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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oh You Silly Parents.

It's that time again. Time for some of the unusual baby names given in Saskatoon, courtesy of the Star Phoenix.

On the very cover of The Baby Block 2008 we have a little girl named Iscis. Okay, I don't know about you, but I haven't a clue how that would be pronounced. Like Isis perhaps? It's certainly a name the poor kid will be having to explain to people over and over again for the rest of her life.

How about Daxon? A variation on the equally jarring Jaxon perhaps. Sounds more like a name for a construction company than a kid.

A bit of a head scratcher is a girl named Akira. This is usually a Japanese boy's name, and neither parent's names indicate they're Japanese.

Then we have a little girl named Kenley. Personally if I saw that name on a list of people I'd assume it was a boy, and not a girl. Enver, the name of another little girl, sounds more feminine, but comes across as some oddball variation of Amber, or perhaps a take on Ember.

Young Theoren Smith was presumably named after famous Saskatchewan hockey player Theoren Fleury. Quite a namesake to live up to if he develops an interest in hockey.

Dravyn is kind of a funky name, but it's his middle name that gets me. Ronin. Do his parents know this is Japanese for masterless samurai? He has a big brother named Lysander.

Akre is another name I'd assume at first glance was a male name, but again it's attached to a girl. How you pronounce that is another question.

It's not hard to figure out how Deklen is pronounced, but why not use the traditional spelling Declan? You can say that about a lot of the names listed. Why come up with some oddball spelling which will just cause the kid, and for that matter the parents, annoyance for years to come as they spell it over and over again? It doesn't make your kid any more special. Or is it a case of people naming their kids without looking up how to spell the names they give them?

Koston? Someone's maiden name perhaps. I imagine the line, "No, it's Koston, not Boston" will become very familiar to this boy.

Of course we have the inevitable Nevaeh, which is Heaven backwards. Why do people think this is a good name?

Blayze. Note the added y. Another name I think is more appropriate for a horse than a child.

Neven, another odd and to my eyes masculine name stuck on a little girl.

Then we have the parents who named their little girl Saddie. I assume they were going for a "special" way to spell Sadie, but I suspect a lot of people will pronounce that first sylable as sad until corrected otherwise.

I'm guessing Ajay is supposed to be a variation on A.J., but usually that's supposed to represent two given names, not be a name by itself.

Seeing a little girl named Jorja makes me suspect her parents are CSI fans given long running CSI cast member Jorja Fox.

Hopefully, as they've done over the past few years, the Government of Alberta will release a list of the names given to Alberta children over the last year sometime early in 2009. I'm sure some real monstrosities will be listed. Perhaps someone can convince the Saskatchewan government to release a similar list for our entertainment and befuddlement.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, December 27, 2008.

A day late this week, but I figured I should get one last one of these in before the year is over. Gas in Saskatoon is currently 74.9 cents a litre. With Christmas travel season coming to an end it will be interesting to see how much it might drop at the next price setting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hope They're There.

I hope you're enjoying the holidays, and more importantly your family made it home. My brother managed to make it here before things really went bad this week. Hopefully your relatives aren't sitting in an airport someplace.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Disappointed.

Geez, Stevie old boy. You go and appoint a bunch of Senators so the Liberal/NDP/BQ coalition won't get the chance to if they by some miracle take over the House of Commons. That's bad enough, since you're supposedly all big on Senate reform. But what makes it worse is that you didn't pick me. Pam Wallin for Saskatchewan? Come on, isn't it time for some new blood outside the political classes? All you had to do was ask.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stabilised.

It had to happen sooner or later. The price of gas in Saskatoon is currently the same as last Friday. Perhaps with heavy Christmas driving they don't want to reduce prices.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Has M Been Notified?



Oh, the things you find on YouTube. John Barry and Howard Devoto are two names that don't normally come to mind together, or for that matter Howard Devoto and Shirley Bassey. But here for your listening pleasure is Magazine's cover of the theme from Goldfinger, originally performed by Shirley Bassey.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ban It.

Admit it. There's at least one Christmas song you just don't want to hear. For me it's "The Little Drummer Boy." Someone take the kid's sticks away! Better yet, feed the poor boy, find him some place to live, and get him into school. After all he's a poor boy, and needs some better way to make his way in the world than banging on a ratty drum for whatever deity happens to decide to incarnate within walking distance.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Winter Tip.

If you're going to go through a fast food drive through, make sure you can open your window before you pull into line. Someone ahead of me just a bit ago didn't, and it caused them a bit of a problem putting in their order.

Less Bang, Less Bucks.

The current economic malaise is having effects on businesses that might not immediately come to mind. US firearms maker Smith and Wesson announced today that sales of its hunting line have fallen, offsetting growth in the handgun segment of the company. This lead to a second quarter loss for the company, and as a result their stock declined in trading today. S&W have been trimming jobs on their hunting rifle line as a result of the weakness in sales. You might think economic uncertainly might actually prompt some people to take up hunting again, hoping to save some money by eating more food they've acquired directly. But presumably most people who might do so aren't likely to shell out for a new gun, instead using an existing weapon in their possession or buying a used rifle or shotgun. The hunting market as a whole has been shrinking in the US, no doubt pushed along by an increasingly urban population and fewer young people taking up the hobby.

S&W report sales to law enforcement are strong at the moment, with a lot of interest in their M&P semiautomatic pistol, which has also seen a large order from the Iraqi government. No doubt they hope to increase their market share in a market that has in recent years been dominated by the Austrian made Glock, a large percentage of which are ironically chambered in .40 Smith and Wesson, developed in 1990 as an alternative to the 10mm load the FBI was then using, and which over the course of the '90s came to dominate the North American police market. Municipal police forces here in Saskatchewan for example all use .40 calibre Glocks, versus the 9mm Smith and Wesson pistols used by the RCMP.

Wanted: Heat.

Does your corner of the world have any heat to spare? If so, send it our way. We're really in the deep freeze right now, and the forecast calls for it to stay that way into the weekend and beyond. So send us all that spare heat that will just make you use your air conditioners too much. I'm sure you folks in the southern hemisphere can do without some of your summer heat.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, December 12, 2008.

Gas in Saskatoon is currently 77.9 cents a litre. The price of a barrel of oil ended today at $46.28 American, and some analysts feel it may drop below 40 dollars a barrel before long.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hard Money.

The current issue of The Atlantic has a profile on UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, which you can read here. The article details Jackson's activities in the runup to his July 2008 fight with Forrest Griffin, and his subsequent July 15th arrest after an evening of vehicular mayhem. One of the issues mentioned in the article is that of money, with UFC frontman Dana White stating that something like half of the UFC's stable of fighters make 100 grand or more a year. Of course this also means that the other half don't make that kind of money. This made me curious, so I decided to look for UFC salary information online. Although there is some dispute how much certain fighters get paid the range of salaries is interesting, and rather disturbing on the low end. At the bottom you have fighters who are making 3 thousand dollars for fighting on a UFC undercard, while at the top end you have someone like Chuck Liddell who has made as much as 500 thousand dollars in base salary for his fights. Given the money involved in things like gym time and so on some of the lower end salaries probably barely cover expenses, if at all. But some say even someone like Liddell may be being short changed given how much revenue UFC pay per view events draw in. Still, such salaries do explain some of the luxuries Liddell was shown with in a profile I saw a while back, like several expensive vehicles.

As with some of the boxers I see on TV I really have to wonder why some of the older UFC fighters keep at it. They must realise by now they're never going to make it to the pay level of a Liddell or Canadian fighter Georges St. Pierre, who is making in the 100 grand plus range these days. Do they really want to fight for chicken feed when there's always the risk of a permanent injury? Because of the variety of styles and tactics involved there's probably a lower chance of the kind of debilitating brain injuries that can result from boxing, but having wrecked knees or a damaged shoulder isn't great either.

As for Jackson hopefully he's handled his money well. If he is convicted for what happened in July he could spend up to 3 years in jail, and I can't help but wonder if he might not have trouble getting back into the UFC with a criminal record.

