Monday, February 28, 2005


Well today I tried something I haven't done since junior High. Those that know me, know that I swim fairly often...At least three times a week, usually four times. They probably don't know that I have been hitting the gym twice a week on top of that.
Today At the gym I saw the skipping station was empty. "That could be fun" I thought. So I picked up the rope and proceed with the idea that I would skip continuously for 1 minute. That shouldn't be hard, after all I bike for 30 or swim for 60 minutes. How hard can one minute of skipping be. As I started to jump I thought, "This is kind of fun, no wonder I did all the time when I was young." The seven seconds that passed for that thought, changed my opinion...By the end of the thought, I was in the mid set that this was tiring. "wow, this is getting hard." That was by 12 seconds. At 15 seconds I trained my head to count jumps, "I will jump 45 times and check the clock, that should bring me close to the end."
....."6, 7, 8...Oh my legs....9 10....Damn it." I had tripped on the roped. I looked at the clock to see that a grand total of 21 seconds had passed. So I tried to pick it up. 18 seconds this time...My legs hurt so bad. I stopped this time waited for about 15 seconds, then said...Okay one minute is for champs, I'll try 30 seconds.
I prepared to jump and I was off. I started counting skips. At 30 jumps, 9 seconds had passed, my lefts were aching and I could feel the lactic acid burning my veins, I jumped for additional 20 jumps, and a total of 17 seconds had passed...."My god has that clocked stopped....I thought this was suppose to be child's play." With 10 seconds left I was breathing hard and jumping very hard. My light gentle skips lost to the unwillingness of my legs to jump. Then as I thought I could not jump one more time the clock hit the 30 second mark. No wonder we stop skipping as we get older...Are legs would fall off if we continued. Does anyone's else remember playing jump rope for hours when they were 5,6 or 7?

This all happened in about 2 mintues and in that time I got a better work out than I have in the last months of swimming biking and weight lifting. I think tomorrow I will aim for 45 seconds of skipping.

By Sabrina - 8:07 p.m. | (11) comments | Post a Comment

Memo to the Eastlink Television Guy

Dear guy who stopped me on Kent St. apparently to ask me questions for your TV show, I sincerely apologize for thinking you were asking for spare change. But you were hanging out in the alley next to Tim's, and you called me 'sir'. The only people who call me 'sir' are asking me for something, so I naturally assumed...

Anyway, sorry. And I hope that wasn't filmed.

By al - 2:06 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment


Sunday was the last day I stepped into my house. Last week was packing stuff up, a few friends were over on Saturday to load the truck, did a final check of the house Sunday and signed the papers later that day. For those that don't know, I sold the house and it closes this Thursday. Just a few minor details left, but essentially all my stuff is piled up at my sister's house and my next priority is finding another place to live.

Managed to rearrange my sister's basement Sunday night. Aside from the couch or the small stack of boxes in one corner, it's doesn't look like anything has changed down there. I did however fill a 24 foot truck on the way down, plus my mom's SUV. Years of experience packing stuff throughout my University career definitely helped. It's sort of like a playing a live-action combination of Tetris and Sokuban; fit everything together to take up the least amount of space while arranging everything so you can still move around and access whatever you need.

Leaving the Island is tough. Made a lot of friends while I was there. Still not sure if getting a place with my mom is a good idea, but saving money to pay off debts might be a higher priority. I'll see what happens.

By Ming - 12:51 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Guardian Article: Meeting on Downtown Charlottetown Re-zoning

Guardian Article: Meeting on Downtown Charlottetown Re-zoning

This is an article in The Guardian about the public meeting to
discuss the downtown Charlottetown density project wihch I mentioned in
this previous post.  Things pretty much turned out the way we wanted
them to, with no drastic re-zoning, but allowances for things like more
residential units per lot area.

Oh, and that's my father in the picture.

Click to enlarge and read the article.

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By al - 5:36 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Kitchen Demo - What's in the water?

Kitchen Demo - What's in the water?

OK, my boredom and curiousity got the best of me tonight, and i thought
I would find out once and for all what happens when you let a pot of
water boil down completely.  I have to say I'm a bit disturbed by the
results; these flakes of whatever the heck they are.  They don't taste
like anything, as one would expect. (What? They were disolved in the
water already, ok?)

I may be on the road to turning into General Jack D. Ripper if I keep
thinking about whatever this is when I pour a glass of water from the

(PS. that was a full pot of water, why go small when you can go big?)

By al - 2:30 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Mom on Vacation - Day Two

A little necessary shopping.

  • Coffee Filters
  • A newspaper
  • Potato Salad
  • Hot-crossed Buns
So far my 'Clean up a little bit each time you walk through a room' strategy has left things fairly decent. Only making toast and sandwiches or eating out has also cut down on the mess.

By al - 11:46 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment - Reward Good Behavior

Salon.comFor the last couple of weeks I've been very happy with Visiting their site can be something of a pain because they require you to sit through an ad before reading any content. Usually these ads are annoying, flashy and require you to puzzle out how to click through to get to the next screen and finally to get to the rest of the site. Their having ads like that makes me less willing to link to them and less likely to read them daily.

However for the last little while they've carried a very nice concept ad by Cadillac, with one slogan being “This car is faster than this ad,” showing a very brief glimpse of a car speeding through a tunnel before flashing the logo and taking you to the main page in under 5 seconds. My appreciation that I didn't have to wait for their ad to finish has generated much more goodwill towards their company than if I considered their ad an adversary between me and the article I wanted to read.

I once had an idea for an advertisement that simply showed some nice image like a fireplace or some fish with some music in the background and at the end say “this moment of peace and quiet brought to you by [blah].” This ad hits the same target as my idea, with the bonus of not making you wait, either. (The web not being time-constrained like we've been led to believe television is.)

