Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My New Favourite Tea

I think it's a well known fact I don't drink coffee. The times I did drink the stuff was usually out of desperation (with a mix of success and failure). The different Chinese teas are great, however making a cup at work is pretty impractical. I haven't been much of a fan of herbal teas they've been stocking at the cafeteria. I find them weak. . . and herbally.

Black tea is my new favorite tea. I've seen it referred to as English Breakfast tea (aptly named as this is bound to wake just about anyone in the morning). It's a strong and fairly bitter tea with a good amount of kick in it. I like it.

By Ming - 4:32 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Stephen Colbert's Lappy


colbertlaptop, originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.

Looks like it's the exact same model of Toshiba Satellite as my (dead) lappy.

By al - 1:10 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Electoral Reform Aftermath

No surprise from 'yes' proponents
Some of the people who campaigned for the "yes" side in Monday's plebiscite on proportional representation were not surprised by low turnouts and the solid rejection of electoral reform.

Jeannie Lea of Every Vote Counts said the "no" side did a good job of getting support. She also said the Commission on P.E.I.'s Electoral Future only gave Islanders a month to think about the Mixed Member Proportional model. "I think for a lot of people a month was not long enough to digest this. I think that the "no" side was able to raise fear in a lot of people. Rural ridings saw this as a further erosion of their power. The number of polling stations was definitely a factor. I mean even down to when the commission recommended the question. 'Yes' was first on the ballot, and you notice yesterday on your ballot that 'yes' was not the first choice, 'no' was the first choice." Lea said her group succeeded in sparking discussion about the way provincial politicians are elected. The head of Fair Vote Canada said the province has lost the chance to lead Canada in electoral reform. Wayne Smith said setting a new precedent would have to fall to other provinces. "Well in Quebec they actually have draft legislation which is going out to a public consultation process throughout the next year. And then in Ontario we're about to get underway with a citizens assembly like they had in British Columbia and that will probably lead to a referendum in November of 2007. And then in 2008, there will be another referendum in British Columbia, so it's coming, it's happening." Smith said the overwhelming rejection of the plebiscite question shows there should have been more education.
I just love being condescended to, don't you?

By al - 12:41 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

American Enterprise Institute wants to meddle in Canadian election

So apparently the same outfit that ran attack ads against Howard Dean in Iowa in 2004 (why a Republican group was busying themselves with the Democratic Party primary is beyond me) is now telling Stephen Harper to run American-style attack ads during this election campaign.
We know how the Liberals will campaign against Stephen Harper. They will fill the airwaves with ads in which a concerned female voice talks of a "scary secret agenda" while the screen flashes grim, black-and-white photographs of the Conservative leader.

The real question is: How will Harper fight back?

Maybe this time, he should try some negative ads of his own. How about one showing the face of Joe Morselli and some highlights from his career--over a recording of the voice of former Liberal director-general Daniel Dezainde testifying that Morselli was the "real boss" of the Liberal party in Quebec? Maybe the ad could then fade into a clip of Dezainde testifying that he believed that Morselli had threatened his life.

Or perhaps Stephen Harper could carry with him a manila envelope stuffed as if it contained $120,000 in hundred-dollar bills: the amount of cash Marc-Yvan Cote says he received from former Liberal party official Michel Beliveau.
So be on the lookout. If you see mention of tactics like this, we can be sure that the Conservatives are taking advice from scumbag republican thinktanks who should be too busy demonizing mothers of dead US soldiers to be meddling in another nation's election campaigns.

The author of this little bit of advice, David Frum, was also apparently the genius who first thought of the 'axis of evil' line that Bush loved so much.

By al - 9:34 AM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Harper: "Screw the Charter of Rights and Freedoms"

Toronto Star: Day 1: Harper tackles same-sex
Answering a reporter's question yesterday, Harper indicated a Tory government would reconsider legislation permitting same-sex marriage, and put the matter to a free vote.

... Most legal experts agree same-sex marriage is a genie Harper will be hard-pressed to put back in the bottle. He would have to circumvent court judgments allowing gay marriage, as well as a reference opinion from the Supreme Court of Canada.

... He dodged questions about constitutional scholars who say it would be impossible to restore the traditional definition of marriage, and about whether he would use the Constitution's notwithstanding clause to do it. The clause allows governments to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

... "It's this kind of thing that led me to join the Liberal party, that drove me from the Conservative party," said Newmarket-Aurora MP Belinda Stronach, whose dramatic defection to the governing party in May helped the Liberals hold on to power.

"I think it's just plain wrong. How can one class of citizen be more equal than another? Honestly, I think voters have moved past this issue. Parliament already dealt with that."
I wonder of the Conservatives foresaw the potential the Liberals have to use Belinda Stronach's defection as a club to beat them with. My guess is that she'll be put on outraged ex duty for the
duratoin of the campaign.

But the important thing is this: in order to revisit the question of equal marriage, which has been ruled as a matter of human rights by the courts, Harper would have to use the notwithstanding clause of the constitution. This is a very drastic step and justification far beyond the fact that his conservative Alberta base finds it icky.

I don't think Harper is actually serious about pursuing this any further. It seemed like he was trying to get the stuff he's expected to say to his base out of the way early on, but knowing the Liberals they won't let this one go.

The American press are subservient enough that they let the Republicans get away with saying one thing to mainstream press while throwing red meat to the dopes at their rallies, but the Canadian press hasn't reached that point yet.

By al - 9:14 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, November 28, 2005

Plebiscite Results Coming In

Live results here: Link.

Looks like the "No" side is winning by quite a substantial margin. Also total number of voters looks quite low.
Elections PEI Unofficial Results
Prince Edward Island-wide
(39/90 polls reporting)

NO

5,855

(66.17%)

YES

2,994

(33.83%)
The Green Party types who were pushing the 'yes' side will be happy, they secretly enjoy losing. It lets them feel superior to the plebs.

By al - 7:55 PM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Blood in the Water

If you're not watching Question Period on CBC Newsworld right now you're missing a really good show. All the opposition members are getting in their best shots before finally pulling the trigger, roasting the government on the spit with their best material.

They even dug up some vaguely racist statements by Michael Ignatieff who is expected to run as a Liberal but isn't part of the government yet.

Update: Sweet Jesus people are stupid. Here's the scoop on the Ignatieff thing: Link.
The quotes in question which are 'anti-Ukranian' are taken out of context, and are basically from a deconstruction of the stereotype that takes an entire chapter in the book in question. He's stating what he disagree's with, not what he believes.

As for the nomination process, the two so called candidates were both intelligible - one had not resigned from another position in the party, and one was not even a member of the party. Neither of those things could have been corrected on the stop, so neither of them could have registered even if they had showed up on time / been let in.
posted by tiamat at 8:49 PM AST on November 28 [!]

By al - 3:45 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Rock Snob Radio Episode 5 - The Return

(Cross-posted to Rock Snob Radio Blog.)

OK, so Jussy is still in the hospital, and we're all waiting impatiently for his triumphant return, but until then I've recruited Taylor to co-host the show with me and we recorded a new episode last night as we goofed around the Queen St. Commons before heading over to Indie Dance Night. Doing our best to lower the standard of discourse in every medium we can.

