Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Power of Primates

I saw this on PBS: a show about researching animal emotions, particularly gratitude.

Four chimps were in captivity at a psych lab for 13 years. For all of their lives, they lived inside, in four "rooms" surrounded by chicken wire. Their trainer, using hand-signs, told them that they would soon be moving to a new place (a giant, well-funded outdoor playground). They were shown this new habitat one evening (from behind glass), and stayed one last night in temporary cages.

With the daylight, the doors opened and with the trainers looking on, the chimps were free to emerge into the great outdoor compound. The trainers fully expected them to dash outside and begin playing.

Instead, they crept tentatively through the door, checking out the new digs. Gradually, they hooted and hollered with glee, but before enjoying the new environs with abandon, two of the chimps retreated to the glass behind them, and kissed their trainers before scampering off into the playground.

Wow. This is a reality show worth watching.


"We patronize them [other animals] for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the sense we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of earth." -- Leah Krubitzer

"Except pitbulls." -- Captain

A Day in The Life With an Arch-Rival

Time taken by arch-rival during his T-day 5K: an eternity

Time spent at work today contemplating the gym: 8.5 hours

Time spent at gym running 7 miles: 1 hour

Excusing oneself from subsequent swim due to bleeding toes: Priceless

Feeling good about toasting said rival in the next series: Even better

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Stat Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree

I had a Hall of Fame swim (for distance) at the gym today. My annual mileage numbers are piling up, but they are overshadowed by my Dad.

Check this out: on the bicycle, he's cranked out 4,300 kms in 2006. That's 2,700 miles and it's just crazy. He has bike-commuted 100+ days this year. (I'm at 500+ miles this year, which is still dwarfed even with the "Tri Defense").


(*) The "Tri Defense" is a term I just coined whereby triathletes can always excuse themselves from various athletic comparisons, rightly or wrongly, because they do 3 sports. This will probably be a blog entry.

Gettin' off the Pharm


Since 1999, the 52-year-old family doctor has been treating diabetic patients in Lawrence, Kansas, with an approach that was abandoned by most physicians in the 1930s. Worse, this Depression-era remedy is the opposite of the current guidelines established by the American Diabetes Association, a nonprofit organization that spent nearly $51 million on research in 2005, and so should know a thing or two about how to handle diabetes.

There's no question that Dr. Vernon is trouble -- but for whom? Not her patients, that's for certain. They just won't stay sick. People walk into her office afflicted with type-2 diabetes and, by every objective medical measurement, walk out cured. There's $51 million that says that isn't supposed to happen, not in a clinic in Kansas, and definitely not as a result of cleaning out the refrigerator.

From a Men's Health article on a common-sense treatment for diabetes (lower blood sugar via diet). For some reason, the new Google tools on Blogspot is messing up links, so go to MensHealth and search for "diabetes" (the title is The Cure For Diabetes).

Friday, November 24, 2006


I spent Thanksgiving at BryGuy's folks.... A great time, with enough people to crew a battleship and enough food to sink one.

Many games were played... And I finally saw "The Office" which has been recommended to me by a lot of people. Now I know why.... Terrific show.

Diplomacy 1 Rage 0

On Wednesday night, the neighbours let the dogs out onto the deck (aka my roof) circa 12:30 am.

I almost went up and knocked on the door in a rage. I almost blogged some fairly profane and unfair generalities about dog owners. But I let it go...

On Thursday, I decided to leave a little note, at their door, explaining the situation and the architecture of the building. It should be pretty obvious, but the neighbours are a guy and girl in their early 20's and, like their pitbull, they don't seem to be the shiny-est pennies in the fountain.

I went out for a lovely T-day excursion, and then returned to my apt. There was a note left in my door. Dialogue! Would it be friendly?

It was. The girl wrote a profuse apology. Nice.... I'm glad I took action in a polite way.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ringtone Revolution

Sometimes, you just know something is going to happen. I had a feeling back in the 1980s that the Japanese motorbike manufacturers would start doing Harley knock-offs. Now, they are everywhere. I knew this before the bike makers knew it.

I have another idea. I'm writing quickly now because Microsoft is getting close and nipping at my heels. Their new iPod wannabe, the Zune, can "squirt" songs. The idea is that if 2 people with Zunes are in close proximity, that Person A can send a song to Person B using wireless capability (with a short message). My guess is that this will be buggy in practice but the idea is excellent.

My idea is "collective ringtones". And it will be very annoying. Here's the scenario:

-- Person A gets a call on their cell
-- Before ringing the cell checks the immediate vicinity for other people on the same network. If someone is found, then it sends a message to Person B's phone.
-- Person A's cell goes off, perhaps with "Shave and a haircut"
-- Person B's cell goes off with "two bits!"

Great.... Movies and the symphony will never be the same (yet again).

Remember, you heard it here first.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

To America:

Happy Thanksgiving! This is one holiday that is much different than in Canada: the sentiment is the same, but not only are the times different but the scale is much different. It is a huge holiday down here and a uniquely American experience.

I hope everyone has safe travels, good times with fam and friends, and lots of Tums.

To Canada:

Happy Thursday! Joyeux jeudi!

Nose to the Grindstone

For a month now, at my new gig, I have not done personal email, blogging, or surfed extracurricular websites.

It has been fascinating...