Survivors

As I stood waiting for the bus this morning a chickadee sat on the branch of an evergreen by the bus stop proudly calling out his "deedeedee" to whoever would listen. When you think about it it's amazing how these little birds survive. With little more than their feathers for warmth and whatever bits and bobs of food they can scrounge they manage to ride out winters that can sometimes hit -30 Celcius or colder. No doubt some do die, but many more chickadees, sparrows, and other small birds make it to see spring and another mating season. Of course it doesn't hurt that human behaviour helps them along, both by providing trees and other types of shelter, and by offering them food they wouldn't otherwise have.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Present From The City.


garbage
Originally uploaded by mr. gueguen
This afternoon city workers came by and left us this lovely little present. This type of garbage can will be familiar to many residents of Saskatoon, and presumably residents of other communities. They've been in use for years here in some areas of the city. But now the city is expanding their use to areas that had previously been served by large multiple dwelling garbage containers. Located in back alleys each was intended to serve 6 homes. Many newer areas never saw the larger containers since they lack back alleys. The intent of replacing the old communal containers with new individual ones is to eventually allow the city to charge for garbage pickup should that prove practical. Obviously it wouldn't be fair to charge a fee based on weight with communal containers, as there would be no way to know who was putting in what.
Another advantage of these, one suspects, is less chance for arson. The communal containers have been regular victims of arson attacks over the years. With the new containers being located in people's yards, and only rolled out onto the street when collection is scheduled, it should be harder for any little firebugs to casually set one on fire.

Pulling Double Duty.



When most people hear the name John Carpenter they think of the filmmaker behind such flicks as Escape From New York and the original Halloween. But Carpenter has also been composer or co-composer of much of the music used in his movies. Above is one example that has caught my ear over the past few days, the theme to 1976's Assault On Precinct 13. To my ears it sounds fairly contemporary, probably due to its minimalist nature and the sounds used. As for the movie itself it was made for 100 thousand dollars, a budget piece even by the standards of the era. Today some movies probably spend more on the female lead's makeup than that.

I came across this clip via this thread on the Vintage Synth Explorer forum, which has more Youtube clips of Carpenter the composer in action.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Gas in Saskatoon, December 5, 2008.

This week saw yet another drop. Gas is now 83.9 cents a litre. It was interesting to see a Macleans(Canada's equivalent of Time and Newsweek)cover shot from mid June the other day on speculations of how your life might be with 200 buck a barrel oil. No doubt we will see oil at that price eventually, barring a major breakthrough in alternative energy, but it seems a lot further away now than it did when that issue was printed. Unfortunately a lot of economic ministries in various places, including here in Saskatchewan, were banking on the revenue higher prices was going to bring, so their budgets have gotten a wee bit screwed up as a result, as have the plans of anyone who bought a lot of petroleum product at price X expecting it to get a lot more expensive by now, not drop. Just goes to show that economics is far less predictable than some would like us to believe.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Doggy Dollars?

I had a bit of a chuckle today when I got a couple of twenties out of an ATM. The prefix on the serial number on one of them was ARF, making me wonder if the Bank of Canada has taken to hiring dogs. Last week I had one that had the prefix ALL.

Yesterday I saw a license plate that had a letter combination that I'm surprised got past whoever makes sure offensive letter combinations aren't used: FKK. I'm sure most readers can imagine how it could be pronounced like a popular swear word.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Gentle Finish.

November is ending the way it started here, with nice weather. It was a degree or two above freezing today, ending a month of surprisingly mild weather. There hasn't been much snow yet either. Tomorrow will see December begin with a high of 4, but things are expected to cool off as the week progresses.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Memoriam



With coverage of the ongoing economic crisis and then the Mumbai terrorist attacks dominating the news I managed to miss that former Platinum Blonde bassist/keyboardist Kenny MacLean died on November 24 of an apparent heart attack. I only learned of his death today via a CBC interview with Jason Priestly. So I figured I'd post his video debute with the group, "Crying Over You," in tribute. MacLean was brought into the group when singer Mark Holmes decided he wanted to concentrate on singing and not split duties as bassist as well. I'll also note that the guitar solo on this song was actually played by Alex Lifeson of Rush.

It's funny to think that I watched that video as a teenager way back in 1985, and now presumably some of the people in that video may have children the same age I was then. Time sure flies.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, November 28, 2008.

Continuing the trend, another week, another drop. Gas in Saskatoon is currently 86.9 cents a litre.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Homemade Hamburgers, Yum!

You'd think there wouldn't be much difference, but there's just something better about hamburgers made from scratch even over patties made fresh in the meat section of your favourite grocery store. Perhaps it's the spices and so on you put in homemade ones that a commercial product won't contain. And those of you who don't eat meat? I really feel sorry for you right now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shut Up Week.

Unless you just came out of a sealed capsule at the bottom of the ocean, or have been running around with your fingers in your ears shouting "Lalalala, not listening!" for the past while(a not unreasonable response right now) you no doubt have heard the regular stream of dire predictions coming from various quarters on the economy. The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development is the latest group to release a negative outlook for the world economy. And with each one the markets seem to go on a rollercoaster. So perhaps it's time for all of them to shut up. Keep their predictions of doom and gloom to themselves just for a week and see what happens. What's the worse that could happen? I can't see it being much worse than the Dow Jones and TSX dropping 400 points one day because of some prediction from an expert, followed by them going back up 250 points the next day because those involved realise there's still money to be made.

Modern media doesn't help things. It allows almost immediate dissemination of such material, and hence an almost immediate reaction from the markets. If this blog for example was in any way influential with the movers and shakers in international markets there could be a response from some interested parties within a few minutes of this post being published. The pundits and organisations that create such material might want to consider that fact before flapping their big mouths.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, November 21, 2008.

You can probably guess the content of this post. Yes, the price of gas dropped once again. It's now 88.9 cents a litre here in Saskatoon. But to break up the monotony I'll mention that the price of diesel is currently 112.9 cents a litre. One of the advantages in the past of diesel was that it was always a few cents a litre cheaper than gasoline, so you could save a bit if your car was diesel powered. But not right now.

I Always Miss The Cool Stuff.

There was a lot of press today about a meteor that streaked over the skies of Western Canada last night. If you were in the region I hope you got to see it, because I sure didn't. My father figures he saw the bright light it generated as he went for his after supper walk around 6:30 local time. Me, I was indoors and saw nothing. Fortunately several cameras in various places caught its descent, and I saw one spectacular example on the news this evening. It was amazingly bright in some locations.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Radio-activity.


radios
Originally uploaded by mr. gueguen
I recently realised that I've begun to build, unintentionally, a collection of small radios. It's interesting to compare the three modern radios with their great grandfather. Clockwise from the top we have:

An M-zone R-363 shortwave radio. I picked this one up at a local London Drugs mainly to use for shortwave and other radio noises in the kind of weird music making that interests me. These normally sell for 20 bucks plus tax, but London Drugs regularly discounts them to $9.95. Frankly I wouldn't pay 20 bucks for one, but the discount price was cheap enough. The only thing digital about this thing is the frequency display. The actual tuning mechanism is analog, and sloppy analog at that, although that slop does allow the radio to tune to frequencies it's not officially designed to, but that you'd want to hear. Build quality is of course iffy as well. Cheesy little radios like this appeal to many beginners because they're cheap, but an experienced shortwave listener will actually have more fun with one, as they know how shortwave signals work and therefore know what can and can't be heard on a portable with a tiny whip like this one's. I suspect a lot of these get returned by novices who think they aren't working because they can't hear anything, not realising they're listening at the wrong time of day for the frequency range they're tuning, or that propagation conditions can sometimes prevent signals from reaching you. You can find this radio under other brand names as well.

Next is the Sony SRF-59 AM/FM Walkman. I've mentioned this little dear on here before. It's been getting a lot of attention from radio hobbyists because of its great long range AM performance in a compact size. I've had a lot of fun with this one, and it's been a frequent occupant of my belt when I've been outside for long periods of time. I'm still on the original AA battery I put in when I first bought it early in the year. Even the dirt cheap headphones Sony provided with it are still working well. If you're an AM DXer you should really buy one of these.

Next we have the blue no name FM radio. I bought this little thing for a buck at the local Dollarama store. Yep, a mere loonie. I hate to think what these actually cost to produce, but I could hardly turn it down at the price of a chocolate bar. Of course it's got tinny audio and dubious RF performance, and the included ear buds aren't particularly comfortable, but it's fun to fool around with, and fits in a pocket. This one even has a built in light so you can use it as a flashlight. Why? Who knows what the designer was thinking.

Finally we have an ancestor of these guys, the RCA VIctor Six Transistor AM radio. This turned up in my Grandmother Carr's stuff as my parents were helping her move recently. Other than a scratchy volume contro/on-off switch this thing is in very nice condition, making me suspect it didn't get used much. I'm not sure of the exact age of this radio, which was made for the Canadian market according to the inside of the rear cover, which also says its a model PA5. Apparently these were made by Toshiba, as they share similar details to certain Toshiba models, and of course were made in Japan. They come from an era when the number of transistors was a selling point, hence the prominent Six Transistor engraved on the front. My example stil has its leatherette carrying case and ear bud, both of which are in nice condition for their age as well.

