Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Boxing Day Madness

Yes, it's true. I'm a sucker for Boxing day sales. It is the one day of the year when my cheapness overrides my lazy tendencies. (For you American readers, Boxing Day is the Canadian equivalent of Black Friday.) Case in point, this Boxing day I woke up at 4:40 am (thank you honey, for waking me when my alarm didn't go off) with only about three hours of sleep. This was in an effort to be at Futureshop early enough to beat the crowds for the 6:00 am opening.

But it was worth it. I got a wireless router and an LCD panel for the home computer.

I also picked up a hard drive at Staples, only to return it the next day (wrong connector type) and returned to Futureshop to get one there. So now the home computer is up and running, after about a year of not working.

Of course, there was a full day of shopping to follow my early morning expedition, but to be honest, I was getting pretty tired and had to rely on my wife to stay focused. Overall, we had a pretty good haul this year. Were the holidays good for the rest of you?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thank you Mr. Temple, for the introduction

Years ago I was introduced to what seemed at the time to be a very boring, tedious computer game. With real time strategy games all the rage, why on earth should I pay attention to a turn based game? It didn't make sense, but people refused to stop talking about it, so I was compelled to at least try it out. Needless to say, I got hooked on the game in a big way.

Yes, I am aware that there is a fourth installment to this game franchise. But that doesn't exist yet for us Mac users, and quite frankly, I'm kinda glad. We finally get the Play the World expansion pack for the Apple OS at the end of the year, so we have lots of gaming goodness to get caught up with before we move to Civ IV.

The only real problem with the game is the amount of time it eats up. I hear that in Civ IV, they have a built in alarm clock so you can be reminded to quit occasionally. I do like that I can play for an hour at a time and slowly work at a game though, which is good since most games take days to complete. It's really too bad I'm not a playtester for this sort of thing - I'd be the most dedicated employee ever.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Lobsters for Christmas

So we got a couple lobsters this weekend, to be eaten over the holidays. So that meant a little preparation was in order. This photo was taken after they were cooked, but before they were shelled.

That's right, we didn't eat them immediately after cooking. We picked out the meat and froze it for now. Probably the day before we plan to eat them we will thaw them out (it's only a few days away) and eat creamed lobster. For those of you who aren't familiar with this dish, think of New England Clam Chowder, then remove all the veggie bits so you are left with the shellfish in a rich cream broth. Let the lobster flavour infuse into the cream overnight and serve over mashed potatoes or molasses brown bread, with side orders of things like carrots, corn, or other vegetables.

This is a traditional dish from the Atlantic provinces that started because many of the families were too poor to buy foodstuffs like beef or chicken, but had things like lobsters in abundance. Remember, most people made their living as fishermen in those parts. Even though lobsters were readily available, some families still had to make a little bit stretch between a lot of hungry mouths, which is why it was served over 'fillers' like potato or bread. But for me this holiday season, serving lobster this way is more of an opportunity to enjoy a taste of 'home.'

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Snow in the courtyard

It's no wonder we put up lights and decorations for the holiday season. Everything else is so dark and drab that we need a bit of colour. At least snow is white (well it starts out that way) which reflects what little light we get. Otherwise, my picture would be even darker.

The view from my office window isn't any better. The homeless guys have added some extra tarps and such to their tent, and look to be surviving the cold fairly well. They don't seem to be disturbing anybody, which is much more than can be said for the summertime vagrants.

That being said, we are down to ten days before Christmas. We aren't going anywhere this year, which makes this the first Christmas that we celebrate in our condo. We didn't even decorate last year because we were away. All that will change this weekend though. We'll make our place all Christmassy and pray that our pets don't kill themselves by eating the ornaments. We have already banned tinsel from the house, based on past year's experience.

Hey, wouldn't it be neat if the homeless guys decorated their tent for the holiday? If they do, I'll be sure to post a picture.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

All you can eat ribs

So last night after doing some shopping, we decided to eat at Montana's cookhouse. I, of course, decided to have the all-you-can-eat-ribs since it was a Wednesday, and that is the Wednesday special.

Holy crap, they's got some good ribs there. I skipped breakfast this morning, and will probably have to go vegetarian for a week, but man was it worth it.

After about the third extra helping of ribs, one of the waiters asked me if I had a hollow leg. All I know for certain is that I might have ribs once or twice a year, so when I do, I like to eat 'em. My wife was thoroughly entertained which I suppose is good, since she doesn't eat beef or pork. It's okay though, because I got her a treat while we were at the mall. And yes, she also ate at the restaurant.

Montana's serves three types of ribs, with at least three different sauces. I had some pork back ribs (less fatty than side ribs) and a beef rib. I tried all of the sauces liked them all equally. I must say, the beef rib was monstrous in size. It comes as a single rib, instead of a rack of about eight pork ribs. I had the staff wrap the beef bone in foil, so I could bring it home for my dog. I really should try to get a picture of this little dog gnawing on a bone that is easily as long as she is. Well, it used to be - she's been at it for a while now.

If my mouth still waters at the thought of those ribs, does that make me a glutton?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Brian Rogers sucks as a Realtor...

...and I'll tell you why: When we were looking to buy a home, we contacted Brian Rogers and his crew. Multiple times. We did not hear back from them. Not regarding the listed houses we were interested in, or to hear about any other homes they could show us. (That would have been nice.)

Fast forward to now. We found a condo and have been there for little over a year. A couple months ago, the phone calls from Brian Rogers and crew started. They were wondering if we were interested in selling our condo. We politely declined the first few times, but thought it was odd that we were suddenly being contacted by this team, since they clearly wanted nothing to do with us before.

But Brian doesn't take 'no' for an answer. After the third or fourth call, I got tired of hearing my name mis-pronounced and tired of telling them the same thing. So I started to get 'less polite' and requested that they stop calling me on this. If I wanted to sell my home, I was perfectly capable of locating a realtor for the job.

So then they sent a guy to knock on our door, to offer us the same pitch. Unbelievable. Again, we told him 'no' and I was surprisingly polite to the guy. In addition to the junk mail flyers we usually get from about four different realtors (Brian's team included,) we started to get personalized letters informing us of how much other units in our complex have sold for and would we like them to sell our condo for us please? Brian would be 'honoured' to serve us.

At what point does this stop being advertising and start being harrassment?

For the record: I will NEVER do business with Brian Rogers or his team. They simply do not treat me with the respect I would expect as a client and clearly do not listen. I would not reccomend their services to anyone, and would go so far as to reccomend any of several other quality realtors, like Pat and David Dyck, with Century21. I will also actively monitor further communication received from Brian Rogers and his crew and document it here. Way to piss off your client base, Brian.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Stress Test

Today was a followup appointment regarding my ongoing chest pains. I was scheduled to have a stress test. Don't worry Eric, I decided against posting topless pictures of me all hooked up to the ECG machine.

As far as stress tests go, this one was kinda weird. There was no talk about release schedules, testing performance or pending overtime. They didn't even get me to call my wife and hurl insults, (that would be stressful) or talk politics. To make matters even worse, the doctor and assistants were even friendly and kept putting me at ease. How was I supposed to get stressed in this environment. Luckily, just thinking about that started to get me nervous. Oh yeah, the shaving - I had to have specific spots on my chest and abdomen shaved for the contacts. So now I have several bald spots in the middle of my chest. The nurse's response was 'hey, at least it's not beach season.' The treadmill helped a bit too, although they were very cautious and didn't really push my limits too far. I guess that's a good thing though.

