Monday, April 28, 2008

Reason #71 why I love Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani is a favourite guitar player of mine. Top 3 for me (and possibly Jess ;-)

Reason #71 is the name of his new album:

Professor Satchafunkilus and The Musterion Of Rock


For reason #70, check out this video where he explains music theory. Modes are scales. He uses sophisticated terms such as lydian, aoelian, raised 4th, etc, but don't worry about that: just listen to the moods that he evokes. And his style of exposition which is pretty much what I strive for (in general, when explaining computer science, guitar, award-winning blog writing, etc).

Passport Renewal?

Does anyone have any anecdotes about how long it takes to get a Canadian passport renewed these days?

Mine expires in Dec 08 and I need to plan around some stuff.

Merci bien!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


After 2 nights of peace, things got crazy again at 2:30 am.

To their credit, the neighbours stayed off the deck. But it was still loud enough to wake me.

They were clearly on the verge of a total breakup, fighting about money etc.

I stood, blearly-eyed, in my kitchen for 20 minutes trying to decide what to do. Then the woman yelled "let go of me" and it was Game On.

Thankfully I had the phone # for the police station right at hand.

In the mean time, there was no violence. She locked him out at one point, so he was in the open-air hallway, yelling, further buttressing my decision. Things quieted down by the time the cops arrived.

From what I can tell, she may have been leaving, with him nattering at her, just as they arrived. Hard to say. They definitely did not like being greeted by a pitbull at the door. They might have asked him about a license? Not sure.

I slept until 9:45. It is now 10:45. It will be interesting to see if there is any confrontation as I go outside about my business. Hey, I gave him fair warning.

Update: My neighbour left a note. He said he is moving soon, and apologized for being "nothing but trouble" throughout this ordeal.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drama Redux: The New Deal

Tuesday night, around 2:30 am, I awoke to another racket on the roof. My neighbour and his belle were in another shouting match. They get into it in the house and then come outside to smoke, with no reduction in volume.

It was relatively tame and short, but I was angry enough that I couldn't sleep.

After hours of tossing and turning, reading boring articles on Wikipedia, and awaiting another earthquake, I eventually drafted a note. It was surprisingly civilized: I censored the profanity and threats of violence. In short, I said "Remember that deal we made where I come up and tell you if it's too loud? The deal is off: I'm calling the authorities if you don't start acting like adults".

At 6:30 am, I symbolically nailed the protestant missive to his door and trudged off to work. After a day of utter misery, I returned home circa 3 pm.

To be honest, I was nervous. I can enjoy confrontation but the apprehension isn't fun. Plus a nuanced, sensitive discussion is probably not in the cards here. This is guy who, as a display of emotion, yelled at his girlfriend that he can benchpress 200+ pounds. (I didn't get it either. I guess I should tell the ladies in the bars that I can run a mile in 6:30 or better.)

When I arrived home, his car was gone: probably went to work (2nd shift, I think). Surprisingly, there was no note of retort at the door.

I slept for 2 hours, and went off to a tri club meeting.

At 9 pm, I returned. He was home, but still no note: what? What is going on here? Was this some kind of tactic?

That evening, at 2 am, I lay awake in bed. Only the crickets chirp near the lake: all is still.

I am puzzled: what is he doing? Trying to outfox me with some silent strategem? I cocked my head to one side to pick up the slightest hint of the damn dog. Or the shrill voice of his girlfriend. Nothing.

"Dammit, man. This guy is good.", I thought to myself, rolling over to yet another side of the bed.

Here on night #2 of The New Deal, it is similarly quiet. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Toy

I have a new computer!  My first since 2000.  That is pretty crazy.

It is a laptop: the ultrachic Apple MacbookPro.  I'll attach a link or a pic soon.   It has a 17 inch display and a 2.5 GHz dual Intel CPU with 2 GB of RAM.  

In short, it is pretty wicked.

I've been up and running within minutes.  Really excited.  I've been looking for quite awhile now, and have known that I would join the autonomous collective known as the Mac community for some time.  Many blog readers use Macs and there is a strong faction in the geek community at work and elsewhere.  At those Java conferences, the saturation is about 100% among the presenters.

It's really fun to play with a new computer and OS.  It reminds me of the days in the 1980s with the Commodore 64 etc.

Don't come a knockin if the house is a rockin

Yep, we had a 5.x Richter earthquake in the midwest.  It has been the talk of the town.  In fact, during the talk at work, we had an aftershock around 4.6 R or so.

I wasn't sleeping well so came out onto the couch to watch TV circa 4 am.  I was snoozing when things got weird.  In my dozy state, I actually thought my upstairs neighbour was shaking my couch somehow.  I was ready to raise hell when I realized something was up.

For some reason, I knew it was an earthquake.  It was really weird.  I checked CNN immediately but of course it took time for the news to break.