Gas in Saskatoon, November 14, 2008.

Are you surprised, dear reader, if I report the price has dropped again. Probably not, especially if you heard the price per barrel of oil may drop to 50 bucks or lower. In any case the price of gas in Saskatoon today is 92.9 cents a litre. Just a little drop, but still a drop.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Snow Away.

Unfortunately it's snowing today. I was hoping it would stay away for a while longer. There's a good chance most of today's batch will melt tomorrow, but sooner or later we'll get our usual permanent winter coating of the stuff. Rats.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, November 7, 2008.

No photo this week. The price of gas in Saskatoon is currently 94.9 cents a litre, yet another drop. Sure makes filling the tank a bit more comfortable, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Man Behind The Voices.

As a followup to my Stewie and Superman's baby post here's an article from Fast Company magazine about Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Seems he's building up quite the empire. And it's an empire that still requires a good chunk of direct involvement from him, since he does the voices of several of the main Family Guy, its soon to hit the air spinoff The Cleveland Show, and American Dad characters along with taking part in other areas of production such as writing music.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Don't Wanna Watch A Cosplayer.

No election commentary tonight. Maybe tomorrow if I think of something worth posting while tromping around in the cold tomorrow. Rather I'll comment on the recent Entertainment Weekly cover featuring the guys playing Kirk and Spock in the upcoming Star Trek movie. Sorry JJ Abrams et al but I won't be rushing out to see this one. I was dubious about the concept from the start, but seeing the EW cover shot all I could think was that the guy playing Spock looked like a cosplayer. And that just made me even less inclined to go see it. In way it's like deciding to make a James Bond movie that's not only a '60s period piece, but has whoever is playing Bond wearing the same kind of hairpiece Sean Connery was, it just seems cheesy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Gentle Start.

It may be November 1st, but it sure didn't feel like it outside in Saskatoon today. It was ten degrees above freezing, and the 5 day forecast indicates daytime temperatures will remain above freezing through Wednesday. I'll take this kind of weather as long as we can.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Slow Night.

Tonight was of course Halloween. We did get trick or treaters, but I get the impression that we had somewhat less than last year. This unfortunately means there's more left over candy around than last year, and hence that many more calories to potentially end up around my middle. Good thing I'll most likely be getting some extra exercise next week.

Gas In Saskatoon, October 31, 2008.


























Gas dropped another couple of cents this week to 102.9 cents a litre. However as I understand it oil prices rebounded a bit this week, so perhaps this will be the last drop for a while. I've decided I'll only do these posts if the price of gas changes, so at some point I will probably skip a week or two.
The photo this week was far more heavily cropped than the previous ones, hence the lower quality.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One More Week.

Just think. One more week and the pain in the ass we call the US Presidential Election will be over. No, it won't stop the more paranoid whiners from ranting that W. will find some excuse to use martial law to hold onto power, or their opposite numbers ranting that Obama will introduce Sharia law and have Chinese tanks on the Beltway a day after he takes office. But at least the most annoying aspects will come to an end, like the ads and the incessant campaigning that's been going on for a year and a half. The "campaign that never ends" aspect of the process is one of the reasons I'm not in favour of fixed election dates.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Inspiration For Stewie Griffin?
































If your only exposure to Superman was a carefully put together selection of some of his comic stories from the '50s to the early '70s you'd be forgiven for thinking that the various Superman titles were intended as some sort of surrealist commentary on society rather than superhero comic books. A typical example from 1970 can be found in a post to Scans Daily by Doop. (And of course I shamelessly stole a bit of Doop's scan for the picture above.) In the "imaginary story"(as a lot of the crackiest offenders were) "Beware the Super-Genius Baby!" Superman and Lois Lane have married, and soon Lois is pregnant. But a supervillain, Professor Ulvo, uses a ray to make the fetus develop into a superbaby, and within a week of his birth he has adult level intelligence. He also has an evil streak, and Supes eventually has to fight his own son to keep him from taking over the world.
The story is bizarre enough, and the little details don't help. Note for example that Lois is married to Superman, and not his secret identity Clark Kent, and they live togetber as Mr. and Mrs. Superman in a typical suburban neighbourhood. I wonder how much the property values dropped given the potential for supervillain attacks and so forth. And the poor kid has no name, simply being refered to as "Superman's baby." No wonder he goes villainous so easily!
Regular Scans Daily poster icon_uk notes that the baby in this story is very much like Stewie Griffin from the cartoon Family Guy. As I'm sure most readers will know Stewie is basically the mind of a crotchety adult in the body of a one year old, and has tried and failed at such schemes as doing in his mother Lois and taking over the world. So the obvious question is whether Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane was inspired by this old Superman story when he created Stewie. The answer is most certainly no. Stewie was obviously intended to be a play on/inversion of the typical TV and cartoon baby, who generally is there simply to be cute and do cute baby things. Still, the similarities, including both nasty tikes having a mother named Lois, are interesting.
If you find the material in the post I linked to interesting there's a lot more to be found on Scans Daily. You might also want to check out Superdickery for various bizarre comic covers, Superman and otherwise.

Free Cold.

Anyone want the cold I appear to be coming down with? Free to the first customer.

Anyone?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, October 24, 2008


























Despite an announcement by OPEC that it will cut oil production in an effort to boost prices the price of oil actually dropped today, and once again gas prices in Saskatoon fell. Gas is now 105.9 cents a litre. The price has dropped 40 cents a litre since the first of these posts.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, October 18, 2008.

A day late this time, and once again no photo. Today gas in Saskatoon was 109.9 cents a litre. Since the price of oil actually went up on Friday I wouldn't be surprised if the price of gas bounces back up a bit before next Friday.

I have no idea if this ongoing idea is of interest to anyone, but I think I'll keep it up for a while yet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

House Guest.

























Once again Dudley the English Springer Spaniel is a house guest here. Here's a shot of him looking comtemplative. Or maybe it's annoyed, since I wasn't paying utmost attention to him. Dudley is his happiest when he's the centre of attention.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Something In The Water?

One of the odder events in yesterday's Canadian federal election was the re-election of Conservative Maxine Bernier in his riding of Beauce. He won with a commanding 62 percent of the vote. The obvious question is why. The man is, to be blunt, an idiot. You'd think his constituents would want someone less embarrassing as their MP.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Don't Forget...

...that if you're an adult Canadian tomorrow is the federal election. So get out there and vote. Those of you who don't vote without legitimate reason, please refrain from complaining about whoever gets elected until you actually vote.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Famous Moose Reported Dead.

Hard as it may be to believe, there are reports that Bullwinkle has been assassinated. Hmmm, I wonder how the US press will cover this important story.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, October 10, 2008


After missing a week here we are again. The falling price of oil as a result of the current market panic sure has driven down the price since I first made one of these posts just a bit less than a month ago. How long this will last is another question. Given that some industries benefit from lower oil prices you'd think this would offset the decline in oil related stocks, but this apparently hasn't been the case.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Power of Habit.

Last night I forgot to set my alarm. But I still woke up at about the time I needed to wake up anyways. But given the weather in Saskatoon today if I had the choice I'd probably go back to bed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Renewal.

I renewed my Saskatoon Public Library card today for another year. It cost me nothing. You can't beat that, especially when you have to pay for a library card in other places. Given the amount of stuff I've taken out over the years I'd probably shell out the money if I did have to pay for one.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, September 26, 2008.

No picture today. I forgot my camera. Today gas in Saskatoon at most stations was 126.9 cents a litre, 3 cents down from last week.

This post was brought to you by Pornsack Songsaeng's Luck Andro and Ginger Baker's Horses and Trees, the cassettes I was listening to as I drove.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scheduling.

Sunday night saw the last major league baseball game held at Yankees Stadium. (Unfortunately I missed the broadcast.) Frankly I was a bit surprised at this. You would think that given this historic event has been in the offing for a good while now Major League Baseball would have scheduled it for the last day of the season. Instead the Yankess will end their season on a road trip, including 3 games starting tonight against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Of course one assumes a lot of people thought that the Yankees would make the playoffs, and hence Sunday's game wouldn't have been the last. The new stadium is located across the street and will be open for the start of next season. The cost? A measily 1.3 billion. Nice cash if you have it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, September 19. 2008.


























What a difference a week makes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Bargain.