Rock Snob Radio: Episode 5 (audio/mp3)

Today's show is all indie rock all the time, because we evidently have something to prove. Here are the bands:

Cave-In
Dinosaur, Jr.
Bear vs. Shark
Wintersleep
North of America

Remember that you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes by going to the Advanced menu and choosing 'Subscribe to Podcast' and pasting this URL into the box: http://feeds.feedburner.com/RockSnobRadio .

By al - 9:55 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, November 25, 2005

What the Hell do they think they are doing

Okay so, I heard this through a source that is directly tied to the ambulances and it makes me furious. I can’t believe the government of this island would be self righteous. They could possibly be so underhanded and I really don’t understand why I have not heard this in the news yet. Though it is possible it has been in a paper or on a radio show I have not listen to yet. This has infuriated me. I have always complained about the under handed manner of the government but this. This is just behind comprehension. Not only have they possibly messed up the ambulance service of our province but they have taken the lively hood of several islanders away with out cause. Though I am sure this is some way they can make cuts to the health care budget, and only those who use the ambulance service will see a change.

Now exactly what has been done is still rumors as far as I know, but if it is true (and from the sounds of the people involved it is). The Bin’s government has taken it upon themselves to revoke the licenses of all the ambulance companies on this island, as of April 2006. The Bastards have decided that it would be better if all the ambulances on this island where owned by one owner and as a result will have a single dispatch. The down fall to all of this they are allowing off island companies to bid on the contract as well as on island companies. Now if an off island company does win the bid, there is nothing to say that the dispatch has to remain on PEI. What that means for you and I is when some one we care about has been seriously hurt or has fallen ill and we call for an ambulance the call will be transferred to a main land dispatch. Ask any one who lives on PEI, where Enmore is. They probably know. But experience has shown me that once you leave the Maritimes most people only know of Cavendish and Charlottetown, if you’re lucky they have heard of Summerside. I am not comfortable with the thoughts that someone who barely knows about PEI is taking care of our emergencies.

Honestly I do not want to see this happen. There are more reasons. I have not heard whether or not the people who currently work for the ambulances will automatically keep their jobs or not. The companies who currently do the dispatch for island ambulances will lose their contracts and as a result it may cause lay off in those business. It is hard for me to sit here and think that this is the best course of action for Prince Edward Island’s health care system, which already suffers from so many issues. This is one of those issues that makes me as an Islander want to revolt against our provincial government. Do something that will really get there attention.

By Sabrina - 10:28 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Public Speaking 101

Just finished watching a video of a Hardball interview with US Senate candidate Paul Hackett. He's a very impressive candidate from all angles, a veteran who is forcefully against the warin a way that Hillary Clinton and her like haven't been. I was continually bothered, though, by the fact that he continually filled the spaces between his words with "uhh"s and "umm"s. Even George W. Bush can make his speeches at least sound powerful by leaving a silence between his words. (far too many in his case, but he knows not to fill the sliences with vocalizations.)

It's sort of the difference between a quietly confident chess player staring at the board and someone nervously touching piece after piece trying to decide which move to make.

It's also a very powerful sign in a debate or argument when you leave silences between your phrases and people continue to listen to you. It's a sign that you have their attention and don't need to continually pull at their aural shirt tails to keep it.

By al - 5:00 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Twangy

Just now while playing around on the guitar while watching "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" I started casually playing along with the "Corner Gas" theme song every time the commercial came on (i.e., constantly) on the Comedy Network.

It's now unshakeably stuck in my head. If it doesn't go away I may have to become a country / bluegrass musician, because that's what I'll be thinking about.

By al - 1:20 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Career Programmer First Part

I wrote a bit about this great book I recently got over at the mobileneurons blog. Link.
I’m reading the book The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World by Christopher Duncan and so far it’s the perfect book for someone like me who has all the technical training he can stand in particular languages and platforms and technologies and algorithms but who wants to figure out the ins and outs of working in a real world development team that is less than ideal.

What one finds in one’s first job after school, as I did, was initial excitement at finally getting to build something ‘real’, followed sooner or later by disillusionment and then often despair or anger at not being able to do the activity that has become their passion by then, writing code and building software.
There's quite a bit more there, and I'm gonna keep on writing about the book as I go through it, to keep track of the important parts so I can hold myself to its recommendations.

By al - 9:16 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Open Debate on MMPR on CBC

CBC is showing the open debate from last night on MMPR. This is much less civil than the debate we had at the QSC. More relying on talking points, and the proponent's being far less open to admitting the faults of their proposal.

I recognized Pat Mella's voice even before I got into the room. Despite her being kind of hard to listen to, she's making the best points against the system.

Our old friend Mark Greenan is pushing for this proposal, and sadly still wants to push the 'change is better than no change' idea without wanting to go into detail about how the list candidates are chosen.

If one is so in favour of a system where the loser wins, why not just say so? If you are championing a system then you should be the one explaining exactly what it does and why.

The two things that annoy me the most in political debates are talking down to people and relying on talking points.

Again I'm being told that being skeptical about this system means you are aiding and abetting the entrenched 'political elite'. That was the response when Pat Mella raised the valid point that the list candidates put much more power in the hands of the party and is an elitist system. The reply was little more than a snark, and again leaves me shaking my head.

Again I don't like the way the question is set up, with either rejecting reform or accepting this specific system as-is. It seems like the commission on electoral reform is threatening to take its ball and go home if they don't get exactly what they propose.

It also puts the 'no' side on the defensive to always have to explain that they aren't against reform per se, but don't support the loser wins system being proposed.

I've decided to vote 'no' as a protest against the way this process has come about. If an open, citizen-led committee had come up with the same proposal after a long period of public deliberation I may have even voted for it, but I'm sort of feeling like an Iraqi being told to go to the polls and vote for something I've only been told about the day before.

Update: Cyn's post, "F.P.R." on the subject has gotten a ton of comments, with osme very informative discussion.

Update 2: Someone commented that it seemed like I was making my decision based on the people presenting the ideas rather than the positions themselves. I apologize if this was the impression I have given with this post. The subject of this post is the debate on CBC itself, so I was focusing on the debaters and their comments and styles primarily, but my reservations about the specifics of the closed list system were already well-formed for me beforehand. I have been waiting to be convinced that it's still a good idea, and it hasn't happened yet.
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By al - 6:48 PM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

IM Record Reviews - DMST - Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead

Caitlyn says:
You like?
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
starting off kind of slow
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
some out of tune banjo is playing
Caitlyn says:
hmmm
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
and they've got that fake record player scratching sound effect
Caitlyn says:
Hmmm
Caitlyn says:
classic noodlanding is good
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
ok, it's getting more interesting
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
snare madness
Caitlyn says:
hehe
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
and a saxophone
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
and the out of tune banjo is accompanied by an electric guitar now
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
playing coked-up stoccato aggressive but sparse jazz solo
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
this song sounds like being on drugs feels
Caitlyn says:
hehehe
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
crickets
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
oooh
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
i didn't realize I was tripping outside
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
hey, going staright into a standard clean jazz drum intro line
Caitlyn says:
you're cute
Caitlyn says:
lol
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
way to be unpredictable, guys
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
this would probably be more entertaining if you had this album
Caitlyn says:
which album is it?
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead
al (Your Macintosh wants you to kill God.) says:
they've got that woaring electronic whine over steady drumbeat going on now. I hope GY!BE doesn't find out about this or they're fucked

By al - 2:50 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, November 21, 2005

Suggestions for Cooking Lobsters?

