Monday, October 31, 2005

today in the world of a chemist

Today was one of those days that you wish you could have missed. You know like been sick, or slept through cause you alarm didn't go off.

But here is the story. Just for your enjoyment.

Originally I had planned on working on this reaction. It would run today and be over before the end of the day. My white powder would land on a freeze dryer and all would be good. But then I started to put the pieces of today together. I had a meeting with one guy about Batch records. That took up about 1 hour this morning. Then I had my annual review (I hate those) :argue: Usually involves the supervisor telling us all the stuff we did wrong including a low yield last week and a mathematical mistake back in May. By the time they finish with you you feel like Hell. :pokey: You really think they are going to fire your ass and be done with you. Then they give you a meets jobs expectation. :hmmmm:

But that was not the best part of my day. This started early. I went looking for a batch record I had been working on. Because we have a policy of not leaving things on bench tops or on the top of a desk I put it in a drawer. I was positive I put it there. But in this morning it was not there.:helpsmilie: I looked hi and low for this thing. I couldn't piece together where it might have gone. I check with everyone I had given a piece of paper to on Friday and even today. To double check that it had not gotten stuck to something else. I checked fridges, and solvent storages, I checked recycling bins and garbage cans. I checked the NMR room and the photocopeir. I triple checked every pile of papers and data on my desk at least five times. Then opening a drawer I caught sight of a something white under the drawer.

NO WAY.....NOT FAIR. I went and got a flash light and sure enough stuck behind the drawers was a think pile of paper. MY Batch record. I tried to get the drawers out. Even had one of the other girls from work help me with it. GRRRRRRR. I could not get them out. My hand could not reach it.
:irked: So in the end I found the longest pair of tweezers I could find. and got my hand in as far as I could. And luckily I got the fucking thing out. This was of coarse three in the afternoon. The day mostly wasted, yet finally I got it done. I could get some work done.

That is one day in the life of a scientist....

thought we could have a thread were people just vent out the day at work...if you feel the need.

By Sabrina - 7:19 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

The Great Questions Answered

Sonic or Mario?

Sonic. BLAST PROCESSING, bitches.

Analogue stick or pad?

Pad. Bleeding thumbs beat carpel tunnel syndrome any day.

Best Mario 2 character?

Toad, ever try and fight the last boss with Princess's weak-ass lifting ability? I did. Once.

Best video game music?

Super Mario Bros. 3, just for the hip-hoppy underground theme.

Memory card: yay or nay?

Battery backup cartriges, the only way to go. No way my VMU is going to still work in 20 years.

Best fighting game of all time.

Virtua Fighter 2 on the Saturn. Fuck yes, Saturn. Shut up.

Best Street Fighter character.

Sagat. I eat your showryukens for breakfast.

Best multi-player game of all time.


By al - 4:29 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Dream Diary: Nepotainment

Tonight I was talking to my little cousin and he was asking me about bad (as in offensive and also not funny) comedians for his philosophy of humour course. The subject of the show 'Popcultured' came up and he said "Elvira Kurt has managed to make it to the top of my personal hate list even after my little brother killed my pet turtle."


I'm supposed to be in Toronto for some business thing, but I get sidetracked. I apparently am sitting in on a shooting of the show “Popcultured”. It's an intimate enough setting so that I am in the front of a small group of people observing the show and the desk is in front of me. The set is obviously very fancy and expensive.

After one joke falls flat I say out loud to Taylor who's also there: “You know, the show may not be funny but at least it looks pretty.”

Elvira hears this and is sort of half-offended. Apparently the Elvira Kurt that inhabits my dream world is at least intelligent enough to know that she isn't funny. I'm not sure how that works. I say to her “sorry, but come on, your gum smacking overuse of the phrase ‘umm.. yeah‘ ceased being funny about 3 days after “Valley Girl” fell off the charts. (Apparently the me that inhabits my dream world relies on Dennis Miller-esque references for comedic effect.)

Scene switch to Taylor and I walking away from the room where they are shooting, and a scarily tall woman with red hair done up in a upside-down triangular beehive stops me. She's about a foot taller than I am and is very imposing. Apparently she's 1) the producer of the show and 2) Elvira's mother. This explains why she's on the show.

She says “What is it about my daughter's show that you don't like?” I give another I'm sure very clever version of the previous cutting remark, and mostly blame the writers. I mention that in laughs per minute they haven't risen past the Mendoza line of unintentional laughs gotten while watching “Entertainment Tonight”

Scary woman says “the writers, huh? Come over here” and we go towards a corner of the open, shopping-mall like building to a carpeted area with a few couches arranged in a closed-in pattern with young-ish looking people asleep on all of them, notepads at their sides.

The woman stands in the middle and says “listen, this is Alex. He's going to tell you why you're not funny.”

They sort of look up, bleary eyed. I start by asking each of their names. One responds enthusiastacally. That's not a good sign, that means he doesn't know that what he's doing is bullshit and still has a passion for it. The next one is an Indian-looking guy who says his name and I can't understand him so I get him to repeat it. The next couple also either have unintelligable responses or don't wake up, as I turn around looking at the various bodies stretched out on the tacky leather couches.

I say to the second guy “OK, you think you're funny, read me the funniest thing you've written today.”

He blinks, goes through his notepad, and says “OK, here's one:” and says someone's name, incorporating it into a ‘boom-chica-boom-boom’ porn music.

I stare him down and he breaks and says “OK, OK, I know none of this is funny.. I know Elvira's only got that job because she's related to someone.. I applied for this job because it was listed in my school's job board, I was just applying for every job there. I never expected to get it.”

As he's blubbering I start looking at my notepad, I see one page that just has a date and the name of a movie at the top. The whole rest of the page is one giant check mark to show that I had seen it and liked it.

I showed this to the kid, and tell him that his show didn't get a check mark.

Scene switch to being outside the door of some kind of mall. It's winter, and there's a swimming pool just outisde the door. I'm with someone I don't know and a rather large dog. I notice that the pool is frozen over, and I go and stamp at the ice until it breaks apart.

The dog then jumps in and starts to panic when it realizes how cold the water still is, but still swims to the other side. It's now shivering and in trouble, I let it back inside where it's warm.

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By al - 3:04 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Notice: Going Offline

Back from my trip to Toronto. Didn't have internet for a week so I'll have to catch up later. More pressing stuff to do, like finish moving into the new house. That said, I'm moving the server and rest of my gear tonight. Server will be offline until tomorrow (time TBD, as I'll be waiting for the guys from Aliant to get everything setup). So anything like graphics and anything pointing to this machine will not work until then. Sorry for the disruption guys.

By Ming - 7:47 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Pulling American Talking Heads Off-Script

Caught one segment of CBC News Sunday this morning as I was making breakfast. They did a couple of things that made me chuckle. First, they did a segment on satire and one of the guests was Christopher Hitchens. I'm not sure if he knew that that's how the segment was going to be framed and went along anyway because he's got that addiction to having his face on television that a lot of U.S. pundits have, or if it was a bait-and-switch on the part of the producers. It was still pretty funny to have him next to a goofy satirist with no claims to seriousness.

During the course of the interview the topic of the CIA leak case came up (background here) Hitchens, being the actor playing the part of the right-winger, did the usual dance and said “This is of course the biggest non-story of the past three years.”

Now, on American television that would be accepted as fact, that in right-wingistan that's simply a given, so of course he would say that. But one of the hosts, Carole MacNeil, obviously wasn't versed on proper care and feeding of conservatarian talking heads, and said “non story??” in an honestly surprised tone.

That halted the discussion in much the same way as had she pointed out that his fly was open. He simply wasn't expecting to have to explain how U.S. Administration officials could be going to jail over a ‘non-story’.

To his credit, Hitchens was a little less unreasonably one-sided than he normally is on American media. Maybe because Evan Soloman gave him a pretty cushy hour-long interview on Hot Type a couple of years ago so he considered the show friendly territory. He looked a lot less like the sputtering curmudgeon than he did on the Daily Show a few weeks ago. (video here)

All that being said, I am still sensing a tendency on the part of CBC to simply have one person from one side of an issue and one person from another side and let them state their messages without any deep or probing questions being asked of either, and limitting the chances for the guests to directly challenge each other. Unfortunately if you're a producer it's much easier to string together quicck and dirty segments i this fashion than it is to foster actual reporting, so I'm sorried that it's a slippery slope that will be hard to climb up from.
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By al - 12:06 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dream Diary: I Fucking Hate Guard Dogs


I start out in downtown charlottetown. Someone from locals apparently owns their own little coffee shop in a corner space in a nice well-lit spot. The sign outside says their nickname in fancy cursive writing. This is mostly because I read locals way too much so people's nicknames are probably burned into my head. I don't meet them in the dream, the name is just there.