Like a bargain? Me too. Here's mine for today, a couple of CDs I picked up at the Centre at Circle and 8th Zellers for a buck each. Even with the tax they came to less than a bottle of Coke and a bag of chips. At that price if you don't like them you can toss 'em if you really want to. On top we have Steppin' Out by Genesis touring guitarist/bassist Daryl Stuermer. It's '80s style rock/light jazz instrumentals, some of which could probably have been used as TV themes. Nothing special but competently performed and recorded. Then we have Pete Townshend's peculiar 1993 concept album Psychoderelict. Not only do you get songs you get quite a bit of dialogue as well. Apparently this was sufficiently off putting to a lot of people when the album came out that Pete later released a music only version. And without getting into details some of the plot seems eerily prophetic of events that would happen to Pete some years later.

Woo Board?
















This billboard, which has been up for a good while in Saskatoon's downtown, has made me raise my eyebrows more than once. It features what sounds like a dubious idea. A bit of research indicates a 2001 study did claim milk production from cows varied depending on what kind of music was played, with calmer music leading to more milk production than louder, faster music. But colour me skeptical, especially since the study has apparently had no followup. So I can't help but wonder if the school board should be using the idea in it's advertising. On the other hand it is an ad for the music program, not the science courses. If it for the latter I would find it a lot more questionable.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rick Wright, RIP.

It was announced this morning that Rick Wright has died of cancer at age 65. Wright was a founding member of Pink Floyd, meeting group co-founders Roger Waters and Nick Mason while they were architecture students. Besides being the group's keyboardist he wrote a number of songs for Pink Floyd, including "Us and Them" from Dark Side of the Moon, and sang either lead or harmony vocals on many Floyd cuts. Wright would be forced from the band in 1979 by Roger Waters due to personal frictions between them, and ironically would actually make money from the tours for The Wall as a hired gun, unlike his fellow Floyd members who lost money. Wright rejoined the Floyd for 1987's Momentary Lapse of Reason album and remained a member until the group's unofficial demise in the early 2000s. Wright also released several solo albums during his career as well as appearing on David Gilmour's most recent solo album On an Island.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Listen To The Music...

...tell me who this is by. The music used in this opening credits sequence to the movie Invasion UFO, a film compiled from various episodes of Gerry Anderson's 1969 sci fi series UFO, is not by Barry Gray. I'm sure this piece of music was used as a theme song to some program in the late '70s or early '80s, and if so someone should have a clue what it is.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nine Years On.



It's that time of year again. In certain universes it was nine years ago on this date that the Moon was blown out of Earth orbit by the detonation of a huge stockpile of nuclear waste as the result of an unforeseen interaction with the surrounding lunar rock. If you're visiting from one of them I hope you enjoyed any chances you've had to see the Moon in its proper place in the sky.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gas In Saskatoon, September 12, 2008.


























The price of gas in Saskatoon jumped this afternoon from 134.9 cents a litre to 145.9 cents. That's one of the biggest jumps ever I can remember. They're blaming it on Hurricane Ike threatening oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, which is rather amusing and bemusing given that the oil used to make gas for the Saskatoon market doesn't come from the Gulf, and the refineries are located here, not Texas.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Gobblegobble.

Is it telling that the Canadian federal election, announced over the weekend, will take place the day after Canadian Thanksgiving? Certainly most Canadian visitors to this blog can think of politicians, and if they're really mean whole parties, who they think are turkeys. The choice of dates may also prove appropriate given that like the evening meal the day after Thanksgiving, which generally consists of more of the same from the night before, this election may well produce more of the same, another Conservative Party minority government.

While I'm on the subject I must mention one way in which the Canadian electoral system is superior to that of the United States, no argument.(Sorry, but if you disagree you are quite simply WRONG!) Unlike the United States, where you must be born American to run for President, any citizen of Canada can become Prime Minister of Canada. In the current election if by some miracle the Green Party won sufficient seats to form a government Green leader Elizabeth May, who immigrated to Canada from Conneticut when she was a teen, could become PM. On the other hand someone who has spent most of their life in the US and became a citizen as soon as possible cannot become President.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Have You Seen Her?




















If you live in Saskatoon the answer is yes. This photo, seen here on a large billboard, is part of the current Midtown Plaza shopping mall advertising campaign. As with similar photos used in past campaigns I'm curious to know if this photo was taken specifically for Midtown Plaza, or if it's a stock photo or part of other campaigns by the mall's owner, Oxford Properties. So if you've seen it elsewhere let me know.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sorry, Guys.




















I like you. I really do. But I'm afraid I need to start seeing you a lot less often. Spending too much time with you is just not good for me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Coming.

It's getting pretty obvious we'll be having a Canadian federal election soon. I saw a Stephen Harper ad, which I found rather eye rolling, on TSN tonight. You'd think the Conservatives could at least have waited until an election was called before annoying us with their stupid ads.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ring The Bells.

If you're in Saskatoon and heard a series of weird noises between 7 and 8 AM this morning don't worry. That was just the sound of kids realising that registering for school begins today, along with classes for high school students. Some of those noises may also have been sounds of happiness from parents who'll have some free time on their hands with the kids spending the day in school. I even had a dream last night about going to school. Fortunately it wasn't the one I sometimes get, in several variations, where I'm back in university, realise I haven't been to a certain class in months, and that I've done nothing on an assignment that's due in a few days.

Another sign of the upcoming change of seasons was that the furnace was running when I got up this morning. Quite a change from the sweltering temperatures at the start of the week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Rings Are Packed Away.

Another Summer Olympics has come and gone. And I didn't watch more than a minute of it.

I'm not much of a sports fan. My viewing is generally limited to Canadian football, major league baseball, and the combat sports. Although baseball and the martial arts are represented at the Olympics I really couldn't be bothered to watch them. The professional versions provide me enough entertainment without going to the trouble of figuring out the broadcast schedule for the Olympic versions.

I didn't even watch the opening and closing ceremonies, which many people do even if they have no interest in the games. I'm definitely not a fan of overrought and contrived spectacles like those.

The Olympics themselves seem to feel more and more contrived with each passing edition. Consider the fact that the IOC has decided to drop women's softball. This comes only a few years after women's beach volleyball became an Olympic sport. Given what the uniform for the latter is it's hard not to speculate that women's softball was dropped because the uniforms just aren't sexy enough. Gotta get in those TV viewers. If you're a competitor in a less telegenic sport it might be worth your while to find ways to sex it up or you too may be on the way out the door, to be replaced by women's "fitness" competition or something like that.

One of the more amusing disconnects about the Olympics is the closing speech of the head of the IOC, who for years has called upon "the youth of the world" to assemble again in four years for the next Olympics. But not all Olympic competitors are youth. Take Canada's Ian Millar. The veteran equestrian is 61 this year. He's old enough that he could have a grandkid competing alongside him. This is his ninth Olympics. From what I can tell the shooting sports also tend to skew older, which is not a surprise given that they rely on accuracy and not sheer physical ability.

Canada won 18 medals this year, and of course the response was the inevitable. "We didn't win enough medals! What went wrong?" This is the same response after pretty much every Olympics. I suspect that if Canada were to come in second some day we'd hear the exact same whining.

There has been a lot of criticism of the Chinese for doing things like stifling protests and replacing a singer at the opening ceremonies with a better looking one. But really, does anyone think we won't see similar things in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games? You can bet people will be displaced from their homes to make room for Olympic atheletes and specatators, or even just to hide that there are "undesirable" people in Vancouver. You can bet various civil liberties will be tramped on in the name of preventing terrorism or "disruption" of the event. And you can be it's going to cost the Canadian taxpayer a lot more than was predicted.

One thing the Olympics seems to have done for me is generate some visitors. Specifically I've gotten quite a few hits in the last 2 or 3 weeks as a result of my Don Whitman obituary. Not having watched CBC's Olympic coverage I have no idea if this was because they had a tribute to Mr. Whitman, or if it was simply people not knowing he had died and trying to find out why he wasn't there like they expected.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The View From Here.

In his latest Livejournal entry Randy McDonald discusses an article by Canadian journalist Christie Blatchford about why she doesn't want to blog, including the idea that a writer might only have so many worthwhile words to contribute. Randy himself feels that at one point he was blogging too much. And here I've been thinking for a good while now that I'm not writing enough blog posts. As always it all depends on where you're sitting.

(It will be interesting to see if the title above attracts any search engine hits. Why is something I may reveal if it does happen.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Need Some Hot Weather?

You can sure have ours. The past couple of days have been hot as can be. It's coming up on 11 PM here and it's still 24 degrees C outside, and a bit warmer than that in the computer room, not to mention sticky. So if you have a giant heat trap handy bring it on over and suck some it away from me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Old Days Radio.

