Saturday, May 31, 2014

How Rare?

I just answered a wrong number.  And it made me wonder how rare wrong numbers are these days.  Many people don't even use the keypad on their phone anymore, they use stored numbers.  So the chances of a wrong number are much less than they used to be.  I suppose someone, someplace, keeps track of that kind of data, somehow.

Monday, May 26, 2014


A thunderstorm woke me up a few minutes ago.  Usually we don't have them in late May, but the forecasts for today had been predicting them.  I suspect it's going to be quite the wet Monday.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Finally, 700.

I've been waiting for this for a long time, and it's finally happened.  I've now had 700 of the bills I entered at Where's Willy get a hit.  And it actually travelled a good distance, to Calgary, instead of sitting around Saskatoon.  I reached the 600 bills hit plateau back in May of 2012.  Next on the agenda is getting to the 900 hits plateau, which will be a good ways away, as I currently have 843 hits overall.

Loveable Numbers.

If you're a Toronto Blue Jays fan you can't help but love the current numbers.  The Jays are 5 games over .500.  They currently lead the American League East by a game and a half over Baltimore, and 2 games over the Yankees.  They've won 8 of their last 10.  And last night's win was over the Oakland A's, who are tied with the San Francisco Giants for most wins in the majors.

The general thought starting the season was that Toronto would be in the basement once again, just as they were last year.  Even as the season began there was talk manager John Gibbons should be fired.  You won't hear that kind of talk as much now, although there will always be people who want any manager fired.  Instead we have a contending team at the moment. 

Of course one of the big numbers is 115.  That's the number of games left in the regular season.  That's a lot of games.  So it's a bit early to be thinking about hoisting the pennant. 

Meanwhile, the fans of the Tampa Bay Rays(all 10 of them) are in the same position Jays fans were at this time last year, wondering what the hell is going on, and how much longer they have to turn things around before the season is lost.  At least they have one more win that the Jays had.  And Boston Red Sox fans are having a nasty case of deja vu, as it looks uncomfortably like their disastrous 2012 season all over again.  Except at this point in 2012 they had a .500 record, not the 7 games below .500 they do today.  I would imagine they'll be out for John Farrell's blood before long.  At least Farrell has last's years World Series win to tamper some of that.

The Yankees situation is also interesting.  There had to be some fear in their fan base that this year might be a mess.  Mariano Rivera has retired.  Derek Jeter is in his last year.  Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners in the off season.  But, as usual, they're in contention.  Sure, most people wouldn't have expected them to be 2 behind the Jays at this point, but as I noted above there's a lot of season left.  No one in New York is going to be panicking yet.(I should also note that the absence of Alex Rodriguez probably led to a few sighs of relief, as he would have pretty much been clubhouse poison this year.)

Whatever happens today the Jays will still be in the lead at day's end.  But Jays fans are hoping that today sees them increase their lead, and that it's just the beginning of a successful run to the playoffs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hot Stuff.

The current Saskatoon forecast calls for a high of 30 Celsius for Thursday and Friday.  I'm sure some folks are a bit annoyed that we didn't see those temps for the Victoria Day weekend.  But gardeners will take them.  They'd be even more appropriate on Saturday and Sunday, when people are off work and have all day to work on their gardening, which for a lot of people is late this year because of a wet and cold April.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Needed Feature.

I was just looking at Google +, and not surprisingly one of the trending things there at the moment is gay marriage, since a judge struck down Oregon's law against it.  Looking at a few posts I found myself wishing for a feature Google + currently doesn't have:  a vote down button.  There are all sorts of posts I'd like to vote down because of their cluelessness, bigotry etc. etc. Something tells me we aren't going to see one.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

When I Rule The World 22.

I will instantly remove the driver's license of anyone I see driving in a stupid manner.  Given the way many of you drive I'm going to be taking away a lot of licenses.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Even as a new era began today at the former Safeway store at the Centre at Circle and 8th, it was announced an era was about to end not very far away.  Saskatoon Co Op has decided to close their store at 8th Street and Emerson.  A third party assessment has revealed various problems with the systems and physical condition of the building, and Co Op has decided it's not worth the time and money to renovate the store.  The gas station on the same property will remain in business for the foreseeable future.  The store is unionised, and the United Food and Commercial Workers are working with Co Op to relocate the 99 employees to other Co Op locations in Saskatoon.

The building also currently houses a Co Op run travel agency and a Gamma-Dynacare medical lab, which will presumably be looking for a new home in short order.  Early this year a Hakim Optical outlet that was in the building closed, making me suspect Co Op was already seriously considering closing up shop, and therefore decided not to renew their lease.

