Monday, July 27, 2009

Lack of Comments

I had thought of this before, but I just consciously realized why it is hard for me to leave comments on blogs.

I have Google Reader setup under my tech persona. So when I read blogs, I have to switch Google accounts to morph into CC. This is not difficult, but enough of a deterrent that I don't leave comments.

The solution of course, is to move stuff over to the other Google Reader account. Bah.... no time for that.

Until then, my apologies....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heinz 57

This is a mix of neat stuff for which I don't have time to mention in a full post. The title comes from an old marketing campaign by Heinz. I once worked at a hardware store with a guy that said it all the time (usually derisively towards an unnecessary mess).
  • Did you know: The term kerosene may have been coined in Charlottetown, PEI?
  • I'm enjoying CBC's Quirks and Quarks. I haven't heard host Bob Macdonald in a long time.
  • Tidbit from Quirks: Komodo dragons do not have nasty, symbiotic bacteria in their mouths. 'Tis a myth. As it turns out, they have a venom which has anti-clot properties and is a potent 2-punch to their horrific bite.
  • Most people know that Tom Watson cracked at the British Open. However, the commentator on ABC (a friend of TW) jinxed him by predicting a successful putt and victory. To me, golf is like baseball: you don't talk about a no-hitter.
  • The Cardinals have finally made some trades! So far, so good. Even though we have been pummeled by the Phillies, we are hitting. The new guys are producing and it has taken the pressure off of some of the other guys. I'm optimistic for the NL Central division title.
  • The new apartment is working out fairly well. I've setup the guitar in such a way that I suspect I'll play more, as it is more accessible.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Movin' On Up (Redux)

Congrats to my sister and bro-in-law for closing the deal on a new house!

Very exciting stuff... They'll live just outside of Charlottetown.

Best of luck with the new digs!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Pics

Continuing in the series, here is the view from the breezeway at the apartment. The view from my windows is pretty much the same. The building in the distance, 'above' the fire hydrant is my gym/YMCA.

Note the sharp black Honda Civic Si. That's my ride these days.

Here is the breezeway. My apt is on the left, with the blinds open.

I used iPhoto (on the Mac) to blur the license plate on the vehicles. The Honda looks better without one!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The New CC Headquarters

I was taking some photos for Craiglist and thought I would share some of the new place. Nothing on the walls yet, and my decor is quite utilitarian... I'm a philosopher, not an interior designer!

Here is HQ. The big news here is using the swivel chair to conserve space for the computer/keyboard arrangement. Alas the guitar/amp rig is not yet set up (forgive me, Dave).

This is the view from the computer. An open space into the kitchen. Most of the stuff on the fridge is pictures of family, and magnets from various trips.

This is the entertainment stand in the living room (which was to my back for the first pic). I now have four (4) remotes. Photos of family on the stand (I don't know why I am stressing this). Notice the little guy perched precariously at top right. More on this later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What would you do, if I sang out of tune?

I've been thinking about the topic of singing lately.

I once read "All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten". All I really remember is the author pointing out:
  • If you ask a group of children "who can sing?", they will all raise their hands enthusiastically.
  • If you ask a group of adults "who can sing?", you'll get crickets.
He went on to say how we are bombarded with virtuosity. And this was before American Idol.

However, karaoke is huge: surely some people think they can sing. (And despite the extreme urge to mock, many karaoke participants are very good, actually).

I can hold a tune, but I'm not doing karaoke without serious preparation (and I have no time or interest for that). As a youth, I used to sing a lot when I was alone. It made me happy. When I was very young, I listened to The Beatles often and I probably sang to that.

I have noticed that since taking up piano, I hum and sing much better. I have a better sense of key, something that guitar never afforded me. I have no idea how to breathe properly, though, which seems vital. I learned this from an ill-fated COCA class which I dropped out of frustration -- another story.

Interestingly, my family does not sing in church. That's a pity. Ah well... As is well-documented on here, I enjoy some key singers in my church back home, especially at Christmas time.

Though you'll never hear me, here are some favourite songs of mine, to sing:
  • Amazing Grace
  • Blackbird
  • Wasn't that a party? (by the Irish Rovers!)
  • Sweet Child o Mine (a lovely song, despite Axl's attempts to kill it)
I don't sing them often but the following are a short list of 'perfect' songs, when it comes to melody and lyrics:
  • Eleanor Rigby (dear heaven, what a song)
  • Yesterday
  • Christmas in the Trenches (John McCutcheon), more so for story
  • You Had Time (Ani Difranco), more so for lyrics and sentiment
I once met John M at a bluegrass festival, and gushingly told him that I thought Yesterday and Christmas in the Trenches were the 2 perfect songs. He was unimpressed but kind.

What a random post on a Friday night....


ps. Do you sing? Which songs?

pps. Yes, my favourite Beatle is Paul. John was divine, but if I have to pick...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

As It Happens

I just told some friends tonight about my cousin being pregnant, and a law on PEI that the doctors cannot disclose the gender of a child during pregnancy. (One of the friends, Stef, is expecting in 3 weeks.)