So when your father knows a lot of fishermen it's a common occurrance for my long-suffering mother to come home and find a fridge full of fish she doesn't want to have anything to do with.

TOday it's a nice big batch of lobsters.

Anyway, was wondering if there was anything you guys can think to do with them besides throw them in a pot of water like I was going to do.

Ideas?

Update:
I found this.. it looks like quite a big production but it's making me all tingly..

Any pretty girls want me to cook them dinner? ;)

Vong's Lobster With Thai Herbs Recipe #126163
Vong is a great restaurant in NY City and this is a true treat. Jean-Georges Vongerichten's food is described in Zagat's as "French-Thai" and is says it serves "tantalizing" fusion fare! All I can say is "YUM!"
4 (1 1/4 lb) lobsters
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 carrot, shredded
2 fresh lime leaves (or 2 tbsp. lime juice)
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
2 cups white port (or sweet white wine)
1 golden delicious apples, peeled and shredded
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 pieces bok choy (or Napa cabbage)
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped
4 servings

Submerge the lobsters in boiling water for about 3 minutes.
Cut the lobsters in half lengthwise.
In a large skillet, heat the butter and red curry paste over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
Add the carrot, lime leaves and lemongrass.
Add the port and cook until the mixture is reduced by half.
Add the apple and turmeric and continue cooking until the mixture is almost dry.
Stir in the heavy cream.
Preheat the broiler and position the broiler pan about 5-6 inches from the heat source.
Broil the lobsters for 1-2 minutes or until cooked through.
Transfer the lobsters to a warm serving platter and pour the sauce over the lobsters.
In a skillet, cook the bok choy for 1-2 minutes or until it is tender.
Serve the bok choy with the lobsters and sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves.

By al - 9:20 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Song and Dance

I was in my room playing guitar just now and I stood up for a second to go close my door, as I was holding it, an I kept palying, and I found myself walking along to a beat, soon I found it was way easier to just rock from one foot to the other than it was to tap my foot while sitting to keep a beat. It's a good thing my curtains were shut or passers-by would have seen me dancing around while playing.

By al - 10:57 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Jim Green Victim of Idiotic Dirty Trick

As stupid and unprincipled as we often accuse our own politicians of being, now we know that it could get a lot stupider.

Jim Green, the de facto successor in his own mind to Larry Campbell for the mayorship of Vancouver has lost the election to a business-friendly candidate, Sam Sullivan, in an extremely close race. More info and background are in this MeFi thread.

The twist is that there was another candidate running in the race named James Green, who didn't have a hope of winning and enver really had a coherent platform, but who did have a fancy-shmancy campaign bus which he couldn't explain how it was paid for.

This article in the Globe written just before the election has more details. Link.
Jim Green is one of the front-runners for the Vancouver mayor's job along with Sam Sullivan, the Non-Partisan Association's candidate for the position.

So when a man named James Green announced he was running for mayor, as an independent, no one paid much attention. Initially anyway. Obviously the media made note of the name -- James Green/Jim Green, ha, ha, very funny -- but there wasn't much scrutiny of his motives.

When it was discovered, however, that James Green's campaign office was in the same complex as Sam Sullivan's, suspicions began to grow. And when James Green, a man of modest means, unveiled a fancy campaign bus, the chorus of whispers around his candidacy grew even louder.

The Non-Partisan Association, the theory went, was secretly financing James Green's campaign to create ballot-box bedlam and bother on election night.

...

As The Globe and Mail's Rod Mickleburgh reported yesterday, one man voting in an advanced poll made a similar mistake, accidentally putting an X beside James Green's name instead of Jim Green's. Realizing his error before feeding the ballot into the vote-counting machine, the man was allowed to change it.

"I'm very concerned," Jim Green said yesterday when reached on the campaign trail. "We've already seen evidence of what can happen. I'm really concerned about people for whom English is a second language, or [who] may have a visual impairment or a learning disability. It's pretty easy to make that mistake.

"It would be a shame if we lost votes in a close race to someone who would appear to have no legitimate reason for being in this race other than to create confusion among voters."
So the race was close enough that every vote gotten by "James Green" is now suspect. In fact, if you add Jim Green and "James Green"'s votes together it totals more than the number of votes received by Sullivan.

This is pretty scummy, to be sure. One wonders how badly some groups didn't want Vancouver to continue on the path of harm-reduction approaches to drug addiction and other pretty revolutionary social policies put in place by Campbell that they would pull a stunt like this.

Perhaps in four years someone will start a party called the NRA and run a candidate Samuel Sullivan to confuse the voters even more.
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By al - 8:53 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Not Winning Me Over

I'm now wondering why the Yes to MMPR people are being such dicks.
Today, as I entered the Charlottetown Farmer's Market I was accosted by a couple of evangelical "YES" to MMPR folks. Evangelical is actually a tame word to describe the aggressive, argumentative behaviour of this distasteful duo. After about 2 minutes of out and out arguing with me about why I was undecided and still had questions about the MMPR proposal we will be voting on November 28th, I decided to walk away. I know these two birds, and they are both involved and caring citizens (one happens to be a commissioner on the Commission on PEI's Electoral Future which I find a tad inappropriate, but maybe that's cool with the Commission, don't know).
I also get the impression from the 'yes' people that being sceptical about this proposed system (a very specific and flawed implementation of PR.) means that you are either against change, part of or a beneficiary of the old-style 'corrupt, back-room' pollitical system. (who will turn around and tell you that political parties are a fact of life so no sense fretting about independent's losing a voice. or that you're too dimwitted to understand why this system of handing out seats to losing parties is so wonderful.

The 'no' side (as in, no to this system but not necessarily no to reform.) doesn't have nearly the same nasty habit of talking down to people and treating questions as confrontation.

Still haven't completely made up my mind, but the 'yes' people aren't doing their side any favours.

By al - 5:20 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Dean Malenkos and Officer Girl

It's a good thing I've adopted the strategy of spending only a small amount of cash when I go out or this week would have killed me, between trivia / karaoke on Tuesday, OFU / Pat Deighan on Wednesday, Walter Shreifels / Bucket Truck on Thursday and tonight's show this week has been pretty much solidly ferocious.

Tonight I was staring down the barrel of an evening shared with a programming book and my NES emulator, which gave me another good reason to leave the house even if I was on my own. I walked past one of those uniquely hilarious displays of rage outside of Myron's, the choice quote was "Oh yeah? Well I'll find the back door then I'm gonna burn this fucking place to the ground!" Apparently he was from Montague so he didn't give a shit. Good to know.

Fortunately Gonzo got into Hunter's right after I did so I wasn't alone for very long. Also, my deciding to stay home and watch a Futurama episode I hadn't seen before ended up leading to near perfect timing as the Officer Girls started sound checking about right when I got there.

Officer Girl (I don't honour novelty capitalizations, sorry, rusty.) started off playing my favourite song of their's from their first batch of songs that they played all over town this Summer.
They started off pretty well, playing my favourite song of theirs, "Wreck Rip" I think it's called. (actually you can hear this one by going to officergirl.com and clicking on the big poster image thing.)