Given the store's reported issues the closure isn't a surprise.  The new Centre at Circle and 8th location is only a kilometer away, and is a modern store that has been renovated in the last few years.  The changes needed to make it suitable for the Co Op are minimal.

In my post earlier today I mentioned that much of the customer base of the 8th and Emerson store is senior citizens.  I would imagine some of them will not be happy with the closure, as they were regular patrons of the store's cafeteria, a feature the new store does not have. 

It will be sad to see it go.  My family were patrons of the store for a long time, although the amount of business we've been doing there has declined considerably as the number of grocery options in Saskatoon have expanded.  I've been in there hundreds of times over the years from a very young age, and have seen the changes it's gone through. 

I Beat You.

Today saw the former Centre at Circle and 8th Safeway location reopen as a Saskatoon Co Op grocery store.  And I beat you there.  I was one of the first half dozen or so customers in the store.  Not that I planned it that way.  I didn't realise the store was scheduled to open at noon, so I arrived there just before that.  On top of that I was one of the first people to actually buy something, a Coke Zero and a couple of donuts.  I did have to wait in line for a bit, as the cashier was having a bit of trouble getting used to the new cash register setup, and a customer ahead of me had merchandise whose sale price wasn't entered into the system properly.

They're still doing work inside the store, like painting.  I imagine they will be tweaking things for a while yet, so be patient with the staff if you go in.

It will be interesting to see what cliental the store draws, as the store further west down 8th Street seems to draw a lot of seniors. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Inspiring Confidence.

The Cleveland Indians have a relief pitcher that has one of the best pitcher names I've ever heard, Josh Outman.  After all you want your pitcher to get outs, and here's one who's literally an "out man." 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gas In Saskatoon, May 12, 2014.

Another tick down over the last week.  Gas in Saskatoon is now 125.9 cents a litre at most locations.  And this week I shall refrain from making any price predictions.

Last, Yet Not.

This morning I made my last visit to the Safeway in the Centre at Circle and 8th shopping mall.  Yet it won't be my last visit to a grocery store in that retail space.  Co Op takes control of the store tomorrow.  They acquired it after Sobeys, which bought out the Safeway stores in Canada, had to sell that store to meet government restrictions on the purchase.  With the closure earlier this year of Safeway's 8th Street and Cumberland store the changeover will see the end of a decades long presence of Safeway stores on 8th Street.

The future of the brand itself is unclear.  Sobeys continues to operate its Safeway stores under the Safeway brand name, and has apparently not decided yet whether it will rebrand those stores as Sobeys stores or not.  So, for the immediate future, I'll still be shopping at Safeway, just not one that's as convenient for me to get to as the Centre Mall store, which I'm relatively close to.  But if they do decide to drop the name we may soon see the brand disappear entirely from North America, as their former US parent has been acquired by Cerberus Capital Management.  It's possible Cerberus will rebrand Safeway stores into Albertsons stores, and if so it will be the end of a name that has been active since 1925.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Not A Manic Monday.

It's nice to start the week off with a day off.  It seems I don't have to work tomorrow.  Of course that probably means I'll end up with a whole bunch of work to do for the rest of the week.

Quine and Fripp?

Listening to this made me wonder, what would a collaboration between Robert Fripp and Robert Quine have been like?  I doubt Quine was a Fripp fan, but there are licks here that make me think of Fripp's playing on David Bowie's "Fashion," especially the outro.  And they did share a common link, Brian Eno, who Quine hung out with during Eno's late '70s New York period.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Did It.

I did my stupid thing, which was to go to the drive through at McDonalds.  Not only did I buy a 6 Chicken McNuggets meal, I bot a caramel sundae as well.  So I'll probably end up with heartburn, or stay awake all night because of the caffeine in the Coke Zero.

In one sense I've already been punished.  They didn't give me a straw for my drink!

I'll Be Sorry.

I'm about to go out and do something stupid.  I shouldn't, but it's just one of those times I need to have a bit of a blow out.  Tomorrow, things will tighten up a bit.

The Surrogate.

Unfortunately for Caturday fans I don't have a cute kitty to take pictures of to post here.  I don't have any other pets, cute or otherwise, to photograph for your entertainment.  So check out this photo post of Randy McDonald's cute cat Shakespeare as a surrogate.

No Luck.

Once again I didn't win the million bucks on the Western 6/49.  I got one number on my ticket, which is always better than none, but not the winning level of better.  At least it was only a buck.

Hey, Ed Herman!

That was quite the pompadour/Mohawk thing you had going on tonight.  I think Brian Setzer would approve.  Seemed to be getting into your eyes a bit at times though, so maybe something different next fight would be a good idea.

That Smell.