Then I came home to read an email that my cousin had a girl! What a hoot!

Congrats to Teena and Andy! Fantastic news....


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Musial's Missed Moment

They had great weather for the allstar game but many of the highly knowledgeable baseball fans were pretty angry about the political (even if bipartisan) appearance and the weak tribute to Stan Musial.

Word on talk radio is that MLB did not want a repeat of the 10 minute love fest for Ted Williams in 1999. However, they overcompensated, without even a video tribute to Stan the Man.

I haven't read the blogs yet but the sports-talk media is very angry. They had 5 hall-of-fame Cardinals and even their introduction was rushed.

Shame on MLB!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Apple Blood

Our music man, over at Lick of the Day, has a video called Apple Blood.

It won "video pick of the month" at Riffworks!

Check out the announcement here...



Monday, July 13, 2009

A Combo Post

This post combines two ideas.

First, I love watching interviews with actors. They are among the most insightful people. Since I took a drama class at the mighty COCA (circa 2004), I've paid more attention to the craft of acting and its practitioners.

Here are two quick insights:
  • In real life, those with dementia will (quickly) lose the ability to detect sarcasm.
  • Many actors overplay being drunk: staggering around and being loud. Many people, when drunk, try to hide it from others.
A third insight pertains to this post:
  • Guys converse and socialize by telling stories, in series. We rarely interrupt or respond. We respond with another story.
Tonight, I had dinner with my confidant JimO (not Jim G). He is getting older now (near retirement) and a bit hard of hearing, but other wise doing well.

Back and forth over dinner, we told stories. The initial ones were recent stories used to catch up on the news. As the evening progressed, we told classic stories. Jim would ask me if I had heard the one about X. I had indeed, but I denied it: it was time for it again. And it was a dandy.

We told stories for 2 hours. Many of mine were about back home, on PEI. e.g. I retold my famous motorbike crash when I was 12. Jim followed up with one of his crashes.

It was a fine evening. We never embrace, but shook hands at the end of the evening. I haven't seen him since February but he is a close friend.


ps. Speaking of stories, The Island is no stranger to the art of a good tale. Most of my visits during the last trip, and the last evening with my family, were filled with good tales.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Food Inc

If you haven't read some of the latest books on the food industry (e.g. The Omnivore's Dilemma, 100 Mile Diet, or Fast Food Nation), then I recommend checking out the new documentary, Food Inc. It is very good.

I could write a lot on it but I suspect that most readers will eventually see it, or already get the idea.

The gist is a close look at Big Agriculture in the US. It is pretty scary.
  • e.g. 4 meat processing companies handle 80% of the beef in the US.
  • Chickens and other livestock are often raised in conditions that are neither fit for the livestock nor the workers.
  • Runoff from fertilizer and especially manure causes unbelievable damage.
  • St Louis' own Monsanto has a patent on a soy seed and protects its patent viciously: they have engaged farmers in legal battles and have won through sheer attrition. One farmer says that "justice is indeed blindfolded, and the side that puts the most money on the scales tends to win".
In fact, that was the best part of the movie: the farmers. One chicken farmer (a woman in KY) and an organic farmer (not sure where) really steal the show. They are principled, articulate, and, in the case of the organic operation, dedicated to old-fashioned values of quality product.

In one scene, on the organic farm, a chicken is killed. There is no ritual. There is no mystique. But there is a sense of respect -- an ingredient that is far removed from the giant agri-factories.

United Breaks Guitars

Steven Tyler once said: when someone crosses me, I don't just get mad... I write a song.

Well, that's what Dave Carroll (from Nova Scotia, no less) did when United Airlines broke his guitar. And he has become the latest Internet sensation. Guess what? When United caught wind of it, they settled rather quickly!

What a great story... a potent mix of ridicule, the Internet, and excellent production (the video is quite good). (Plus, honestly, it probably the best thing to happen to this guy's career).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

C'est drôle!

Here's a special moment from my trip back home...

Binky and S have a daughter, ActionGirl. She is studying French immersion, as I once did, many moons ago. Unlike her younger sister, ActionGirl is quiet and a bit shy.

We were all down at a cottage (near the Confederation Bridge), playing on the beach, where the tide was out. I had forgotten how the beach is a natural amusement park for kids: there are all kinds of things to explore. (And it's all genuine, which is the best part).

As we walked along the rocks and shells, I thought about how to broach French with ActionGirl. I had to tread carefully. I remember very well being about 8 years-old and having every adult imaginable try to goad me into speaking French. It never worked: I would retreat into my shell even more. With ActionGirl, this approach would very likely produce the same effect.

(I wonder though if she gets it as often as I did: I was in a pilot program for The Island, and so it might have been more of a novelty back in the day. Thankfully, for the good of French Canada and the entire country, it is much more common now.)

I was in a pickle. Tentatively, I asked ActionGirl how school was going and received a one-word, bored reply. Then a bolt of lightning from the heavens: her Uncle R said the only French he remembered was:

J'aime manger la fromage dans la piscine.

(I love to eat cheese in the pool.)

Bingo! ActionGirl laughed, and Uncle R gave me a huge opening. Let the games begin.

