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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I was just reading a post to a mailing list I belong to that mention the Tragically Hip's "New Orleans is Sinking." Given the devastation of Hurricane Katrina I wonder if any radio stations in North America have pulled that song out of rotation for the time being. Or for that matter any other songs that contain flooding or drowning images, like Phil Collins "In the Air Tonight."

Last week I heard a cover version of "In the Air Tonight" by some female singer. It really didn't work for me, as it totally lacked the tension, anger, despair, and whatever else you might find in the original.
People of Australia, I must apologise, but it seems I will probably not ever visit your country.

You see, you guys have this creature called the Huntsman spider running around your fair land. And since I have no desire to encounter a big giant spider like that I'm afraid I just can't visit your country. I prefer my spiders small and easily squishable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

"It's raining again...."

I hope no one passing through has had friends or family harmed by Katrina. Seeing some of the images on TV the last few days of the areas effected has been sad and disturbing. Not to mention at times odd, like a live feed I saw on CNN this morning of a building burning in the midst of flood damaged New Orleans. In some ways the flooding can remind one of the horrible floods that have ravaged Bangladesh over the years. There's also the question of how New Orleans will fare at the hands of global warming given its seaside location, a location that is in part responsible for the extent of damage caused by Katrina.

As is usually the case the remnants of the storm have gone on to bother others, such as parts of Southern Ontario, which tonight are under heavy rainfall warnings. Katrina was also used as an excuse to boost gas prices here in Saskatchewan today. Forgive me if I'm far from convinced that these increases are legitimate at this sort of speed, or a price jump of 6 cents a litre is justified. They may have as much to do with the upcoming September long weekend as they do with any disruptions to the oil business.

We also have rain this evening in Saskatoon. Presumably the connection with Katrina is only tenuous if it exists at all. But we could do without it. Some area farmers are sure to be working on bringing in their harvests, and the soaking tonight will slow things up and perhaps reduce their yield.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Another amusing nutrition information listing to report. This afternoon I picked up an empty can off the street of President's Choice Cream Soda. Oddly enough one of the things not listed on the product nutrition information on the can was the amount of sugar in it, even though sugar was the second most common component of the beverage after carbonated water. Compare this with a container of Coke, which includes the amount of sugar per serving. Perhaps they don't want folks still interested in the whole low carb thing to realise how much sugar is in a can and buy something else.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I now have an ID on the thermometer spider. Apparently its of the type commonly known as a Cat-Face Spider. You can see some other photos here.
People are pigs, there's no doubt about it. The amount of junk I see sitting in street gutters, in parks, and so on is disgusting. People are just too damn lazy to throw the stuff in the trash like they're supposed to. But some of the trash I come across is a bit disturbing, namely the beer cans and other alcohol containers. People are obviously throwing them out of their cars. They're drinking and driving. It seems years of TV campaigns to stop people from doing so haven't made an impact on some folks. People drive poorly enough around here(and I assume pretty much anywhere else) that they don't need to be stewed while doing so. The only good thing about it is the extra money I'll make next time I take in my own beverage containers for recycling. If I don't get into an accident caused by drunken idiots first that is.

Here's a shot of the thermometer spider, taken early this morning. This will give you a bit of an idea of what he looks like, and if anyone is into spiders perhaps a clue at what kind of spider he is. My guess is that its an orb spider.
Music, sweet music. There are times when I suspect I would not be here if it weren't for music, or at the very least would have gone totally insane years ago.

Friday, August 26, 2005

This morning I was at Saskatoon's Mall at Lawson Heights. It turned out to be a bad time for a visit, because the mall was host to a "personal appearance" by children's cartoon character Dora the Explorer. It was held in the food court, and the line of kids and their parents stretched almost the whole length of the mall. I hadn't realised Dora was so popular with Canadian kids. I'd bet there were a thousand people to see the character. I suspect there were probably going to be some disappointed kids who wouldn't get to see much if at all. Others were probably awful cranky by the time they reached the front of that line. And I'd hate to be the poor occupant of that giant foam Dora costume, who was likely stuck in it for something like 3 and a half hours. This was at around 10 o'clock by the way, and the appearance was supposed to last until 12;30, so I wonder if it wasn't even busier as the day went on.