The crowd that stood up as soon as they started knew all the songs and were familiar enough with the band to really get up and bop along. These girls are definitely still the hot band in town.

The thing that keeps me listening to Officer Girl is that they seem to have a nack for throwing in very familiar-sounding chunks of some melody or riff lifted from some rock or pop song, and run through a rock tumbler to be punched around enough to fit with their off-cambre style. So your ears keep getting tingly feelings of familiarity while the rhythms keep on changing up and sneaking around to tap you on the other shoulder. There were a bunch of times when I was sure the song was over and they just switch right up into another time signature and keep on playing the same song. Unpredictable in a way that keeps my brain on its toes. These guys have some great talent, and by now everyone who cares about good, original music around here knows it.

That was just the appetizer, though. I have to admit right here that I really didn't know much about the Dean Malenkos. I sort of ignored the PEILocals message board threads pimping their new website or what-have-you. I just figured they were some bar rock band by the sounds of the name. Good thing I stuck around to be proven a complete and utter idiot.

Gonzo's description when I asked him what they were like was "twitchy punk" which I took to mean that they had a drummer who liked to think he was in charge of things. Usually that can be pretty cool, as long as I'm not in the band, in which case the drummer should simmer down and stop getting uppity. But if it's not me having to follow along to the crazy time changes and bizarre stops and starts then it can be pretty damn excellent to listen to. My interest was piqued.

I knew things would be good when the drummer (Jon Empworth, the only member I really had ever heard of before) did his warmup and drilled the shit out of the drum kit like it was just sitting in his way. Before they started they began to taunt the crowd a little, like any good 'fighting against all odds' punk rock outfit should. They complimented Officer Girl, saying if they knew the opening band were going to be that good they would have practiced.


As the Dean Malenkos started the people taking up the little area in front of the "stage" suddenly switched from being a friendly-looking crowd of mostly regulars to a rather more uniformly male and uniformly less sociable bunch, obviously people who had arrived just for them. That's usually not a bad thing except for the guy who thought that hardcore dancing on a 9 foot x 6 foot stage was a totally dope idea.

... behind the scenes as al cobbles together his review...

al says:
I'm listening to the songs on the malenkos' website and can't figure out if they played any given one or not
al says:
stupid punk rock

... that was your exclusive look behind the scenes of al's review embellishing magic.

They did the make fun of PEI thing pretty consistently for most of their set, something I've heard enough times before to not find it all that ironic anymore, but they totally pwned our entire province when they actually played part of a Haywire song. There as absolutely nothing one can say to that. The closest anyone came was when the guy next to me pointed out that Dartmouth didn't really count as Halifax. A nice try, but didn't phase them, natch.

As for the songs, punk rock is punk rock is loud and quick and punchy and not at all constructed to stay in your head. I remember the excellent drumming, and the pretty hilarious lyrics, but they didn't really cohesively form themselves into discrete units in my memory that I would remember as songs.

Anyway, here are links to the songs on their website, to make up for my not being able to slip in names of songs into this review to try and sound like I know what I'm talking about:

Norwegian Punk Song
Bad Western Starring LL Cool J
The Song About Eating Pussy
Not My Problem
I don't Wanna Cum On Your Face
Christian Right

Definitely the kind of thing I can never get enough of live but really
can't sit down and listen to at home. The lyrics are chuckle-worthy and the energy is there, but it's not quite my thing in that environment, I suppose. Same goes for dance-y techno stuff, really. Gotta be in the right setting. But as live acts go, these guys gave me everything I wanted, and also THEY PLAYED CRAZY TRAIN. And didn't throw in any of that Sum 41 'we're too cool for this' bullshit, either. They played a hard song, showed that it was hard, and played it pretty well. Then later on they played "Panama", and even as the singer did the David Lee Roth "raach down between my legs" bit, you weren't made to feel like a loser for enjoying it. This also put them solidly in the camp of punk rock musicians who can really play their instruments well, for what it's worth.

They seemed to have a good time, the way the stage was set up it didn't really give a lot of people a chance to move around, but then again it can often look pretty barren at a bigger stage like Myron's if it's not totally packed, and I got up as close as I wanted, so I can't really complain. The sound was certainly good. If they keep booking bills like this one Hunter's could really rise to the top of the local venues all on its own.
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By al - 3:14 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pat Deighan & the Orb Weavers + Out From Under + Andrea

This was a really great show tonight. I wasn't really planning on going anywhere or doing anything tonight, had a nice slow day, and was kind of kicking around the house just waiting to get tired enough to go to bed for the night. It's nights like that when wandering off by yourself to see a show really becomes appealing.

Hunter's is big enough that the place can seem a little empty if it isn't brimming with people. That's how it looked when I got there around 10:30.

I had some good conversations with a couple of dudes from Out From Under, especially the extremely attractive Jeff Cameron. We had to cut my diatribe about the PEI electoral system short because they needed to go set up the sound system, I almost said "Oh, good, it's about time." but I kept my mouth shut.

First up was Andrea playing solo. Normally she's the MC for Baba's Open Mic Night, where she's been steadily and humbly doing her thing for quite a while now, playing a few songs each night before the rest of the performers come on. Normally she'll do a few of her own songs and a few covers, her version of “Basement Apartment” left her voice in my head when I think of that song instead of Sarah Harmer's, and I've only seen her do it once. But tonight was a bit of a coming out event for her, and she did all her own songs. Unfortunately her guitar pickup was causing a bit of a buzzing in the sound system (my little guitar does the same thing, a pain I know all too well.) but as long as she was playing it it wasn't very noticeable.

Andrea's singing is very powerful, her voice reminds me a lot of Dar Williams, one of my favourite folk singers. They both have a voice that projects confidence and seriousness without being at all shrill or too high-pitched. Her playing is standard acoustic pop/folk fair, with steady rhythm and lots of interesting quick little chord changes, and her playing never took a back seat while she was singing, she can balance the two very nicely.

And her lyrics are worth paying attention to as well, mostly little sad songs but the few happy ones she has make you really smile. Even the sad songs have their poignant moments that bring a smile to your face. She writes intelligent lyrics that aren't just about boys. One funny moment came when she had written a new verse to one of her songs but didn't have it memorized, so she wrote it out on her arm and had to roll up her sleeve before playing the song. I hope she gets to play more shows in front of more poeple, she's got something good going on to be sure.

Out From Under came on next. The last couple of times I've seen them they've opened for some other band. In my opinion I'd have put them at the end each time, but maybe they're too humble or generous for that. It's OK, though, they still get their groove on very nicely. OFU's country sound storms out of the gates and dominates their other influences enough that I really don't hesitate to call them a country band anymore.

The singing style is pretty similar to the Corb Lund Band, if you've ever heard them. Beefy but lighthearted lyrics about sometimes bizarre subjects. You can tell that they have a total blast writing and performing music, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be all about having fun.

They're all about the shuffle rhythm, really great for getting people dancing, which a few eventually did even though it was a bit of a slow night at Hunter's. Their new bass player could really hold down the fort with his playing, he fit in perfectly with the rest. And their guitar playing is always superb with extended melodic playing through most of a song that is of the skill of most people's guitar solos.

The drumming was nice and lively as well, with the bass and the guitars there was always a bit of a blur between the rhythm and lead sections, with one melting into the other really nicely the way a good jam band is able to.