So I'm encouraging you all to go to Salon and read the good articles they usually have there. If they start to run a more intrusive ad, I'll complain about it and hopefully if enough people do they'll get the idea that ads that don't breed resentment are much more effective.
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By al - 7:12 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Mom on vacation - day one

Last night my mother got on a plane to go visit my sister, Katherine, in Mexico for two weeks. How will the oblivious duo of me and my dad, plus our over-worked and under-appreciated sister rLynn fair without mom? Day one is looking promising.

Why put the utensils away when you can just take the basket out of the dishwasher and have them within reach of the ice cream?

Eating cookies one at a time from the bag is so inefficient. Fortunately someone got the best of those maddening plastic snack-barriers. Also notice the Tim Horton's cup right next to the coffee pot.

If I put my clothes near the washing machine, statistically speaking, they'll get clean eventually.

Putting the number for the pizza place on the front of the fridge is kind of like saving us from ourselves.

By al - 4:27 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sabrina Setting Fire to some Bread

Sabrina Setting Fire to some Bread

Nothing like the taste of six-grain bread that's been through an

By al - 7:20 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

In the happy land of lowered expectations

I have to say I've never really thought much of Paul Martin. He was as good a finance minister as one could ask for, to be sure, but that's a rather non-visionary job when done well. I never understood all the talk about him succeeding Jean Chrétien. What was so great about him? What did he accomplish before becoming finance minister besides getting to know a lot of the right people in government?

I was also then thoroughly unimpressed with the way he handled Chrétien's last gasp as prime minister. It would have reflected much better on Martin just to have let the baby have his bottle for a few more months, but perhaps Chrétien knew that Martin would make himself look like a fool by fighting too hard for the job when its inevitability was already assured. A lot of people think that Chrétien didn't care much for the fate of the Liberal party that had grown up and united around the cause of getting him out of the party leadership.

So Martin skated from his very unprofessional rise to power into an election where he just looked miffed that he would have to go through such an exercise. His debate performance was very much of a man who didn't want to be there.

So after all that I was prepared to simply ignore the next four years of Canadian politics. But lately Martin has actually done a few things right. The equal marriage speech last week was definitely one. I don't know if he wrote much of it himself, but to stand there and draw the line in te sand about what's right and what's wrong, without waffling or wavering to please some block of voters who would be against the idea, was definitely a good start.

And then this week telling George W. Bush where to get off when it comes to missile defense, while a long time coming, was definitely another good move by Martin, though in this case it is my guess that he would have gone in on it were it not total political suicide to do it.

Either way, my respect for the man has gone up considerably recently, lets just hope circumstances continue to unfold so that the easiest thing for Martin to do is the right thing.
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By al - 3:58 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, February 24, 2005

How to put a favicon on your blogspot site

Those little 16x16 pieces of the most closely examined pixels on the entire web actually arose as part of Microsoft's sniping at web standards, imposing their .ico file format on the rest of the web. But now they've caught on and pretty much every site has one, except for blogspot-hosted blogs which have that stupid thing.

Except this site, of course.

How to make an icon

Ask your underemployed graphic designer friend to make you one, since you've been keeping him in lattés for the last few months.

Alternatively, you can go download The GIMP, create a new 32x32 image, or work with a larger image and shrink it down (the bicubic smoothing will make it look like you're the most meticulously pixel-conscious son of a bitch on earth.)

Now, The GIMP (the 'The' seems to be mandatory, much like The Cheat.) doesn't support saving as .ico, so you'll need another program for that. There are about a million shitty pieces of $29.95 shareware at that claim to be icon editors, one I found that was decent and free was Stardock's IconDeveloper Free. It pretty much does exactly the same job as any number of Windows 3.1 programs I had back in about 1993 or so. Just save a 32x32 pixel version of your image from GIMP as a .bmp file and load it up in IconDeveloper, and save it as a .ico file. Simple.

The important part is to also create a 16x16 pixel version, which IconDeveloper lets you do easily, and will save it in the same file.

Putting it on your blog

If you host your blog yourself then you just need to stick the file into your web space's root directory.

But if, like me, you just have a lame-ass blogspot site, because you're not cool enough to fuck with Movable Type anti-comment spam plugins all day, you can just stick your .ico file on the web somewhere, I use my own personal web space, you can probably even just point to some other web site's favicon that you like.

Once you have a URL for a favicon you want, just add the following HTML to your blog template's <body> section:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="" type="image/x-icon" />

And that's it. HTML stolen from Atrios.

By al - 7:54 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Quicksand is a lie.

Douglas Rushkoff wrote a bit today wondering why we never see quicksand on TV anymore, and someone left a very informative comment bursting all the fear I ever had as a child that one of the Sabre Riders wouldn't make it out of the quicksand if someone didn't throw them a rope:
Discovery's fantastic science geek show, Mythbusters, actually just tested the "killer quicksand" theory in an episode last fall. (The show was dedicated to well-worn Hollywood death techniques. They also tested the ol' electrocuted by an appliance falling into a bathtub method, which is indeed deadly, as it happens.)

Quicksand is essentially sand or dirt infused with so much underground water that it turns to a sludge into which a victim theoretically sinks slowly, eventually being consumed. So the Mythbusters first tested the buoyancy of various types of sand using a bucket with water being pumped in from the bottom. They discovered that the more coarse the grain, the more buoyant the quicksand, and the less things sink.

So, in Mythbusters fashion, they purchased a couple hundred pounds of the finest sand available, and prepared a 10ft-high vat of it with water infused at the bottom by fire truck hoses.

Long story short, you don't sink. They'd sink down to maybe their thighs and stop, even in this ideal, artificial environment. The reality is that anything you add to water, no matter how fine, will make it more buoyant, not less. The sand holds you up.

Summary: Tarzan and Daniel Boone were liars, and you can traipse the world's sandiest expanses with impunity. Worst case scenario, you lose a shoe.

