Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stone Cold NinJa Turtles

You know what kicked ass? The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game for the NES. As good as the subsequent arcade ports were, none of them came close to the sheer frustration of the underwater level where even if you had 5 extra men if the dam blew up before you diffused all the bombs the entire game was over, since the city had just blown up.

Also the opening sequence was pure NES gold.

But that opening theme music is a little bit familiar...

Specifically the main riff, the 'guitar solo' part, and the bridge back into the main riff.

Incidentally, almost all NES background music actually turns out to have a rather heavy metal bent to it. Here's the Minibosses' version of the Ninja Gaiden theme for a great example: Link. (audio/mp3)

Here's them doing the Contra theme live:

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By al - 5:47 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Green: Third Party in a Two Party System

Sure the Guardian could have mentioned them, that's fine. But there's just no longer a need for a green party in Canada, concern for the environment has become one of, if not the top issue on the majority of people's minds, and mainstream politicians and parties are not going to have to have good environmental policies if they want to be elected. It's like any other good idea, it starts out on the fringes but eventually it becomes accepted by more and more people and it enters the popular consciousness. At this poiint the need for a protest party disappears — especially in a rep-by-pop electoral system like we have here.

Of course it doesn't help that those attracted to the political fringes often bring a lot of baggage with them, like being completely and utterly [redacted]. You can't go a day without hearing about climate change and people's concerns for the environment in the news, so I'd say we're into that phase now.

During the last federal election I remember someone saying taht David Suzuki should run for the Green party. I replied that he'd do a heck of a lot more good running for the Liberal party, and becoming the minister of the environment when they actually form a government.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Single Sentences

So the dogs decided that the red biscuits looked more appealing this year, and I'm sure my life will not change in any noticeable way whatsoever.

I am going to do all my lab work for the Weblogic course I'm taking tonight so I can actually have enjoyable lunch hours for the rest of the week.

Whenever I ask someone who continually complains about the two main political parties how they've been volunteering for a third party candidate, I get either a blank stare or indignance.

If you have them, I judge you by how well-behaved your kids and / or pets are.

The times that I've actually been really good at being thoughtful were when I wasn't thinking about it.

By al - 11:04 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Also-rans Debate

CBC radio ran a segment this morning where they had PEI Green Party leader Sharon Labchuk on along with Dean Constable, leader of the New Democratic Party of PEI. The premise was to give the longshot parties some airtime where they're not dodging crossfire from the two main parties acting outraged about one unwise big spending plan while talking up their own equally illl-thought out big project.

Now, I'm writing this as someone with a Dean Constable sign in my window, but I have to say he came off miles better than Labchuk did. He realized he had nothing to gain from taking swipes at her or her party, and instead talked in his usual way, straightforwardly addressing what he thinks government should be doing better to improve lfe for islanders.

Unfortunately this wasn't the sensational radio that CBC probably wanted, so they let Labchuk have the majority of the air time. What she proceeded to give us was a series of petty swipes at the NDP and those who've support the NDP now and have in the past - insulting and belittling the voters most people think would be the first to turn to her party.

Meanwhile, the PC party ca ntout successes in wind energy and initiatives in reforming the farming industry to claim taht they're the real deal if one wants to be conscious of the environment - no need to throw away your vote. I still believe that there would be no problem at all for an intelligent, well-spoken environmental expert to run as a candidate for a major party, and become the obvious choice to be minister of the environment in a ruling government and actually do some good - rather than following the road of uncompromising (supposedly) ideology down the dark path into the political fringe. Our environment deserves better support tha nthat.

Labchuk even dismissed the role the NDP has had nationally as the conscience of the ruling party. She can turn herr health card over to me, and I'll put it on display up on this blog if she wishes to stick to her guns on that statement.

This election is doing very little besides piss me off repeatedly.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PEI Humane Society

Because of the fundraising we did for the PEI Humane Society at work a few of us were asked to come by for a photo op. We raised over $600 for them, by far the most successful charity we've chosen for our casual day / pizza fundraisers. So we got to goof off for a while and play with the kittycats. Great way to spend a Friday to be sure.

That's me with Glen and Kelly and Don from work and the executive director of the Humane Society in there as well. The cat I had purred more loudly than I think I've ever heard a cat purr before.