Last up was Pat Deighan and the Orb Weavers. I've always enjoyed these guys when I've seen them, which was always to open for some other act, most recently they opened for Mark Bragg and did an excellent job of getting people warmed up.

Now that I've seen them about 3 times or so it's to the point where I know their songs well enough to remember a few snatches of verses and remember how the riffs and solos go. They're rather less adventurous than OFU are, perhaps because of the nature of the makeup of the band and the fact that it's much less of a melee.

The drummer kept kind of quiet most of the set, just keeping time and not really making himself noticed. Then in the second-last song he really let loose and pounded out some pretty rapid-fire sequences. I don't know why he saved himself up like that, he could have really been a lot less pedestrian for the whole show. The last song had some more skilled drumming as well with a few tight time signature changes, not something that the band does very much of right now.

The guitar playing is the strongest part of their sound, very aggressive and tight with good interplay between rhythm and lead. You can tell that the creative force behind the band is nearly all in the guitar playing. That leaves the bass to just take up following the melodic line and not really mark its own territory.

If I was a manager and this band played a tryout in front of me the first thing I would do is match them up with some little guy who's completely off his nut crazy to sing for them. Someone who could really let loose and show some real feeling in his singing. The singer seems like he's concentrating more on his playing and almost doesn't have it in him to really put the same punchiness into his vocals as he so naturally does in the guitar playing.

I think they'd do a great job backing up some unhinged maniac singer. If anything it would grab people's attention and be a real stage presence to be reckoned with. That's not to say that they're not enjoyable to watch now, but right now it's more an exercise in watching a great guitar player show off his stuff with a band and try to sing at the same time than to really watch a group of players flourish to their full potential.
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By al - 2:30 AM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, November 14, 2005

Proportional Representation Debate Recap

I've just come back from a very lively and informative debate on the currently proposed Mixed Member Proportional Representation electoral system that Islanders will be voting on in a plebiscite on Nov. 28th. I had previously written about the proposed system here: Link, but thanks to tonight's debate I am now much better informed about the details of the proposed system.

Here's a blurb about the event and the participants from the Queen St. Commons blog: Link.

MMPR Debate at The Commons

by Cynthia Dunsford [] - reply

The Queen Street Commons will be hosting an evening of lively discussion and debate with representatives from both the YES and NO sides of the issue, Mark Greenan and Gordon Cobb respectively. The proposed MMPR model will be on the table.

...

Gordon Cobb is a member of the NO to the MMP Proposal Coalition, a citizens group in favour of electoral reform but opposed to the current MMP proposal. The Coalition urges Islanders to vote NO on November 28 in order to have an open, inclusive, and fair electoral reform process in the future. Gordon is a federal public servant and a former political advisor to Cabinet ministers and political party leaders. He presented the PR proposal- the STV-based Island Choice model- in the Guardian on July 28, 2005.

Born and raised in Summerside, Mark Greenan is a M.A. candidate in political science at the University of Ottawa. He developed an interest in politics thanks to lively debates around the kitchen table at home and as a page at both Province House and the House of Commons. Having observed politicians his age behave like children for two years and the ongoing decline in electoral participation among his generation, he become passionately convinced of the need to renew Canadian democracy by replacing our antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system with one that ensure that every citizen's vote counts. He is happy to be taking a semester's break from his studies to be back on the Island as Coordinator of the Yes on MMP Coalition, educating Islanders on the many ways that system would revitalize our civic life.
I was impressed with the quality of discussion, and both debaters were focused on informing us about the details of the proposed system rather than simply attacking each other's positions. The debate was structured to allow each side to present some background, explain their positions and to rebut the other's arguments, but the structure wasn't overbearing, and mostly it was questions and answers with the audience.

Background

First, and most importantly, Cynthia Dunsford, the moderator, with the help of both Mark and Gordon, did a good job of explaining just how the electoral system will work under Mixed Member Proportional Representation. The definitive guide is at the Commission on Prince Edward Island Electoral Reform home page, this is the gist of it as was presented tonight.

Basically, instead of the 27 individually-elected districts we have now, we will have 17 districts, with one candidate being directly elected from each. Along with the 17 district seats there will be 10 ‘list seats’. Each voter will vote twice, once for a particular candidate in his or her riding, and once for a particular party's set of list candidates.

The list candidates will then be divided up among the non-winning parties based on the proportion of the non-winning parties' votes above a 5% threshold according to the d'Hont system.

So, for example, if the Conservatives receive 55% of the list vote, with the Liberals getting 35% and the NDP getting 10%, with the Conservatives winning 14 of the 17 district seats and Liberals wining the other 3, the results will look like this:

d'Hondt Method Results

The following table shows the assignment of the 10 "list seats" using the d'Hondt method. You can show the detailed calculations or modify your entries to see how changed results effect the outcome.

SeatToryLiberalNDP
13,6668,75010,000
23,6668,7505,000
33,6667,0005,000
43,6665,8335,000
53,6665,0005,000
63,6664,3755,000
73,6664,3753,333
83,6663,8883,333
93,6663,5003,333
103,4373,5003,333
LIST SEATS172
DISTRICT SEATS1430
TOTAL SEATS15102

Basically the list candidates are divided up among the remaining parties with the list votes of the parties that win seats removed for each seat won. So in an election that normally would have been a near Tory sweep, we get 15-10-2. Still a majority, but with a closer balance between the three parties.

The Case For MMPR

Mark Greenan was very positive and upbeat about the changes that would be brought about were an MMPR system to be introduced on the Island. He spoke about the smokyey back-rooms where all the political wheeling and dealing happens nowadays and how “they” don't want this system because “it takes away their power”. He didn't really explain how this would happen, rather just talking about the need for any change at all from the first-past-the-post system, with the details of the MMPR proposal being secondary to the need for a change.

Mark's key line was “this would make every vote count equally”, but again it was more of a catchphrase than an objective assessment. He painted the choice on the 28th as either for or against change, with a ‘no’ vote sending the message that Islanders want the status quo, which is what we would be stuck with if the MMPR proposal didn't get the most votes.

Mark also mentioned that other countries that have adopted MMPR have seen their parliaments include more female representatives, saying that parties will be pressured to balance their lists to contain a good proportion of women and men, and to be balanced regionally. But there will be no official requirement for the makeup of the list. Under the proposed system the parties choose their list on their own, with no input from voters as to which member of the list they prefer. Therefore the #1 person on a party's list will almost certainly get a seat, while the #10 will probably never get one.

The Case Against Closed-List MMPR

Gordon Cobb had easier-to-defend positon of being against the proposed system but not having to be nailed down to any one alternative. He raised several important concerns with the proposed system, and spoke both on the subject of ideals and values as well as on practical considerations.

First he said that a closed list, which is what is proposed, puts more power in the hands of the parties instead of the voters. With the system we have now, and to an extent with an open list, like the one recently proposed in British Columbia, MMPR system, voters can punish individual representatives who are not performing satisfactorily by voting them out of their seats. Under a closed system, favoured members of a party will be almost guaranteed a spot in the legislature. Gordon called this a weakening of democracy. Mark responded by saying that political parties were simply a reality and we were stuck with them whether we liked it or not. That left a bad taste in my mouth.