Now, as for the cultural implications... I'll leave that up to you.

Cheryl Botchick • 02/22/05 07:30am
On the other hand (from the same thread) :
Here's some video of a shallow pool of quicksand swallowing up a squad of British Royal Marine Commandos disembarking from a boat:

It's much like mud but soupier and thus harder to move through; notice it's wet enought to set off of the emergency auto-inflate sensor on the leftmost marine's lifevest. Good thing these guys weren't getting shot at it the time.
Matt Ridenour [] • 02/22/05 02:02pm
Of course, this still doesn't explain how, in an episode of "Captain N: The Game Master" where a pool of quicksand was actually the secret entrance to Bayou Billie's underground lair. I remember being especially miffed that the quicksand was just floating there on the ceiliing. And of course, what probably pulls people in is really the tentacle monster that lives at the bottom, which really should now better than to leave trees with long vines growing around oh-so-conveniently.

By al - 12:16 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The word 'meme' leaves me confused and scared

Stealing this little survery thing from Cynthia Dunsford's site. It's a little more informative than the 'which ice cream flavour do you prefer to eat with brown-haired boys?"-type quizzes.

What do you do? Macintosh software application developer.

What are your challenges? Finding the simplest solution to a problem, having to do a lot with not very much, lots of change, for better or worse.

How do you overcome them? Try to find people who share a continual curiousity and drive to figure things out and solve problems. Attempt to keep that fire burning in myself as well. Try to keep a bigger picture in my mind, including risk factors and realistic solutions.

What is a typical day like? Get up rather late, realize I'm going to be late for work, take a nice long shower anyway. Walk in to work, stop by Timothy's for a ridiculously big cup of coffee on the way. Momentarily envy the people who can do work from there.

Then it's in to work. Mostly this consists of trying to figure out the problem of the day, be it needing to learn some new API, looking up a proper structure for a program window, realizing just how little I know about pre-OS X data structures and API calls that I keep running in to. Also trying to keep the money side of things from distracting me too much.

If the weather isn't too bad I'll go home for lunch, make a sandwich, and then take the dog for a walk, trying not to think about work. Then more of the usual in the afternoon and into the evening, usually.

If it's not too late I'll try and cook something, often trying something semi-new, semi-working with the ingredients I have at the time.

At night I come home meaning to work on something construcive but usually end up mostly reading news and blogs or listening to music.

How do you manage information (Emails, blogs, etc.)? Stickies, / RSS Digest (bookmarks), OS X / Thunderbird (email), Skype / MSN (IM, VoIP), Blogger, Picasa / Flickr (photos), Sharpreader (RSS)

What are your 3 to 5 favourite books?

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Microserfs - Douglas Coupland

What are you favourite websites/blogs?

Ars Technica
James Wolcott
The blogs in my sidebar are the ones I check about once a day.

What tools/technology do you use? Toshiba Satellite 5000 notebook, Kodak CX740 digital camera, basically do everything on the laptop from music to movies to TV shows to communication.

What is your favourite quote? "Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony." -- Mohandas Gandhi

What is your secret to success? Another quote: "Winners do the things losers don't want to do"

What are your greatest accomplishments? Personal? Professional? I'll let you know when I'm dead.

What are your hobbies? Or how do you break the monotony and stay energized? Cooking, guitar, listening to music, reading, long walks by myself.

By al - 11:44 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, February 21, 2005

Charlottetown City Council trying to sneak re-zoning through again

Update: Everyone should watch Compass on CBC tonight (Monday) at 6 for an apparently very informative report on the City planning dept. I made a few edits to this post for clarity.

Well, it looks like those geniuses at Charlottetown City Hall are at it again. A couple of years ago someone hatched a plan to connect two old houses near the West end of Grafton St. and turn them into a bar. This was a boneheaded idea for any number of reasons, not the least of which was that it's on the other side of the downtown core to all the other bars in town, is next to absolutely nothing, and wouldn't be a very good building to start with for that kind of thing.

Thankfully a few city residents got wind of the plan last time and roundly embarrassed the city council in public meetings about it, and the idea was dropped. Out of that also came an understanding that there should be no more commercial development west of Pownal St.

The city are at it again, now. They want to re-zone a few blocks South of Euston St. to Downtown Multi-Use, which could be anything from bars to gas stations, and are doing it under the auspices of the 'Density Project'.

What this will do will be to poison the city's own stated goal of assuring the high quality of life in the downtown area and attract more residents by assuring a safe environment. The absolute worst thing for the residents, let alone the Bed & Breakfast owners in this part of town would be to have bars and gas stations and lord-knows-what else popping up in the middle of neighbourhoods.

In their report The Downtown Density Project (pdf) they say:
Our objective is to continue to reinforce the Downtown Core Area as an
attractive, enjoyable and safe place for residents and visitors.
Now I'm thinking that it's only a very small subset of potential downtown developers and residents that would just love to have crowds of rowdy bargoers under their windows every weekend at 3am. The city's attempt to bend to the desires of one business person will poison their stated goal of improving the desirability of the downtown area.

Thankfully the right people have caught wind of this and the City is in for yet another black eye. Should be fun to watch.
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By al - 12:46 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Wintersleep CD Release Show

Wintersleep CD Release Show

Some pictures from Wintersleep's CD Release show at D'Arcy McGee's in Charlottetown on February 19th.

The show itself was great, all three bands, Contrived, the Peter Parkers and Wintersleep all really rocked. Wintersleep's drummer did double duty playing with Contrived, and he did a superb job, seemed to be able to play with the rhythm and be creative much more than you would expect from most rock drummers.

The Peter Parkers were also good, but had a tendency to stretch a 'song' out too long, and don't seem to be too concerned with short, well-defined songs.