How do people who work in Subway restaurants put up with that smell?  That weird smell they all have.  I guess they get used to it after a while.

Pizza Peculiarity.

Last night I had a McCain Rising Crust 4 cheese pizza for supper.  I was less than impressed.  I found it rather flavourless.  In fact I almost threw the remaining pieces out this morning, but didn't.  So I took them out to have with my already planned supper of a couple of roast beef sandwiches.  Oddly the pizza tasted better rewarmed than it did fresh.  Not hugely better, but a bit better nonetheless.  I still won't be buying one again anytime soon however.

Don't Assume.

This weekend's Sunday Phoenix contains a flyer for the Marriage You've Always Wanted conference.  Seeing that it involves the Rosewood Park Alliance Church, and an author and evangelist named Gary Chapman, I'm afraid I must note it will not deal with the marriage I've always wanted.  After all I don't want a marriage involving conservative Christian nonsense like "...God's biblical intention for sex...."

Not that I'm ever likely to get married anyway.

You Never See It.

Watching boxing this afternoon on TV I was once more struck about something I've never seen in a fight.  Referees don't get hit.  Given the situations they often have to insert themselves in, with punches flying madly about, you'd think we'd regularly see them eat a punch.  But they don't.  Then again perhaps if you're a ref who gets in the way that badly you don't end up being a ref for long.

Bad Dad's.

I just finished off a box of Dad's Goodie Rings cookies I bought earlier this week.

If your response is "Huh? Goodie Rings don't come in a box." then, like me, you haven't bought any in a while.  Here in Saskatoon at least the only size available at the moment is a 250 gram box, versus the 350 gram bag they've long come in.  This of course means less cookies per package, and given that I bought them at what seems to be the same price as the older packaging, a higher cost per cookie.

I bought them at Walmart.  Oddly the website still has the 350 gram packaging listed.  Even more oddly is that the web page for Dad's doesn't list Goodie Rings at all.  And both looking at the webpage and at local store shelves as well it seems some of their other products have disappeared.  Perhaps they're rationalising their product line because of poor sales.

I doubt this means they're about to disappear.  They wouldn't have come up with a new package if Goodie Rings are on the chopping block.  But I'm still annoyed at the changes, since you're getting less value for your snack money.

Distraction Strikes Again!

I was going to find something to write another blog post about for the 12 PM hour, but got distracted.  Guess I'll have to try writing an extra one for this hour.

Funny It Took So Long.

I was just checking my Google + page, and one of the posts it came up with was from George Takei.  Given his web presence, and some of the things I have written about, I'm surprised I haven't seen something from him there before.

Bits And Pieces.

So, if you read the post before this you might be wondering what film I rented.  It was The Wolverine.  So here's a few random thoughts about it.  Spoilery I suppose, but I'm guessing most visitors have already seen it.

I was a fan of the X Men comics and spinoffs in the late '70s and early '80s but this is the first of the movies I've watched.  I've only seen tiny bits and pieces of the first, and maybe the second.  I just sort of decided to avoid them, because any superhero film won't fit the version in your memories.  So I came to this one fresh.

Jackman made an respectable Wolverine.  Yeah, he's too tall, but he was probably cheaper than the shorter, better known actors when the franchise started.  Seriously, do you want to see Tom Cruise as Wolverine?  And of course no "general purpose" actor is going to have a physique like the one Wolverine has in the comics.  A pro wrestler might, but Jackman is a better actor than most of them would be.

It's always interesting to see what is taken from the original material and what is altered.  For example the bit with the bear in the opening sequence comes partially from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's original Wolverine miniseries from 1982, as do other bits in the movie.(Ah, Frank Miller, before we all knew he was nuts.)  On the other hand we get alterations like Yukio with long red dyed hair, versus the short undyed 'do of the original, and a blonde Viper.  Seriously, a blonde Viper?  And giving them both powers is a bit annoying, although Yukio's precognition might just as well not have been in the story given how little actual impact it had.  Meanwhile Viper's powers seem suspiciously like they were in part lifted from another Marvel character, Typhoid Mary.

Some changes are more understandable, and may actual help the movie.  For example movie Wolverine apparently knows little or no Japanese, while comics Wolverine is fluent.  So we don't end up being subjected to Jackman speaking in Japanese with a bad accent.  Although even that wouldn't have been as annoying as films where supposedly Japanese characters do so.

On the other hand Will Yun Lee sounded convincing to me speaking Japanese.  In a better world Lee and someone like Mark Dacascos would be starring in a buddy cop picture as a couple of Asian American cops, instead of doing his usual competent job in secondary roles.  And of course his character here, Harada, has a major difference from the original, specifically a certain suit of armour.