The bottom line is that nothing dramatic happened during the test. I didn't suffer cardiac arrest and the only time some numbers on the ECG machine went into the red was when they were supposed to. My doctor will study the results and meet with me in a few weeks to go over what it all means. But I'll probably have that heart attack if I hear back before the new year.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Please make it stop!

Nov 25 2005
Please make it stop.
This morning I was looking at green grass, could clearly see the homeless tent villiage and even saw some sunshine make it's way through the cloud cover.

But now look at it! The snow is back, my tires are still bald (I'm going to head over to Canadian Tire after work to fix that) and everybody around me seems to actually LIKE the weather change. Especially the guy I told to work from home this afternoon, since he lives further away.

At least the frost isn't here yet, so I'm hoping it doesn't last long. It's really hard to maintain a sense of denial when winter slaps you in the face like this.
Me, staring in disbelief

Kevin snapped the second picture as I stopped to look out the window. The photo is much darker than reality (our office lighting isn't THAT bad, honest!) but I liked how it changed the mood of the photo. Like how I slipped in that Kevin took the photo? That was because he released it under the Creative Commons license. Technically, I had to ask him to modify it as well, since he did not expressly give me rights to do so until I 'had a little chat' with him. Technically, that's the legal way of handling situations like this.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Embarrassing Birthday Post

Ha ha, it's Kevin's birthday today, and he turns a whopping 32. For those who don't know, Kevin works for me (and he's pictured here) and I'm kinda hoping he's easily embarrassed.

Not that I'll have much trouble if he's not. Just look how uncomfortable he is in the photo.

Kevin's a quiet guy, so it's hard to dig up some good dirt on him. His blog doesn't provide many clues either. Just a bunch of photos he took with his fancy camera and stuff like that.

One thing that is undeniable about Kevin is that he's a gamer. That means he likes guns. That's pretty much a given for gamers, right? He's also into many aspects of Japanese culture and has visited there on at least one occasion. But then, that's pretty close to being a given for gamers in general as well, right?

Anyway, happy birthday Kevin. Hope you enjoy your prime rib and pacho fries tonight.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Complications with the non-uvula

Originally uploaded by iTripped.
You know, most days I don't miss my uvula at all. A little background: a couple years ago I had it removed in a (failed) attempt to stop snoring. I also suffered from sleep apnea and luckily, the procedure cured me of that instantly.

As I said, most days I don't notice a difference at all. But yesterday was miserable. One of the side effects of not having a uvula are an increased chance of food falling into your windpipe (it's supposed to help block the pipe when swallowing). Yesterday I must have choked about 4 times, from sipping coffee, chewing a breath mint, attempting to eat while climbing stairs and when paying for food at a restaurant. Drinking water does not usually help, since the problem tends to be in my windpipe and the general plan is to prevent food and drink from going in that direction. So I have to cough my guts out and hope for the best. This sometimes works. In the picture, the inflamed areas on the sides of my mouth are a direct result of my coughing fits.

It's not all bad. Now that I don't have the sleep apnea, I am able to fall into a deep sleep, instead of hovering in REM sleep all night. (Generally speaking, that's what happens to apnea sufferers, since the body doesn't dare fall into deep sleep in case it needs to force itself awake to start breathing again.) Now, no matter how relaxed I am at night, my air passages are not blocked. So it was still worth getting my uvula removed, even with the occasional coughing fit.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Another level of Hell froze over

...and this time it's a good thing. Apparently, Dell is finally about to start selling computers with AMD processors.

Could this be possible as a result of the lawsuit AMD filed against Intel? At the very least, it makes it much more difficult for poor Intel to punish Dell for straying from the fold.

Whatever the reason, I really don't care. I'm actually excited to see Dell offer an AMD product. I think AMD has an excellent product and it's about time Dell started moving on it. One thing is for sure, with this development we are going to find out real fast if AMD's past problems were because of Intel's marketing clout, or AMD's supply issues.

Friday, November 18, 2005

More fallout from Sony's bad karma

I will assume you didn't need me to tell you about Sony's decision to include a rootkit on about fifty-two of the CDs they released. Bad Sony, for selling music CDs that install the rootkit, then ask if you mind it installing additional files, and if you say no, not cleaning them off. Then someone had the nerve to write a virus that took advantage of it.

Then there were the licence violation accusations. It would seem that the rootkit took advantage of some open source software that is licensed under the GPL. Bad, bad Sony for not distributing the source files.

What with all the fuss over the rootkit, people started to take a closer look at what Sony was installing on people's computers. Turns out, in addition to a rootkit, Sony was also installing some spyware, courtesy of Media Max.

Looks like Sony just can't win. Now they have a USB scandal on their hands. Search the site, get a surprise. Of course, they have since updated their site, but el Reg is kind enough to show it's readers what they are missing.

It will be interesting to see what the effect of all of this is on Sony. I've heard from a lot of people that they are seriously considering a boycott of Sony products. At the very least, Sony burned up a lot of customer goodwill this holiday season. Not much more than that to say, I guess. The linked articles speak for themselves.

UPDATE: Here's a nice handy timeline of Sony's rootkit woes since things started to surface.

Kelowna gets all the good Mayoral candiates

For those who don't already know, we are in the midst of municipal elections. Kelowna is the city just south of us, and they are also in full campaign mode. One of the local TV stations has put video of each candidate introducing themselves and their platform on their website.

You all must watch the video for Andrew Uitvlugt.

It's a little convoluted, but here's how you get there: First, go to the home page for OKBC TV. From there, scroll to the bottom and click in the area that says "OKBC TV Exclusive. Click here to view video profile of the mayor and council candidates for the City of Kelowna." Andrew is the second name in the list. Click his name and watch the video.

Reader exercise: What's your favorite part of Andrew's speech?

UPDATE: I was so impressed with Andrew's file that I contacted the TV station and requested a copy. Here is my response:

Andrew has had lots of success with his videoprofile, I can only release his video if he gives you and me written autorization and a recovery cost of $50 to convert the video to DVD format.
Contact Andrew and ask him for his autorization first, secondly please send us a cheque for $50 to make a DVD for you.

Okay, I can completely understand the permission part, but $50 for a DVD? I must say I'm very tempted to put it on my Christmas gift list. Maybe if the DVD had bonus features, like more footage of Andrew, perhaps with a whiteboard to illustrate his ideas.

Oh, and for anyone who has trouble with the video, I did find a PDF that encapsulates his views. Unfortunately, it's a very sanitized version that doesn't capture the essence of the video profile. Also, here's an MP3 of a radio interview Andrew gave on Wednesday with 580 CFRA News Talk Radio.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tent Village forming

Tent Village
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
For the past few weeks, a gathering of homeless people have been busy building some shelter for winter. I get to see it all happen from my office window.

And yes, today it started to snow in Vernon. I'm not exactly thrilled about it.

But back to the tent village. The picture shown here probably doesn't give you much in the way of detail, but I figured it was a good enough balance between that and their privacy. It's the least I could do, since I'm here blogging about them on the internet, a forum to which they are almost certainly without access.

The police know of their existence, I have seen them over for at least one visit. I'm guessing that so long as they don't disturb anyone, the cops will leave 'em alone for the winter.