I don't remember going to anything like that as a child in the early '70s. I have no idea how common things like that were then, but Saskatoon likely didn't see many of them in any case. The city was considerably smaller then. There were only two malls at the time. Stores didn't open on Wednesday afternoons. And there were a lot less popular characters to generate excitement amongst children because we had only two TV channels at the time, and cable TV was years away.
Occasionally listening to mp3s on shuffle on the computer produces an unusually cool combination. Windows Media Player just spit at me the Eagles' "Journey of the Sorceror," aka the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy theme, followed by Big Jim Sullivan's electric sitar music from the Space: 1999 episode "The Troubled Spirit." Together I think they worked quite well, the banjo and sitar sounds being quite complimentary to each other. Sullivan may be a familiar name to some. He was one of Britain's top session guitarists in the '60s alongside Jimmy Page, and spent a number of years as a sideman to Tom Jones. He can be seen playing the music he composed for the episode, dressed as a Moonbase Alpha crewmember, at the beginning of "The Troubled Spirit." The instrument he's playing is a Coral Electric Sitar, developed in the mid '60s by Danelectro and NY session musican Vinnie Bell to cash in on the sitar craze caused by Beatles tunes like "Norweigian Wood." Tuned like a normal guitar, it has 13 sympathetic strings and a special bridge to give it a sitar sound. Its turned up on all sorts of tunes over the years, such as BJ Thomas's "Hooked on a Feeling," and Paul Young's "Every Time You Go Away."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I was just looking out the kitchen window, and for the first time actually saw our thermometer spider moving. In the past when I've gone to look either its hiding under the top lip of the thermometer or sitting in the web. I guess tonight it was getting into position on the web, or perhaps doing a bit of work on it. Its not much of a web, but more than enough to catch food. Its rained off and on the last few days, and I wonder if it would have been out there tonight if it was raining again.

I'm no fan of bugs, but I saw something Wednesday that proved once again that humans are far more dangerous than any spider I'm likely to see. I saw an actual example of road rage. I have no idea what set it off, but I saw the results. Some loser jumped out of his car at a stop light and started swearing at a driver in the adjacent lane. I half expected to have to run to a phone booth and call the cops, especially when the guy tried to call the other driver out. The loudmouth got back in his car before violence commenced, but I suspect it was a close run thing. Fortunately in Saskatoon we've had no deaths or serious injuries from such incidents.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Has Pat Robertson shot himself, and perhaps US style conservative Christian evangelism, in the foot in Latin America? The US televangelist and former presidential candidate said on his 700 Club program Monday that the US should assassinate controversial Venezualan President Hugo Chavez, who he described as wanting to spread Communism and Islamic extremism. However unpopular Chavez, who himself has accused the US of wanting to assassinate him, is in certain quarters in Latin America even many of his opponents will not appreciate an American advocating gross interference in their affairs by killing a head of state. I can't help but wonder what effect such statements will have on some folks who were tilting towards the US brand of conservative Christianity.

US officials today stated that Robertson was speaking only for himself and had no influence or involvement on US policy. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also noted that assassination of foreign heads of state is contrary to US law.

Monday, August 22, 2005

There was much rolling of eyes last week when rock band Slipknot announced they were suing fast food behemoth Burger King over a new ad promoting their new Chicken Fries. The group claimed the ad was an illegal use of their image. A lot of people think Slipknot doth protest too much.