Standing outside I am talking to a few people I run into, mostly about work stuff. No one in particular, just random strangers who seem to know what I'm up to somehow.

I get a message that an old friend of mine, k., from when I was a kid wants me to come over and play basketball with him and a few of his friends. I decide to go, and to walk to his place, since to get there I have to walk through the area of town where I grew up.

I print off a Google map of the route, and look at it. It's sort of a much-magnified version of the real life route from downtown to the area past Brighton. It involves going on the boardwalk then through some woods.

To get to the boardwalk one must first go through the forest in Victoria park. It's more overgrown than in real life. You emerge onto the boardwalk at one point totally not expecting it to be there. The boardwalk is on the side of a hill that you can't see over, so there's whater on the left and the hill on the right and nothing else.

Walking along the boardwalk eventually things start to get over-grown again and it start to go through a wooded area. I look on the map and it shows that I'm supposed to go through a forest, but that k.'s house is on the other side, at the end of a smal little culvert street near the end of a road named Queen Elizabeth Dr. (Again fitting with the map.)

The boardwalk becomes one of those floaty things like at the Greenwich provincial park where you walk right on the water. I get the feeling that no one has been here in a while. I look at the map again and it all makes sense, though, the river on the left and a pond on the right with the little path separating the two.

the boardwalk ends at the endtrance to a clearing in the woods. I suddenly hear dogs barking angrily.

The clearing looks like the old forest by the house where I grew up. We used to call it the 'fort'. I see by the map that there is a trail leading away from the clearing that I'm supposed to follow, but that the trail has a fence running down the middle of it. On the right the trail goes off to some private land and on the left it eventually leads me to where I'm supposed to be.

I get to the beginning of this path, and there is the fence, but also there are two large black guard dogs at the entrance to the path on the right. They are on leashes and can't get at me right then, but they want to. I know I have to walk along the other side of this trail. I start to walk, but then that's when I realize that as soon as I start along this trail the leashes that the dogs are on are more than long enough for them to reach me. They easily jump through the gaps in the little fence and start to growl menacingly at me. I have to yell at them to keep them at bay, this mostly works but they keep ocming.

At the end of the trail is an entrance to some kind of corporate building, with bright lights and an orange-ish floor and a reception desk. One of the dogs has grabbbed onto my arm at this point, and as I walk up to the receptionist I finally start punching at the dog and get it to let go and it runs off.

The receptionist apologizes for the dogs, says they don't quite know what to do about them and that they have been causing some trouble lately.

Somehow the original purpose of my walk has changed, and I tell the receptionist that I am there for an interview. I ask for someone named 'Bev'. (probably a generic HR lady kind of name.) She motions me to the end of the hall. Before I go in I ask another young woman passing by where the washroom is. She points me to it and I go in to try and straighten myself out after dealing with the dogs. I wash my hands and face and look in the mirror and see myself bundled up in winter gear, including gloves and a toque.

There is a switch on the wall, I flip it and the song ‘Kiss Me’ by Sixpense None the Richer starts to play, a little too loudly. I pretend I didn't do it and walk into Bev's office.

I realize I have no idea why I'm there, and generic HR lady Bev just says 'well, you got past the dogs, that certainly counts for a lot.'

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By al - 5:44 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, October 28, 2005

Memos: “Consultant at Life”

  • Last night Willy and Sheenaberries and Taylor were eating supper at Pat & Willy's (no relation) after a nice visit with Pants. Sheena was complaining because she's scared that her boyfriend was wanting to cook for her, because she's a messy eater. I started thinking of recipes that don't produce messy food, and Willy said “wow, that's brilliant, Al, you should be a consultant at life.” I wonder how well that would pay, people could just come and ask for advice on random things and I'd just say the first thing that came to my head. Sort of like a real life version of Ask MetaFilter.

  • Was having a bit of an on-and-off discusision here at the commons, actually it's happening as I type this. Something that came up was the idea of who's responsibility it is to make some location wheelchair or otherwise accessible. Someone The important things I thought of on that front were that even if you think it's just one person that will need all of this work that might need to be done, that then opens it up for any number of other people who might not have even asked about it before. Also, for every special break that someone might get in the form of subsidied rennovations, there are 10 things they've had to fight extra hard to get on their own.

    I mentioned my only recently starting to notice things like that even though a building may be technically accessible, oftentimes no thought was really put into the way things work. For example, a bathroom's door might be wider to accomodate a wheelchair, but often the doors are so heavy as to make them extremely difficult to open.

  • I seem to have grown the ability to be a coffee snob if I want to, being able to tell subtle differences between different kinds of coffee, tell if they were roasted properly and if the beans were fresh, etc. But that still doesn't stop me from downing a whole pot of Maxwell House during the run of a day. I don't even really have a caffeine addiction, it's more that I have beome accustomed to the routine of doing a bit of work, taking a sip of that comforting warm liquid, and then continuing.

By al - 2:58 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, October 27, 2005

White Sox

So the White Sox win.. funny I was totally expecting them to throw it.

By al - 4:22 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Proportional Representation. Choking on the skittles.

I wrote this as a comment below a post by Cyn. Link. (short background for those not from PEI: We are going to soon have a vote on whether to switch from the current British style of electing seats to a system that includes proportional representation.)

I don't know, this whole thing strikes me as a way for the two parties (let's not kid ourselves) to prevent the kind of drastic swings that happen once every 10 years where everyone in the ruling party loses his or her seat.

Isee this as a way to cut a deal so that each party eill always have (I don't know if there's a provincial equivalent to the federal version but anyway) official party status, and have a floor of seats that their traditional support will always guarantee them.

In a PR system we wouldn't have the chance to gloriously kick out a party who's worn out its welcome. Instead party favourites will be able to write themselves a safe career by getting in good with a few party nsiders.

My solution would be to eliminate all political parties. The system that Nunavut has right now has always fascinated me, and maybe it's a better model than the systems that have allowed entrenched party machines in places like Japan, where a single party system works even better than in Canada.
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By al - 11:49 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kind of Intimidating

Kind of Intimidating, originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.

Wow, this reminds me of.. something.. not sure what.

By al - 3:19 p.m. | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Autumn Colours in my Backyard

Fall Colours in My Backyard 100_1725 100_1729 Fall Colours in My Backyard Fall Colours in My Backyard Fall Colours in My Backyard

By al - 1:45 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Song Lyrics Sites Acting as Parisites

Back in 1995 or so the old Canadian comedy group Radio Free Vestibule (I've not officially accepted their name change to ‘The Vestibules’ because I think ‘Radio Free Vestibule’ is funnier.) put out a video for their song “The Grunge Song”. If you don't know the song than I probably wasn't using it as a stick to beat your Nirvana-loving ass with during the mid 90s.

Anyway, it's about the funniest thing they've ever done, unless, like me you have a soft spot for Zalgon 26 McGee (video/realplayer). I can't find a full version of the song on the Web, just clips that don't include enough of it to be funny (including a cover by the Austin Lounge Lizards.. weird.) So you're going to have to go and find it yourself.

In my searching, I found that every single song lyrics site that came up mis-attributed the song to Weezer. This is a good test case to show how the hundreds of song lyrics sites must act as one huge cesspool of parisitic behaviour, stealing content from one another continually until every song on every site is mirrored on every other site. So now everyone thinks Phish covered “Gin and Juice” because one dork on Napster didn't know who The Gourds were, and now because of lyrics sites we're getting the same thing again.

I wonder if it's possible to further 'poison' these already unusable and virus-ridden lyrics sites by sabotaging even more of their content? Does this dark side of the web already work on some kind of reputation system to filter out bad content while maximizing the ability to gather desired information?

Perhaps a hostile environment is the only effective testbed for such a system. Friendly and self-boosting bloggers will rush to adopt the latest social-software doodad and not think to try and put it through its paces security-wise. Hence the plague of spam comments and even entire spam blogs clogging up technorati and other aggregators. Bloggers are a soft, pink lot, to be sure.