(a) I'm _way_ more productive
(b) I have no idea what is going on in the world (and I watch a lot of news)
(c) I actually login to Yahoo and have several messages waiting
(d) I have to hammer out messages in the early AM

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A different perspective

Everyone knows that Michael Richards (aka Kramer) went on a bizarre, racial tirade at a comedy club.

Talk-radio is filled with questions about whether "we" should accept his apology, or if it was racially motivated. (Here's a hint: it was).

But here's the real story, and it is sort of uplifting:

Imagine that you could go back in time to the early 1960s and tell Dr Martin Luther King that in 2006, a guy is caught spewing bigotry onstage in front of 200 people, including an "n-word", which became censored 10 years before. Video of the episode is posted on a vast linkage of computers, and the man has no choice but to apologize on national TV to try, lamely, to save his career.

That's kinda cool... The dream is not here, but things have changed for the better, no?

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Wikipedia is a fantastic online encyclopedia, written by its user-community. It even has entries for particular days, though why anyone would want to write about a day is kind of weird.

See today

Thursday, November 16, 2006

3 word poems

Here's a game spawned by Rosie's 3 word poems. Go through A-Z as fast as you can a la stream of consciousness. For example,

Adam aimed angrily. Bear bites beautifully. Canada collapsed crazily. Deer dashed dangerously. Ernie earned earnestly. Fox fought fruitlessly. Gaza grew grossly. Huey halted hilariously. Iraq invaded irately. Jack jumped joyfully. Karen kicked knackeredly. Love loves lustfully. Mike microwaves meekly. Nancy nattered negatively. Oliver oomphed overtly. Patrick pounced prematurely. Quarks quake quarterly. Roof rumbled roughly. Steve shimmied stealthily. Texas turned timidly. Ursula usurped, usually. Veal vindicated victoriously. Wealth wounds wearily. Xerox x-rays xenophobically. You yell yearningly. Zipper zips zealously.

That took 14 minutes! Gah! But I was trying to be sorta poetic.

Word play

I haven't had much time to think, but Rosie's comment was good motivation to give it a shot.

Here are some of my 6 word stories:

Sept 10 2001-- doc's appt tomorrow

Mrs President, Mr Winphrey line two...

Laser detects souls seared in crematorium.

Waiter, are these locusts truly organic?

French Ayatollah pledges to rebuild Paris.

For sale: swine kidneys, never used.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The McGurk Effect

Here is a neat phenomenon from a neat book

It is called The McGurk Effect (see it here)

It is a video of a guy saying "ba ba" with an audio layover of him saying "ga ga". Our brains do reconciliation of visual and audio input before it gets to the language center, and the two incongruent inputs merge to form "da da", which is the closest thing that our brain can figure out. This is way lower than consciousness (Miss G could help us out here): we have no choice in the matter!

For St Louisans, McGurk's is a popular Scottish bar, so I suppose a secondary effect would be that everyone sounds like this after a few too many pints of Guiness.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Six Word Stories

Here are some "stories in six words", as solicited and printed by Wired magazine. Mostly sci-fi....

Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: civilization collapses. -- Richard Powers

The baby's blood type? Human, mostly. -- Orson Scott Card

Kirby had never eaten toes before. -- Kevin Smith

It's behind you! Hurry before it -- Rockne S O'Bannon

Epitath: foolish humans, never escaped Earth. -- Vernor Virge

Longed for him. Got him. Sh-t. -- Margaret Atwood

Internet "wakes up" ? Ridicu -- [no carrier] -- Charles Stross

and yours? (Mine on the way... I don't mean your favorites but rather your own writing. Captain Canuck assigns homework!)

In Flanders Fields


Each November, Poppies blossom on the lapels and collars of over half of Canada’s entire population. Since 1921, the Poppy has stood as a symbol of Remembrance, our visual pledge to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war and military operations. The Poppy also stands internationally as a “symbol of collective reminiscence”, as other countries have also adopted its image to honour those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

From this site

The poem, from Dec 1915:


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Thursday, November 09, 2006


How sad... I didn't even know Ed Bradley was ill.

He was my favorite on 60 Minutes. Folksy, brilliant, and had style.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


My car, Herbie, hit 200,000 miles! It had about 54,000 when I got it a decade ago.

Ol' Herb is limping along these days with several ailments, but he is still fun and a smile-maker on a warm day, or at 6000 rpm in 2nd gear. Nice going, bud. Thanks for the rides.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Results Are In

My dad won a seat... Congrats!

See local results

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm Captain, and I approved this message

The upcoming week is gonna be a doozy on the political front:

1. My Dad is running for councillor in a municipal election on Monday, back on The Island. He has been deputy-mayor but took some time off after an unsuccessful bid for mayor. Good luck!

2. Missouri is going to have a good-ol' smackdown on Tuesday. The main issues are a constitutional amendment (versus a law!) on stem-cell research and another proposition that would raise tobacco taxes to the national average. The stem-cell issue is hotly contested indeed.

3. Naturally, the US is having the Congressional and Senate elections on Tuesday. It will be interesting.... I don't think voting machines will be hacked but I do pity the poll-workers who have to deal with the problems. I hope I'm wrong but I think it might be chaos in a lot of areas.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

StL Film Festival

Rejoice! It is that time of year again: the international film festival is here in St Louis.

Check it out