But all in all it was a fun night, Justin and Taylor and Janelle were there, as well as Justin's friends, namely half of the room. Taylor also introduced me to Jenna, who also seems really cool. So it was a good night.

The best part about slinging a camera is that I could move around the crowd and stand on tables and chairs and do all sorts of stuff just to get a good angle and people didn't protest much at all. At the end of the night Justin and Will and I grabbed some Chinese food, nothing like green tea and Seschwan noodles at 3am.

Update: More Wintersleep photos at PEILocals.

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By al - 12:11 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Just a few more photos

The nice thing about having the camera is that it gives me a reason to walk around different places.

Charlottetown Waterfront in the Evening

Charlottetown Waterfront in the Evening

8 photos

By al - 6:53 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

I'm going to be an Aunt!!

Just found out that my sister Mandy is 6 weeks pregnant...this means 2 two things...


2- With a pregnant, unmarried sister with no post-secondary education and a job that is unstable and pays $8/hour...suddenly to my parents me being unemployed, living at home and pursuing a career as a writer seems to be the least of their worries...I'm good for all screw ups for the next 3 years....At the least!

By chantal - 2:43 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, February 18, 2005

Mac Mini: Throwing a Monkeywrench into the Used Mac Market

I periodically find myself browsing through the listings at and ebay for good deals on used Macintoshes. But ever since Apple released the Mac Mini, I've noticed that what I previously might have considered reasonable now seems like a really bad deal. Just a month ago I would have thought that $800 for a 1GHz Power Mac G4 tower was a reasonably good deal.

But Apple has now set a new baseline for comparison. Now you know for sure that if you can't get better than a 1.25 GHz G4 machine for $650 CDN, you might as well just buy a new machine.

It's always been the case that used Macs have a much higher resale value than PCs do, partly because you previously couldn't find new ones for <$1000, and partly because they are well-built machines that last for ages. I'm still getting everything I need out of a development machine in an old G4 450MHz tower that's just had a RAM upgrade and nothing else.

I wonder if part of why Apple's 'market share' numbers are so low, much lower than the percentage of people I know who own an Apple computer, is that people keep their machines around longer and many people buy them used. The thing every computer magazine columnist has mused about is how the Mini will affect Apple's market share. But I wonder if they, or Apple, have considered the untapped market of people hanging on to older hardware who can now get an excellent deal on a new machine.

At any rate, Apple and Dell remain the only profitable major computer makers, so the dime-a-dozen columnists who criticize Apple over things like market share, which are based on fudged numbers to begin with, really don't have much to complain about these days.

As a side-note, searching for pictures with the 'macmini' tag on Flickr yielded much better results than Google's image search. The semantic web is sneaking up on us, it seems.
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By al - 5:36 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Strangely Disturbing. . . .

My department had a small gathering to send a couple of coworkers off. While I was there, I was talking to a guy I knew back in high school and now works at the same place. Strangely the topic of conversation veered into D&D and google. He stated: "I'm sure there's plenty of people that play D&D in Moncton. . . you'd be surprised what you find by searching for D&D and Moncton. . . ."

So, I'm on break at work the next day and I decide, what the hell. . . . Plugged "Moncton" and "D&D" into google and what do I find? On the first page of results, I find my blogger profile. That's freaky. So is the fact that a search for my name on google only turns up pages that reference back to me.

By Ming - 9:52 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Blog comment spam getting weirder and weirder

I've been thinking about ditching blogger and getting some webspace at Dreamhost or some other place and just running a moveable type blog from there, since blogger is being a pain in the ass of late, with connection time-outs and the like.

But the nice thing about blogger is that it doesn't seem to attract any comment spam. And the comment spammers are getting just as innovative as email spammers in their attempts to weave around content filters, such as Moveable Type's mt-blacklist module.

I just found this example at NY Times columnist Adam Nagourney's blog:
  1. The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time, is commended. by texas holdem

    Comment by free online poker — 2/6/2005 @ 10:54 am

The comment is just taking snippets of quotes and pasting them in blocks to make it look like a human wrote it. The content isn't trying to sell anything.

The point of blog comment spam isn't so much to attract clicks as it is to fool Google into thinking that that page is linking to the site spreading the spam, so that its PageRank will increase. (I erased the links when I pasted the comment here.) Clever and a pain in the ass because old blog pages that don't attract any attention from humans are still crawled by Google.
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By al - 4:38 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Was it really Him?

A strange encounter at Timothy's today, between me, two customers and the guy behind the counter.

Customer !1 finishes paying for his coffee, nods a me and then leaves.

Cusomer #2: "Do you know who that guy was that just left?"

Cashier: "No, but I think he called me by name, there.. But I'm not sure now."

C #2: "He just nodded at me and looked like he recognized me, and he kind of looks like my uncle.. but I can't figure out if that's who it was."

Me: "Maybe it was God."

Ca.: "Yeah, just dropping by, saying 'Hey, james, how ya' doin' today? Things are gonna be just fine."

That's my guess, anyway.

By al - 4:20 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

MSN Name of the Day

You're not my girl, you're just tired.

Belonging to Taylor.

By al - 1:56 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


You are You are a know-it-all.  You are trustworthy, most of the time.  You are  versatile and useful.  You like volunteering.  You are free.
Which Website are You?

Sounds pretty damn accurate.

By Peter - 8:37 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

My website

I strongly question the validity of this survey....

You are You like to prove people wrong. Your friends rely on you for the truth, but you're not perfect. You once made a rocket car.
Which Website are You?

By chantal - 6:59 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Moncton Move Notes: Webserver Defunct

I've been having problem with the thing lately. The machine has been having problems powering up. It's been having problems working with the new router. I think the power supply on the machine is on it's last legs and as it was a laptop in a previous life, I figured it would be a good idea to decommission the machine before it melted down completely.