Driving along tonight I had Ninety by 808 State playing. The final cut on side one of the cassette is "Pacific 202." As I listened to it I realised the first place I heard that tune was on CBC FM as end of the hour music on one of their late night programs. I think it might have been Nightlines. I listened a lot to CBC FM late night in the late '80s and early '90s, and the music on Nightlines and Brave New Waves no doubt shaped my musical tastes. I'm sure that's where I first encountered Nomeansno, Change of Heart, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. That was a great period in radio, with Brent Bambury hosting Brave New Waves before he went on to the neutered world of CBC TV's Midday. Dave Bidini of the Rheostatics sat in at times and made a good host. Then there was Nightlines on Saturday nights, hosted for by David Wisdom for the last 10 years of its 15 year run. I personally think the name Wisdom is a great name for someone hosting a radio show that took advantage of his extensive knowledge of pop music and his gigantic collection of singles, showcased for years via the feature "10 Singles in Alphabetical Order." Nightlines came to an end in 1997, and I never really got interested in the various replacement series that CBC FM carried afterwards. I'd guess I stopped listening to Brave New Waves sometime around the mid '90s, but I'm not really sure. CBC finally brought it to an end last year in March.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Attack Of The Morons.

The murder of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus last week has not surprisingly generated a large amount of press activity. Unfortunately it has also brought out the inevitable reactions from the idiot squad. The odious Fred Phelps, head of the Westboro Baptist Church, has stated he and his brainwashed cadre of followers will protest at McLean's funeral. This is a standard Phelps tactic, one he has attempted at funerals of all sorts, Phelps claiming the deaths are examples of God's wraith for not obeying his supposed prohibitions on things like homosexuality. But at least Phelps is a nutter, and his congregation brainwashed simpletons. You'd think members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would be more rational. But once again PETA has opened their collective mouth wide and stuck both feet in. PETA wanted the Portage Daily Graphic newspaper in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, to publish an ad comparing McLean's murder with the commercial slaughter of animals for meat. Not suprisingly the Daily Graphic said no. This is typical of the kind of ads PETA thinks will attract people to their cause, having created similarly tasteless and exploitative ads in the past. Given some of the conspiracy theories that have been proposed over the years it's surprising no one has claimed that PETA is secretly part of a plot to discredit the animal rights movement by making them look like a bunch of idiots.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

From The Law And Order Files IV

There's been quite a bit of press over the last few days in Saskatoon about an odd abduction. The victim is not a person but Tickles, a Royal Python owned the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Zoo. Sometime Saturday afternoon someone smashed in the lid of Tickles' cage and made off with the 5 foot long, 12 pound creature. It's quite the act of nerve when you consider that this occured during visiting hours, with perhaps one thousand visitors on hand. Although Tickles is a calm snake used to being around people and was recently fed police are asking anyone who might come across him to be cautious, as he could injure someone if provoked. Why the snake was stolen is currently unknown, although the thief or thieves might have had a buyer interested in exotic pets.

One of the most famous crimes of the 1970s is back in the news. A Spokane, Washington lawyer, Galen Cook, claims he has determined the identity of D.B. Cooper. In November of 1971 a man using that name hijacked a Boeing 727 by threatening to blow it up. He demanded 200 thousand dollars and parchute equipment. Cooper released the passengers after the money was provided during a Seattle refueling stop, and shortly after the plane took off again jumped from the rear of the 727, never to be seen again. The story generated lots of popular attention, including movies, songs, and other references in pop culture. Cook claims Cooper is actually one William "Wolfgang" Gossett, a resident of Utah. Gossett's son Kirk, currently an Arizona corrections officer, claims his father had the parachuting skills to pull off the caper. Cook also claims that the money from the heist was deposited in a Vancouver financial institution, which he declines to name.

Unfortunately there are a couple of problems with the story, most notably that Gossett died in 2003, which the cynical side of me thinks is rather convenient for Cook, who plans to release a book soon. There's also the fact that the only money found to date from the 200 grand was 6 thousand dollars in waterlogged and useless condition found along the Columbia River in 1980. None of the other bills, whose numbers are know to the authorities, have ever turned up. It seems odd that Gossett would go to the trouble of such a risky operation and then never spend any of the money that presumably is locked in a Vancouver safety deposit box. Personally I think the default position of the FBI is the correct one, that Cooper, whoever he was, didn't survive that jump.

The RCMP hasn't been having the greatest PR lately, and a news story about their activities in the 1970s isn't likely to help. Recently released documents regarding activities of the RCMP Security Service reveal that popular singer Rita MacNeil was one of dozens of women monitored in the early 1970s over concerns about Communist infiltration of the women's movement. MacNeil was part of the Toronto Women's Caucus at the time, and was described in an RCMP memo as "one who composes and sings women's lib songs." MacNeil finds the whole thing amusing, noting she nor any of the other women involved in the group ever discussed Communism. And this wasteful spying on legitimate political activity is pretty tame compared to some of the other things the RCMP Security Service got up to at the time, such as illegal seizure of documents from Quebec political groups and stealing dynamite to frame the FLQ with. Revelation of these activities eventually led to the disbandment of the Security Service and the creation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in January of 1984.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Blue Jays Versus Tommy Hunter.

If you're Canadian and old enough the title to this post sounds like a lawsuit instead of a baseball game. I couldn't help but be amused when I turned on the Blue Jays game tonight and found out the starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers was rookie Tommy Hunter. This is the second time the Jays have faced a celebrity name alike this year, with Corey Hart playing for the Milwaukee Brewers when the two teams faced off. For those of you who are too young and/or not Canadian here is Tommy Hunter's Wikipedia entry and his official website. As for Tommy Hunter the pitcher the Jays have beat up on the kid pretty good as I write this, having scored 6 runs, including 2 home runs.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Weird Kids' Names.

While visiting Fandom Wank and reading about the latest bout of freaking out brought on by the latest entry in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight vampire novel series I came across another source for oddball baby names, the Utah Baby Namer. Former Utah residents Wes Clark and his wife Cari have long been collecting from various sources the distinctive baby names found in that Mormon heavy state. And boy have they found some doozies. One of the worst I've seen in a while is a name given to a girl, VulvaMae. Did her parents not have a clue what vulva are?

As for Meyer's vampire books there seems to be a good ole helping of crack running through them. For example her vampires hide from the Sun not because they'll be burnt to a crisp like the vamps most of us are familiar with. No, it's because they'll sparkle when hit by sunlight. And that's fairly tame given some of the other stuff in the books, which you can wade through this Fandom Wank entry to learn more about.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Crushing All In Man.

In a post a while back I discussed that bugaboo of online poker players(and sometimes real world players) the All In Man. Tonight I once more faced an example of this species. I've been playing a bit the last week on Mansion's poker site after getting a CD ROM in the mail that offered me 15 bucks free. I decided to play in one of their $1.20+.30 Sit and Go tournaments. One of the players turned out to be an All In Man. Again and again he went all in. Sometimes he would lost a good hunk of his stack, only to win it back. I finally got a hand I just couldn't fold, pocket kings. Unlike the example in the previous post this time my overcards held up against his all in with J 4, doubling me up and severely crippling him. He got some of it back, but a few hands later I called his all in with pocket jacks along with another player who went all in with his last 600 chips. All In Man had a measly 4c6c, and was crushed when a third jack came to give me JJJ, while the other all in player caught a straight. Winning that KK hand had put me in the lead, and I held on to it for the rest of the game, winning 7 bucks. It sure was nice to have someone else's poor play fail against my good cards, instead of his rolls of the dice getting paid off as all too often happens.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Well Whadaya Know...

...sometimes shameless whining (or to use a phrase I've used more than once, shameless hit mongering) does get the hit count up. (You'll have to find the actual whining yourself.) Of course I'm hoping the resulting visitors aren't the obsessives who've been drawn to Pharyngula by "Crackergate." It's ironic to see claims that PZ Myers is merely trying to attract attention with his actions over the past few days. After all his blog is one that regularly has posts that result in 200 hundred response threads. He gets plenty of attention already. In fact all the outraged folks are doing is helping to push the visibility of Pharyngula up, and presumably its already high ranking on sites like Technorati as well. Its one of the top 200 at Technorati in any case.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Saskatoon (Non)Fact.


In some areas of Saskatoon power is provided by mysterious electrical creatures. As can be seen from this warning sticker on one of the boxes containing them these creatures are enraged by their captivity, and if released will attack the nearest possible target.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A "Lady" And The Law.