He also pointed out a very real potential problem in that parties who win a lot of seats will have fewer list seats, creating a conflict of interest between a party's list candidates and its district candidates. If you are a list candidate you want fewer members of your own party elected to their districts, which would give your party more available list votes, and thus giving you a greater chance of having a job for the next four years.

The other problem is that a closed list creates a credibility problem for the list members, who aren't accountable to some constituency and who don't represent anyone except their party. Mark said that this is better because in PEI politics much of a candidate's electability depends on his or her ability to get patronage jobs for party members in their districts, with 200-300 people often swinging a vote one way or another. With list candidates you vote for a party and a platform instead. Gordon's position was that this was simply putting more power in the hands of the parties and out of what he called ‘DR’ or direct representation.

Audience Questions and Further Discussion

Another problem along the same lines, which I raised as a question, was that if a party expected to form the government (a realistic possibility for 2 of the existing for the foreseeable future), and the leader of that party wanted to ensure that his 10 best and brightest candidates were elected so he could have them in his cabinet, he would want them all to run in district seats, because if the party does win the most seats, they lose list seats. My thought was that that would lead to the lists being populated by also-rans and party loyalists rather than people who would want to be part of a government. Mark avoided my question at first, but I pressed him and he admitted that he would likely put most of his good candidates in the districts if he could. He wanted to speak of a more idealistic future with more people voting for minor parties instead of dealing with the realities of the Island's current electoral makeup.

Gordon made his position clear that he was in favour of electoral reform, but against the particular proposal. When asked about alternatives to MMPR he mentioned the Single Transferrable Vote system proposed in BC, but admitted that the formula for electing and calculating seats was even more complex and was always done using a computer. But this would allow voters to rank their preferred candidates rather than just being able to choose one party or another. STV also allows independent candidates to run for the list seats, where they are blocked out of the closed list system.

We also talked about how this plebiscite seemed to come up rather suddenly. Gordon said that tonight's was the first real debate he had been to, and the vote is just two weeks away. Everyone agreed that it seemed people had been kept in the dark during the two year process that the commission on electoral reform had been meeting and drawing up the current proposal. In BC they had a citizen's coalition of about 150 people who all got together and agreed, if slowly, on a proposal. By contrast it seems like our proposal was drawn up in the dark and now we're just being asked a ‘yes or no’ question that is being framed by the media as either status quo or reform, leaving out the specifics of the proposed system.

That's what bothered me the most, that we were given an all-or-nothing option. I would have much preferred being able to vote either ‘yes to the proposed system’, ‘yes to reform and further discussion, but no to the current proposal’ or ‘no to reform’. Everyone seemed to agree that that would be a much better question and would give people time, if they voted for further discussion, to really understand what MMPR systems entail and how they each work.

As it is I'm still not decided one way or the other. I am worried that a ‘no’ vote might leave us with the system we have now, but I also don't want to vote for change just for the sake of it, and the flaws Gordon pointed out were very significant.

I'll be doing more reading and writing on the subject in the coming weeks, and playing a lot with the d'Hondt seat calculator.

But I'm very glad for the opportunity to take part in such an informative debate. Like Gordon mentioned, this was the very first of its kind. All of the Queen St. Commons members who attended were eager to continue with debates or meetings on other subjects in the future, and I personally would be very excited to see them continue.
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By al - 11:54 PM | (8) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, November 12, 2005

In preperation for Tuesday

1) In Canada how long does a couple have to live together to before they are considered to be in a common law marriage?

2) In 1809 Napolean Bonaparte, held a contest to find a way to preserve food for his army. The winner won by sealing food in glass jars. What was his name? What invention still used today did this lead to?

3) In South Korea the Prime minister is chosen by its president. Who is currently South Korea’s Prime Minister?

4) The planet mars has two small satellites which orbit near the Martian surface. One at approximately 9 Km the other around 23 Km. What are they called?

5) In Greek Mytholgy there is the Graeae, which are know as the three old woman,. They have only one touth and one eye which they share between eachother. What are their names?

6) IN the Novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville at the Spouter-inn. Ishmael, meets a Harpooner who had been out selling a head that night. This same Harpooner would become a good friend to Ishmael. What is the name of this Harpooner?

7) This African river actually creates a natural ravine at the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, one bank is Zambia and the other bank belongs to Zimbabwe. What River is it?

8) Who was Pharaoh before The famous Cleopatra VII?

9) Henry the 8th had six wives of them three of the gave him children that survived, at for a short period of time. The Childrens names were:
Mary
Elizabeth
Edward.
What are the mother’s names.

10)The Town of Kensington PEI was given the modern name in 1862 and was incorporated in 1914. What was Kensington name before 1862?

By Sabrina - 10:07 PM | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, November 11, 2005

TV Snark Blogging

Stephen Colbert was totally googling himself yesterday and found my PEILocals post about the Colbert Report, then he stole my link with the wacky japanese lizards-eating-your-face gameshow.

The Colbert Report needs to stick to their guns and really go for the over-the-top windbag pundit image. Nicey-nice interviews are boring, he should really try and do a faux-O'Reilly style interview just to get a reaction out of the guests. The rest of the show is quite a bit fresher than the Daily Show, though. I'm loving the bad puns. “Armistice Day.. not to be confused with Armas Day, which honours Washington Nationals pitcher Tony Armas, Jr.”

I can't even enjoy Fresh Prince of Bel Air in that hipster-ironic way.

Judith Miller is on CNN. If Larry King asks her a hard question I'm going to shit my pants.

"We're here with Judith Miller formerly of the New York Times. It's so hard to say that." My pants are safe.

Apparently Miller is using the retard defense, "I honestly believed that they thought there were weapons in Iraq." "Boy, those stories were wrong." She's talking to Larry King like he's 5. Larry King wears adult diapers. She just called Ahmad Chalabi "Doctor Chalabi". Just corrected herself when she almost said 'mister'. This is a fucking joke.

I still fucking love Jim Cramer's Caffeine-and-psychosis-fuelled financial advice show. I just with I could have seen the first episode where he beat Suze Ormann to death with a folding chair and said "Boo Yah! Let's GET IT ON." The toilet flushing sounds, cartoon bull and wrestling-theme-song power chord background music that goes on all the time is damn good television. The whole appeal of the show is waiting for him to have an aneurysm.


I'm keeping the channel on something that look\s utterly horible because it said "mena Suvari" in the credits. I'm shallow.

These are the longest opening credits since they let Wesly Crusher onto the ST: Next Gen intro.

..oops, this is actually the movie Overnight Delivery, made when Mena Suvari was about 10. Now I feel like a perv.

I think Tavis Smiley stole the set from the old Saturday Night Live "Perspectives / Viewpoints" sketch with the late night cable access public affairs shows.

Craig Fergussen is too Scottish for me to pay attention to anything he's actually saying. It's just funnier that he's Scottish. When he was being interviewed on The Daily Show Jon Stewart said "Well, I could probably give you a bit of advice, after all, I know a thing or two about replacing Craig Kilbourne." Deep-seeded burns are the best ones.

The Smothers Brothers are on the Learning Channel, Dick is explaining how he invented the "it's funny because it's not" thing, which he did brilliantly but I still hate him for spawning so many awkward self-important shits who subject me to their self-congratulatory too-cool-for-school circle jerks.