By al - 11:28 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Birthday Weekend

This weekend was all in all a pretty good one, despite turning a year older today. I didn't have any kind of a birthday party, but instead managed to get three birthday cakes on separate occasions. On Saturday I was IM'd at around 8pm and ordered to show up at a party I wasn't going to go to since I was feeling more like an evening at home was in order, but when I got there, despite the rain, they had barbecued enough food that we were able to stuff ourselves quite handily. Then Kimmy, a friend from high school whom I've only recently started to hang out with again, came out with a birthday cake for me, and everyone at the party, some of whom I only know in passing, all started singing Happy Birthday. Turns out another girl at the party, Aarica, had a birthday yesterday as well so it was a double birthday celebration.

Sunday was a quiet day, something nice did happen though, a new friend that I had just recently met got on webcam and sang me happy birthday in Spanish with a candle in her hand just as midnight struck. Nerdishly sweet, to be sure.

Then today I spent some time with my family, and of course they brought out the cake that I pretty much knew was coming, but that's OK. I also got a coffee grinder from my mother, which I have to say is a vast improvement over the coffee I get from the 2 month old maxwell house beans in my cupboard.

Then this evening I wasn't really planning on doing anything, but just in passing I invited a couple from work over to watch the season finale of Heroes, since they had gotten the episodes to watch on their computers and, like me, got instantly hooked, but didn't have cable so I thought they might want to see the final episode when it aired instead of waiting to download it.

So as Glen and Waqqas were there, during one of the commercial breaks, Sabrina goes and brings out a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. Of course, when I start to cut it, the show comes back on and I just say "OK, this is gonna have to wait" and turn back to watch. Cake is one thing, but I needed to find out what happened to Hiro.

So all in all without really doing very much this weekend ended up having some really nice moments.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Office Space Kit

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


Woohoo! The bank owns Tuna!

My god there's so many fees associated with new home ownership. There's the wearing funny hats fee. The not wearing funny hats fee. And the years of squirelling funds away while living in your parent's home amounting for naught fee. :)

By TVT - 9:37 p.m. | (3) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'd write more about the election, but..

I honestly can't keep track in my head which of the nearly identical ill-thought-out band-aid solutions to fundamental problems belongs to the Tories and which belongs to the Liberals. Also the sense of entitlement that both major parties exude has reached an equilibrium state now that the Liberals think that by PEI election tradition they should be allowed to win because it's their turn. Neither of those two parties inspire any kind of grand hope for a better future, it's just two divvorced parents one-upping each other on offers of ice cream and treats to win over a child's affection, failing to realize it was the fundamental flaws in their own character that led to all his problems to begin with.

The NDP still hasn't made a dent in the popular consciousness to become a party most people would consider voting for, but for their part I'm very happy to see younger candidates who are speaking from their hearts and not embarrassing themselves with press-grabbing stunts in front of liquor stores like in previous elections.

By al - 4:42 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sharon Labchuk saves the bees

Wow, Sharon Labchuk has way more important things to do than campaign, apparently she just single-handedly solved the problem of bee colonies dying off: No Organic Bee Losses is a letter she wrote that ended up on Reddit. Seriously. This is really interesting news, and I never usually expect to see an islander's name pop up when I'm doing my news surfing.

From the article:
I'm on an organic beekeeping list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with the big commercial guys is that they put pesticides in their hives to fumigate for varroa mites, and they feed antibiotics to the bees. They also haul the hives by truck all over the place to make more money with pollination services, which stresses the colonies.


By letting the bees build natural sized cells, I have virtually eliminated my Varroa and Tracheal mite problems. One cause of this is shorter capping times by one day, and shorter post-capping times by one day. This means less Varroa get into the cells, and less Varroa reproduce in the cells.
The article presents a very good case for that animals probably had their reasons for evolving the way they have. If beekeepers hadn't all started growig larger bees they wouldn't have the Varroa mite problem, and wouldn't have had to pump so many antibiotics into their colonies, and we wouldn't be facing a widespread collapse of bee populations.

The analogy to bovine growth hormone is probably not an overly solid one but it's the first thing I thought of when reading this.

Go Sharon :)

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By al - 3:14 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dean Constable

Dean is so far the only candidate to show up at my door, which was before the election was actually called. Sabrina spoke to him for quite a while about community swimming facilities and the fact that the CARI isn't really fulfilling its mandate, and is turning into more of a publicly-subsidized private health club. He was genuinely interested in what she was saying and made a note of it to take away with him. I was quite impressed that he did a lot more listening than talking.

He was on the radio this morning talking about video lottery terminals and promising to do what he could to try and get rid of them, including exercising what influence he could in opposition. I fully support this and am glad he mentioned that the money that goes into those is money that would have gone into the economy in some other form anyway. He didn't mention it but it's not people who have a high rate of savings who use these, it's mostly people who live paycheque to paycheque, and it really is shameful that the government has come to rely on them as a form of income.