Did I mention that it started to snow today? And that I'm not pleased?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Flying Spaghetti Monster on Ebay

Yes, that's right - the Flying Spaghetti Monster (plush toy) is now up for sale on ebay. The seller has promised to donate the proceeds of the sale to the National Center for Science Education, and his employer has promised to match any donation up to $1000 US.

For those of you who don't already know, the Churchof the Flying Spaghetti Monster was formed in response to the decision of a certain school board in Kansas for insisting that Intelligent Design be taught in schools, alongside the theory of Evolution. The idea has certainly taken off in a big way, with the author of the original letter to the school board being given a hefty advance to write a book.

It's important to note that even the Pope has given support to the theory of evolution, distancing himself from Intelligent Design. It just goes to show that not all Christians are threatened by Darwin and his theory.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I must have cheated on the test

I took another one of those web surveys, this one to determine if you are a Nerd, Geek or Dork. Since I can't really link to my results, I'll paste them here (oh joy):

Modern, Cool Nerd

60 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 26% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 51% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 73% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 38% on dork point

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Monday, November 07, 2005

Looking back can help us go forward

Okay, first things first: everybody step back from the pomposity of the posts' title. I am in no way going to offer insight or guidance in today's shot from the hip. I just had trouble writing a title for today.

First up is a blogger who noticed his local car dealer was having a difficult time selling Hummers. I had a whole lot of crap written down about it, but decided it wasn't worth it. The blog post is funny because it's true. Even if I won the lottery, I would have no interest in buying a Hummer. I would really hate to be a car salesman for these guys. Tough times.

Next, we have an op-ed piece that talks about the riots in France. The thing that caught my eye here was that he suggests France abstained from the war on Iraq not because of deteriorating relationships with the US, or an interest in oil, but rather out of a position of weakness. France has a lot of Muslim immigrants, many from Africa and the Middle East. They fill the suburbs that surround French cities. Mark Steyn suggests they knew how explosive their domestic situation was and decided they couldn't risk an unpopular war. Interesting stuff, especially since the riots are slowly escalating and have already claimed their first casualty.

So after hitting you twice with the heavy side of what is going on in the world today, I figured it was time to numb your senses with something meaningless. It's a list of the top 100 Greatest Internet moments. Some are truly great, others I'd rather forget and others I never knew about. But I will say this: after exploring some of this list, I forgot all about Hummers or France.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I had an ECG test today

Yesterday I was experiencing chest pains that were bad enough to prompt me to call the doctor. I said the magic phrase 'Family History' and they decided to bump a few appointments to clear a spot for me that day, as opposed to scheduling for today. I gotta be more careful how I use that phrase.

While my doctor is good, I get the impression that she specializes in delivering babies and helping women through pregnancy. So I wasn't surprised that after taking my blood pressure and listening to my heart, she referred me to a cardiologist. Along with that, she arranged for me to have some blood work done, as well as an Electrocardiogram, or an ECG for short. It's the test that reports back the electrical activity going on in your heart, with output like what is pictured here. (No, that is not my test result. I shamelessly stole this one from the internet.)

In order to collect the test data, I needed to strip down to the waist, and also make sure my ankles were exposed. From there, leads were applied to each ankle, and to about 8 different places across my chest. It's not painful until the doctor starts removing the sticky tabs from your chest, and only then if you happen to lose a few hairs. The doctor's cold hands were a greater concern.

The other part of why I was at the medical clinic today was to collect blood. That meant I had to fast for at least 10 hours prior to arrival. I'm guessing that most people do like I did and show up first thing in the morning, since fasting through the day would really suck. I normally hate getting needles stuck in me, but this was okay. Better than my average trip to the dentist, at least. At least now they will have an idea of just how bad my cholesterol is.

Hopefully all of this will help the doctor determine what caused my discomfort yesterday, and ideally, what I can do to prevent it from happening again.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Trolling the net catches a mixed bag of things

A medley of topics for today, beginning with a statistical representation of datum collected about suicides off of the Golden Gate bridge. The obvious conclusion is that walkers kill themselves more than bikers, and people who drive never commit suicide on the bridge. Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. It gets very foggy there at times. Would you rather jump on a clear day, or in the fog, when you would not see the rapidly approaching water? Morbid discussion perhaps, but it's been that kind of a day.

Next up is Repetitive Information Injury, which although is relevant and very real, is not so much of an injury as a complete waste of time. As in, that's the effect of the disorder. I'm not trying to say the article is a waste. Please, go read it. Now.

For those who want to do stuff on the web, but don't know where to look, I suggest this helpful site. It provides many links to free and popular tools people use to do all sorts of internet related activities. Not so much a discussion topic, I know. But in the theme of handy, here's a site that lets you make custom t-shirt designs and promises rapid turnaround.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Had a little vacaction

Holly and I took off for Victoria over the weekend, for a much needed weekend away. We checked the dog into the kennel, (which she thoroughly enjoyed, by the way), stocked up the cat's food, locked the door and ran away for a few days.

One nice thing about this trip was that we flew, as opposed to driving and taking the ferry. Probably would have cost about the same anyway, what with the price of gas these days. I refrained from taking dozens of pictures of the airplanes.

Our first destination is pictured here. It's the English Inn and Resort. It was very scenic, with manicured grounds and Victorian architecture. Instead of one building, there were a collection of smaller buidings, each with several rooms in them. Our biggest complaint was that these are older buildings that suffer from older buiding problems like single pane glass, older grouting in the bathroom tiles (yuck) and little in the way of sound proofing. It sounded like a gang of about eight (half being children) were staying in the room next to us, and we woke up to their loud conversation in the parking lot the next morning. But it is what it is, and I am sure there are people who just love this sort of place.

We did a lot of exploring in Victoria, including a drive along Oak Bay and a stop at Cattle Point Scenic Loop. This is the kind of shoreline that I like, probably because it reminds me of where I am from. We did other tourist activities, like have afternoon tea, but basically spent most of our time exploring the city.

Late that afternoon we headed north to Sidney, where we were booked to spend a night at Miraloma on the Cove. Simply put, this place was fantastic. Freshly renovated, it was luxurious, clean and had all the extras like included high speed internet, a kitchenette, continental breakfast and a DVD player in the room. And we were staying in the smallest room! We were given the chance to upgrade for a minimal fee, but since we were only going to be there one night, we stayed in our originally booked suite. We ended up eating at a local sushi restaurant, which was packed. (always a good sign). We ate light, having had many snacks earlier in the day, plus the hotel we were staying at had free hot chocolate and cookies after 9:00 pm. But what we did have was superb, and the staff were very competent and polite. Eating here reminded us what we were missing back in Vernon. The sushi at home just doesn't compare.

Sunday was basically spent travelling back home, collecting up the dog and settling in early. We had a layover at Vancouver International, so my cousins came over to visit with us for a few hours, which was nice. Another whirlwind vacation completed, another week of work yet to begin. Ugh, makes me want to go on vacation just thinking about it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy Halloween

They had a pumpkin carving contest at work today, and here is a shot of several choice ones. Sadly, I was in a meeting at the time, so I missed out on the festivities. But I was there in spirit!

Halloween is one of those interesting holidays that is only fun when everybody is on board and decides to participate. Throwing a costume party is no fun if half the people decide not to dress up at all. Giving candy to the kids is no fun when their parents truck them around to the 'hot spots' in town and only 4 or 5 kids actually arrive at your door.