Still holding out for Web 2.1.

By al - 12:49 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, October 24, 2005

So cute

I'm just posting this so I'll be able to find it later.

(Note: The purpose of the Dancing Hitler is to unquestionably win any and all arguments.)

By al - 4:08 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Funny Opera Favicon Bug

This is pretty funny, whenyou bookmark a page in Opera it uses the Favicon from the last page that had one, no matter what it was, so in this case I went to an MSDN page that had no icon in the address bar from a Google search, so when I bookmarked the Microsoft page it gave it the Google logo.

By al - 1:13 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lobster-Flavoured Potato Chips

You know that feeling of slight disappointment you get when you expect something to be really gross but when you finally work up the nerve to try it it's actually just kind of boring? That's what these are like.

By al - 7:19 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Best friends

It was maybe 6 or 7 month ago a friend of mine sent me an email about best friends. It talked about the best friends as little girls then as teenagers and finally in adult hood.

my thoughts wonder through all the "best friends" I have had. It helps that Al claims about 4 people as his best friend.

I am merely 28 years old, and some days that feels a lot older/younger than it is.
I can look back and remember so many people, I called my best friend.
Why not start as the earliest, It would be Silvain (please don't ask for his last name I was 4 or 5 and it is long gone from my memory). We were young children living in military housing, we spent our days together with a couple other children in the neighborhood, most of which was playing at the play ground. His father got transferred and I was left without my best friend. A new one came up Alison Or, once school started though she and I went other ways cause she was cooler than me.

When time past and my father got transferred to PEI, I can remember a short time where there was not best friend, Chritine Lykcow filled in that spot for a time, then by grade six she and I still hung out but Jessica campbell took the place of the best friend. She came over to my place all the time, I went to hers, our parent were friends. It was quite unique.
Then dad got move again, so the new best friend became Jessica Ward and when her father got transferred it was Justin Schawger. In university it was Chantal (the very one from the Hallway), though I would say Karen Gosse took up a close second by the time I graduate. At MUN it was the Erins (there were two of them). Leading me to England were it was easily Carla Yetman. And home, where the place is shared by Al and Steve.

The common thing that all these people have is that we had fun together. Each one of them has made me laugh. The thing that they don't have in common is what made them my best friend. Each had a character of their own that I loved. Over time I have come to realize that the term best friend is not as accurate to describe the relation ship I have with these people. Friends that are the best is probably more of an ideal way to say it. I can longer separate the reasons why I love these people, I can't really explain why there names stay with me so long, why I remember silly little things like Chantal amazing James bond, fall one night while we were looking for boys, or Jessica and I sitting in a room talking about one boy.

What I can explain is that with the development of each of these relationships I have grown and developed into the person I have become, shaped by the kindness and silliness each of them have shared with me. So in truthfulness I can say that I don't have a best friend in the strictess since of the term, but I have several friend I put that title on and in my selfish way I will keep them all there as long as I can.

By Sabrina - 7:12 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Memos: TV is way better when no one's watching

This rarely-to-never happens but I sort-of woke up with the TV on at 6am this morning and just kind of laid in bed half-awake. A new observations:
  • Ashlee Simpson is seriously even stupider than her sister. I know, but it's actually true.
  • Theresa Roncon, former host of Much Music's metal show, the “Power 30” (who apparently started her showbiz career as the receptionist at the (?Toronto?) radio station Q107, is now hosting a kids science show, “Kids@Discovery”. I expect science test scores among young lads to go way way up. Also, dear Theresa, I will still marry you. Seriously. I don't care how many STDs you got from Ugly Kid Joe. I don't even care that you probably never even liked metal. (Seeing Bill Wylichka get super excited while intro'ing videos because Anthrax was setting up to do your show, while you were all blasé about such things was always funny.)
  • Reading about the Milgram experiment is one thing, but actually seeing tape of regular people voluntarily administering torturous levels of electric shock to a stranger because a perceived authority figure told them to makes me think signing up for the voluntary human extinction movement is probably for the best.
  • Wow, Kashtin is actually being interviewed and featured on Much More Music. This is what they should have at an hour when people are watching instead those idiotic list shows. I first heard of Kashtin from my grade 7 French Immersion teacher. It kind of addles me a bit now to think that she actually had a pretty eclectic taste in music. Frightening. The song they're playing now sounds like Leonard Cohen and Gowan singing a duet in Innu.

By al - 7:18 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cora's' Breakfast Menu Explained

Surprise! You've just paid $9 for a glorified ham sandwich.

By al - 5:47 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Today I Will

- Get one new piece of functionality into this program I'm writing.
- Drink enough coffee to endanger my health.
- Listen to David Bowie until people think I'm trying to prove something.
- Cook something that can contain whatever veggies are still in my fridge.

(Inspired by this HalifaxLocals thread.)

By al - 4:03 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment




By al - 7:48 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Dream Diary: Sandcastles and Pink Monsters


I am going to a weekend-long music festival in the fall. Am with Pants and a couple of others. Someone I don't know knocks on our door and wonders if she could crash in our place for the night.

The thing is happening next to a beach, that sort of looks like the shore by my cottage. Scene switch to being on the beach. My former boss's baby is there by himself playing in the water. I go over and show him how to make sandcastles and how to use anything you can find to make them with. I find an ice cube tray and use that as well.

Scene switch to the next day. I'm at work at some job, looks like it's in the ATC. This is Sunday. I am talking with someone saying that I want to skip out eary to catch the rest of whatever it was I was supposed to be at in the previous part of the dream.

I'm standing on queen street at night, except I am playing a first-person shooter game and not simply walking around, so I can move incredibly quickly and can move from side to side with just a thought. Sort of like I'm flying through the scene. The parkade is fully lit and i cruise around there for a while.

I remember that I can get in to the Commons, right next to the parkade, so I go up to the door and open it. Inside the porch there is a cupboard that I open up and find some powerups which I collect, and a note with a clue to how to get somewhere on it.

Everything is laid out like it's supposed to be, but has a cartoony, highly saturated look to it.

Inside just on the right is a little corridor that I hadn't seen before. It's half-height and leads downward. Halfway down I run into one of those pink monsters from Doom, I kill it with a couple of punches that look just like the punch from Doom. As I kill him, I notice another one attacking me from the side, it doesn't hurt but I realize I've been hurt by noticing my health number is going down. I start to panic as I see more, kill a few and race to the end of the little hallway I've come in to. At the end of the hall there is an area where more and more of the pink monsters are being spawned into existance. I decide it's time to get out of there but there is a sea of the monsters between me and the corridor back up to the main floor.

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By al - 4:32 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Night at the Hip-Hopera

Today I remembered the existance of A Night at the Hip-Hopera by the Kleptones today. They use a bunch of Queen songs (though none actually from A Night at the Opera) and lay hip-hop vocals from various artists like Eminem, KRS-One and the Beastie Boys. My favourite is the one that uses “One Vision” as the base, “See”. John Deacon's bass was always really funky and Queen's instrumental goodness actually shines through really well on these tracks where they managed to take out Freddie's vocals.

I also especially like “Jazz” which uses “All of that Jazz”, the mst under-rated and under-appreciate groovy Brian May masterwork, perfect for rapping over, and they even lay “Rock You” on top of it, Queen vs. Queen mashup, by definition the best thing ever. They also put “Ice Ice Baby” on top of “Under Pressure” with all the instruments left in. Much better.

This is totally giving me sonic handjobs.

They've released it under a Creative Commons licence and some of the lyrics refer to Copyright, so the album is a bit of a statement against the iron grip the music industry is trying to keep over so-called intellectual property.

I've liked some hip-hop music but I don't have a good knowledge of the world of hip-hop and where more interesting non-corporate/mainstream stuff can be readily found. This album is great, though, because it's a good intro to a lot of artists laid on top of music I already know and love deeply. And for a mashup work the production is impeccable. Sounds like a work by the rappers themselves. And they did a great job of grabbing the tracks from the Queen songs and focusing your attention on parts of the songs you sometimes miss.

They also use a bunch of samples from movies and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”.

Go listen.

By al - 6:58 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

A few things that still make me laugh

Okay I was at my desk at work, and random thoughts were passing through my head as I did the mindless paper work we have to do every day. There were a few which were hilarious. Here a few things I have witness that make me laugh still today even though some of them have been years since they occurred.