Nice to see Hiroyuki Sanada in this, although he probably should have had more screen time.  As I watched the sequence where Shingen battles Yukio I wondered if Sonny Chiba has seen the film, and what he might think of it and his former protégé's part.

Famke Jansen gets a rather thankless cameo here.  She lies around in a nightgown, torments Wolverine in his dreams, sounds kind of whiny at the end, and that's about it.  Kind of a waste for what I suspect might be her last shot at the character.

I think the climax of the film ended up being kind of a mess.  It certainly could have done with a bit more plot exposition, as what Viper and Yashida actually planned was kind of confusing.  There seems to be a bit of a "We don't need to explain things clearly because it looks cool!" vibe going on here.

Well, now it's off to the Redbox machine.  This was my first use of one, and since I used their "TRYME" promo code this one is apparently free.  Not that a buck fifty a day rental fee will break the bank.

The VHS Advantage.

I rented a movie yesterday.  As I began to watch it I remembered one of the advantages of the VHS video cassette for watching movie rentals.  If there's ads at the beginning you can fast forward through them.  DVDs force you to watch through all the crappy ads.  I sat there last night for what must have been 5 or 6 minutes of trailers for movies I have no interest in, and an ad trying to get me to by a Blu Ray player.  On the other hand you don't need to rewind a DVD.

To most younger readers a VCR is a curiosity at best, something your older relatives might still have in their house, plugged in or not.(I say most because I'm sure there are some young movie buffs who own one to watch movies that will never see the official digital light of day, but are still found on VHS.)  I'm old enough to remember when they were high tech and expensive.  The first ones I saw in the flesh were in grade school, where they were used to show us kids stuff that was taped off TV.  This was early enough that I doubt we were ever shown anything commercially made.  These early machines even had mechanical recording timers on them.  I wonder if some might have been Betamax machines, Sony's home video format which ultimately lost to JVC's VHS format, despite its supposed better quality.

I'm not sure when my family got our first VCR, but it was some time in the mid-late '80s.  But we'd been renting videos for some time before that.  When video rental stores began to appear they rented machines in the early days alongside the actual cassettes.  After all most people initially didn't have a VCR due to the cost.  So when you came home from the video store not only would you be carrying a bag of cassettes, you'd be carrying a big metal case with a heavy VCR in it.  I'm not sure when the practice ended, because of course once we got our own machine we didn't need to bother renting one anymore.

One thing I can't remember is whether the ancestor of the DVD, the LaserDisc, was ever offered for rent locally.  The format was pretty much a flop in North America, so it's quite amusing to see interviews with musicians circa 1980 speculating on what the format might mean for the industry.  A number of them talked about producing visual material for the format, but other than a few concert videos these plans fizzled as the format did.  I do remember seeing a few used discs in Saskatoon in the mid '80s, so a few of the machines did reach the market in this area.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Gas In Saskatoon, May 5, 2014.

We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.  And of course some of you are shaking your heads, since it's obvious I follow no schedule here.

Just a tiny change to report.  Gas in Saskatoon is currently 127.9 cents a litre at most locations.  I personally filled up the car I drive today, both because it was getting low, and I wouldn't be surprised if prices go up this week.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Ten Years Of Rambling.

It was ten years ago, on Tuesday, May 4, 2004, that this blog began.  I started it on a whim, with no real goal in mind, and no specific idea for what I'd write.  I'd heard about blogging and decided to give it a try.  I had no expectation I'd be still be writing here ten years later.  As I've mentioned before I wrote a lot more in the early years of the blog then I have subsequently.  In the first two and a half years I wrote more than a thousand posts.  For whatever reason my output dropped greatly in 2007 and never went back to those early levels.

I've never had a lot of traffic here.  For me a fifteen visitor day is a good day.  I don't get the impression I get many regular visitors.  Yet that hasn't stopped me.  I would imagine a lack of response is what kills a lot of blogs.  And I've continued to write through what must be at least a half dozen cycles of "blogging is dead" talk.

Other than a few test posts everything I've posted here remains up.  A lot of older posts obviously contain dead links, but that serves as a snapshot of what the Internet was like in times past.  More importantly I've never removed anything on the basis of its content.   There are ideas found in some posts that I wouldn't write now because my attitudes have changed, but I'm not going to remove them simply because they might make me look bad. 

Will I still be doing this ten years from now?  I haven't got a clue.  Ten years is way too long a time for me to make predictions about myself.  The world changes a lot in a year, so even predicting what I'll be doing on Tuesday, May 4, 2015 would be silly.  But I certainly have no intent of stopping anytime in the near future. 

And now, time to celebrate with a celebratory double chocolate donut from Tim Hortons and a Coke Zero.