The Barenaked Ladies are back in the news, but not in a way that they want. Singer Steven Page was arrested last week in upstate New York on drug charges. Police officers investigating an open car door spotted Page and a woman in a nearby appartment with a white substance that a later test proved to be cocaine. Frankly Mr. Page if you were snorting up to prove that you're still hip and edgy as you approach 40 you shouldn't have bothered. No one thought the Barenaked Ladies were hip or edgy in the first place.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Van.



As a followup to this post here's a shot of the dear old soon to be departed van. This is the good side of the old thing, the driver's side being the side that is beat up, including a lot of rust on the lower edge of the door.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Don't Go To San Diego!

Seriously, dear readers, if you're planning on going to San Diego over the next couple of days, don't. Someone has discovered that the Bible says its going to be destroyed on July 8th. And you just know these guys are right because the Bible is involved, and their website has lots and lots of numbers in all sorts of eye catching colours.

Yeah, right. Ah, numerology. One of the classics of woo, and in some ways even more suited to our era than past eras given that you can buy a calculator for nothing and find even more "significant" number combinations than if you had to do it with pencil and paper. And it's a good bet the weirdo(s) behind this site will just recalculate things when nothing happens Tuesday and produce a new "doomsday date."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Iron-onic Thoughts.

I caught Iron Man this week in the cheap theatre. Good movie. They did a good job updating the character's creation story to fit into the modern era while maintaining the basic shape of it. And the effects were well done, so you didn't spend much time thinking about them, which can be a problem with CGI at times.

If you were at all familiar with the backstory from the comics you could probably guess which way the Stane plotline was going to go. Of course you could have guessed it without that knowledge, as it was telegraphed a lot from early on.

Kudos to the producers for casting Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. A lot of filmmakers would have gone for whoever the starlet du jour is. Instead they went with an actress in her thirties, which is appropriate for the character. Pepper is supposed to be Tony Stark's long serving assistant and confidant, and he's supposed to have an extended history with her. This is not the kind of thing that would be convincing with a younger actress in the part.

He's only seen briefly, but Stark's bodyguard Happy Hogan is also a character from the comic books. In the original '60s Iron Man stories there's a love triangle between Happy, Pepper, and Tony, with Pepper being attracted to Stark while not realising Happy wanted her. It will be interesting to see if this is dealt with in any way in future Iron Man big screen appearances.

If you saw it I hope you stayed all the way to the end of the credits. No, I'm not going to tell you the cool thing you missed if you didn't.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hard Up For Headlines?

Waiting in line at the local Shoppers Drug Mart today I scanned the covers of the various publications located near the cash register. One of the was The Globe tabloid. One of the cover stories made me wonder. It was about a supposed plot to kill Doris Day. Perhaps the demographics of the typical tabloid buyer are older than I thought, because I have trouble seeing the same folks who want to know the supposed latest about Brad and Angelina being interested in Ms. Day. She's largely been out of the public eye by her own choice since the early 1970s. Some of the younger audience for the gossip rags probably don't even have a clue as to who she is and what made her famous. So it seems kind of odd they'd have her prominently featured on the cover. Perhaps they needed a break from "Brangelina," and Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan have managed to go a few weeks without making total specticles of themselves.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Geez, Oprah!

You're going to have a show about past life regression tomorrow. Given your influence, a bunch of people will take that crap seriously. After all, if it's on your show it must be true. But you should bloody well know better. You're one of the richest women in the world, so you must have some common sense. Yet you keep giving this crap credibility. And you should damn well know that falling for it will get people in trouble, whether by keeping them away from real solutions to their problems or creating entirely new ones.

But hey, maybe I'm assuming too much.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Admit It.



If you're a Canadian who remembers the '80s when you saw Corey Hart was playing with the Milwaukee Brewers you Googled him to find out if he was named after the Canadian singer. He wasn't, being born a year before Corey Hart the singer released his first album. Besides, his first name is actually Jon, Corey being his second name.

Of course I couldn't mention Corey Hart, '80s teen heartthrob, without posting the video for "Sunglasses at Night." Enjoy. Or not.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Curses, Foiled Again!

Poker can be a cruel game. I was playing a freeroll on Pokerstars a bit ago and called another player's all in move with pocket nines. It turned out he'd all in-ed with 4-7 offsuit, obviously a straight bluff. I'm sure you can guess what happened given the title. Yep, I got busted out when the turn and the river produced a 7 and a 4 respectively, giving him 2 pair. Sometimes even the absolute right move ends up being the wrong one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gay Saskatoon.

Yesterday's Saskatoon Star Phoenix had an article about the state of Saskatoon's "queer" community. Not surprisingly the consensus was that many "straight" people are more open minded towards gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, but that acceptance of such groups is far from universal. Those talked to generally agree that being open about being a lesbian is a bit more accepted than being open about being a gay man. Transgendered people face the most problems, with even some in the "queer" community expressing negative attitudes towards them.

This should come as no surprise. Merely being a member of a minority group does not make one automatically accepting of other minority groups. All one has to do is think of the racism that often exists amongst those who are themselves victims of racism.

As for Saskatoon's GLBT community it should be remembered that they are individuals first, that no one size fits all. There are sure to be some who scoff at the idea of a specific "queer" culture, or in fact find the use of the term "queer" unacceptable. Sexuality is a complicated concept, tied up with one's personal worldview, character, and self perception, and the correct way for one person to deal with theirs is not necessarily the correct path for others.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hmmm, I Hear A Similarity....










I've been listening to the Cars quite a bit the last week or so. Listening to "Touch and Go" last night I came to a realisation. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "You Got Lucky" has some similarities, as you might notice in the Youtube videos posted above. The keyboard part on "You Got Lucky" especially sounds like it was influenced by the Cars song, and some of the guitar sounds show a bit of similarity as well. "You Got Lucky" was released in 1982, so there's no doubt Tom Petty and the boys had a chance to hear "Touch and Go" before writing their tune. Deliberate lift or accidental copying of elements? Somehow I doubt Tom Petty would admit the former if it did happen.



A bit of trivia about the "Touch and Go" vid is that Ric Ocasek is playing a Kawai Moonsault guitar. This guitar with its distinctive crescent moon shape appeared in the late '70s, but since Kawai never put much effort into selling its guitars in North America at the time very few of what was probably a limited run in the first place made it across the Pacific.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Future Of The RV.

It seems not a day goes by that the media has some new report on the future of SUVs and pickup trucks as the price of gas goes ever higher. But I haven't run across predictions about the future of the RV. Filling up your SUV for regular driving is bad enough, but filling up to tow your fifth wheel trailer someplace is even worse. The same thing goes for large motorhomes, which consume a lot of gas just to go a few miles. It would seem a reasonable guess the rising price of gas will put the future of such vehicles in jeopardy. Smaller motorhomes based on a van chassis, and smaller camper trailers may have more of a future, while tent trailers and compact hard side trailers may actually see an increase in interest as other formats become less appealing. Perhaps large camper trailers will still have a niche for semipermanent uses, where they are moved only once or twice a year to a fixed location for an extended period. But the decline of more casual camping use of such units is sure to hit the makers hard.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Last Days Of An Old Companion.

It seems a vehicle I've long driven is about to leave the stage. It's a 1994 Chrysler Caravan minivan my father purchased new as part of his job at the time, which was doing repair work for cash registers and related equipment at various Hudson Bay stores in Saskatchewan. (Ironically he was hired on to do exactly the same job he had been doing as an employee of the Bay before they decided to contract out the service in the early '90s.) Over the years we've put more than 277,600 kilometers on it, or 177,500 miles, if you prefer. But it's finally gotten to the point where it probably needs to go. It has a banged up front driver's side from an accident I had with it a few years back. The hinges of the driver's side door, which had to be rewelded even before the accident, have come loose again, and the door itself doesn't close properly without some force. The paint is peeling on the hood, roof, and elsewhere, and there is more and more rust appearing in various places. But most importantly the engine, the heart of any vehicle, is sounding more and more like it's about to give up the ghost, and repairing it wouldn't be worth the money given the general decay of the rest of the van. And frankly like the SUVs on the road it's making less and less sense economically to keep driving it. We have made use of its cargo capacity over the years, but even that really isn't enough reason for us to keep using it. So within the next month or two we will likely look for some way of disposing of it. I"ll miss it, as it's served us well.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How Long, Homer?