1) I was having a party at my place, a few group of people mostly grad students that I worked with, a few other people as well. The day was going great. We were chatting in little groups which often happens when parties are in progress. I was having a great time, laughing at various people watching the interaction between several different groups of friends. It was so fun. Then in the middle of a conversation, I don't really remember a girls I knew from the graduate student union burst out, "I had sex in this house". The place went silent, people stopped talking in mid word. Then the laughter burst out. My guts hurt by the time I regained control to asked "What?" She had managed to cease the thought process of everyone in the room.
The story was simply her X lived at the place I was living in some time in the past.

2)It was Christmas time, and me my sister and Jamie were at mom and dad's place. My dog Chenook, was asleep in front of the chair I was sitting in. I was watching TV but at the first commercial, I noticed the dog and like an impulse from the heavens in one leap I rocked out of the chair landed on my hands and knees on either side of the dog and yelled "nookie" (don't say anything the dog was named when I was 11). Chenook left the ground and I think his feet found the ground about the time he reached the kitchen. I had never seen an animal move so fast. He turned the corner toward the bed rooms then stopped and came back to see what it was that had scared him so bad. For about a minute Jamie, myself and my mother were dead silent then we all toppled over in laughter, it took us all several minutes to regain composure, and most of the day before Chenook would come see me again. Kim tells me that Jamie laughed half the night at that. I know I giggle on and off the rest of the night.

3)It was either good time oldies Tuesdays or Nothing but Country Thursday at work, either way in the lab we have different stations on through out the week. Patsy Cline "Crazy" was playing on the radio. I was half paying attention to the song as I was doing some little task. Ben one of my lab mates was at the balance weighing something out. Then the spirit moved him in a loud male voice (trying to sound female) he belts out the word "Crazy" to the sound of the song, to go with the serenade he adds in a hip shimmy to the beat of the music. I looked at him dumbfound for about a 10th of a second then I nearly fell to the ground laughing, the others in the lab too, I had tears in my eyes, I couldn't help it.

4)It was summer and we were out playing Volley ball at work, for lunch. The same Ben from above has his turn to serve the ball, in a way on Ben can do, he winds up like cartoon baseball player shimmies those hips again and hits the ball, my team his team was way to busy laughing at him to even contemplate returning the serve. In response to all of us missing the ball, he shoots his imaginary guns and does a bit of a victory dance. It definitely lifted the mood of the work day.

5) Not quite as funny but popped in my head as cute. It was at trivia a few weeks ago, and the four people at the table including myself were in deep conversation about some most likely useless then like dogs we all stop talking and take a sniff of the air. The smell of was an interesting substance, many people enjoy.

There are few things I want to mention here even though I have only heard the stories not actually seen them.

1) My brother in Law's sister in law. Had a cat that apparently had eaten the tinsel of the tree, or something like that. The sister in law saw a piece of the tinsel hanging out of the cat's but, and decided to pull it out. Apparently it was like a wind of cat, the horrible meow came from the cat's mouse as the tinsel was removed and the cat took off like a shot.

2) An old roommate of mine is from Newfoundland, and as everyone knows they have Black dog Beer there. Well, they had been putting the name of Newfoundland communities on the caps. Now she had been wanting a cap from her home town. At a party while talking to a friend and proclaims this "I can't find a Dildo" meaning a cap with her home town of Dildo. I couldn't hold back the laugh when I heard the story, I can't imagine the laugh at a party filled with people who probably don't know that she was from Dildo Newfoundland.

There are so many things that happen to us that make us laugh, I hope to keep hearing and seeing them for many more years.

By Sabrina - 6:52 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Memos: Opera is the new Firefox

  • OK, screw Firefox. It just crashed on me and I lost the post I was writing. Opera is a better browser, anyway. Faster, less of a system hog, snappier user interface and a zoom function that scales up images along with the text size. I've been using it for a while now, but they've just released the full, ad-free version for free. Go download it and give it a try. My only complaint about it is that blogger's nice WYSIWYG composer doesn't work in it.

  • I've been waiting for nearly two weeks now for my order from I ordered a Logitech USB Mic and some RAM. Their service is quite slow, and I'm finding that's pretty usual for discount computer parts websites like, lower listed prices but really slow service and expensive shipping rates. If Futureshop had a better selection I'd do all my electronic shopping on their website, but they're moving to a boutique style where they might list max 10 items of a certain kind. It's not to the extreme extent that Apple has done with their Apple Store selection where they'll carry what they consider to be the best item in a given category only, but you'll not find any digital cameras for under $200, for example. It's too bad Amazon doesn't sell electronics on their Canadian site.

By al - 6:18 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Trump Card

You know, Bush I pardoned Casper Weinberger before his trial was even finished.. I wonder when Bush will just pardon Delay and Frist and Rove all at once and give the entire country the finger.

Update: Good detailed post about this possibility here: Link.

By al - 4:50 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Trivialities and Work Connections

Had a fun night at Trivia last night. Still really frustrated with the questons that NotSteveForbes asks. She doesn't really have the head for trivia, she'll see some factlet in a magazine and just copy it down without verifying it. This time one of the mistakes she made was 'what is the largest object ever to fly?'. The answer she gave was the International Space Station. 2 problems with that: 1) it doesn't fly, it falls. The moon doesn't fly, either. and 2) It's not true. The Hindenburg was bigger.

Also she asked a question of who was the only SNL cast member to be nominated for a best actor Academy Award. She said Robert Downy Jr., but I'm almost certain Bill Murray was nominated for Lost in Translation. Methinks the issue of Entertainment Weekly she was reading was a tad out of date. That's the problem, though, she doesn't verify her questions, she just goes with the first source she finds.

Still had a fun night, though. A dude who works for a company who's owners we met and got to know at WWDC was with us, and he and I talked and geeked out totally, even left the other members of the nerd squad baffled. It was pretty funny. Talked about what it's like to work in Europe, doing web development vs. writing applications. We much prefer application development, which is kind of a pain since all the business seems to be for web stuff, but I've always found that a little boring.

I think tomorrow I'm gonna try and get Taylor to come to Entertianment Trivia at Punter's. Last time we had a perfect score after the first round . Since I'm not planning on going anywhere else except maybe poke my head in to the Jam Night at Piazza Joe's I think we could stay and beat the pants of f of the big cell phone-using teams.

Update: As usual I posted the questions and answers to the Trivia Blog. Link.

By al - 12:33 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, October 17, 2005

Karl Childress on the Radio

Karl Childress is the person on which the main character in the movie Slingblade is based. Apparently he's still around, released from the 'nervous hospital', and is an occasional caller on Mike Malloy's liberal radio talk show. He's pretty much funny as all hell.

Here's the audio of last Friday's show: Link. (audio/mp3) Skip to 1:07 to hear Karl's call. He has some pretty gold lines, like "I had a rock the vote campaign last year, but it was a little different. .. I would write notes telling people how to vote and then attach them to rocks and throw them through windows."

Funnily enough I find it re-assuring that Slingblade swings left.

By al - 5:24 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Added Plazes Sidebar Badge

Needed a bit of a distraction today, so I decided to brush up on my web services skills and see what makes the Plazes web API tick. Since I see you have to email them and get them to send you a developer key I decided to just steal some stuff that Peter Rukavina wrote and change it a bit to work on a blogspot site. (For us unwashed masses. I'm such a revolutionary.)

If you look down the sidebar near the bottom you should see a line that looks like this:

Where is al?

Alexander's House [map]
Data from Plazes. Code here.
I've talked about plazes before here. It's basically a way of tracking where you are based on the MAC address of the wireless router you're connected to at the time, with lots of integration with Flickr and Google Maps.

Peter Rukavina wrote the code to do the 'where am I' thing. I made a few changes to it so that I could include it in an IFrame, not having the luxury of PHP includes on a blogspot page. Mostly I stuck some font info into the code and ripped out the flickr stuff since it seems pretty useless at the moment. I'm also using a wrapper script that calls the main script from a non-web accessible location, since it stores passwords in plain text. (yuck.)

I was on the verge of quitting using Plazes but this makes it useful beyond the 3 or 4 people who actually have accounts that I know.