Pat Martel was asking him questions and seemed to take a bit of a condescending tone at a couple of points. Dean answered the questions well, and it was refreshing to hear a politician say exactly what he thought was right rather than couching his statements in language to not offend entrenched interests. And good for him for pointing out that the Racino (ugh) is losing money, so the VLTs really aren't helping the local harness racing industry at all.

I think Dean would do well to try and slow down his rate of speech, he came off as a bit nervous. Something I've learned to consciously do is to speak slowly and retain control over the flow of discussion by making someone wait until you have made your point rather than trying to squeeze as many words as you can in the time the other person decide to let you speak. The last thing people want to be reminded of in NDP leaders is the tendency to be excitable and shrill.

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By al - 10:31 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Go West

It's strange how I can be completely genuinely supportive when encouraging my friends to pick up and move away. It just kills me to hear people sound so down on themselves when they can't dig up opportunity for themselves in the place they've come to think of as home.

I sometimes feel like the odd one out for actually being pretty contented with my career and my life here. Not sure how long I'll be happy keeping up my current life, but so far my family and the closest thing I have to life-long friends are here and I'm happy for that. I'm also pretty satisfied with my current job. It's nothing exciting or earth-changing, but I'm good at it and I'm appreciated and I get to do a lot of different things.

I just wonder what it will be like when all the people I know have all moved away.

Maybe they'll all come back here when they retire.

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By al - 11:18 p.m. | (2) comments | Post a Comment

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Automatic for the People

This REM album was the first CD I ever bought when I knew I was getting a CD player for Christmas. I bought it in October and opened it up when I got it home. Had nothing to play it on, but I would take out the liner notes and read through all the lyrics.

I already knew most of the songs from their being played constantly on Much Music, but the ones I didn't know were this unsolvable mystery to me. What did "Star me Kitten" actually sound like? Did the tune I cooked up in my head bear any resemblance to what wonderful sounds would come out of my fancy new CD player I'd unwrap Christmas morning?

Now even at that age I was fully aware that REM had a really deep musical history, and that their last couple of albums, Automatic and Out of Time, were deviations from what the band's sound normally was. And that you could call a lot of it pop music without really being wrong. But it was pop music with a craftsmanship and an ear to induce intent listening.

Once I got the CD player my fairly extensive collection of tapes hardly got a listen. It didn't help that I was taking a bit of a chance every time I'd put a tape in my old stereo, once a month or so I'd hear that awful sound and then silence, and I'd know that whatever I was listening to was now gone forever, eaten by the tape monster.

Of course the album itself is probably not as epic as I'm making it out to be, but it occupies this place in my musical timeline precisely because it had enough there to keep me listening to it and re-listening when it was the only album I owned, rather than scraping up the money to buy another one right away since I was bored of my initial purchase.

In my second year university I got an apartment with two fellow MacKenzie House residents, and one of them, who was originally from Japan and who's music collection consisted of one Abba tape, happened to buy this album and listened to it constantly, while she studied, cleaned, or sometimes I'd just see her sitting at the kitchen table with her little stereo listening to it and not doing anything. If this were any other album that stereo surely would have flown out of our window and landed in the dumpster across the parking lot.

I tried playing her a few tracks from Lifes Rich Pageant when she asked me if they had any other songs and she was having none of it.She thought for a second that it was another band with the same name that I had dug up just to play a joke on her until I showed her the band members listing.

This is a great album to listen to in the dark, it keeps a consistent pace and doesn't interrupt you if you aren't focused on it, but also has enough to keep you interested when you do turn your attention to the music.

And it has one of the best last few songs of any album I can think of. "Nightswimming" paints a wonderful mental image as he describes driving to a reservoir late at night and going for a swim by yourself, and then "Find the River" ends with a coda summing up their current musical direction, capping the last two albums off quite nicely.

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By al - 8:57 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Our Future v.2

Overheard at KFC:

Rather young mother to her toddler: "ohhh, you looove your fries, don't you?"

(Yes I'm aware of the irony of me being in KFC to hear this. I just needed out of the office and dining choices around hell Stratford is limited.)

By al - 12:53 p.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What are you trying to say?

MSN Messenger needs to stop putting LavaLife ads at the bottom of my instant messenger conversations. It's making me wonderr where its secret custom algorithms are picking up on some kind of overarching loneliness vibe in what I talk about.

I suppose I should be glad it's not throwing Viagra ads down there.

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

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