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