So now I'm thinking about how to enable other blogspot and otherwise PHP-less users to have similar functionality on their site. I could use my fairly empty hosting to make a site / service where you request a plazes user name and it returns their current location. This doesn't seem too difficult, but I'm still new at this stuff.

It's funny, though, I'm only ever in about 4 places, at home, at the Commons, at Timothy's or at Baba's yelling at people on PEILocals. It's not like you really need a stalk-o-matic to find me. But I went and added one for you, anyway, because I'm such a great guy.
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By al - 2:59 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, October 16, 2005

PJ Therapy

I just downloaded the Pearl Jam St. John's show that I went to, about to sit down with a nice mug of coffee in a pile of pillows on my floor in front of my big speakers I don't use enough and listen to it all the way through uninterrupted. This is gonna be good. :D

By al - 7:37 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment


What makes families different from people we just like to hang out with? Mostly I think the difference is that members of a family really and truly need each other.

I don't need the family I grew up with anymore. I've grown past that, like we all do. And they certainly don't need me. But now I'm starting to realize just how deeply a few of my friends all depend on each other. Not your stereotypical
idea of family, to be sure, but we've found each other and I'm finding it hard to imagine who I would be without them. Just like how having a husband or wife and children starts to define how a person thinks of him- or herself, this great group of people is starting to become a pretty important part of my world and my self.

Sometimes I'll be over to Pants' place and if I see some dirty dishes in the sink I'll just go over and do them without even thinking about it. It just seems perfectly normal. And if I'm not feeling comfortable in some social situation, or if I just want to sit and look at the wall for a while people don't mind.. they don't try and get me to act normal if I can't do it at that moment. We all accept each other for our strengths and weaknesses, and to the full extent of our characters.

And I love you all.

By al - 11:33 a.m. | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Chinese GP Weirdness

I'm sitting here watching the Chinese Formula One GP (God love 12 hour time differences.) and something bizarre just happened. Juan Montoya just ran over a storm drain cover, and apparently it wasn't bolted securely into the ground, because the downforce generated by the car as it went over it sucked the cover up and into the bottom of the car. It pierced the bargeboards and busted the engine's cooling system.

The track itself looks great, the facilities are large and elaborate, teh stands are huge, everything has the appearance of a premier venue. But then the warts start to show during the actual race. It's ridiculous that something like that wasn't bolted down. It seems like a lame plot device from the movie Driven, not something that could happen in real life at the top of the racing sport.

Then again, there were stories of the Beijing government actually painting the grass green in the city before Olympic committee officials visited the city.

It's quite bizarre to witness such an artificial effort to simply build a western-looking modern country rather than letting it evolve at a more natural pace and direction.

By al - 3:56 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, October 14, 2005

This is now punk rock

Had a great time at the Japanther / Sharp Like Knives / Windom Earle / Gilbert Switzer show last night at Baba's. Taylor and I didn't make it to the all ages show but the one at Baba's was pretty hopping as well. Much much kodos to Windom Earle for always doing both whenever he comes back to townand for getting the other bands on board, too.

I was happy to get a note from one of the guys from Gilbert Switzer this morning saying they liked the pictures I took and asking if they could use them. It's always nice to know that while I don't pretend to be any good at it and don't have any fancy gear I can still snap a good shot every now and then.

I was pretty stoked that Japanther came to the island. They're one of the more talked-about punk bands these days so to get to see them was a real treat. They were pretty minimalist, just a bass player and drummer, but they do a lot with electronics and enhancing the sound. Plus dude was singing into a telephone receiver. That punk as hell.

By al - 3:20 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dream Diary: HalifaxHell

I move to Halifax with a friend and another roommate I don't know. I don't think to tell anyone. We are in a nice little house, very tidy. I was supposed to move in with someone else but I wasn't able to so they have the room free.

I find myself getting lot in a series of paths on the side of the hill that lead down from the highway that our house is on to the shore and also up to the bridge that leads to the city. I climb on a bus and ask if it goes downtown. He the driver draws 2 squares that connect at the bottom by one long line on my hand. Then he asks how you would explain how to find distance on a map to children. I fade into a memory of the same bus driver, older man with a beard, in another setting, probably a bar telling a story. Then it comes back and I'm at home again.

The next part is sitting in a theatre. A band is up playing, it's a show. I am sitting in the front row. The next band up is a metal band, sort of like gruesome feast. . When this band start people don't really know what to make of it. The playing is very good, and there's a screen above the band with a camera that shoots in and zooms around and looks very professional' and spectacular.

But the people sitting behind me, in the second row, felt like they had to disrupt things, so they started to strip down to streak the show. Sadly, another scene shift.

I'm at the house again, everyone is home including a bunch of very attractive people there for some kind of after party. I try and be sociable, mostly to little effect. People are nice enough but don't seem interested in conversation.

Then someone says 'let's go to the beach' and we all head out the door and across the highway. At this point all the people have disappeared, and I'm on the side of a hill, having to face the twists of dug-out paths and slippery grass and walkways and concrete stairs.

I find a path that seems to lead downhill, but as I walk down it the walls get higher and higher, and are lined with concrete. Then I step into about a foot of water. I must be in some kind of drainage or flood system. I turn around but the water level starts to rise quickly.

I spot a steel ladder and wade towards it.

Scene shift, I'm climbing the same steel ladder, but everything is black. The ladder starts to move by itself, downwards. There's a set of concrete stairs to my left, but are at an awkward angle. I start hearing the sounds of a fire-and-brimstone sermon coming form all around me. I figure I have to get off the ladder and onto the stairs. Then I jump off the ladder and try and grab on the railing of the stair case.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Now that I am back in town

Any I am back on the island now. I haven't really had a good chance to post. But the the remainder of the trip was pretty cool. Me and a couple of firend on Sunday hit the Science center. There was so much cool stuff there. I saw an aged picture of myself (AHHHHHHHH). I also found out my right hand grip is almost as strong as the averge male my age, where as my left hand grip is pretty much on par with the female population my age. They have some great displays, including a planatarium, and bones from many different animals. I could have spent the day in the science arcade (totally geek heaven).
The afternoon of Saturday was spent at Casa Loma, of which there was more stairs than I ever thought existed, Wow. But it was mostly a museum of the guy who owned it and his wife. They lived with luxuries I can't even really imagine and he was a military man. It was interesting to see all the uniforms through out his life. There were tunels that led to various other buildings including stables and what looked like a military lunch room. It was really kind of neat. The two towers gave a nice prespective of Toronto.
The evening was spent at the CN tower. To be honest, it was okay, it was high, but it didn't really do much for me. I looked out saw all the lights of toronto, but the glass was filled with finger prints so my pictures all look like a tourist who was quickly taking shots. Thought there are several points in the trip where this is true. The biggest turn off of the CN tower was the waiting, you spend 10 minutes to get to the glass floor (which I will admit was a bit disorientating, then another 20 mintues to get to the sky pod, the hightest look out in the world (or so they claim) and then at least 20 minutes in line to get down. I would say the CN tower was my least favorite touristy thing I did.
Monday was the zoo. Best zoo visit of my life. I often have issues with animals in cages, but over years I have learned the value of zoos. The reason this one was so good was that I have yet see a zoo with such large enclosures for their animals. As well my friend Jessica and I were brought to the place by a friend of her father. The friend is head of maintenance. So we got to go behind the scenes and pet some of the animals. I got to pet a rino (her skin was like the really dry skin on feet in the summer). Then I got pet a large bird, I can't remember what kind she was but, she was blind and no longer in the exihibit. That was awsome. Jess and I also got to go back to the cages with the leopards and play tug a war with a bay spider monkey....It was pretty awsome.. Tueday I got on a plane and came home.
Over all I would say that I enjoyed the trip greatly. It was like a trip down memory lane because I got visit with people I went to high school with, university with and people that were at my school when I did my masters. it was awsome.
Pictures to follow...once I sort through them I took like 600 (I love digital)

By Sabrina - 9:51 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

List of Lists

Borrowing an idea from Fredericton's most attractive bloggers, Kayla and Jaymi...