Fox announced yesterday it has renewed The Simpsons for a 20th season. There is every likelyhood the series will surpass Gunsmoke as the longest running US primetime scripted series. Will Fox ever cancel The Simpsons? The series has to end sometime. Perhaps it will take the departure of one or more members of the lead voice cast to finally convince everyone it is time to wrap things up. One would have thought the show's ratings would eventually decline sufficiently for it to go, as lots of people (such as me) have given up on the show, but this has not been the case. Even when the series is cancelled it will continue to appear in syndication, and no doubt like its spiritual predecessor from the 1960s, The Flintstones, will be airing someplace as the fiftieth anniversary of its debut approaches.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hide Under The Bed?

Sometimes that almost seems like the right course of action when you consider how dangerous the Universe is. The June issue of The Atlantic has a cover story about the dangers of asteroids and comets striking the Earth, something which may be far higher than previously thought. Even a hunk of rock a few dozen meters across could be enough to destroy a large city if it hit the atmosphere right. The article argues we aren't doing enough to track such objects and to find ways of dealing with them if we figure out one is heading towards us. And at least we have some chance of saving ourselves from them. One cosmic nasty I occasionally find myself musing on is the gamma ray burst. Should one of these ever be aimed at Earth when it goes off if it is close enough the results would be exceedingly nasty. Get a really close one and it's not your bed you'd want to hid under, but Mount Everest.

Of course hiding under the bed is silly. There is a one hundred percentage chance you will die of something sooner or later. It's much more likely you will get killed in a car accident when you go out for groceries or have a fatal heart attack from being overweight than an asteroid landing on Winnipeg with the force of a 1 gigaton nuke. If you're going to worry it is best to worry about things you can have a personal effect on than hypothetical megathreats. But it probably wouldn't hurt to write your political representatives and suggest they spend some money on watching space.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Once More Unto The Breech, James.

This week saw the release of a new James Bond novel, Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks, to commermorate what would have been Bond creater Ian Fleming's one hundreth birthday. It's a period piece intended to be a direct continuation of the Fleming books, which has caused some confusion. A lot of folks in the media apparently aren't familiar with the literary Bond, as several reports on the new book state it is the first Bond novel since the '60s. They even ignore Colonel Sun, the first post Fleming Bond novel written by Kingsley Amis under the penname Robert Markham and released in 1968. Veteran British spy novel writer John Gardner took up the Bond franchise in 1981 and would actually write more Bond novels than Fleming did during his 15 year run. American writer Raymond Benson replaced Gardner, writing 6 original Bond novels.

This really isn't that much of a surprise. As successful as Fleming's original novels were it's really the film franchise that made Bond such an iconic character. The films were wildly successful in the '60s, with adjusted for inflation box offices that make those of many of today's blockbusters look puny. The success of the franchise sparked the '60s spy fad that produced TV series both serious (Mission: Impossible) and silly(Get Smart!), movies such as the Matt Helm films and Our Man Flint, and Marvel Comics' Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD stories. Even a several year break between films after the relative failure of the second Timothy Dalton film, License to Kill, wasn't enough to stop Bond. He seems to have joined such characters as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes as evergreens. It wouldn't be at all surprising if some take on the character is still popular when the hundreth anniversary of the character rolls around in 2052.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm So Lonely.

Wow, I didn't get a single hit on here on Sunday. That has never happened as long as I've been running a hit counter here. There's always been at least a couple of hits each day. Of course knowing the way things go I'll probably get 30 hits today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Term Of Endearment? Really?

It's interesting that some people use pumpkin as a term of endearment. Think about it, you're comparing someone you care about to a fat, round, blobby looking member of the squash family. Not the most flattering thing to be compared to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another Iranian Black Eye.

Many people claim the US and other allied members of the international community are unfairly biased towards Iran. However true this may be the Islamic Republic and its leaders do more than their fair share of making their country look bad. The recent arrest of six members of Iran's rapidly shrinking Bahai community follows the conviction of 54 Bahai in January for "anti regime propaganda." Given past treatment of members of the faith it's not hard to imagine the evidence of this "crime" was that those arrested were breathing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

John Rutsey, RIP.

The original drummer for Canadian rock legends Rush has died. John Rutsey was 55. He helped found the band in 1968 along with guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist Jeff Jones. Jones was soon replaced by Lifeson's schoolmate Geddy Lee and the trio became the core members of the group. Rutsey appeared on the group's first single, a cover of the Buddy Holly tune "Not Fade Away" backed with the Lee and Rutsey penned "You Can't Fight It" in 1973. He went on to play on the group's self titled debut, released in 1974. After the debut album Rutsey left, citing his diabetes and a lack of interest in touring. Rutsey was replaced by Neil Peart, and drifted away from music. Some might call Rutsey the Pete Best of Rush, although Rutsey left of his own free will and there was no real indication Rush would go on to be one of the most successful Canadian acts of all time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

There's A Statistic For That Too.

Baseball is a game that can be said to be obsessed with statistics. It's amazing the number of different statistics that are kept for the game, and they have come up with new ones over the years, such as WHIP. And chances are you can find out the numbers for pretty much anything you'd want to know about the game. For example today I learned that Ken Griffey Jr. is the current leader amongst active players in the majors for hitting home runs on Mother's Day, with six.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Saskatoon Gas Price Tip.

Believe it or not there are actually gas stations in Saskatoon that aren't in lock step pricewise with the rest. So if you live on the east side you might want to head to Creeway Gas on 105th Street East or Gas Plus on Central Avenue. They are consistently 2 cents a litre cheaper than the others. This might not seem like much until you consider how much it adds up for each full tank of gas. And by buying your gas there you might help encourage some actual price competition in this city. If you know of any other stations in Saskatoon that have similiar price differences feel free to mention them in the comments section to this post.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Suggestion For Chad Kroeger.

Well, you just had your driver's license pulled for a year because you were convicted of drunk driving. Apparently you're going to appeal. Whatever the outcome apparently not having a license is going to be a problem since you live out in the country. The solution is obvious. Hire a driver. If you can afford a Lamborghini you can afford to pay someone say fifty grand to chauffer you around for a year. And by the way, I'm available.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't Forget...

...if you do your Canadian income tax yearly midnight tomorrow is the deadline to get your return in. If you haven't figured it out yet I hope you have a simple return.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Son Of Shameless Hit Mongering.

It's that time again. Time to suck in hits to this blog via blatent search engine taunting. Will mentioning Expelled and Ben Stein boost my hit count? We'll soon find out. Too bad Stein felt the need to make a fool of himself by taking part in such a foolish film.

Naughtyspace.

In recent years it was proposed that a top level domain be created for online pornographic sites, .xxx. The proposal has been rejected by ICANN, the organisation in charge of managing such things. A typing error last night made me think of a couple of possible top level domains for people of certain sexual persuasions, .dom and .sub, but if .xxx can't get approval I doubt these would either. I suppose there's also the question of whether .sub would get a lot of use. Would "masters" allow their "slaves" to have .sub websites, e-mail address and so on?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Appropriate.

I had a chuckle while browsing the bookshelves of a local Coles bookstore. Mark Steyn's America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It was shelved beside a book entitled Hot Air, which I found very appropriate. It likely wasn't intentionally shelved like that to mock Steyn, as the book Hot Air is about how Canada might deal with climate change and is co-written by Jeffrey Simpson. Of course Steyn is no more a fan of dealing with global warming than he is of Muslims, so he probably wouldn't find Hot Air appealing anyways.

The copy of America Alone on display was the new paperback edition, which features the note "Soon to be banned in Canada" on the cover, most certainly intended to appeal to Steyn's fanbase by portraying him as a potential martyr to so-called political correctness.(And which will no doubt lead some future readers to believe the book was banned in Canada when it was not.) It also has a new forward, which I thumbed through for a minute or so. Even doing that allowed me to spot a flawed argument of Steyn's, in which he discussed the 17 supposed Muslims currently on the Brussels city council. The problems with the commentary on this are obvious, starting with Steyn's implication that all these supposed Muslims share identical viewpoints and will vote as a monolithic block. One would think Steyn would have sufficient knowledge of history to recognise this is exactly the same sort of argument antisemites use regarding Jews, that they're all a hive mind in service of "the conspiracy." He's also assuming they're all Muslims because of their names, and apparently never considers the fact that if they anger the voters of Brussels they'll get voted out in the next election. And this is just one comment of Steyn's. I can only wonder how many other flawed ideas I'd find if I sat down and subjected America Alone to critical analysis.

Name Those Tunes!

A simple request: Does anyone know the titles of any of the following?

The music used for the opening titles of the film Invasion: UFO. It was a fast sequenced piece and not any of the music from the Gerry Anderson series UFO the movie was compiled from.

The minor key synth music used in Parks Canada ads in the early '80s. It never struck me as the kind of music that would attract people to parks, but chase them off.