If that's Dave Foley on the Late Late show his deal with the devil to keep his boyish good looks has expired all at once.

I hate when people make fun of the oldschool Spiderman cartoon. The episode where he got trapped in a freezer and woke up in a post-apocalyptic ruined New York crawling with barbarians was some creepy shit. And he was the only Spiderman that wasn't made into an proto-emo pussy.

Steve Irwin is going to be on Conan. This blows my theory that he's dropped off the face of television because he's actually been eaten by a bear and they're waiting to release it on DVD. Fuck.

By al - 1:21 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tunes for Tots

Had a really great time last night at the Tunes for Tots event at Hunter's. It was put on by my friend Cory as a way to raise money to buy presents for kids spending Christmas at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I'm really impressed with how well it turned out.

The performances, acoustic stuff from Donovan Morgan & Laura Pineau, Mike Amelia and Nikkie, plus the two bands, Out from Under and Officer Girl were excellent. Best bill of purely local music I've heard in ages. On a side note, Nikkie is up for a PEI music award this year. Since she gave me a ride home last night I would suggest that if you are a voting member of the PEI Music Awards Association that you vote for her for Best Pop Recording. (Or also because the album is good, either reason is acceptable.)

The best part was that I won 2 door prizes, one was 2 mugs, some free coffee and a perfume pack, and the other prize was a $50 gift certificate from FutureShop. So next time you see me I'm gonna be smellin' nice.

Everyone was in a really good mood last night and were happy that this went so well. When I find some pictures I'll post a link in my del.icio.us links on the sidebar.
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Movie of Fluorescent Light Colours

I also captured a movie of the weird effect that this old fluorescent light was having on my camera.

Here it is: Link. (video/quicktime 3.5MB)

By al - 3:19 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Not Bad. . . .

Played some pickup hockey last night. I've been in a bit of a slump lately, just haven't been able to bury the puck in the net for a while and I've been playing pretty horrible too. Last week was especially bad, so I was on the Island on the weekend to get some extra ice time (Friday in Evangeline, Sunday in Tyne Valley and Slemon Park). So, last night I net 3 goals and at least 2 assists. I'm told the final score was 8-8. My last goal was pretty. Tied the game on a bad turnover and put it in right before the buzzer sounded. That's a good night of hockey.

By Ming - 10:33 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Typical. . . .

Got the major things done around the house. Starting to focus on the little details, like getting the ethernet jacks in the house working. I got the wall plates around the house done last week, but the ends in the electrical closet weren't done. Found an 8-port ethernet switch at Futureshop for $20 yesterday, so I decided to get to work. I only had 4 ends and 6 drops to do. I really can't tell which drop goes where so it's a bit of a guessing game which one I should connect. There's only 2 drops I really want connected right now, the one that's by my router and the one in my room where my laptop is. Figures. . . the 2 drops I didn't have ends for are the 2 I wanted connected. I sometimes wonder about being born on Friday 13th. I'm horrible at games of chance. My track record for guessing on a multiple choice test is awful. About the only luck I do have usually comes at the expense of someone else.

By Ming - 9:34 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A few more for Al

1) what zoo is the popular life net work show “Zoo Diaries” filmed at?
2) The oldest building in Edinburgh Scotland is found within Edinburgh Castle. What is the name of this building? Bonus What two historical figures are found built into the wall near the entrance to Edinburgh Castle?
3) What is the process of going from solid to a gas called?
4) In the book “Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring” the four haobbits are traveling to Elron with Aragon. What is the name of the Elf they meet alogn the way and helps to get the injured Frodo to Elron on time?
5) The Chinese calendar uses a Stem-Branch system for naming the years. The twelve branches are the animal symbols, Rat, cow, tigre, rabbit, Dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog and pig. What are the 10 stem based on?
6) Built in 1888, this building is PEI’s oldest municipal building? Bonus: I902 this church, PEI’s oldest church was built?
7) In Disney’s snow white and the 7 Dwarfs which of the 7 dwarf is the only one without a beard? Bonus name the other 6 dwarf
8) From Vincent Van Gogh early work, the Painting “lane with poplar trees” Depicts the figure of a man walking down a lane lined on both sides with tree. What year was this image created.
9) In Clement Clarke Moore. The little driver of the sleigh beings to call out. Now Dasher, Now Dancer, Now Prancer and Vixen, what are the other 4 names of the reindeer.

By Sabrina - 10:38 AM | (4) comments | Post a Comment

Monday, November 07, 2005

Old Fluorescent Light


Old Fluorescent Light, originally uploaded by Alejandro the Great.

This is an old fluroescent light that has been in my grandparents' kitchen since I was a kid. To the eye it appears white with a slight flicker, but the camera showed that it cycles between blue, white, yellow and off.

By al - 5:24 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, November 06, 2005

November

tree hook


leaf catcher


left alone

By Sabrina - 8:49 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

I am so going to this

Today was Guy Fawkes day. So to celebrate, some co-workers and I got together and had a fire...A campfire style things. It was awesome. We ate, drank told crazy stories. It was awesome. Especially since it is November 5th on PEI. We should be preparing for snow...
The girl who held the fire had a fire pit in her back year. If by some slim chance I can one day get my own place, I am totally getting a fire pit.
That will be so cool.

By Sabrina - 1:03 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Play a song just for me

Last night was supposed to be the night where Taylor and I truly Got Her Going®, oh expectations were high. But then we pretty much couldn't find anyone else, and there really wasn't anything compelling going on except at the Wave which is a hellhole, so he ended up staying home watching movies and I just started going through the new book I just got.

Then, around midnight, I get a message from Willy, saying that the funk/hip hop group at Brennan's, Slaves of Spanky, was pretty fun and that he and KGB were heading back down. I was bored and getting antsy so I figured I'd wander by.

It's lucky I did, too, because if it weren't for Willy and KGB (who were only there because Tracicle who works there called to get some company) the place would have been completely empty. I guess that's what happens in the off-season for a place that no one ever thinks of as somewhere to casually hang out and who only gets people when they book an act people already know.

“OK, boys, I paid my cover, y'all better come in and play another set.”

“:Hey man, look, we increased the size of the crowd by 33%.”

Slaves of Spanky @ Brennan'sWhat made it even funnier was the flag with their name on it that they put up behind them. (oohh production values)

Now, the band itself wasn't bad. Dudes on keyboard and drums and the bass player could all play pretty well. Mostly your standard funk-type lines. (Before one song they gave the bass player the notes to play and he played them, “OK, C, C, G, A, B.. got it” At that point I was tempted to say “hey, do you need me to come up and play?” but I figured on a night like that it might actually happen.)

The music itself ended up sounding like Mars Hill but without the yummy. (I'm getting in trouble for this sooner or later.) At least the vocalist was kind of funny, though, in that ‘hey I'm a white dude rappin' about smokin' crack, HILARIOUS’ kind of way.

They did play a complete set, though, which is good on them since we ended up back by the bar chatting with each other. Afterwrds we talked to one of the dudes, Brandon, who ended up having a pretty good sense of humour about the whole thing, seemed a bit more able to take the whole night in stride than the vocalist who went on about playing in front of hundreds of people back in Ontario. (Apparently they took the Brennan's show because they want to get in with the promoter d-rock, possibly for next year's shoreline. I'd say they'd make a good breakfast-time act, similar to Juan Love this year (though JL is funnier)).