7 Things to do before I die:
  1. Visit each continent
  2. Find a soulmate
  3. Write a non-fiction book
  4. Write a fiction book
  5. Write songs in a serious way
  6. Change minds
  7. Change my own mind
7 Things I have done (new category):
  1. Told off a boss who deserved it.
  2. Learned to cook Italian, French, Mexican and Chinese-style food.
  3. Biked more than 80km in a day.
  4. Gone for 5 years without owning a television.
  5. Written a Linux kernel extension.
  6. Fixed a bug in the Linux kernel (just a minor one in a Mandrake cooker kernel having to do with my sound card, but cool nonetheless.)
  7. Played a classical guitar piece in front of 200 people.
Things I can do:
  1. Walk all day without getting tired.
  2. Balance comfortably on just about anything.
  3. Convince people I know what I'm talking about on almost any subject.
  4. Absorb the gist of something very quickly.
  5. Speak French.
  6. Drink an entire pot of coffee and then go right to sleep.
  7. Configure and install a network card without looking at the computer screen once.
Things I can't do:
  1. Drive
  2. Catch a ball
  3. Sing
  4. Gossip
  5. Hold a grudge
  6. Flirt convincingly without giggling
  7. Eat beef if I've smelled it raw
Things I find attractive:
  1. Positivity
  2. Humour
  3. Kindness
  4. Independence
  5. Accents
  6. Soft voices
  7. Love of cartoons
Things I say often:
  1. Brilliant!
  2. Shit yeah
  3. That's monstrous
  4. I should make some coffee
  5. Why am I still awake?
  6. Don't pay any attention to me
  7. I love it
Celebs I love:
  1. Mike McCready
  2. Pierre Trudeau
  3. Steve Jobs
  4. Naomi Klein
  5. Janeanne Garofalo
  6. Harry Shearer
  7. Lewis Black
Hands I'd love to shake:
  1. Jessie Jackson
  2. Gandhi
  3. Tommy Douglas
  4. Douglas Adams
  5. Kurt Vonnegut
  6. Rick Hanson
  7. Steve Wozniak
Faces I'd love to punch:
  1. Dick Cheney
  2. Joe Lieberman
  3. Gavin Rosdale
  4. Mike Piazza
  5. Peter Pocklington
  6. Jeffrey Loria
  7. Jacques Villeneuve
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By al - 5:14 p.m. | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Welcoming Back CBC

It's hard to explain how great it was this morning to have my alarm clock go off, and as I was fumbling around stabbing at buttons to try and make it stop like always, and to remember that CBC should finally be back. I'm a bit of a sucker for routine. Without something regular to depend on I fall into the abyss pretty easily. And I've used CBC's pretty static schedule to set my internal clock since I was about 9 or so when I first started listening to CBC radio.

I think it was then that I started finding it more interesting to hear about what's going on in the world and learn new things no matter when I was listening than it was to listen to the same songs over and over again on the other radio stations. All the other kids found it so bizarre that I would want to listen to that boring stuff but I was the opposite, I couldn't listen to those morning DJs for longer than 5 minutes. They made, and still do make, the voices in my head seem positively pleasant by comparison.

I've loved CBC radio ever since. It, along with my parents for sure, served as a guide for how to speak and communicate, certainly I tried to take a lot more from the intelligent, enlightening and friendly conversatons I'd hear each day than I ever did from the the kids at school. I owe the fact that people always used to remark at how mature I sounded to my continually having a source of intelligent adult conversations. And my tendency to pick up and remember things that I hear meant that having CBC was like a continual source of new tidbits for my brain to absorb.

Sure I've got the Internets now, and instant access to more information than I'll ever need. But there's something to be said for passive media. I might not click on a human interest news story about some tiny community in Norther Ontario, but when some CBC producer does a good job of uncovering, teasing out and presenting such a story then I've learned something and gained a perspective I wouldn't have had.

Right now they're still reving back up, doing a morning show from Montreal and playing archived documentaries, but there was a few familiar voices back on the air and a good interview about the new NHL rules, making for an interesting parallel of slowly waking back up and getting re-acquainted with old and familiar institutions.

By al - 8:31 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, October 09, 2005

KMFDM Pit Madness

We ended up in an excellent spot last night, right on an elevated part of the floor just to the left of the stage at the Attic. It was perfect for looking right at Steve (guitarist) over the couple of heads directly in front of us.

KMFDM in HalifaxWe were in a nice quiet spot too. So we could watch the show in relative peace, and it made for a great home base when I got the idea in my head to go into the pit. I'm assuming I got the idea anyway, either way, that's where I ended up. It was pretty low-key, as they go. Mostly people protecting their viewing positions while making it look like they're dancing around and moving, but they're really just trying to elbow you out of their way. Should have been called a jock pit. There were a few people getting into the music though, so it wasn't that bad. And no elbows in the face or anything, so I can't really complain.

They started off the show with 'Hau Ruck', the title track from their new album, and a total rocker in the same way 'Ultra' is. The band had a ton of energy, especially Steve. Lucia and Sasha were very much in their element on the stage together. You can tell touring is pretty much all they do.

They didn't play much that you could call 'low key'. Hard rock tune after hard rock tune going one right into the other. It was madness. A couple of tracks from Nihil were played, and a few tracks from the new album.

The show felt really short. According to my watch they played for about an hour and a half. Which normally is long enough for a typical show, but Pearl Jam have gone and spoiled me with their 3 hours sets.

After the show the band just hung around the floor talking to people. I had a bit of a conversation with Steve, I was sufficiently pathetic in my fanboy jibber-jabber. He was super energetic the entire show, I'm glad I was on his side of the stage.

Pants and KGB and Willie was at a KMFDM show in Moncton last year and ended up going with the band to Saint John for the next show after that. Pants even had to miss work but he went anyway. I'll take a picture of the note that Lucia wrote for him to explain why he missed work sometime, it's pretty funny.

Anyway, Lucia recognized Pants pretty early on, and came across us after the show and asked Pants if he needed another note. Hilarious. I was really impressed by how friendly they all were, despite my star-struck lack of cleverness.

KMFDM in my head were the big industrial band of the mid-90s so I still found it a bit counter-intuitive that they would actually be playing in a club in Halifax. They've been touring every other place though, going on tour every year except one for the last 20 or so. And then only stopping to record an album.

KMFDM in HalifaxI always found their mix of industrial and metal to be the closest to my own concept of heavy music but with more to it than just guitars and bass. There was a lot to listen to and listen for in every KMFDM album and the music was pretty unpredictable. It translated into a great live show. The drummer was phenomenal, and having a drum kit (with double-kick bass for a couple of songs) just caused the songs to suddenly become flesh and blood compared with the recorded drum-machine-backed tracks that they played over the PA before and after the show.

After the show we hung out in the hotel room and chatted for a long-ass time. I finally fell asleep after pretending to sleep long enough that the people who were still up got the hint. (sorry guys, had to.)

The show was the most fun I've had at a show in ages, as far as getting to meet the band and really getting into the crowd and moving around.

I think this will be the capper on my recent rock concert binging.
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By al - 11:34 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Day 2 and three

Still in Toronto.
So far this has been pretty cool. I hit the museum yesterday, and was disappointed because the paleontology display was closed. Oh well still got to see lots on neat things. The Islam display caught my attention, I think mostly because I don't know that much about Islam history. The display that was easily my favorite was the birds. It was beautiful display of plumage.
Today was the Bodyworlds display. That was one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. And the display was packed full of science geeks such as myself. We couldn't take picture, so I will have to describe it too the readers of the Hallway.
They ease you into the display with a series of scull and various other bones and skeletons. Then slowly they add bits of connective tissue. For me the baby skull was really fascinating as well as the various parts that had inserts,or metal plates. The spinabifida spine was educational. Along the display there were crossection slices of humans where you could see tumors or other disease. I was enchanted to say the least.
There was humans designed of just there nervous system and other were you saw only the cardiovascular system.
Then as you move in there was whole bodies where the layers pealed back displaying internal organs and how muscle and skin connect. The display also included fetus from 4 weeks to 8 weeks and then several in the later months of pregnancy. The 8 week old fetus had little formed fingers and was cute in a white and translucent way. The piece on display I thought was the most fascinating was a woman in her 5th month of pregnancy. The layers were peeled back so that you could see the fetus. (The woman apparently had died of lung cancer.)
A few interesting pieces involved bodies in various positions, such as a yoga pose, a ballet dancer a pair of ice skaters. Each pose allowed for visions into the human body that were truly fascinating.

By Sabrina - 11:15 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Last Minute Pants Transplant

So Pants did some string pulling and got a ride with someone else and is feeling much better today.

All is right with the world.