So, I have moved all services from the webserver and moved them to the fileserver. . . which is now the everything server. Switched services from dhis to dyndns, so any bookmarks to my old web address won't work. dhis just wasn't working well with the new router and Aliant in NB rotates IPs like crazy! It's rather annoying really. Now that everything is up and running at the new location, I might just get more free time to work on my webpage project I've been putting off for a while now.

Moved the futon from the house to my sister's place. Although the futon it's exactly much better than the air mattress I was sleeping on, it does fit better in the room I'm in and hence a lot more space to move around. Spent some time rearranging the room so it's more liveable. I think I can afford some cheap futon mods, like some egg carton padding or something like that. That would be nice anyways.

By Ming - 3:05 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

I don't follow

You are You like  to talk about the weather. You like to do things on the 8s. Natural disasters are your bread and butter.  You prefer Celsius.
Which Website are You?

By Sabrina - 7:01 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

You are You like to prove people wrong. Your friends rely on you for the truth, but you're not perfect. You once made a rocket car.
Which Website are You?

By al - 1:02 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, February 14, 2005

Walking Rowena along Queen Elizabeth Dr.

Here are some pictures I took just today while I was walking Rowena down the road that runs between Victoria Park and North River here in Charlottetown, playing on the snow mountains along the way. Click on the picture to go to the Flickr set.

Some pictures of Victoria Park and North River

Queen Elizabeth Dr., Charlottetown

13 photos

By al - 3:02 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Plans for Valentine's Day

Someone asked me this morning what my plans were for Valentine's Day. So here they are:
  • Arrive home from work.
  • Cook supper.
  • Clean up.
  • Read for a while.
  • Fall asleep listening to CBC radio.
Pretty much just like every other night. Feel free to be envious.

PS. If a person who knows you're single asks you what your Valentine's Day plans are, that person is not your friend.

By al - 11:56 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Just watched the Metallica: Some Kind of Monster DVD at Justin's place tonight. This isn't going to be just another long-ish movie review because a Google search will get you enough of those. But there were a few things on the DVD extras that I found pretty funny.

First, they had an extended cut of the Dave Mustaine-Lars Ulrich scene in which Dave cries. (!!) Basically we see that Mustaine never got over the time Lars and James fired him from Metallica, and despite the fact that he went on to become the second biggest name in metal with Megadeth, he always felt like a failure and a reject. This was funny enough in the film (a proper examination of just how fucked Dave and the other early members of Megadeth were is rather less funny, but this out of context is pretty hilarious.) But the extended but has Dave talking about Cliff Burton a bit and wishing that everything could have worked out back then.

Now, Justin (being a rock-star worshipper and maybe a little image-conscious) absolutely hates Dave Mustaine. But he always really loved Cliff (obsession with dead rock stars, and all that), so to hear Dave remembering Cliff Burton fondly was rather an uncomfortable moment.

Another funny delete scene from the DVD was of Lars getting pissed off and going off by himself, and wondering whether the last 20 years of success was all based on anger and bad feelings, and if the therapy that they were in would take away whatever inspires them to create good music. Mostly it's funny to see Lars pissed off and having a fit, though. In the movie they show Lars' father, who is incredibly calm and cool and the total polar opposite of Lars' drama queen style. Makes you wonder what it was like to grow up in that house.

Now, their last album, St. Anger, still sucks. But hearing them lay down the riffs for it and really work them out made me appreciate the riffs a lot more. But I still can't listen to the album, because the lyrics are quite stupid and there aren't any guitar solos. So it's an hour of repeated riffs with trash-can drum sound and lyrics that make me laugh out loud.

The band members' relationships with each other were all pretty much in line with what I had figured before from just reading random articles and listening to interviews. It's pretty much a creative contest between James and Lars, where they feel compelled to finish and perfect some part of a song before the other one suggests an improvement. And Kirk is often left out in the cold and just told what and how to play. There's a scene where James is worried that he is losing some control of the creative process, and Kirk says "Well, welcome to how I've been feeling for the past 16 years." Most of the film was made while they didn't have a bassist, after Jason Newstead left the band to play with Voivod and pursue his own side project that lead to him being kicked out of Metallica because Lars was worried that he might enjoy doing that more than being in Metallica. (These kinds of confessions come along with the group-therapy sessions that the band go through in the film.)

I think this film is a good example of the idea that if someone's ego is too high, what needs to happen is to have it knocked completely to the ground and built up again, only more honestly and carefully. Metallica had become a parody of themselves, and the cracks had begun to run together and no one was really taking them seriously until this documentary came out and people actually saw what went on behind the recording studio walls and all the internal struggles and conflicts and saw the actual 3-4 human beings that play music together rather than this packaged thing called 'Metallica'. If Metallica hadn't gone through that period of extreme self-doubt I'm sure they never would have been able to have the guts to let something as revealing as this be made and put out.
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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Memos: Culturanza Edition