Halloween is a chance for people to get a little crazy, have some fun and have a good time. I'm sure there is a deeper meaning behind the holiday, but like most people, I don't take it that far. Halloween is not my religion. Let me take that one a step further: my religion is not threatened by the concept of Halloween either. My God is one who enjoys greeting little kids at the door all night long, not one who prohibits me from participating because of some obscure pagan heritage. If that were the case, there would be a lot more holidays than just Halloween that would be off the list.

Anyway, once again I got off task. All I was really supposed to do was say 'have a happy halloween' to the one or two people who still read this. See you in November.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dang, my blog is worthless

So over at Business Opportunities they have a web application that determines the worth of your blog. I thought to myself: 'hmm... this could be interesting.' I'll save you the effort of entering my blog address into the calculator:

'Your blog, http://www.itripped.blogspot.com/, is worth $0.00'

I then decided to try entering the Business Opportunities page, and discovered that they too were worthless. Suddenly I'm not feeling so bad. Even Groklaw came up with no value, which surprised me somewhat since it was in CNet's Top 100 Blogs list. By this point I was sure I had missed something in how value was determined. I figured I should at least read past the title of the article. And sure enough, the app is only concerned with sites that link back to Weblogs Inc. as referenced by the AOL deal. So I tried one of those sites, and voila, I got the pie-in-the-sky results I was looking for:

'Your blog, http://www.engadget.com, is worth $7,708,229.16'

The biggest problem with this number is that while AOL might be willing to pay this number to Weblogs Inc., I seriously doubt that the engadget posters get to see any of this coin. Which means the money is still in the hosting/providing/publishing end of the buisness and not in the writing/creating end. At least, not for anybody using these free blogging services who chooses not to bombard the reader with advertising.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Why we don't have a mosquito problem

On returning home last night after work, I discovered this personable creature on my walkway. While not the largest spider I have seen around here, it certainly wasn't a small one.

Suddenly, I'm glad I don't live on the ground floor.

However, because it is getting colder around here, this little fella wasn't very responsive. Oh I nudged him to see if he was alive (yes) but his movements were slow. So naturally, I decide to take his picture. Captive audience, meet captive subject.

Anyway, judging by his size, I figured he has already done this community a huge service by eating the mosquitoes, hornets and other insects that are in the area, so I let him live.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Try palmreading this

Okay, so this is what my hand looked like after assembling some Ikea furniture. I started out thinking that a regular screwdriver would be fine for the job, and that using a drill to set the screws would be overkill. By the time my hand got sore, I was 'mostly done' and it didn't seem worth it to break out the drill. The next day I noticed a bruise running across my palm, from the handle of the screwdriver.

I guess it's pretty obvious that these hands don't see a lot of manual labour.

We were able to start some tiling work in the kitchen as well. I think I like tiling, at least on the walls. It's like drywall without the excessive sanding. Of course, I'm saying this before we apply any of the grout, so I could have a change of heart later on. Of course, this neccessitated another trip to the hardware store, which is always fun for me. I had an excuse to purchase yet another bit for my dremel (to cut tiles) and also got some clamps that were on sale in addition to the needed supplies for the tile project.

Reader exercise: Give a palm reading based on the image in this post. Points will be awarded for creativity. Oh, and if you are going to give a 'legitimate' reading, please indicate as much, so I don't assume you are writing fiction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Look

Well it was time for a change. I'm not sure if I am entirely happy with the new look for this site, but it is probably an improvement over the generic template from before. At least the formatting is mostly out of the way, making it easier for me to update the background image in the future. This of course assumes I come up with a suitable idea for a background. Feel free to make suggestions.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Desk with a view

Oct 04-2005
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
Yes, the leaves are starting to turn colour. And the clouds are rolling in more frequently these days. Walking the dog is a brisk affair now, and is starting to require gloves at night. I looked out my window at work, noticed a rainbow, and took a picture.

And yes, it's not the best rainbow ever, I already know that.

Lately I have been playing Pepsi's contest to win an Xbox 360. Coke could stand to learn a few things from Pepsi when it comes to contests. I hesitate to share the link, because I'm greedy and want to win an Xbox for myself first. What? At least I'm honest about it. Hopefully I'll win early so I don't start dreaming about the repetitive surveys Pepsi makes you fill out in order to play. Oh well, if that's the price, I'm buying.

As soon as I posted this, I noticed I already had a comment. A spam comment. Blogger spam is really starting to suck.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Still off Caffeine

So this is week two of my non-caffeine trip. I am now back to waking up normally, and able to function, but find I am just a little sluggish throughout the day. No more headaches though, so I'm happy about that.

Yesterday I chipped my front tooth while eating. Not very noticeable to others, but very bothersome for me. So I guess I'll be calling the dentist yet again. (I was there 3 times last month, for a cleaning and two cavities.) And no, it wasn't the wife's cooking to blame. I bit my fork. Don't ask me how it happened, I was probably groggy from not having a good cup of coffee.

Oh yeah - and is it just me, or is it colder around here all of a sudden? I just hate the way summer ends in Vernon - it's like jumping off a cliff. One day it's beach weather, and the next you need a fleece just to walk the dog. Whatever happened to gradual changes in the weather?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Caffeine withdrawl (again)

I really like coffee. A lot. If I had my way, I'd probably drink several cups of it every morning, and enjoy every one of them. Problem is, I get hooked on caffeine easily and this gets very bad if I ever skip a day.

Last weekend is a classic example of this.

Saturday morning we get up early to explore various garage sales in the area. I didn't have coffee, and was extraordinarily grumpy for the most part. By supper time that evening I had a headache that Advil couldn't fix. That's usually enough of a warning sign for me, so once again I have to give up the good stuff and switch back to decaf.

It's been four days now, and I have not had regular coffee or caffinated soda since. (They were my two main sources of caffeine.) I still have about a cup of decaf coffee in the morning when I arrive at work, mostly because a cup of coffee in the morning is part of my routine. The worst of the headaches seems to be over, but I do miss the 'liquid-sleep' effect I got from a good cup of joe. I may have to start going to bed earlier to compensate.

Oh yeah, and if anyone likes the image in this post, I highly reccomend checking out Liquid Sculpture. It's a great site where they take high speed photos of liquid drops (if that wasn't obvious already.) And thanks Martin Waugh, for granting me permission to display one of your photos. (FYI, he took the picture and owns copywrite, etc.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hockey game

Wounded linesman
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
Last night was pretty good. I managed to get some free hockey tickets for the local game, and a nice, home cooked meal as well.

We missed the first few minutes of the game, but that was acceptable to me, since the food was good. By the time we arrived, the home team had already scored once. Bonus!

After kicking people out of our seats, (yes really) we settled in to watching the game. The two teams were equally matched, so it was pretty exciting. However, the Vipers started to get sloppy late in the game and they let the Capitals score a couple goals to tie things up.

Stinky Players
They smelled so bad we imagined
cartoon 'stink lines' on 'em.

So into overtime we go. This is when the really interesting things started to happen. The fights got longer, players collided with linesmen, started making tired mistakes and REALLY STARTED TO SMELL BAD. I can't stress this last point enough. Look at the photos, you will see that we were sitting roughly 5 rows back from the benches, and by the third period, we were joking about drawing cartoon 'stink lines' on the players.

After the first scoreless overtime period, we went into a second O/T period, this time 3 on 3. It was a different twist on things, with a much more open ice to play on, but the net result (no pun intended) was still the same: scoreless.