Any of the organ trio style music used in the original Spider Man cartoon from the mid '60s. This seems to have been stock music, as I heard at least one piece of it in a '60s episode of Doctor Who.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bubbleboy.

As mentioned in my previous post one of the places I play poker is Score Poker. Last night I played in their weekly 350+ Cash Final, having won a tournament ticket on the weekend. I made the final table, but unfortunately finished "on the bubble" in fourth place, just outside the money. If I'd come in third I would have won $50.01. But by making the final table I did win a "prize package," which I assume is a t-shirt and hat or something like that. And finishing fourth out of a field of 575 is definitely nice as well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Luck On The Virtual Felt.

If you play the "astronomer" and other freerolls at PokerStars you might have run across me playing as Saskblogger.(I also do so on Full Tilt, Score Poker, and as of a few days ago UltimateBet.) Last night was a great showing for me as I came in 7th out of a field of 3888. What was surprising about this is that the game in that freeroll was Limit 7 Card Stud, which I've only been playing for about a month. In other words I got very lucky. I made it to 54th out of 12 thousand in another PokerStars freeroll last week, but that was in No Limit Hold 'em, which is what most of my poker experience has been in. Now the real challenge will be to make the money in whatever Weekly Round 2 tournament I use to the tournament tickets won in those freerolls to enter, where the play is likely to be a lot more careful.

Flipflop.

You'd be forgiven for thinking it was November in Saskatoon instead of April given today's weather. Snow and high winds are not what I want to see. I want my Spring weather back.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not So Optimum.

Like many other companies the Canadian chain Shoppers Drug Mart has a customer rewards program. Regular customers can collect Shoppers Optimum points, which can be redeemed for a cash discount. For example the minimum amount of points you need to have for a discount is 3500, which allows you to take 5 dollars off your purchase. The next level is 7000 points for a 10 buck discount and so on, up to a maximum 75 thousand points and 150 dollar discount. But the impression I get is that perhaps the program has been a little bit too successful. As the years have gone by earning points has become more restrictive. For example you used to be able to collect and redeem points on transit passes and tickets, but first redemption then collecting points from these products was discontinued. Other products such as phone cards met a similar fate. The latest change was altering point collection so instead of a point for ever 10 cents you spend(excluding taxes) it's now 10 points for every dollar you spend. And this is rounded down to the nearest dollar. So if you buy something for $1.75 you'll earn 10 points and not 20. Buy something for less than a buck and you get no points. This change will further slow down how quickly points accumulate, and hence how often Shoppers has to give out discounts. Personally it seems a little petty to make earning points on a sale price chocolate bar or bottle of water impossible. You need buy a lot of those to reach 3500 points. It also seems petty to round points on a $1.99 purchase down to 10 points when an extra cent in the price would earn you 20 points.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Invasion!

I saw a rather interesting sight in the neighbourhood today. Dozens of robins. I've never seen more than three or four robins in one place at once, but today we had a whole flock of them. There must have been a couple dozen or more at times just in my backyard. I had no idea robins ever travelled in groups. Crows and waxwings can be seen in large groups at different times of the year here, so a large flock of birds in the neighbour isn't new to me, just robins in such a group.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Emperor's New Audio Gear.

Once again I'm amazed at the nonsense people will fall for in the land of audiophiles. How about special electrical outlet covers? I'd say this was a joke, but far too many people believe in similar crap in other areas of life not to believe the testimonials given are real. The company in question, Machina Dynamica, also produces such wooboxes as the Clever Little Clock. It would be interesting to know if the folks behind such products really believe their claims, or are just another batch of clever rip off artists. I suspect the number of out and out crooks are far outnumbered by true believers in this or any other field where woo has a foothold.

Future Rulers? Probably Not.

Time for another name rant. American pro boxer Chazz Witherspoon has three sons. Their names are King, Messiah, and Czar. King is named after Martin Luther King, which at least is understandable. But Messiah? What kid can live up to a name like that? Everyone has high hopes for their children, but Witherspoon's seem a wee bit too high.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

He's Not The Voice You're Looking For.

I had a hit on the blog today from the search phrase "Robert Norman Smith Teletoon." Smith is a Toronto actor who gained some notoriety when he appeared in a series of ads for Alexander Keith's beer. He played a muttonchopped Scotsman who went around berating hapless beer drinkers for not treating their Keith's properly. Unfortunately for Smith his career as product spokescharacter crashed to the ground when he was arrested in 2006 on child pornography charges.

I assume the person who ran that search thought Smith is the current promo voice for the Canadian cartoon channel Teletoon. This is not the case. It's Dan Petronijevic's enthusiastic tones you hear. Amusingly Petronijevic can be heard as a voice actor in several Teletoon cartoons, including Di Gata Defenders and Total Drama Island, so he is frequently doing promos for shows he appears in.

An FM DXer's Heads Up.

If you're an FM DXer and you sometimes get Saskatoon stations you might want to check out 96.3 megahertz. CFWD is currently running as Santa Radio. This is a new station licensed to Harvard Communications, and apparently they're using an all Christmas music format while they get their equipment ready. They have a website for it as well. I doubt this will be on the air long so best try and catch it while you can. CFWD is licensed as a contemporary hit radio station and was originally assigned 92.3 megahertz, but received 96.3 after expressing concerns about possible interference from CKBL, aka 92.9 The Bull, on 92.3 megahertz. Frankly I'm not convinced this market needs another radio station of any format, especially in a format already covered by C95 FM.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Good Morning!

There's not much point to this post other than it being the earliest I've ever posted something. My parents are headed out to the coast to dogsit Dudley and they needed to be at the airport for a 6:30 AM flight. Not much happens in Saskatoon at 5 in the morning on a Monday. I did manage to hear a Mexican station on 1560 khz when I was driving back home, which made for a nice treat.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Exorcise The Exorcists.

As much as the Roman Catholic Church might accept modern science and its discoveries some irrational beliefs linger. The Archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergrast, has appointed at least two new exorcists, one English speaking and one French speaking, to replace the previous one who retired five years ago. Supposedly the Ottawa archdiocese doesn't received more than seven or eight calls for exorcism a year, but hey, Pope Benedict, like his predecessor, believes in demonic possession, so they're making sure they're ready. The strength of belief by certain elements of the Catholic Church in demonic possession can been seen in the number of Italian exorcists rising over the past two decades from a mere 20 to some 350 currently.

Jeffrey Grob is the exorcist for the Chicago archdiocese. He states that an exorcist in what he describes as a large, ethnically diverse diocese might get 100 calls a month from those fearing they are possessed. Most who think they're possessed usually aren't, according to Grob. Which of course brings up the obvious question of why the Church doesn't come to the rational conclusion that all those who believe they're possessed aren't, that demons don't exist, and that there is no need for someone who actually practices exorcisms. The highly cynical might argue the tradition of exorcism is maintained to make sure those Catholics who think they are possessed won't go to some other denomination that shares their delusions, and once "cured" move away from the Church. But I have no doubt that most of those behind the continuation of the belief in demonic possession truly believe it is a real problem. Unfortunately the result will be people suffering as treatment that might actually help them is delayed or even avoided entirely because of those involved believing in an irrational cause of their problems, whatever the true motivation of the exorcists.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hey, Brad Wall!

So I hear you dropped a certain blog from the Saskatchewan Party website because of comments the blog creator made about inner city Saskatoon residents. Well, if you're looking for a replacement how about me? I'll even say some nice things about the party once and a while.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's Time, Guys.

One of the odder forms of conspiracy theory is the "they're not really dead" idea. Various people, usually celebrities, are claimed to have faked their apparent deaths. Elvis Presley is of course the best known focus of such a theory, but other candidates include Doors' singer Jim Morrison, rapper Tupac, and comedian Andy Kaufmann. Well, guys, if any of you actually did do this today is the day to 'fess up. After all what better day to admit you've pulled off such a great joke than April Fools? Especially you, Elvis, we'd like to know whether y0u faked your death before you die of old age.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beware The Count.

It's amazing some of the ideas fanfiction writers come up with for crossovers. Some are obvious, some aren't so obvious, and all too frequently they don't have the skill to pull them off, obvious or not. So, how's this for an idea? A crossover between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Muppets that involves the Count visiting Sunnydale before Buffy shows up. And it's played relatively straight. And it mostly works, much to my surprise. I have no idea how Jim Henson would react to the Count portrayed both as we know him, a being obsessed with counting, and as a dangerous vampire whose counting can be downright dangerous to your health. Whatever the case, best not let your kids read this one if they're precocious readers, it might freak them out.