Personally I have yet to see the ad in question. Guess I'm not watching the right American tv shows.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sad news to report. Robert A. Moog has died at age 71. As previously reported here Moog was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year and it was unfortunately inoperable. Chemotherapy and radiation proved unable to fight the tumour.
I recently posted about Eminem supposedly considering quitting, rumours which he denied. Now its been announced he's cancelling his current tour to enter treatment for sleeping pill addiction. Hmm, perhaps those "insiders" knew more than they were letting on.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Like anyone else there are a number of things I really need to do to improve my life. One of them is get off the junk food cycle. I eat too much of the stuff. For example I just finished a bottle of Coke and some cookies. I am sure I would benefit from getting the caffeine out of my system by eliminating Coke.(I'm not a coffee drinker so no caffeine from that.) There would also be the likely weight loss benefit from reducing all that sugar. My knees and right ankle occasionally bother me so reducing my weight would likely help them. Cutting back on my fat intake by dumping the junk food is also a good idea. My general experience with this kind of stuff makes me wonder if I have a slightly addictive streak to my makeup, and if such streak exists I'm glad I've never tried narcotics, and the amount of alcohol I've drank would fit into one medium sized glass.

Hmmm, now I suspect Adsense will promptly pop up a bunch of softdrink ads. I'm guessing my recent mention of cloning in my review of the new Teletoon show Carl Squared is why I've been getting ads of late for Clone High on DVD. Clone High was another show Teletoon was involved in along with MTV a la Undergrads, and like Undergrads the show was left high and dry when MTV dumped it. I was an occasional watcher of Clone High but it didn't take with me like some other shows. My favourite part was probably Nicole Sullivan as Joan Arc, followed by the insane Principal Scudworth.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I had another one of those "What were you thinking, people?" experiences today. I was in a shop, and a woman was in there with her 5 or whatever year old son. His name? Maverick. I can only imagine what was going through the heads of her and the father when they gave their kid a name like that. They're just asking for him to get frequently laughed at and teased for his name when he's in school. Maverick is a good name for a dog or a horse, it is not a good name for a child.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tonight's victory by the Blue Jays over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim(when will they drop that ridiculous mess of a renaming?) resulted in something we haven't seen in a while. The Jays are now 6 games over .500. I haven't got a clue when they last reached that mark, but it must have been a good long time ago. It certainly wasn't this season.

One thing that's interesting about the Blue Jays and Anaheim websites is how much the same they are. Obviously they're designed and maintained by the same people, as are the other MLB team websites. Too bad, as it would be interesting to have some individuality and variety amongst them. While I was looking at them I found an interesting link, namely to an officially sanctioned Japanese language MLB site. This isn't much of a surprise given the number of Japanese players currently playing in the majors. Perhaps in the next few years we'll see a Korean language site as well.
The Harry Potter series is one I haven't gotten into, and have no intention of getting into. I'm just not interested in it. But I'm still being entertained by it second hand, namely through some of the totally wacked out behaviour of some of its fans. If you ever needed to be reminded that fan is derived from fanatic just check out this petition, started by folks who are all upset that JK Rowling isn't going to write their prefered romantic pairing, or ship, to use fanspeak, in the series. Its possible this is intended as a joke, but even if it is it certainly mirrors a lot of the craziness currently running around in the Potter fandom. If there's something that could piss off a Potter fan you can be sure someone is ranting online about it, like those who are upset that Rowling hasn't put any same sex relationships in the books. Some of this stuff is almost as bad as the anti Potter kooks who think the series is a gateway to children becoming witches, or Satanists, or some other boogieman.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In case you've ever wondered, its not only those on the left that would like to see George Bush impeached. There are people on the extreme right that would too, like the woman behind Alexandra's Constitutionlist Corner. But George the Younger is only one of her dislikes, as you can see on her blog. Personally I found the link to Vatican Assassins interesting, as its a website that claims the Jesuits murdered JFK. High kookery to be found there, which makes you wonder about the mental processes of someone who'd take lunacy like that seriously.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

With the fall tv season rapidly approaching Teletoon in Canada has been giving us "sneak previews" of some its new programming Sunday nights. Last week's preview was for Carl Squared. Carl Crashman is your typical teenage boy until he accidentally acquires a clone of himself. Now Carl finds much of his time is taken up with trying to keep the existence of his clone secret, and dealing with the strange situations the other him causes. Unfortunately some of the family dog's DNA got mixed in, so C2, as Carl names his clone, isn't an exact duplicate personality wise of the original. Not surprisingly C2 is the innocent and uninhibited side of Carl, that part of him, like any typical teenage boy, he tries to keep suppressed because those qualities aren't "cool." And of course Carl learns "important lessons" from the misadventures C2 leads him into.