But that's okay. A tie is not a loss. It's just a really long game that you don't win.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Talk like a pirate day - Sept 19

Listen up ye scurvey dogs, it's Talk like a pirate day, so don't be forgettin the formal regalia and salty speech. There are parrots aplenty, and enough booty to go 'round, so be hoisting yer cups and drinking the rum. Today's a day to be speakin' the pirate slang.

Yarr. Just so's you be knowin', it's the drinking of the rum that's me favorite part.

Hydrogen generation for existing cars

I have a new hero and his name is Joe Williams Sr.

The Montreal Gazette is reporting today about an invention he is hoping to bring to market. The general idea is this: by adding hydrogen into the fuel mix, gas burns much cleaner, and more efficiently. This means that more pollutants are burned in the chamber, and less pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Traditional problems with hydrogen have been things like how to safely store it under pressure. This invention bypasses that by only generating enough hydrogen as is needed, meaning you don't have to store any of it under pressure.

Bottom line, if you install this (or more accurately, a commercial version of this) into your car, you will notice slightly better fuel economy, but more importantly, you will have installed a system that removes much more pollutants from being released into the air. More info can be found here, although it's a bit heavy on the hype.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Return of the iBook

We finally got our iBook back yesterday.

It took TWO WEEKS to fix an ethernet connector. I like my computer, but to be honest, I'm not so thrilled about the Applecare program, and even less enthused about Simply Computing (the local reseller.)

Let's see if I can get this straight - you all know my memory is bad, and the beginning of this was so long ago. Anyway, the problem we had was the little plastic clip on our ethernet connector broke off after a year of use. I don't fault Apple for that, it was a part that did see heavy use with us. So I take the laptop into Simply Computing, so they can repair it.

PROBLEM #1: I am informed that to fix my ethernet connector, the ENTIRE LOGIC BOARD must be replaced. This is just poor design. I don't care what people normally say about Jonathan Ive, his attention to detail obviously does not include care for maintainability. All of the connectors are conveniently placed on the left edge of the laptop - why was this not made into an easily replaceable part, since it would naturally see the most wear and tear? Anyway, I told the reseller I didn't care, since I have Applecare and expect all of that would be covered under warranty. This leads me to...

PROBLEM #2: The reseller informs me that they don't have any iBook logic boards in stock. When I suggest they get one, I am informed that he CAN'T until I call Applecare Customer Support, to get a Customer Support Number, and a Case File Number. Only then can he order the damn part. I suggest taking my computer to a different reseller to do the repair, but am informed that they can get the job done much faster, since the 'other guys' have to ship the computer off to Vancouver to do the repair. What he did NOT tell me was that he would be ordering the part from the US, and that it would have to clear customs before it would get to his store. Since the other guys consolidate all the repairs in one site, I suspect they might have had my part on hand. Especially since if just about anything goes wrong with an iBook, it's an automatic logic board replacement.

PROBLEM #3: So I call Applecare. As it turns out, they had no record of me purchasing Applecare for my computer, so I must first demonstrate that I not only purchased it, but that it was done within the allowable time frame. (I've had my iBook just over a year, hence their concern.) This was bureaucracy at its finest, but we persisted nonetheless. I emerged with my CS number and Case File. Oh yeah - I might add that Applecare operates 9-5 EASTERN standard time, which might be great for those in Montreal, but really sucks for those of us on the West Coast. It is not unreasonable to expect Customer Service to be open at least until 8:00 PM LOCAL standard time. This is a huge failing of Applecare, as it means I either take time off work to resolve anything, or have to get up at some insanely early hour.

Like my links to Applecare so far? Me neither. Love the machine, hate the service. For my wife, it's fast becoming a hate/hate thing though. Way to create a potential reverse switcher, Apple.

Problem #4: I mentioned customs earlier, right? I would think that a reseller that depends on a single source for stock, parts and other supplies would have a customs agent or broker to ensure uninterrupted supply lines. Simply not the case here, I guess. Simply Computing ordered the logic board from Apple on Sept. 2. I know this because as soon as I got the CS number I called them, and he ordered the part while I was on the phone. Good for them, I thought. This is encouraging. It took until Sept. 15 for the part to arrive. That's THIRTEEN days! Part of the blame lies with Simply, for not having a proper customs agent to expedite cross border deliveries, and part of the problem lies with Applecare, and part lies with Purolator (the courier that took their time delivering the goods.) Divide it how you like, so long as all parties are smeared.

Problem #5: I live about an hour's drive away from Simply Computing. They know this, as I have told them several times (usually when re-entering my address into yet another database) and also because it's common sense that if you live in town B instead of town A, you won't be able to arrive at the store before closing if you call half an hour before. The basic problem here is that we found Simply Computing to be Simply Uninformative. I had to chase down the CS number. I had to call Applecare to find out which courier and what tracking number to use, even though Simply Computing already had that information. The day the part arrived, they should have called to say so. At that time I would have been able to tell them when I was able to pick it up, and he could have scheduled accordingly. Who knows, I might not have been able to make the trip for a few days - he would have had extra time. Or, as was the case, I was willing to come in that day to get the computer back. Either way, it boils down to a lack of communication on the part of Simply Computing.

Lessons learned: If there is a next time, I'll take my chances with the local reseller, even though they have to ship my computer off to repair it. I still have to deal with Applecare, but my wife swears that our next computer will run Windows. She was really put off by this whole experience, but even before that, wasn't thrilled that roughly a quarter of the websites she wanted to visit didn't support Macs. If I do buy another Apple product, instead of buying Applecare I would probably put the same amount of cash into a savings account or something. That way, by the time something minor breaks and I have to replace the entire logic board to fix it, I'll have the money to do so, and won't have to go through Applecare.

Apple, if you really want to break into the double digits for market share, I seriously suggest you take a hard look at your customer support. It's got some good things going for it, but it also has some things that clearly need fixing. If I was alone in this, I could be ignored. But judging by the 30 seconds I spent on google, there are many more like me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Now THAT was a wedding!

Garter Retrieval
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
There are generally two types of weddings. Good ones, and great ones. Over the weekend, I was at one of the great ones.

Eric, Cathy, congratulations.

I'm not going to get too deep into the details on this. I'll just say the wedding was traditional, classy, global (people came from as far away as Indonesia and Australia) and a whole lot of fun.

In the photo, Eric has just removed the garter off of Cathy (with his teeth) and my wife exclaimed (for the whole room to hear) "That's a GOOD husband!" I think we were all a little bit disappointed when no fistfights broke out between the single ladies over the bridal boquet though.

Thanks for a great time, Eric and Cathy. And again, congrats.

Cutting the cake
Originally uploaded by iTripped.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sean Penn is my hero

UPDATE: It looks like the news sources I commented on yesterday were not telling the whole story about Sean Penn. While it is true that his boat was leaky and the engine was not working, and it was full of camera crew, etc. what was not reported was that Sean had arranged for more than one boat, and had actually managed to bring people out of flooded areas. I don't care how many cameras he had on scene - at least he's out there helping, and I can't really fault him for that. So Sean, my apologies for being hasty in my conclusions.

I'm still not 100% behind celebrity reporting of disasters, but am starting to realize that it probably something of an accepted norm in that industry. They are making a positive difference by being there, so maybe I need to re-think my position on this. After all, the camera are great for raising awareness of what is actually going on right now, making it more difficult for an attempted coverup. That reason alone makes the cameras worthwhile.

Here's the text of the original post I made. I decided not to remove it, despite my change in opinion.