At work, we were talking about the quake when the aftershock it. I didn't really feel it.  I thought some people were pulling my leg.  Or that they suffered from pyschoseisomatic disorder (ha ha!).

Thursday, April 17, 2008


If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

-- Freewill, Rush

I don't like writing long, introspective posts.

But I am 1.5 years away from being 40. The number and concept doesn't scare me but it certainly adds poignancy to the ongoing debate about where to live, play, etc.

I mean, if I'm lucky, life is half over. That's sobering. And somewhat liberating. I mean, even if I go on to become addicted to sniffing glue or something, people can say "well he had a good 40 years". As long as I outlive my parents (the fun just doesn't stop in this post), then who cares?

I'm truly torn between some big questions like "shouldn't I be with my family?" versus devil-may-care hedonism such as "why not live in New Zealand for a year? I don't have kids to put through university".

Heavy stuff. Especially now as things are going very well in St Louis. My life on PEI is well-documented, but I have great friends here. Work is going great and I've started to dabble a bit in the teaching/presentation side of work. That is a major draw for me. Like many of my cousins/family, I'm a natural born teacher.

My fear is that I will excel. I'll love it and wake up 10 years from now wondering why I'm still in St Louis.

See the quote at the top. From a Canadian legend, no less. Perfect.

Monday, April 14, 2008


To recap, my upstairs neighbour is a night-owl with a pitbull and a tumultuous lovelife.

Also, his deck is my roof.

We have had several run-ins and things threaten to get ugly, especially with the warmer weather coming. The most recent was 4 weeks ago where he, his girlfriend, and his dog had a heart-to-heart on the deck at 5:30 am. I had to go out on the deck and tell them to put the dog inside.

e.g. Last night he and his girlfriend are on the deck (circa midnight) in a profanity-laced shouting match. To his credit, for once, the damn dog wasn't out on the deck. However, I nearly got involved, in part because I need sleep and in part because it was pretty intense and I was getting worried about violence.

So I'm sitting up in bed for 10 minutes with the lights on, debating if I should throw on my clothes and go out on my deck. Or to call the cops.

Ultimately, I did not, and things settled down.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Places for Advertising

Check out this clever, timely marketing idea (click here)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No GHP Again This Year

In what is perhaps my most visible detachment from Canada, the Great Hockey Pool (the GHP) is defunct again this year, for perhaps the 3rd or 4th year in a row.

Since the big strike, the TV coverage in the US has been relegated to a backwater channel called Versa. I don't receive it. It is painful.

Back home, there are probably 3 games on TV in a given night right now, in the first round. The national news is pre-empted for the coverage. The (awesome) theme song to Hockey Night in Canada is like the ringing of the church bells, inviting fans to come celebrate.

(Ed's Note: I just spent 20 minutes on YouTube watching old HNiC videos looking for the perfect theme song. Wow. The memories flood back. Emotion.)

At least there is some action: like last year, I visited Vegas and have some tickets for the Cup winner. I bought 3 separate bets. 2 teams are in the running; one didn't make the playoffs. (No, not StL though they fit the description).

Stay tuned... we'll see how it goes.

ps. It is somewhat embarrassing that half the audience will know this factoid and the other half may not care much. Hockey Night in Canada is the world's oldest TV sports program that is still running, and it dates much further back to radio. Monday Night Football is a tradition down here, but it is a young whipper-snapper compared to HNiC.

pps. All is not lost down here in the south. There is baseball! It isn't playoff hockey but the start of the season is a sure sign of spring. Here is a post on the other blog that was actually referenced by a columnist for the local newspaper.

Sunday, April 06, 2008



In 1924, a noted professor at Tokyo University died after suffering a stroke. He was mourned and then, as we say in the 21st century, life moved on.

That is, it moved on for everyone but his dog, Hachi-ko, who continued to meet his master's 4 o'clock commuter train at Shibuya station every day for the next nine years. The dog's intense loyalty became the subject of newspaper articles—he was eventually honored with a bronze statue and a postage stamp.

Hachi-ko was an Akita, an ancient breed beloved by samurai warriors.

Click here a book review on saving the breed (circa 1940s)

New Cellphone Parking Lot at Lambert

Here is some local news if you are in St Louis.

A new "cellphone parking area" at Lambert.

I assume that this is complete by now (the news item is 11/07) but I have been guilty of recently circling.

Click here for the story.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Some Minor News

I've been trying to write a build-up but I need to just tell y'all...

I am moving.

Since a recent lunch with a certain "Dr M", things have been rather crazy. I have an opportunity to work, for the same employer (no Visa change), in another town. And after a heart-to-heart talk tonight, I have decided to accept it.

As proof that God has a sense of humor, you'll never guess where it is.

Here's a hint..... The same state as our favorite PhD neuropsychologist (click here)

Many details, and tears, to come in the days ahead (click here)