In other words there's really not that much original here other than the clone. I can't say I'm a big fan of series that revolve around the whole hero has to cope with humurous misunderstandings concept. Ideas like that can work in individual episodes, but get frustrating when used all the time. So can the innocent who needs protection from his naivete idea, which is another concept that will see a lot of play in this series if the episode guide at Teletoon is anything to go on.(Some of the episode descriptions are kind of spoilerish, so beware if that kind of thing bugs you.)

Tonight's preview was for Delilah and Julius. Yet another entry into the teen spy/adventurer genre the title characters are a pair of teenage spies studying at a spy academy located just outside of Halifax. Children of spies themselves, both were orphaned at a young age. Now they find themselves following in their parent's footsteps, travelling the world to stop the forces of evil while hoping to find out more about the fate of their respective parents.

The obvious question is whether the world of cartoons, and Teletoon specifically, needs another teen spy/adventurer series right now. Teletoon has Totally Spies and Codename: Kids Next Door in its lineup. Kim Possible, although ended by parent network Disney, will continue in reruns for some time to come. And there's some overlap with series like Martin Mystery and some of the anime currently airing on various channels. I can't help but suspect Delilah and Julius will just be going over the same ground as other recent series, and a peek at the Teletoon episode guide shows at least a couple of episodes that sound very much like storylines that have appeared on other shows. On the other hand D&J deserves credit for coming up with a distinctive art style. Visually it has its own thing, and doesn't copy an existing series, or go for the "pseudo-anime" style of Totally Spies. And hopefully they'll go into a bit of background why the hippyish Big Al is the boss of a spy organisation.

Next week's preview is for The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. I'll be giving this one a pass, based on the ads.

While we're on the subject of cartoons I was disappointed to find out belatedly today that Cartoon Network has passed on a 3rd season of Megas XLR. Too bad. Its been a fun show to watch, especially when you get the inside jokes and cartoon references, such as the episode that parodied Leiji Matsumoto's classic Captain Harlock character. Although the ratings were good Cartoon Network decided two seasons of the series were sufficient. Given the plot of season ending two parter its reasonable to assume the Megas production crew weren't expecting it to get cancelled. Yet another one of those decisions that leaves you scratching your head, although its not unreasonable to assume that internal politics at CN we aren't privy to had something to do with it.
As you can see, I figured out how to get rid of that annoying white space at the top of the current post. I'll leave the setting in question in place for now and see what happens.
Its late, and I'm bored. So, lets see what happens when I post these two words: Worldnetdaily and Worldnutdaily.

Hello kookies....

Saturday, August 13, 2005

There's something about the thermometer outside my front kitchen window that appeals to spiders. As was the case last year there's one camped out on it, and he comes out onto his web at night. However the spider resident this year is somewhat larger than the one that was there last year. I'd guess with his legs spread he's at least the size of my thumbnail. Kind of a scary beast when you don't like bugs.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Tim's Tip for Today(that would make a good blog title, wouldn't it?): Don't drink large quantities of a caffeinated beverage before listening to a long CD at your computer. It might lead you to have to get up in the middle of a piece to attend to your bladder.

FYI in this example the album in question is Motohiro Nakashima and Sakuro "Kent" Watanabe, live@Kanadian, november 2004, released on Saskatoon's own nonCapable Recordings label. My copy is #31 of 50.
Heh, those horrible ole Death Merchant books I sometimes read can occasionally be educational. Book #51, The Inca File, deals with a mission to prevent Soviet scientists from recovering ancient Incan quipu, knotted strings used to record information, that contained all sorts of supercool Inca medical knowledge and so on. Quipu are real, and it seems some scientists have determined the Incas could actually record words with them, not just numbers. And to think I first heard of them as a teenager by reading a violent pulp novel....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I saw something interesting yesterday. Just as I was getting ready to cross the intersection of 8th Street and McKercher Drive I spotted a mouse running just ahead of me. Squirrels and gophers are one thing, but that was the first time I've ever seen a mouse outdoors in broad daylight. Unfortunately mice don't pay attention to traffic signals, and he ran into the road, where it looked like he was hit by one of the cars passing through the intersection. The mouse scrambled into a safe section of the pavement and stopped, but he didn't move after that, so I suspect he had just enough life left in him to get out of the road. If was still alive I doubt he lasted very long, as he'd be a nice meal of opportunity for a passing crow, gull, or other bird.