Sean Penn has stooped to a new low, and even he knows it. Anyone low enough to try to capitalize on the New Orleans disaster deserves to be shot, and Sean Penn wisely equipped himself with a flak jacket for just such an occasion.

Saturday Night Live couldn't have scripted this one better if they tried.

Yes, his boat was leaky. No, the engine did not work. Yes, he brought a personal photographer. Maybe he was able to capture the cynicism live on film. Yes, he also brought along a group of friends. Ultimately they made good engine substitutes. Yes, he is selling copies of the photos. (I'll add a link if I can find one - for now, it's only mentioned in news articles like here.)

This really upsets me. Sean, if you really were trying to help and not trying to gain publicity, or to create a platform to rage against the government, you would not have thought it essential to bring along a photographer. Truly good deeds are only good when they are done for the sake of others, not for personal glory. Stunts like this really make a person questions your motives for helping. I saw you in Iraq and thought, 'here is a man who is motivated to change things for the better.' But today I see you and think 'here is a man who is trashing the image of social activists everywhere.'

Bottom line, you are hurting more than your own rep, Mr. Penn. Next time just write a check if you really feel like helping. Leave the rescue efforts to people who actually own a working boat.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What's left to say?

You know, I was going to post something that expressed some of what I'm feeling over the New Orleans disaster, but realized that to do so, I would require yet another blog that was more anonymous. I just don't have much good to say about it, I guess, and would hate to put something up now, only for it to come back on me later.

Impotence is realizing you live paycheck to paycheck, and don't have the ability to run off and help people in need whenever disaster strikes. One thing is for sure - I'll be at least matching the amount I gave to Tsunami relief to help the people in New Orleans.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Scuba Diving in New Orleans

There is enough information linked on the web that talks about the disaster in New Orleans, so my linking to it seems redundant. Still, as details come out, this is becoming a disaster of huge proportions. With the city wiped out, still underwater and even with water removed still below sea level and in the path of future hurricaines, does it make sense to return to New Orleans? Suppose you are a resident and your home has been flooded/wiped out. Chances are, you also lost your place of employment. Would now be a good time to relocate? Assuming they pump the water out of the French Quarter, is there any good reason to invest in property there again?

If you do, perhaps you should buy a boat.

But to get to the main point of this post, it got me to thinking. I suppose there will be scuba divers who, if not already, will soon be diving into the flooded areas of New Orleans for various purposes. These dives would be very unique and also potentially hazardous. I suppose diving would be a handy activity for the many looters who are currently redistributing wealth, and it will be an obvious activity for those trying to repair the water pumps. Search and Rescue might possibly utilize divers, although that would likely be the grisly duty of body retrieval at this point.

Plus, it's gotta be quite gross diving there. Raw sewage, decomposing bodies, bacteria and tons of silt would all make it smell bad and reduce underwater visibility to near zero. Any diver would be at a great risk of catching diseases, to say the least. There would also be a danger of puking into the regulator, which while that sounds a bit silly, can be a real concern if you are submerged inside a building with no rapid way to an alternate air source.

Ah yes, buildings. They say most aren't built to withstand water like this, so they will be very unstable. Probably moreso once the water has been pumped out though. Local authorities have been warning people about all sorts of animals as well, including snakes, crocodiles and one report of a 3-4 foot shark 'cruising the streets.' I had to link that one because nobody would believe me otherwise. Maybe soon we will know the answer to the question "If a shark and a crocodile got in a fight, who would win?"

But despite the dangers, grimness and grossness, it would be truly unique. There aren't many submerged urban areas in the world, and of those, this is probably the only one that isn't yet grown over with aqua life. If the visibility improves over the next few days, it could also make for some amazingly surreal photos (like a snapshot of said shark, swimming past a street sign.) I just hope the divers that do go down in New Orleans are busy helping out people and not busy looting.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stinging Nettle or Cactus attack pod?

On the weekend, while walking my dog, we were beseiged by the pictured attacker. I'm not quite sure what it is called, but it looked like a small chunk of cactus and the spikes it had were all barbed so that once it was stuck in you, it didn't come out easily.

Honestly, I'm not sure how vindictive a plant has to be in order to develop such a defense mechanism.

This was first noticed when my dog started favoring one of her rear paws. Removal was anything but straightforward. In order to grab it, I had to impale my fingers on the spikes enough to get a good grip and then pull it off of the paw. After the first attempt, my dog was less thrilled with this plan. Instead of sitting patiently while I went to work, she decided to pull away, not wanting me to mess with her sore foot. Still, she did not growl or get too upset with me, so I can't complain.

Of course, once I had it off of the dog, I then had to figure out a way to get it off of me. Like I said, it stuck to anything it touched. I eventually managed to flick it off me somehow, only to notice that my dog had stumbled across another one. Obviously, this was not the best destination for our walk that day.

After removing the second cactus-thing, we took a moment to catch our breath and I snapped a few pictures of the area. I already had the camera out, as my goal was to get some more shots of the dog. You can see them on her blog. Needless to say, we won't be visiting that field any time in the near future.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thirty Five

Thirty Five
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
Let me just say I'm one of those people who enjoy birthdays. I tell people, I'm not embarrassed about my age (even though I don't always act it) and I enjoy the extra attention.

I also enjoy the free stuff. Note the meal in the picture. Yup, free on your birthday.* Thank you, Kelly O'Bryan's. It sure was tasty.

Hey speaking of restaurants, last night's waiter looked like Topher Grace from That Seventies Show. No seriously, he was a dead ringer. So the whole night, I'm wanting to say something to him, but my wife insists I don't. Despite hoisting a couple Guinness during the meal, I somehow managed to not say anything. Then later we discover that our waiter Brynn is headed to North Carolina to study acting. My head nearly exploded. Acting? Surely Brynn is aware of the resemblance. Somehow, Holly was able to get me out of the restaurant before I had an opportunity to say anything.

So thank you honey for taking me out for the night. I had a really good time and was happy to spend it with you.

* - not actually 100% free. Kelly O's gives a free birthday meal, up to a value of $17.00. So more like heavily discounted.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Back home

Okay, so the trip to Vancouver was a success. Barely. Problem number one: as we are approaching Merritt (roughly halfway to Vancouver) I realize that I have forgotten the house key for the place we were staying. So the first thing I had to do on getting into town was to call someone who might have a key that we can borrow. Managed to do that (Thank you Tim and Cynowa) and got settled in for the night.

Problem number two was gift-wrapping the baby shower gifts. We scoured the lower mainland, but were not able to find a suitable gift box for the presents. We eventually settled on a gift-wrapping service, which turned out to be okay, if not the ideal solution. But it shot the better part of a day sorting it all out. The evening was spent with friends, and I got a couple early birthday gifts (which is always good).

Now for all of you who are wondering if baby showers are better with beer, first let me just say that I can be a complete moron at times. I really should have called Lloyd the day before the shower to confirm plans. Instead of the boys being out back drinking beer, the ladies made use of the back yard for their baby shower, and the boys fled to the water for a boat ride. So we show up, and I now have no way of contacting the guys, because their cell phones weren't working on the water. (damn older model Sony Ericcsons!) However, I had a few clues as to where they would be, so I set off to find them. Hey, it was better than staying at the baby shower.