Later after the place closed the 4 of us got chinese take-out and sat around the big table at Brennen's chatting to the sound of the fridge (which you could hear pretty clearly between songs as well.) Having the place literally to ourselves was just the next logical step, really.

Brennan's seems unable to get a happy medium situation. It's always either been packed for something like Grand Theft Bus or Wintersleep or embarrassingly empty. You can only put up so many posters, too. It's a good advertisement for the all ages show structure, where you might have 2 away bands that could be good but no one really knows them, but put them on a bill with 4 other local acts and you're probably going to get a good crowd.
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By al - 10:53 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, November 04, 2005

Best Student Line of the Week

"Teacha, teacha...do you like fast men?"


This out-of-the-blue comment reinforces my theory that it's safest not to ask "why?"

By chantal - 7:13 AM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Practice for Al

1) The song “Barette’s privateers” by Stan Rogers there are two sailing ships mentioned. What are their names?

2) single celled organism often have hair like structures on their out cell membrane. What are theses structures called.

3) The oldest living tree is around 4767 years old, according to it’s growth rings. What kind of tree is it? Where it is found?

4)On Nov 5th 1605 this man and several companions were involved in a plot to blow up the London parliament buildings with 36 barrels of this?

5) “An historical and statistical account of the isle of man” written by Joseph Train of Castle Douglous includes a mythical creature know as a cabbit which is suppose to be the result of breeding between these two animals.

6) Elizabeth Tutor became queen in what year? How old was she?
BONUS: who was the monarch before her?

7) Hg is the chemical for what element?

8)This famous children’s author can also be credited for discovering the symbiotic relation ship between fungus and algae (know as lichen).

9) In Greek mythology Zeus had 9 daughters with Mnemosyne. They are know as the muses. What are there names?

10) IN the Bill Cosby show there are 4 daughters and 1 son, name all 5 children of Cliff and Claire Huxtable.

11) What is the current official capital of Cote Ivoire? What year did it become capital?

Let's see how you do.

By Sabrina - 9:45 PM | (5) comments | Post a Comment

Tagging is a Dead End

Web 2.0pre-alpha zealotry aside, does anyone actually use tagging in a way that would suggest that it's living up to the hype?

I know I try and be a good little web citizen and dutifully mark my blog posts with Technorati tags, but I'd bet that the only time those links ever get clicked is by me when I want to see if my post is showing up in the listing or not.

It would take some amount of hackery to have these tags act like categories do in more heavyweight blogging software. I can't quickly get a list of posts of a certain tag. Technorati hasn't seen fit to make site-specific tag searching easy to do.

The trouble with the non-hierarchical nature of tags is that a user must already be familiar with the language of a particular domain before he can fully navigate a tagged ecosystem of information. Take Flickr, for example. Sure I can use it to look up pictures of dogs or fish or Charlottetown. But what if I wanted to explore some photography technique that I saw in a friend's photo? I would have to know what that technique was called before I could find any pictures that use it. With a carefully planned out hierarchical system I can start at the top and guess my way to the correct category. But with tags it's an all-or-nothing proposition.

Flickr, in its rush to please the Web 2.0 priesthood, has even made its own site less useful for the cause. It used to be that the default search box would search through your titles, descriptions and tags. Now it limits you to just searching through tags unless you search for something and it returns no results, then it reluctantly gives you the option to check a checkbox and also search through title and description fields. So it can take several steps of guesswork if I hadn't been dutifully tagging my photos from day 1 with a system that would let me find them later on.

Another thing I've noticed is that sites like del.icio.us aren't very smart about sub-categories. For example, say I wanted to distinguish between US Politics and Canadian Politics in my bookmarks. I could tag each with US+Politics and Canadian+Politics respectively, but a general search for 'Politics' would not return any posts with those tags. I would have to start to really repeat myself, with the end result being a bunch of tags like 'Canada Politics Canadian+Politics'. You end up having to second-guess your future self and accounting for various combinations that you may search for in the future, let alone other users who may use slightly different words for things. "Colour" or "color"? "photos" Photographs" or "pics"? You might have to try each before you can get a comprehensive set of results.

Spotlight won't stop people from putting their files into folder trees, and similarly tags are a poor replacement for categories and proper planning of your information structure and vocabulary.
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By al - 7:47 PM | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Reasons I don't drink beer

1) Cider taste better
2) whiskey taste better
3) bloating
4) I have an 80% greater chance waking up hung over...Even if I only have a couple.
5) it makes me hungry
6) It gurgles in my belly and I can't sleep.
7) It will wake me up from a deep sleep cause it has made me hungry
8) I have to pee more
9) It makes me babble about nonsense
10) I have a 50% greater chance of getting in an argument with a friend
11) I have an 70% greater chance of arguing with a complete stranger
12) I am not really a big of its taste

By Sabrina - 7:01 AM | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Lepreau 2?

Saw this story on CBC's PEI news page: Link.
Maritime Electric president Jim Lea says NB Power should think seriously about building a second nuclear reactor. Jim Lea told an energy conference in Saint John that Maritime Electric would even be willing to participate in the building of a second nuclear plant, a proposal that seemed to catch NB Power off guard. "I raised it primarily because I think we have to start thinking about it soon. To see a Lepreau 2 in place is a 10 to 15-year project in my view," said Lea. Lea said building a second nuclear plant is for the future, but has to be talked about immediately. It was an unexpected endorsement of an almost identical position taken recently by New Brunswick Opposition Leader Shawn Graham.
The article mentioned that NB Power's main focus for new projects was looking more towards renewable sources, like wind farms. PEI's very ambitious wind energy initiatives seem to be existing outside of the world of Maritime Electric, and now Jim Lea is wanting another nuclear plant and even pledging money to help NB Power build one and dropping hints that he thinks the PEI government should also throw some money at it, while not offering to financially help any of either PEI or New Brunswick's renewable energy projects. I'm wondering why Maritime Electric seems to be living in such a bubble.

I'm much more of a realist on the issue of nuclear power than most people, having worked at Pt. Lepreau on the control computer systems and at the same time learning as much as I could read about how CANDU plants work and walking around the grounds and seeing that the entire waste produced by the plant in the last 25 years is in containers single fenced-in area, vs. the tonnes of particles going into the air from a coal plant, I've always thought that nuclear power was the most practical solution for real-world, growing power needs.

That being said, the infrastructure needed to maintain a nuclear plant and keep it up to regulation is appallingly large. For Ontario Power Generation it's possible for them to run a simulator and have centralized administration and engineering staff, but for New Brunswick they need to replicate all of the necessary support structures for just one, and now maybe two plants. Lepreau produces about 640 megawatts of power, and requires a staff of hundreds to run. By contrast, the Grand Falls dam can produce over 700 MW in peak season, and doesn't need more than 20 people to keep the thing running.

I think Maritime Electric must have some kind of cushy cost-plus arrangement where they just buy NB Power's output and tacks on a nice profit for themselves from PEI's customers. With that kind of easy business model it's little wonder they aren't at the forefront of innovation.

It's very exciting to see islanders not being held back by such dinosaurs, though, and taking up the ideas of renewable and smaller-scale energy projects.
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By al - 1:17 PM | (0) comments | Post a Comment

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