Speaking of flying things the Saskatoon Police Service has announced it is considering continuing its aircraft program into next year. Over the last 10 weeks officers have been flying a Cessna 172, callsign Eagle One, during the late afternoon and evening hours several days a week to aid ground operations. I'm not yet convinced of its real utility, but police spokesmen claim its been helpful, and that some criminals have asked about it when they've been arrested. Ironically this news comes at the same time that the service is shelving its Compstat program, which has reportedly reduced breakins in a number of areas.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Canadian born ABC News anchor Peter Jennings has died of lung cancer at age 67. Unfortunately this will no doubt lead to much celebration in the nastier corners of the "we hate the librul media" crowd.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Oh, those lovely perverts out in Internet land. This week's entry in the annoying porn hits on the blog section was someone looking for porn of Stephanie "Sugar" Beard, cartoon voice actress and co-host of YTV's The Zone segments. Ummm, hate to break it to you, pervie, but I doubt someone working for a kids oriented TV network is going to have taken part in porn, or will have any likelyhood of doing so while working for said network. I can't help but wonder what Ms. Beard would think of someone looking for nudie shots of her.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Even those not interested in baseball probably haven't been able to avoid talk about major leaguer Rafael Palmeiro being suspended for steroid use. Palmeiro claimed he did not knowingly take steriods, which he pretty much had to do given his Congressional testimony this year, where he claimed he had never used performance enhancing substances, despite what Jose Canseco claimed in his tell all autobiography. (The US Congress is going to investigate to see if he purjured himself.) In fact it is possible that Palmeiro is telling the truth, as far as it goes. He may not having knowingly taken steroids by simply not asking whoever provided him with the stuff what he was actually taking. As stupid as this seems I seem to remember one of the Giambi brothers claiming he didn't ask what was in the "suppliments" he was taking.

I've seen a number of comments over the last few days that major league sports shouldn't prevent steroid use, that if it produces an exciting product so be it. I strongly disagree. If you allow their use you'll just encourage more kids to be taking the crap, and for that matter their parents to want them to take performance enhancers. We've all heard stories of parents whose common sense takes off for places unknown at the mere hint their kid might play in the pros, causing them to do all sorts of stupid things. Its not hard to imagine some of these idiots giving their kids steroids if there is no prohibition against it. Some probably do even with the bans in place.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pretty awful news out of Toronto's Pearson Airport today as an Air France Airbus A340 caught fire while landing in bad weather. No doubt this will bring up more derision of Airbus products as "Scarebuses" even though the type of plane all but certainly had nothing to do with the accident. And the CBC website report features an odd statement from airport officials that the airport's lightning detection system has been malfunctioning due to lightning in the area. Huh? That's like a smoke detector not working because there is smoke around it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Some people would consider the Tim Horton's donut shop chain a Canadian icon. However for the last 10 years it has been owned by US hamburger giant Wendy's. But that may be about to change. Wendy's announced Friday it intends to "spin off" 15 to 18% of Horton's, and may eventually sell the chain entirely. But its not because Horton's is doing poorly. Rather its because Horton's is doing so well, versus Wendy's. Yeah, it kind of leaves me shaking my head too, but the idea is apparently that both companies will benefit most by being separate entities again, even if it means Wendy's loses what is currently generating a large hunk of its profits. Horton's did close to a billion dollars of business last year. That's a lot of donuts and coffee. Wendy's on the other hand is seen as underperforming, and among other things will likely dump some of its unproductive stores.