep in occasion. Go figure. Luckily, the curling team's excellent performance of the day before meant we played at 1:30P.M., rather than 9:00A.M., so a morning of catch-up was possible. I headed out to meet my skip (hi John) at about 11:30 feeling refreshed and optimistic. After all, we were in the 'A' side final. Even if we lost the first game, we would have a second chance in the 'B' side final later that afternoon. Two games. Win one. Go to the provincials. Seemed like a pretty good equation.
   You see where this is going, right?

   We lost both games. Should have been able to beat both teams, but we just weren't as hot, as "clicking" as we had been up to that point. I blame the curling Gods. They allowed me to get my hopes up that I would actually compete at a high level in this game I have loved all my life, and then cruelly crushed them. And then they added the painful irony of the fact that "my" team, the team I should have been playing with that weekend, won a bonspiel I have been competing in for years with little success. Yeah, they're good, those curling Gods.

   At least we won our Monday night men's league game. Things are looking up.

   I'm sorry I don't have a more up to date picture of Shadow to show you. I'll have to take one this weekend. In the interim, here is a picture of an evil alien robot devil cat sitting on our neighbour's roof that my wife took through the kitchen window. "
Ooh, scary."


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Movie meme

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. I've seen this one more times than the other two because it came out first, and because I think it is the best of the three.

2. Name a movie that you've seen multiple times in the theater.

Star Wars. When this came out, seeing it in the theater was the only way to see a movie multiple times. None of this, "oh, it'll be out on video in six months, anyway."

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

I would never see a movie just because a certain actor or actress was in it. However, if the previews looked good, and the reviews were OK, I might let the presence of Sean Connery tip the scale. OK, just so's you know that first sentence was complete bullcrap, I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. There can be no excuse.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Can't think of one. As I said above, I consider the movie first, and gather as much information about it as possible. If I decide the movie sounds interesting, it doesn't really matter who's in it. Well, OK, so the presence of Jeremy Irons in a fantasy adventure movie is a dead giveaway. I won't be seeing Eragon.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

So many films, so little time. I guess the most fun to quote right now is Serenity and the Firefly television show DVDs. "Look. Look where I'm pointing!"

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

No such movie exists.

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

No such movie exists.

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

Memento. No explanation, just rent it.

9. Name a movie that you own.

What kind of a question is that? At last count there were 78 DVDs in my rather small collection, and several dozen movies on VHS that we no longer watch. You want me to name one? Fantasia 2000.

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

Dwight Yoakam. see: Slingblade.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

Several times. I'm old enough to remember when there were dozens of drive-ins in my area. Now I think there might be one. What movies did I see at a drive-in? I have no idea.

12. Ever made out in a movie?

Of course. See above. Why do you think I couldn't remember the movie? It wasn't important.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven’t yet gotten around to it.

Donnie Darko. Quickly achieving cult status. I'm wondering if the hype is just that.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?

No. Paid my tenspot, I'm sittin' through it. Also, I go to so few movies, I'm unlikely to find myself in one I'm not going to like. OK, so Revenge of the Sith was a disappointment, but no way was I leaving.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Cant remember if I saw ET in the theater or not. After multiple, repeated viewings, it still makes me cry every single time, so that would be my best guess.

16. Popcorn?

Yes, please. Extra butter, if you're buying.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

Once in a while. We usually try to see the big screen action adventure movies in the theater.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

Casino Royale. Awesome!

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?


20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

Fantasia, maybe? Or, perhaps some other Disney movie, like Cinderella, or Peter Pan, or Robin Hood. I don't really remember.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

Master of Disguise. Truly one of the worst movies ever made. Matthew enjoyed it, though.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

Hmmm. The World According to Garp? Moulin Rouge? Oh, come on! If Moulin Rouge doesn't qualify as a weird movie, I don't know what does.

23. What is the scariest movie you've seen?

Don't watch scary movies. I guess Cujo. I saw it in the theater when it first came out. Almost crapped myself when the dog came through the kitchen window at the end. Quitcher whinging. I'm not giving spolier warnings on thirty year old films, OK?

24. What is the funniest movie you've seen?

I don't know. Nothing sticks out in my memory. My opinion probably has changed over the years anyway. Something I found hilarious at twenty gets a yawn today. For example, my younger cousin recently loaned me Mallrats. Said it was the funniest movie ever made. I'm not sure I laughed even once through the whole thing. Might have cracked a smile once or twice, but that's about it.

via: Byzantium's Shores

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Woo Hoo! says I'm 0% Stupid! How stupid are you? Click Here!

Monday Photo Shoot


   My wedding ring (on my left hand - to your right), and my engagement ring (on my right hand - to your left). The wedding band matches my wife's. Unfortunately, the way the rings cut into my fingers reveals that I weigh substantially more now than I did when I got married. Seventeen years of Italian cooking will do that to a guy.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007

All in all, not a bad way to go

You'll die from a Heart Attack during Sex.

You're a lover not a fighter but sadly, in the act of making love, your heart will stop. But what a way to go.

'How will you die?' at

(corrected for grammar and spelling)

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Just so's you know

   Today is your last chance to get an entry into this week's edition of CarnivAOL, being published on Tuesday at The Light's On...But No One's Home. E-mail your submission to Annie at her AOL screen name, krspkrmmom, or her MSN address, kkmom527(at)msn(dot)com. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Friday, March 2, 2007

Friday I'm in love

The Cure Shares Your Taste in Music

   So, does this mean Robert Smith is into Jazz, Blues, and Classic Rock?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Six degrees of separablogtion

   Thought I'd play a little game today, called Six Degrees of Blog Separation. I started with a link from my journal, out to someone else's. In this case, I clicked on the link to Annie's journal in a previous entry. That was one degree. From there, I clicked on one of the blogs in Annie's 'other journals' section (two degrees), and so on, until I was six clicks away from my own blog. I just wanted to see where I would end up.
   I must admit, the process wasn't entirely random. Doing a blog jog in AOL J-land can lead you around in a circle in very short order. I tried, whenever possible, to click on a link to a journal I was not familiar with, so as to find new people and new writing. As well, I decided to limit myself to AOL journals for this round, but I might not next time I do this.
   Where I ended up was at
Jason's Thoughts & Views, reading about Jason being made Fire Chief for a Day. Interesting people are everywhere.

   If you decide to try out Six Degrees of Blog Separation for yourself, be sure and drop a comment here letting me know where you ended up.

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