Now for the part where I leave.

Bye, suckers.

By al - 3:11 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, October 07, 2005

Going to KMFDM with no Pants

Get well soon, buddy.

Trip won't be the same without ya'.

By al - 10:53 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

The Downside of Trash Talking

I'm pretty good at trash talking. Unfortunately, I think I might have bit off more than I can chew. It started with a bet with Greg (hell it usually starts with a bet with Greg). Greg needed a car to run at the autosalom in Moncton, he's been eyeing my Celica for some time now, and having beaten Greg by a considerable margin at the last two events, I decided to make a bet:

1. Greg gets to run my car at the Moncton event.
2. Loser pays for supper.
3. Winner gets bragging rights.

4. I get to run Greg's car at the Fredericton event.
5. Loser pays for supper.
6. Winner get bragging rights.

Under these conditions, the person running his own car has the advantage because they are familiar with their own vehicle. Venue is a bit irrelevant as both of us have run at both places. Of course, I'm not known to make bets I know I can't win. I did have a few cards up my sleeve.

A. Greg's conservative and gives up easily. He finally beat his rival a few events back and I was counting on him to be still soaking in the victory and more or less conceding he was good enough and stopped trying to improve.

B. I was counting on my ability to pick up things quickly and be able to learn to drive his car fast before I ran out of runs.

C. Me being better driver.

In the end, I won both events. I've been trashtalking Greg on his club's message board for the past few weeks (as is my right). It was getting pretty bad, so I decided to ease off. Bad mistake. I think there's a rule of war that basically states to never allow your opponent to see weakness or show your opponent mercy. I had posted something about Honda owners and before I posted it, I was like "if someone reads this wrong, they could be pretty pissed". After a few minutes of debate it, I decided to post it anyways. Next thing I know, I'm in the middle of a flame war.

So, a few defensive post and now I'm back on the offensive again. That was close. Now I have to keep this up until things die down again.

By Ming - 9:57 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

I'll wait for Web 2.1, thanks.

Memo to Google Reader:

I know Google likes to brag about pagerank and such, but why would you think I'd want to read the same blog post over and over since you've decided that sorting items by 'relevance' and not deleting old items should be the default way your RSS reader works?

OK, so a lot of people are reading the same slashdot article, that doesn't mean I want to see it every time I go to the Google Reader page. This is the same crap you're trying to pull with gmail. Honestly, if it wasn't for POP access so I can use Thunderbird I'd have switched over to Yahoo! mail by now. It's not actually more convenient that a reply to an email I sent last week be burried halfway down the page as a little ", me" in bold next to the old email's subject line. New emails go at the top, so we can find them.

I'd instruct you to fire your UI usability people, but they probably wouldn't get the email because their mail client would probably bubble a little 'you're fired' message down to the bottom of their new messages list and it wouldn't make a difference.

For now I think I'll be sticking with Bloglines. It's a little more old-fashioned looking (*gasp* Frames!) but it doesn't pretend to know better than me which items I actually want to read.

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By al - 8:49 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Comment Spam

OK, Ming you were right, we were still getting comment spam from registered blogger users, so I enabled the word verification option for comments.

Hopefully this blog's loyal readers won't be too stumped by the extra little step. I'm a whore for comments :)

Weekend homework: Kick a spammer in the face for jesus.

By al - 8:46 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Lappy 5.0 gets a name: Starling

Computer naming is the only creative outlet left for system and network administrators. The most awful thing an IT department can do is prevent some poor, overworked IS worker from using his imagination at all by introducing some lame naming scheme like 'names of trees' or numbering system for computers in a lab or workgroup.

I've decided that all my laptops need to be named after birds. The last one was ‘bluejay’, because of the snazzy blue lid. This one is going to be ‘starling’ because it's black but not quite deserving of the awesomeness that a name like ‘raven’ would imply. Also, my machine when I worked at NVision had the name ‘raven’, and it was a venerable old workhorse, so I'll leave the name to it.

I've named the desktop systmes I've had ‘existenz’, ‘gandalf’ and ‘olddog’. No real pattern there.

By al - 7:21 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Awful Microphone Buzzing on New Lappy

OK, starting to see the differences between Toshiba's higher and lower-end machines. I was able to use Pants' el cheapo desktop microphone plugged directly into Bluejay's microphone port to record podcasts, giving pretty good sound with the two of us about half a metre from the mic. His desktop didn't have any kind of microphone input booster, so I had to bring the lappy over every time we wanted to record a podcast.

Anyway, I had starling and bluejay over at Pants' place last night since I was lending bluejay to Willie to see if he could get it resussitated. Decided to test out the mic port on starling with Pants' same mic. Results were pretty disappointing. In normal mode it acted just like Pants' desktop's soundcard, where you pretty much have to set the mic about 5 cm from your lips in order for it to pick any sound up. This is a bit too intimate for two-person voice recording, sadly.

I did find a mic boost option in the sound device properties, but when I tried that out it picked up my voice loudly enough, but the sound signal was awash in static. I wasn't sure if it was the mic or the sound card, but when I unplugged the mic and then unmuted the microphone sound channel I heard all the same static again, which got audibly worse when I'd move the mouse cursor around or cause the hard drive to spin up. Awful awful awful. I don't know if it was better electronics or some fancy sound filter that bluejay's soundcard had but I never had problems like that. You could hear some buzzing but you'd have to be listening for it to have it really bother you.

So now I'm looking for alternative recording options. I'm thinking either of a Griffin iMic, basically a USB device with line in and out jacks on it that you can hook either a mic or a stereo input signal to, or a plain vanilla USB Microphone like this one from Logitech. The iMic might be overkill for me at this point. I don't really think I'll be doing any transferring of vinyl or audiocassettes to digital, which is what Gord is using his for. The Logitech mic costs about a third of the price of the iMic, and I could certainly use it for Skype calls as well as voice recording. Perhaps I'll go price comparison shopping for it.

It's baffling why a PC maker would even bother putting a mic jack on there if they know that the sound is going to be unusable. Of course I know the answer to that, they want you to buy the more expensive models ;) If only old bluejay wasn't falling apart, I'd have happily kept it alive for another year or two.

Update: Decided to go with the Logitech USB Mic. Seemed the most logical choice for the moment. It was kind of hard to find at my usual places, though, but FrontierPC had it in stock and for about half the price listed on Logitech's Canadian website. I also ordered some RAM at the same time, yay impulse clicking.

By al - 7:17 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment


Dreary dreary dreary day.. .. sitting at the lappy installing stupid delphi which takes ages, looking out the window thinking 'the next 8 months will look like this'. I think tomorrow can't come fast enough.

By al - 5:37 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

New (used) Lappy

God love the Buy, Sell and Trade. Got a pretty good deal on a still very current Toshiba laptop to replace my (hopefully temporarily) out of commission Satellite 5000. I'm a little torn. The new one has a faster processor, but less RAM (256MB instead of 512) and a slightly smaller HD (30 instead of 40GB) and the screen and speakers aren't as nice.

LappyRight now the clincher is that it will boot an operating system. A CD drive that will read CD-Rs is very nice as well. And a screen hinge that take physical exertion to move, a little more reassuring than propping up the other one against a wall to use it.

Funny that every laptop I've ever owned but one was a Toshiba. From the blue-screened 286 my mom got when I was 11 to the 486 I had in high school with the really cool trackball mouse mounted on the side to the Satellite 5000 to the new one. Not for any real reason, I suppose. I don't have the active dislike for Toshiba that I do for Dell or the new HP or Compaq's consumer stuff.

It also doesn't have a memory card slot, so I'll have to remember where I put my camera cable.

The faster processor and faster RAM do make a definite difference in how fast the machine is to use. Encoding CDs in iTunes is a lot faster, even when switching it up to 192KB/s VBR AAC (the only way to go, sound-wise.)

I've basically gone form an older high-end machine to a newer low-end one. Will take a bit of getting used to, but hopefully I won't need it for much longer than my current job and I'll be able to ditch it for near what I paid for it and get an iBook. I've got some OS X software that needs writing, so that will hopefully be soooner rather than later.

By al - 10:21 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, October 06, 2005

first day?