  • There was a pretty fun Culturama night at the Basilica Rec. Centre tonight. (Note to self, 'Basilica' is hard to type without stopping to think about how it's spelled.) It was nice, there was food from all over the world and performances and music and dancing and stuff, and lots of interesting people. I had a nice conversation with a couple of artists, one of whom who was good enough to finally explain the practical differences in the various styles and schools of abstract art. My only complaint was that they didn't tell you beforehand that the cost of the food was extra on top of the $10 admission. The student society nights at UNB always had a flat cost, usually $7 - $10, and the food was free. They always used volunteers to cook everything. At this thing it looked like the people at each little table selling food were making pretty good money at it. ($3 for a bowl of lentil soup, while it was good soup, is still a lot of money for one Styrofoam bowl scooped fro ma huge pot.) If it was for a fundraiser and that's where the money went then let my face be red, but it wasn't clear on the website that you should plan on bringing extra money with you.
  • Tonight for the first time I watched a complete episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. It was never that I consciously avoided it, I just never really watched much TV since I started university and wasn't into it in high school so I never got the chance. Tonight's might not have been the best episode to start with, because it had a lot of characters in the middle of tiffs or conflicts that might have felt meaningful if I had already known the story arcs up to that point and what caused it all, but for me tonight (seeing a 3rd season episode on DVD at Sabrina's sister's place) it just didn't make for compelling TV. I'll likely give it another chance, but so far I'm not quite converted to a total fanboy yet.
  • Pearl of wisdom from a recent “Six Feet Under” episode I just watched: Men don't know what they want, that's why it's [women's] job to tell them. Who knows, it might very well be true.
  • I've had a craving for seafood chowder ever since Sabrina complained that she couldn't stand the smell of it being cooked. So all the while she was telling me how unbearable the smell in her apartment was while her roommate was cooking it, I just wanted to go over there and have some :)
  • I really should get out to the farmer's market more often. Not having a car still sucks in this awfully-laid out city. While it's not quite as nice as Fredericton's, it's still excellent. It seems to be brimming every time I go there. There's talk of them wanting to expand it, but they might be having a problem with the people they're leasing the area from. I hope they'll be able to because it's about the only place the people who sell things like food and crafts can make some money with low start-up costs. If I had my way, of course, I'd find a way to get them closer to down-town, but I can't think of a really good place off-hand that would have enough parking.
  • Speaking of parking downtown: Memo to the city of Charlottetown: either you actually do want people to come downtown to shop, and you will realize that raising the parking ticket fees is a bad idea and drop it, or you can admit that you could care less if people come downtown or not and will simply fleece the poor suckers who do for all you can. But you're not fooling anyone by saying one thing and doing another. This extends to things like those Byzantine electronic parking meters and the lack of parking in general. I once was walking around downtown at 7:30am and saw people arriving to work at the ATC and getting in that early to grab a parking spot. That's idiotic. (both on the part of the people who would do that rather than find a better way in to work and on the part of the city for putting it there, and running to put a federal government building right next to it. When I heard that Charlottetown's entire city planning staff up and quit one day and they never bothered to hire any replacements, just one poor bastard who was sent to Coventry after working for the province, who doesn't seem to be doing anything at all, I was not surprised in the least.
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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Closer to the heart

Just got back from seeing the movie Closer at City Cinema, (Roger Ebert's review). It was a good movie, very well-written (based on a play), but it was the kind of movie that left you feeling like the world was an awful place. Because the world of this movie was awful at its core, devoid of anything positive or good. The characters are all seeking love, but what they are really seeking is attraction. The two male characters, played by Jude Law and Clive Owen, are the ones with the most three-dimensional characters. The movie is basically a clash between the two of them, each trying to be desired by the two women at once.

The movie starts off like any typical romantic comedy, with Dan (Law), a failed novelist who writes obituaries meeting eyes with Alice (Portman) on the street, and her being so distracted that she gets hit by a taxi. They have their first conversation in the hospital waiting room, where Portman gives the first hint at her mysteriousness and round-about way of answering questions. (No, this isn't Garden State, but a distorted and twisted, possibly evil version of the same character.) Here's where I have to admit to being naturally sympathetic to Portman's character because of the actress who plays her's voice which still gets me every time...

At this point the relationship between Dan and Alice takes on a familiar tone.. he becomes obsessed with her, uses her as the main character for his first published novel, they are together for three years. And then he starts to feel like she needs him, that she is too young, and too much molded by his own personality that he doesn't know which part is really 'her'.

It's at this point that we meet the other female character in the movie (there are only about 7 people on screen in the entire movie, and we're almost entirely stuck with the four main characters.) Now, I don't want to ruin the best bits of the movie, but I do find it fascinating how much the writer was able to drain love of its positivity and present it as a weapon one can use to hurt other people, and if you're not as experienced a manipulator, yourself. (as happens to one of the characters in the end who gets in over his head)

Now, this is certainly more interesting than your typical RomCom (thanks, mark). But I got the sneaking suspicion that this kind of heartless manipulation is old hat in the world of soap operas. The writer just took that material, applied a skilled pen to it, and turned it into a play that eventually became this film. A movie that introduced the naturally more cynical younger movie-going set to the trials of baseless relationships entered into more for spite than for hope of happiness that have been going on in soap operas for decades.

The difference between this and most soap operas, however, is that the story ends in a very definite way, and the ones who weren't really prepared for the game of manipulation are left as they were, and the true experts at cold-heartedness find each other, as well.
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By al - 11:55 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Back Online

Moved the computers to Moncton on Monday. Managed to fit all 4 computers plus my usual load of clothes and stuff in the Legacy and transport them to my sister's place. Got pretty much everything up Monday, except the router wasn't connecting to the WAN. After completely resetting the damn thing and flashing the firmware, I decided to just get a new wireless-G router. A few hours of reconfiguring and testing the network. The new Linksys router is nice. A lot easier to configure than the defunct SMC, though the GUI is a bit quirky. Everytime you do a setting change, it kicks you out and you have to log back in.

A better answer to Al's question: G is faster than B. B has better range than G. But G still works at O(house) so G is better for me.

A couple of minor things left to do though. hasn't registered the new IP address. I think I'll just switch to DynDNS though. Try to get a more user-friendly name while I'm at it. Got a few things I didn't get done over the weekend due to the move, have to finish that up and resync some data. I forgot to bring paper for the printer. . . I might have to "borrow" a few sheets from work.