Okay, so after a few hours, I have given up trying to find them. I did manage to have a nice Sunday drive, and a relaxing walk along the beach though, so I wasn't in a bad mood. In fact, I was feeling great. I figured I would head back to the baby shower in case Holly was getting bored. On arrival, I discovered that she was having a pretty good time, so we decided to hang around for a while. Of course, by that time the shower was over and it was just a few people hanging around in the backyard socializing. Adrienne (the person getting the baby shower) offered me a beer while I waited for Lloyd and the others to return. GOD BLESS HER SOUL. If she never does another good thing for me again, she has already gone above the call of duty. I can now say, from the perspective of a man, that a baby shower is endurable so long as there is beer. About half an hour later the guys show up and it was all good.

Oh yeah: Problem number three: We took Holly's glasses in to be adjusted and the technician at the eyeglasses store heated the frame so she could bend them into shape. Unfortunately, she heated them to the point of becoming brittle, and the arm snapped when Holly was taking them off at the end of the day. Yeah, we were real happy about that one.

One last goodie for the day - not a problem, but a handy tool: the Death by Caffeine web-tool. Want to know how many cups of coffee it will take to kill you? Here's how you find out. Haven't got much time and want to use espresso instead? No problemo. Oh yeah - it will take 104.76 cups of brewed coffee to kill me so hon, don't worry if I'm on cup 46 for the day. Just kidding. Mebbe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Going to Vancouver

We are going to Vancouver for the weekend. In typical fashion, I have planned very little. Arrangements have been made for the dog to be looked after, we will be able to stay at the Smith Residence Hotel (I called to confirm availability) and there will be a baby shower to attend on Sunday.

It's not as bad as it sounds. There will be beer.

Before you all start freaking out on me, I am reasonably confident that the one with child will not be partaking in the beer. But her husband most likely will, and I may have to join him. If things get crazy, I'll be sure to post the details. But if they get really crazy, I may forget to take any pictures. Sadly, I seriously doubt a baby shower will get too far out of control.

But one can always hope...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

When is over the hill, exactly?

As my thirty-fifth birthday approaches (or 'looms', as my wife likes to say, sounding all ominous and stuff) I have to ask: in today's day and age, when is it safe to say you are 'over the hill'? Life expectancy is now higher than seventy - probably closer to eighty. So does that mean the halfway point (ie. highest point on said 'hill') is now more like forty?

I know a lot of people who would object at me setting it so high.

I know a lot more people who would object at me setting it so low.

Like most people in my generation, I don't think I feel as old as I am. Maybe I'm immature, or maybe I got a late start at things because I wasted so much time early in my life. (Who am I kidding? I still waste lots of time! I have a blog, right?) Maybe I would feel older if I had kids by now. If that's the case, sterilize me now. Anyway, I don't have any answers to this one, so feel free to offer up any advice or opinions.

Friday, July 29, 2005

I've been interviewed

Okay, so this blog exercise is making the rounds, and I stumbled onto it while browsing Rae's blog (I like the pictures of her dog, Layla.) She credits some guy named Tom with the idea, and he in turn discovered it while reading another blog. I didn't care to look into it any further than that.

The rules of this little blog game are fairly simple:

#1 Leave me a comment saying 'interview me please'
#2 I will respond by asking you five questions here on my blog (not the same questions you see here)
#3 You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions
#4 You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post
#5 When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

So I guess I'm now a participant, and Rae has forwarded me a set of questions, so here goes:

[from Rae] iTripped: Per your request and because you got the best of my curiousity- question 1 is the same as Tom's:

1. What is your favorite childhood memory? Please use fire and animals in your answer. (HMT style AGAIN right there)

I'm not sure this qualifies as my FAVORITE memory from childhood, but it certainly involves fire and animals, assuming that ants count. When I was really young (preschool) I used to enjoy playing in the yard, which was great most of the time. Unfortunately there was an ant nest in our yard, and I would occasionally stumble into it. This usually ended with a screaming, ant-covered toddler running into the house to be rescued.

I know, I know, doesn't sound like the typical definition of 'favorite' yet. That was BUILDUP to the favorite memory. Fast forward to when I am about twelve, and I discovered the magical experience of combining an aerosol can with a lighter. Suddenly, I became the 'exterminator' by taking my flaming weapon and using it against those ants, burning the nest year after year. My Dad probably would have discouraged me more if I wasn't so effective at curbing our ant problems. His solution to me playing with a potentially explosive aerosol spray can was to introduce me to a proper propane torch. As far back as I can remember, I have always hated ants, and found fire to be the best solution.

2. Who do you feel is the most influential celebrity figure of your generation?

Lance Armstrong. Here is a man who didn't just beat cancer, but he whipped it's sorry ass and sent it home screaming. Somewhere along the way he managed to raise over $50 million for cancer research, win the Tour de France more than any frenchman, and then quit for the best reason possible: to spend time with his kids. Plus, he gets to date Eric Clapton's old girlfriend, Sheryl Crow. I'm hoping he runs for President one day.

3. How long do you think it will be before we turn into "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley if ever?

Sometime within the lifespan of this man. But that's a bit of a loaded answer, since he hopes to live for thousands of years, thanks to science. But more to the point, I don't see "Brave New World" happening in North America for several generations at least. This is because governments are being driven more and more by religious interests, and less and less by scientific achievement. The space race doesn't captivate our interest politically quite as much as the discussions on abortion or gay marriage these days. We will find our way to a dystopia soon enough, but we won't have science to blame for it.

4. How old were you when you saw your first porno (movie or mag I guess) and do you remember it's name??

Probably about ten when I saw my first magazine. We used to steal them from the dumpster out behind the local general store. (They would throw away old issues periodically, so we built up quite a stash.) I can't remember the title of the mag I used to prefer (yes, PREFER - at ten, I was becoming quite the connoisseur.) but it was most likely of the soft-core variety. I didn't want to see any naked MEN, that was for sure.

5. If you could change one thing about your personality (good or bad trait here), what would it be and why?

Why would I change a good trait?

Okay, so bad trait it is. I have been known to be very forgetful. This goes for big things, small things, just about anything. My short term memory is terrible. What was the question again?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Dragonboat festival

Me and the dragon
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
The dragonboat festival rowed into town last weekend, and we were there to cheer on the teams. Or one team, as a buddy of mine was rowing for Pacific Reach. They are one of the more competitive teams on the West Coast and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to practice on the boats we were using at the festival. This was important to them because they have a major race in Calgary in a couple weeks, where the same boats will be used.

Team Pacific Reach
Originally uploaded by iTripped.

None of that really mattered to me though. It was just good to have a couple friends in town to visit with and also an excuse to spend the weekend on the beach.

After the races were done, the team Pacific Reach decided to have a little fun. They were going to try to pull a water skiier behind their dragonboat. So my buddy's girlfriend volunteered and they managed to do it.

Successful launch

Boat and skiier

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Vendor beware

Ever get one of those 'promotions' in the mail, where you apparently have won some fantastic prize, but have to endure a sales pitch in order to get it? We got one yesterday. This scratch ticket arrived in our junk-mail slot (same slot as the bill-mail, and in-law-mail, which is to say the only mail slot) and when we scratched the ticket, it appeared that we may have won the grand prize of $5,000.

That immediately made us suspicious.

So I decide to give them a call and let this drama play out a bit. My wife, having no patience for this kind of sales pitch, informed me that I was on my own. With the rules of the game clearly established, I pressed onward. I called the number on the card.