I made it. No weird plane things happened...We actually landed early. Yeah!!!!
My friend Darryl met me at the airport. Good thing too, cause I would have been lost. We got back to his place and then we went shopping. There was lot's of interesting shops including a huge Godiva, selling chocolate fruit cups...I couldn't resist.
Darryl took me for a little walk down the streets. It was neat too. All the lights were really interesting. Then we found ourselves at bar and there was STRONGBOW on tap and I got a nice big pint....Yeah!!!!! Picture to come.
More stories to come I am sure.

By Sabrina - 11:49 p.m. | (7) comments | Post a Comment

Thanksgiving Trips. . . .

Wow. This is really strange. I also will be gone for the Thanksgiving weekend. Doing the trek to Nova Scotia for the final two regional autosalom events of the year with Greg. Two guys, two cars, a whole lot of tires. I get 2 attempts to surpass my class leader before he moves up in class next year, so I've been practicing. Got the overall fastest time of day (FTD) last weekend which was a good start. Greg beat me by 0.1 seconds with the PAX factored in. . . not bad, but I still have to work on that. It's better when I can beat Greg on both raw and weighted times.

Saturday, we're at the Atlantic Motosports Park (AMP). Sunday, the Home Depot in Dartmouth. Monday back to Moncton to move into the new house. I'll post more info on that later. that said, expect my webserver to be down sometime next week as I physically move it from my sister's place to it's new home. Not sure if I'll be moving in Monday or later in the week. Outage might be in the order of days. . . .

By Ming - 9:36 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Trip to Toronto

Like Al I am preparing to leave for the weekend where everyone else is headed home. This is going to be fun. I got my plane tickets in my purse, my phone, my tickets to see the Body worlds display. I am trying to figure out what I am forgetting. I know I am forgetting something.
If I get the chance I will post how things are going. But it looks like the trip is well planed out for me. Happy Thanks giving to everyone who reads The Hallway.

By Sabrina - 5:50 a.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Ready for another trip to Halifax

In preparation for this weekend's trip to Halifax to see KMFDM I ate a double donair today. The food poisoning should kick in just in time for me to get my revenge.

In other news, if I ever want to go anywhere again I'm bringing along a friend who can get me an employee discount at a hotel. Holy eff. I don't even want to say how cheap we got our rooms for.

Any more suggestions for things to do in Halifax during the day?

I still find it funny that I'm going away on thanksgiving weekend when everyone else is going home.

As soon as I get my new (used) lappy tomorrow I'm going to actually go and download a couple of their newer albums like WWIII so I don't just find myself waiting for them to play something familiar. They've apparently gone down the metal road a lot more lately, moreso than the out-there industrial style they had in the mid-90s. Should make for a great live experience.

Though they damn well better play a track or two from Nihil. If I were them I'd open every show with “Ultra” but I'll be going on this trip with a couple of actual fans, so I'm going to keep my time-frozen opinions behind a sheild of irony. When the rock snob is clearly in over his head, detachment becomes the order of the day. I'm still gonna have a hella rockin' time though. I don't know what the Attic will be with a full crowd for such a show. Could get kind of nuts. I'm wondering if I should leather-up my wardrobe to fit in.
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By al - 12:49 a.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How things change

Katherine's boyfriend in Mexico apparently does foreign currency trading for fun. She tried to get him to explain to her how it works but he wouldn't, seemed to assume she wouldn't know what he was talking about, so she just called me and got me to explain the idea and the math behind it. She said 'OK, good, I don't need to understand it as long as you do, so combined we're still smarter than everyone else."

Still, I never figured I'd find myself explaining how you can animate a 3 dimensional graph to show changes over time and then make a graph of the change to Katherine. Her boyfriends back home were more experts at how to do wheelies on motorcycles or how to sweet-talk a policeman.

By al - 8:56 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Quote of the day from, while sitting at Rum Runners eating lunch when we tried to think of something and got out the laptop to check the web:

“It feels like we're from the future.”

This is how spoiled having free wireless internet all over the place makes you, when you have to rely on your own brain to remember something.

We were brainstorming ideas for a program we want to build, getting more and more animated and enthusiastic as the idea went from "I wish I had a program for X" to "oh, you could solve that using this..". There may have been public high-fiving.

I've been without a laptop for the last few days, the old thing's basically given up the ghost, I think. CD drive that won't read data CDs + broken hinge + unreliable power + hard drive that corrupts random files == not a work machine anymore. I'm going to have to get a used one to do a job I already agreed to (but which will cover the costs of it easily, thankfully.) then I'm gonna make the move and get an iBook. All the software I want to actually build from scratch seems to hook into OS X's multimedia abilities, and it's pretty easy to make well-organized, gorgeous-looking software with the Apple developer tools.

Also, it seems that Mac users still want to actually try software, not yet frightened that any new program they allow onto their machine will infect them with two dozen pieces of adware and retreating to web-only tools to do everything from email to organizing photos to reading RSS feeds.

By al - 1:51 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, October 03, 2005

It's Happening

Seriously, if George W. Bush appointed his horse to the supreme court of the United States of America there would be at least 20 Democratic senators who would still vote in favour of confirmation. Nominating someone who has never even been a judge at any level to be one of the 9 most important justices in the U.S. shows about as much open contempt for a functioning government.

By al - 7:34 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dream Diary: Advantage: 4 wheel drive

As I was writing a comment to this post on Jenna's blog I remembered that last night I had a dream that I was being chased by a bear who could drive a jeep.

I was standing just past the end of a driveway and was remembering in my head the various things you learn about what bears will and won't do and how to get out of a situation with them. Then I hear this jeep coming up the road, and I know that a grizzly bear is driving it. So I run behind this house. It's fall / early winter and there are patches of snow on the ground. I hear the door clam and the bear growling and then hear its footsteps, so I start running past this random house and try and hide behind a shed, but he knows I'm there, too.

So I start to run along the divide between two rows of houses, and eventually start running along the top of the picket fense that divides the two. If bears can drive trucks I can have superhuman balance, OK?

Then it starts to snow much much harder and I fall off the fence and land face first in the snow, and then wake up.
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By al - 7:44 p.m. | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Rant about protestors

The idea of protesting has it merits and uses. I have myself been involved in a few protests or anti/pro something type marches. The ones I have been involved in all involve causes I have educated myself on and have developed strong opinions on in one fashion or another. So I do honestly have an understanding of why one protest something, even if I don't agree with the protestors opinion.
Today the traffic in Charlottetown was quite heavy and I was not sure why. I found out quickly enough though. The anti abortion, or what actually came across as the anti prochoice protestors. I don't necessarily agree with the opinion of these protestors but I do have a notion of where they are coming from and can accept their opinion as one of many out there. Today's protest was a silent one and I am cool with that too. Silent and non violent protest are definitely the way to go.
What has been getting under my skin is the tactics they were using. The streets where lined with people from many walks of life, fine, but they were also lined with small children who could not possibly understand the statements they were holding in there hands. By small children I mean toddlers who have probably had very little exposure to either side of the argument and probably have not developed the thought process to have a opinion. I know the children are the tools to let people see the results of not having an abortion. A cute little girl or boy who has never done any harm to anyone. But a child in a protest is a tool, they are being used and they should not be. I am willing to bet that the children there were all born to loving families or adopted by loving families and have not had to see the horrors which may cause one to consider abortion, or shake the high moral ground these people stand on.
I do support the idea of trying to raise awareness for ones cause, which ever side you are on. I have my own strong opinions, but I don't condone using the innocent child, who may yet grow to have an different opinion, as a tool. Use logic, simple truth, stories not people. Especially people who have not had the time or chance to review the information for themselves and create their own argument for or against the topic.

By Sabrina - 3:40 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, October 01, 2005

amazingly stuck

Sabrina's roommate today.

amazingly stuck, originally uploaded by dragonofsea.


By al - 2:39 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Silly Dogs

My dog, Rowena the silly poodle, tends to bark and get excited when someone comes to the door, and I'm trying to train her out of it. Today just to play with her mind I stood inside and kno`knocked on the door. The look on her face when she bounded into the room and saw she'd been tricked was absolutely priceless.

She really knows I'm trying to outsmart her

By al - 12:26 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Our Cottage in Lot 16

Just a few photos from the area around my family's cottage in Lot 16, PEI. It's surrounded by my grandfather's hay fields which stretch along the shore, so we have a big, quiet area to ourselves. It's really nice.

At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI At Our Cottage in Lot 16, PEI

By al - 11:03 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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