By Ming - 1:28 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Sound of Pure Evil

This is simply to inform you that the disc 2 of Black Sabbath's Past Lives album is the most evil live album ever recorded. (actually it is pieced together from a number of shows they did in the US before 1978 or so.) Every time I listen to Master of Reality or Vol. 4 and start to want to just pick up the guitar, turn the distortion and volume way way up and just make the same notes much heavier and crashier, well it turns out Ozzy and the boys were way ahead of me on that thought, and that's how they made their live shows sound. Whether it was deliberate or a product of the sound facilities they had, the low-fi, sheer electric fright effect they created in these live recordings really has the effect of making you believe you're in an old warehouse in the middle of industrial London with a leaky roof and live wires on the floor and this insane force at one end of the room creating the most charged and emotional music you've ever heard are there and they're scaring you to death but you love them all the more for it. And then there's the fact that Ozzy was so drugged up at the shows (At one point in the album he just starts yelling “Are you high? Are you high? so am I!!”) that you think he might just believe himself that Iron Man might come crashing through the wall and crush everything, and he was simply providing the proper soundtrack for something like that to happen. After Sabbath, and after about 1980 or so, the idea of heavy metal music became codified and the rules were set out, and it ceaces to carry the force of a thousand peace-and-love destroying warheads that a single dark image painted in an old Sabbath song would have. The low-fi production and sound of the time was exactly what I always wished I had the ability to hear live, so I'm loving this album.

The opposite side to it all, however, was the fact that Ozzy, even back then, really souned like he loved the fans who came out to see their shows. When he'd say "I love you all" you really felt like he meant it, that he was thanking them for being there. You never quite got that feeling from singers who didn't venture near the precipice of dark imagery that Ozzy did. They would sing about love but didn't feel that love in their hearts for the people watching them perform. Now, that certainly isn't a requirement to make good music, and I'm usually the one decrying too much importance being placed on musician's personalities, but it really is striking in this case, and is what made Sabbath unique, that Ozzy especially just felt as lost and disillusioned with the world as the people who often discovered his music back then, and that it was a totally symbiotic relationship. Do you think Robert Plant would ever start gushing back at a hysterical fan, both telling each other how much they mean to them? Likely not.

Anyway, I don't usually find I can listen to live albums when I can hear the studio album songs much more clearly, but this is an exception and it captures everything that you miss just by hearing the well-crafted studio albums.
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By al - 7:27 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, February 07, 2005

Writers block

K I have decided to try and figure out why my head won't work. I have been working on my story...Sorting details and stuff...But mostly just trying to get the general story on paper. Oddly enough, even though I am the author things keep happening that I don't plan for, but when they jump in my head it all works...But my problem is at them moment I am trying to bring the story to a point where details begin to make sense. Tried to plan this out better but every story I have ever done with a detailed out line has fallen apart. This one is going well. Until page 73 :(.....Random comments might help...Toss in the oddest thing and who knows it might be what I need.

By Sabrina - 9:32 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Random Blurbs

At the bar last night they played the same song 4's the most popular song in town at the moment...the name, you ask? "Save a horse, ride a cowboy" . Giddy-up.

Just finished Chapter 2 of my's a little longer than anticipated, but the book has now taken over a life of its own and all I can do now is write what begs to be written...

The water pipes in our neighbourhood sprung a leak Friday night and we had no water for several hours. It was -27 degrees and there were work crews down the street working through the night to get the water restored. My parents felt bad for them and that's how I ended up outside at 10 o'clock, pouring fresh coffee for the parents are freaks...wonderful, warm-hearted freaks.

That is all.

By chantal - 9:40 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Skype-Me Theatre: “Crazy Cows and Crazy Brazilians”

One of the fun things about Skype is the ‘Skype Me’ feature, wihch will make your profile viewable by anyone and tells the world that you are available for random chat. The usual people who end up finding me are just looking to practice their English, but occasionally you get more interesting weirdos, like today's episode, ”Crazy Cows and Crazy Brazilians”


Chat History with André Reis Rocha (adolas)

Created on 2005-02-06 16:49:43.


Alexander O'Neill: 15:26:32
André Reis Rocha: 15:26:41
Alexander O'Neill: 15:27:02
how are you?
Alexander O'Neill: 15:27:11
(can't talk by voice at the moment)
André Reis Rocha: 15:27:12
im fine,, and you?
Alexander O'Neill: 15:27:17
André Reis Rocha: 15:27:19
ok, i wait
André Reis Rocha: 15:27:41
i have a question fot the canadian people
Alexander O'Neill: 15:27:51
André Reis Rocha: 15:31:03
do you know
André Reis Rocha: 15:31:13
why your country said that our cattle is with to syndrome of the crazy cow?
Alexander O'Neill: 15:32:02
I don't really pay attention to the news about that. I think it was in response to other trade disputes
André Reis Rocha: 15:32:53
I think Canada made that because you are not getting to compete with our airplanes
André Reis Rocha: 15:33:05
im right?
Alexander O'Neill: 15:33:44
Something like that, because the Brazilian government was giving money to the brazilian company that makes aircraft, wich was agaist WTO rules
André Reis Rocha: 15:33:47
adimt, the Brazilians make better airplanes than you
Alexander O'Neill: 15:34:06
hahaha, if they did then why would the government need to support te company? :)
André Reis Rocha: 15:34:39
Santos Dummom, one braziliam created the airplane
André Reis Rocha: 15:35:16
our government doesn't support
Alexander O'Neill: 15:36:04
André Reis Rocha: 15:36:04
ou don't know how to compete, you need to admit that Brazil is the second largest economy of America
André Reis Rocha: 15:36:19
this is lie
Alexander O'Neill: 15:36:22
that article I jsut sent explained it
André Reis Rocha: 15:37:36
which the relationship of that with the crazy cow?