I could barely hear the woman on the other end of the phone. In fairness, I don't hear very well and that probably accounted for some of it, but it was obvious to me that she was at least trying to wear a headset, and not wearing it well. So to compensate for this, I asked her to repeat just about everything she said. I was going to repeat some of the dialog here for you, but while typing it I realized it would be just as tedious to read as it would be to enter in. Suffice it to say that literally everything she said was followed by "I'm sorry, can you repeat that please?"

God bless that woman, she had the patience of a saint and if she was getting frustrated at all, she never let it show.

So the upshot was that they were an outfit that sold vaccuum cleaners, and they really wanted to come to my home and give me a sales pitch. My reward for enduring such hardship would be to claim my as of yet undetermined prize. However, on reading the fine print on the ticket, I discovered there were 800,000 tickets printed for the promo, and 797,599 of them had the 'junk prize' of a gift certificate. It could be argued that these were the losing tickets in this contest. Oddly enough, there was no serial number to identify the ticket. I explained to them that our condo was being renovated, and one of the things we had done was to remove the carpets. They still thought it would be a good idea to give me the presentation. I explained to them that they would have to do it on the front step, which was outside my home, but it was at least carpeted. This was a real sticking point for them - they really wanted to gain entrance to my house. Please refer back to paragraph two of this entry. But the woman on the phone finally relented and said it would be okay to do the demo on our front porch, if it was in fact carpeted. In fact, they were available to send someone out that night. We scheduled a time and she said they would call back to confirm shortly before the appointment.

So they call back at the appointed time and eventually someone comes to my door, carrying a vaccuum cleaner. I am sitting in a lawn chair, drinking a beer with my dog. My plan was to keep myself entertained in case the presentation went into overtime. (I have a little experience with enduring a sales pitch for a time-share, and was taking precautions.) I explain to him that he would have to do the presentation out here on the step and that he could not go inside my house because we were renovating it. Because I would not let him inside my home, he felt there was no need to continue with the presentation. This was especially true when he learned we had removed our carpets. He gave me my junk-prize, was courteous the whole time, and promptly left. I didn't even get the price of the vaccuum cleaner out of him.

Not five minutes pass, and his boss is on the phone to me, wanting an explanation. This made me laugh. He found it hard to believe that I would sit through the presentation for the prize, with no intent on purchasing a vaccuum. I explained to him that I had already given all of the information to his assistant on the earlier call and was assured that it was no problem. He didn't stay on the phone very long, as there really wasn't much he could do. My wife couldn't believe how calm I was on the phone. She felt it was extremely rude of the man to call back like that and expected me to get upset with him for calling us again. I suppose it was, but I really wasn't bothered by his call. Sure, I wasted his time, but he equally wasted mine. But at least I got to enjoy a cold beer in the evening sun with my dog.

The real irony here is that my wife and I are in fact looking for a quality vaccuum cleaner. I truly was interested in the product that they were selling. You see, with hardwood floors, people tend to put down large area rugs. We are people like that. But here was a company that would only show me the product in my home - I could not go to some neutral place to see the demonstration (yes, I asked for this - we haven't invited friends into our place yet because it is unfinished. Why would I invite in a total stranger?) In short, while I may have been interested in a sales pitch on a good vaccuum cleaner, I did not trust this company enough to make my purchase with them.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Keyboard of the future?

Optimus Keyboard
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
Okay, I stumbled across this today, and really like it. It is a keyboard prototype by a Russian outfit called Art Lebedev Studio. Some product notes: They plan to use OLED technology in the keys, there will be an open-source SDK which will allow anybody to reprogram the keys. The site has many more photos, some of which show the keyboard in a game-mode. Say goodbye to the keyboard overlays of the past. The glowing keys should also be a hit in darkened rooms everywhere, making this one of tomorrow's must-have items. Now if only they made one that used the Happy Hacking form factor.

I wonder how they will handle customer returns for dead pixels?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Some people appreciate the view

I did not grow up on the ocean, although I sometimes say that I did. Oh sure, I grew up close enough to it, but my childhood was not spent on the open sea, searching for and emptying lobster traps like some of the others I went to school with. So when I think of the ocean, I invariably picture the shore, as opposed to open sea. During my university years, I preferred to watch the constant chaos of waves crashing on rocks over venturing out beyond the point where land is no longer visible. I would spend long afternoons at the park, watching the surf roll in, or I would paddle a canoe along the shore, always in water shallow enough to see the bottom (for that was where the truly interesting things were.) The point is that I could and would often lose myself for hours by simply watching the water. I think it's also why I like a really small boat like a kayak - it is essentially you on the water, with little else. I think my wife put it best when she said she wanted to take a sea kayak out in Vancouver harbour just to paddle alongside a gigantic oil tanker. I have to admit, that would be a really cool thing to do.

These days I tell people that I live in the mountains, even though I really live in a valley, surrounded by them. As before with the ocean, I'm not really far from some truly impressive mountains. Heck, to get just about anywhere from here I have to traverse more than one mountain pass. It has made for some nerve wracking trips over the Christmas holidays but on a clear day, the view can't be beat. Is it the same as spending time along the shore? No, not really. But I am starting to lose myself a bit as I peer out at the vast landscapes, so maybe it is a different, but just as good a view.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

PDA Case Mod

Open Case
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
While on vacation, I swapped my PDA flip cover for a hard case. Overall I like the case better, but one of my gripes was there was no opening for the headphone jack.

So this morning I rummaged through my tool box and found a round hand file. After about 10 mins of scraping I had carved out enough material for the jack to fit neatly. Needless to say, I took the PDA out of the case before filing. Overall, I found the process to be fun.
Shut case

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

It's been five years

Happy Anniversary dessert
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
My fifth wedding anniversary is on Friday. To say that I have learned a lot about marriage is only slightly less of an understatement than to say I have a lot more to learn about marriage. Still, there have been many more good times than bad, and I can honestly say I still love my wife.

I'm not entirely sure what we will do to celebrate this year, but rest assured, we will do something to remember this milestone. The pictures displayed are from an anniversary gone by (our third, I think) and I would say they capture the spirit of the upcoming occasion.
Eaten Anniversary Dessert

The second picture is my favorite of the two. We ate at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts which is located on Granville Island. The students run a classy french restaurant that shouldn't be missed. It's one of our 'secret places' when in Vancouver and I highly reccomend it. Note the two forks - neither one of us had much room left after our meal.

UPDATE: For those who are curious, Holly and I decided to spend the day like this: We slept in late and then headed out to an organic berry farm to pick red and black currants, as well as some gooseberries. After that, we went out to a local restaurant to have English High Tea. Then it was off to the lake, to let the dog have a swim, which neccessitated our returning home to change clothes. Later that evening we headed over to the marina for some dinner and finished the evening with some fireworks.

Oh yeah, and I have been corrected. The dessert pictured here was from our FOURTH anniversary, not our third.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another interesting kit plane

Originally uploaded by iTripped.
This little marvel is an ultralight kit airplane designed by Ed Fisher. He calls it the Zipster and it certainly looks fun.

As built, the plane weighs 249 lbs and has a cruise speed of 55 mph. Stall speed is a mere 27 mph. If you need more speed and don't require the ultralight status, a larger engine can be installed.

Overall, this makes a nice plane for taking a solo flight on a sunny day. I'm still looking for pricing info, as well as specifications such as effective range. I'll update as I find more. The design kind of reminds me of a World War I fighter plane - something that would go up against the Red Baron. Follow the link for more pictures, including some of the cockpit.