My trick was to repeat the phrase, but to replace 'cheese' with various words. On the walk back to the cottage from the beach, I must have done this with a dozen words. The repetition and pun-effect was vaguely reminiscent from a previously successful game we played during the previous summer.

However, this one was so much better. I have no words for the feeling of making a child laugh in another language. I would just say a phrase, each more ridiculous than the one before, and she would laugh. She never replied. She never asked what it meant. She would simply walk along, and laugh, completely 'getting it' and smiling, be out of her shell at last.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Midsummer Classic

I feel like I haven't really recapped the trip to PEI, but as with every trip, I am bursting with ideas, some of which I will blog, and some of which are too personal/alienating. Stay tuned, dear readers.

For now, some news from StL. The big news is that the Cardinals are hosting the baseball all-star game. On TV, you'll see the snazzy new (somewhat retro) stadium, which I quite like. What you won't see is the mess that is surrounding the place.

Part of the deal between the owners and the city was a "ballpark village" which would have all kinds of amenities and revitalize the long-flagging downtown area. (I live about 25 miles from downtown). Alas, the ballpark village has not materialized (primarily because the owners realized they can exploit the city even further). Virtually nothing is built; it is an unfinished construction site.

But, urban politics, aside, my main thought here is this: I enjoy baseball, but the pomp and circumstance of the all-star game is a bit much. I wish that our society spent 1/10th the money and applause on the all-star teachers.


ps. That said, go Cards! I hope Albert Pujols gets some quality at-bats during the game.

C-64 versus the iPhone

I wish I had thought to show this to my father, when I was home.

Recently, someone wrote a Commodore-64 emulator on the iPhone. There was a big hubbub because Apple blocked it, but more interesting (to me) is this article, which contains a stat comparison.

e.g. The C-64 came out at $600. The iPhone starts at $99.

The C-64 runs at 1 MHz with 64 KB of memory.
The iPhone runs at 600 MHz with 256 MB of memory.

Naturally, the iPhone has 27 years of tech on which to rest, but still interesting.

It's a shame that the legal stuff barred the emulator. Imagine playing Gateway to Apshai while in line at a store!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Made 'er

I made 'er back to St Louis!

Much to recap on the trip, but for now, I can say that the travelling was smooth. Really fast trip home: 3 flights (between 50 and 90 minutes) and 2 layovers of about 1 hour. As part of my ongoing miscalculation of timing, I caught just part of the 5th set between Federer/Roddick, while in Montreal. Then I had to board. Never, ever fly during the Wimbledon finals!

I flew out at 11 am which makes life a lot easier, certainly for Dad. I don't think I'll fly at 6 am again (out of PEI).

The last evening was traditional: my bro-in-law and sister came to my parents and we ate dinner and hung out. This has been a standard since roughly 1994.

Going home twice a year definitely helps me stay connected with PEI! The weather was rather lame this year, but gorgeous weather is for the tourists :-) I am an Islander.


ps. My Mom, my sister, and I attended an open-air performance by Youth Canada. Last year they celebrated Quebec. This year it was good old PEI. A great moment was when a young girl did a lymerick that basically said she was born on the boat and not considered a true Islander as the doctor cut the umbilical cord before they docked. LOL. It was wonderful!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Bare Essentials of Air Safety

Air New Zealand has scored a coup with this video: it is an instructional vid on air safety, with a twist -- the staff are only wearing body-paint!

It has zoomed to 2+ million views in about a week. (Mostly on hype: it doesn't deliver the 'goods' but rather brilliantly teases throughout.)

I know that BryGuy and C-Book are going to NZ later in the year. I wonder if Air NZ is on the itinerary?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom

A quick note to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday!

The trip is going fine, and it is nice to be home for Mom's day.

An in-trip report:
  • The weather has been generally overcast and very non-postcard. However, it hasn't rained a lot.
  • My Dad and I went biking on the famous Confederation Trail for about an hour. That was fun...
  • I'm visiting people left and right, getting to see a lot of people. Highlights include longtime friends over at Pater Audio and Poplar Point. I had a whirlwind trip in Kings County, making 6 stops in the span of about 3 hours. Not exactly quality time, but at least no one is upset (a perennial consideration).
  • I spent Canada Day evening in a pub with my cousin, R. No fireworks viewing for us: we have a tradition of bailing at the first hint of chilly weather.
  • I miscalculated the timing of the trip, with respect to cultural events. Plays, concerts, etc, really start in mid-July. e.g. Highlights include Stompin' Tom (!) and an all-Chopin concert by Alan Fraser, plus innumerable local acts. Ah well. A la prochaine fois!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Canada Day

A quick note to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day!

The trip has been grand so far... Weather has been only fair, but good times all around, including a big meal (all food within 20 km) at Vic and Colleen's. The downsides include Mom feeling quite unwell (though she is on the upswing).

This morning, my father and I went to a pancake breakfast (for Canada Day) and sat with Federal MP Wayne Easter (distant relation). That was pretty neat.

On Twitter, I put this quote:

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée, protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

1000 CC award points for anyone who identifies it.