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Memos: Some real memos this time edition

  • Memo to all Nirvana cover bands: If you can't play Lithium properly, get off te fucking stage. Also, Kurt Cobain may have had a reason to not play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at his shows, but you have no such creative licence to resent your own popularity. So play the hit songs. That's your job, and it's why all the kids payed $6 cover. And while all the supposedly real Nirvana fans will tell you that they hate that song, they're all lying. Every one of them heard that song first, and started liking the band because of it, and everyone knows it.
  • Memo to everyone else at Myron's last night: I don't know if the severe BO problem was me or all of you, but one of us had to go. I decided to be gracious and just go myself.
  • Funny observation about webcam conversations: I think I spend more time looking at the little window that shows myself than I do looking at the other person. I'm not even sure it's out of self-consciousness, rather, I'm suspecting that it may be pure narcissism. Watching myself taking a sip of coffee, thinking "damn I look cool", etc. Sad but I'm OK with it.

By al - 2:43 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, February 04, 2005


Today was one of those days that never seem to end. It went on for what felt like a thousand hours. But just before I was ready to leave the boss ask to talk to me.

YEAH...New permanent contract with a raise to go with it.

Doing the Binnie dance.

By Sabrina - 10:08 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

I Want to be an Electrician

Conversation today at work:

GN: “All we would need is a source of water downstairs and we could start making our own coffee.”

JN: “ Hey, we've got an industrial coffee maker at home, it's got multiple heating plates so you can make more than one pot at a time... Oh, but it runs on 220 Volts, and you can probably only get 110 downstairs.”

GN: “Oh, 220's no problem, you just hook up two 110s in series and hope you get the phase right. You know, so you don't melt the transformer and get arrested. Simple”

By al - 1:03 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It Begins. . . .

I finally got high speed internet in Moncton. That should be connected later this week. Then the phone and connect in Summerside will do silent shortly there after and the computers move into my sister's place.

This has to be the toughest move I've had to do in a long time. Usually, it's just pick everything up and put it down where it's all supposed to go. There's the hard part of being in a completely different place. The complete severance is tough at first, but you get over it fairly quickly. The long, drawn out move I'm currently in. . . not fun. . . . at all. On top of that, the place I'm slowly moving to is only temporary, so there's another move later down the road. It's a bad situation compounded by the fact my mother is now staying at my sister's place as well.

For those of you that don't know and despite what my mother would say to the contrary, I don't get along with my mother. We have nothing in common and practically all conversation with her for the past few years have revolved around her complaining about how she hates my friends, hobbies, habits, work ethic, the car I drive, my financials, the way I comb my hair, how I clean my house/space, etc. I personally don't know too many places that are cleaner than my house, and the rest, in my opinion, is as baseless as that.

I know I've been complaining a lot lately, but it's been frustrating times. Hoping things get better soon.

By Ming - 1:12 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Memos: Musical Nostalgia Edition

  • Tonight while looking for music, I realized that instead of doing my usual search for new stuff I hadn't heard I was pretty much only looking for songs I used to like and getting them again. I presume this means I've officially crossed some line where all new stuff sucks and I'd rather just live in another time period. This must be another step towards becoming an old crank. I can't wait.
  • Pantera's cover of Sabbath's “Hole in the Sky” feels a little forced. Like, if I were to decide “I'm gonna play this Sabbath song exactly the way Dimebag would.” I think I would have done exactly what Pantera did to it, crank up the distortion, add a bunch of bending up notes after each chord, speed it up a little.. do my death metal voice, which I can do for about 20 seconds before having a coughing fit.. I guess if you're Pantera and you're going to cover Sabbath you're going to make it sound like Pantera, but it was a little too predictable the way they did it. Not that I should be criticizing Pantera now, since I'm mostly just regretting not getting into them more again before Dimebag died.
  • I don't know if I've mentioned this already, but Death From Above 1976 will make you want to tear your room apart and throw your dresser out the window it's so good. Just a bass and drums, but don't go thinking ‘White Stripes”, these guys will come out of your stereo and kick the shit out of you before robbing you blind and setting your house on fire.
  • If anyone ever saw me listening to something like Iron Maiden or Sabbath when I thought no one was watching they'd think I was having a seizure or something. I shouldn't even be writing this. But I'm pretty sure it would be impossible for me to listen to something I thought was really good with my hands tied behind my back. I'm a severe hand-talker, especially when I get excited, I make gestures that take up the whole room, and it's pretty much the same when I'm listening to music. Air guitar, air drums, Freddie Mercury poses, the works. The fact that I still do it is a good indication that I'll likely never consider myself a grown-up.
  • Is anyone else besides me still paying any attention to the new Simpsons episodes? The thing is, they're getting way out there with the randomness. Like this week, to explain what they did with the kids when Homer and Marge go off to Aruba, they just stick them in a European balloon race, for no reason. I love it. And the week before, the episode where Marge adopts Nelson, was a much darker look at the characters than they ever usually do. Nelson's mom never feeds him, runs off with men at the drop of a hat, and it's all really funny but very ugly as well. Like they're testing you to see how far they can push the limits of what is funny versus what is sad. Same with the Lisa subplot about her weight, they manage to completely remove her dignity, and by that they really get further into the screwed-upness of being a young girl than any teen drama can, by allowing themselves to go to the absurd, they can illustrate the true emotion and resulting illogic of action. Bottom line, if you thought the Simpsons wasn't funny any more, you're definitely mistaken, but it's very much turned inward and are making story lines that can really mostly be appreciated by long-time fans.
  • Opera is still the fastest web browser on Mac OS and Windows. If it could only do JavaScript properly I'd use it all the time. Firefox is still a tad bit 'heavy' interface-wise, probably just because it doesn't use native widgets. Scrolling and bringing up dialog boxes is just a few milliseconds too slow it seems.
  • I should really stop eating out so much. If only because the experience is becoming less a nice time away from work and the world and more a rushed, unpleasant experience. I guess this is also partly just my work habits, etc. My favourite thing to do at lunch is to just go home, re-heat something I made the night before or just throw together a sandwich, then take the dog for a walk for about 45 minutes or so, then go back to work and not feel restless at all.

By al - 2:26 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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