Thursday, May 17, 2018

Minor sidenote

Small things 17 May

  • Whoever suggested that whiskey or brandy was good to provide relief from a cold or flu likely wasn't a doctor, but I bet they sure loved whiskey and brandy. In fact I propose that those who continue to offer this advice are also bona fide whiskey lovers.
  • Five syllables here; Seven more syllables there. Are you happy now?
  • Poem by Hungry Cat:

I lick your nose.
I lick your nose again.
I drag my claws down your eyelids.
Oh, you're up? 
Feed me.

  • Proton: Electron! Where the hell are you?   Electron: I'm not sure. I can tell you where I might be. Does that help?

  • In biology, multiplication and division kinda mean the same thing.
  • When they say "We're letting you go," what they really mean is "We're making you go."
  • If you ever say "I don't care" and people don't believe you, just wave your hands in the air....

Cause a stir...... LOL

Just another day in NYC

Here's some really great footage of a typical day in New York City in 1911. Unlike similar video from that era, this has been time corrected to look more natural, with sound added for effect.

I love the real look at how prevalent horse and carriage was and how carriages, the new motor cars and trolleys jockey for position on the streets, with no traffic lights or stop signs. The fashion is fascinating as well.

Things I learned lately 17 May

  • Before the 17th century, just 5% of Europeans could read or write. Today, more than 90% of the world under age 25 can read and write.
  • There are only 10 foods that all nutritionists agree are really good for you. Blueberries. Leafy greens. Avocados. Beans. Garlic. Lemon. Chia seeds. Sprouts. Quinoa. Wild salmon.
  • Foxconn, the company that makes iPhones, employs 1.3 million people in China. One factory in Zhengzhou alone, employs 350,000 people.
  • Sunsets on Mars are blue.
  • The 588th Night Bomber Regiment, aka the 'Night Witches', were an all-female group of Russian fliers who went on bombing raids by the light of the moon in plywood biplanes. The pioneering women dropped more than 23,000 tons of bombs on Nazi targets, becoming a crucial Soviet asset in winning World War II. The Germans nicknamed them the Nachthexen, or 'night witches', because the whooshing noise their wooden planes made resembled that of a sweeping broom. This sound was the only warning the Germans had. The planes were too small to show up on radar or on infrared locators. They never used radios, so radio locators couldn't pick them up either. 
  • Turpentine was used as medicine around the 1820s. We know better now, of course.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Small things 11 May

  • What is Groot's email address?  i@mgroot
  • The Ontario Conservative Party paid actors to pretend they were Doug Ford supporters. It was the most comprehensive arts program the Conservatives have ever been involved in.
  • Imagine if every front yard was turned into a vegetable garden........ All we are saying.... Give peas a chance....
  • "Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." Simon Sinek
  • Whoever invented knock-knock jokes should get a Nobel prize.....
  • If the Silver Surfer and Iron Man teamed up, they'd be alloys.
  • Organic chemistry is difficult. Those who study it have alkynes of trouble.


More misleading media headlines

"A Waymo self-driving van was involved in a crash in Arizona."

Yes, except that it was NOT self-driving at the time, AND it was hit by another vehicle that had swerved into the wrong lane.

So - nothing to see here - move alone......

Homemade Big Mac

A few folks tried to make a homemade version of things McDonald's sells on their menu.

This guy made his version of a Big Mac.

Oh man.

If only this is what you got from McDonalds.

Everything that's wrong with our society summed up in the following headline

"Loblaw shareholders shoot down proposal for living wage."

Things I learned lately 11 May

  • California became the first state in the US to require all new homes to be built with rooftop solar panels. The California Energy Commission voted unanimously in favour of the rule. Starting January 2020 any new home that's 3 stories or less, will need to include energy-harvesting solar panels on top, unless they are in the shade or the roof is too tiny.
  • By 2020, it is estimated that Canada's marijuana industry will be bigger than its alcohol industry, possibly $6.5 billion.
  • 53% of polled Canadians said it's not necessary for couples to tie the knot to spend their lives together, and 1 in 6 said they're not interested in the marriage at all.
  • Google is working on visual positioning for Google Maps (see right). Using AI, Maps will be able to tell exactly where you are using what your phone's camera sees and help guide you to your destination while walking. Using augmented reality, Maps will also superimpose points of interest onto the image you see on the screen.
  • Google Photos will soon be able to automatically add colour to old black and white photos.
  • Americans got 3.4 billion spam calls in April.
  • 250 years ago, 1/3 of children in the world's richest countries didn't live to see their 5th birthday.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Songs that are 40 years old this year (2018)

Blondie - Heart of glass
Cheap Trick - Surrender
Devo - I can't get no satisfaction
Dire Straits - Sultans of swing
Elvis Costello - Pump it up
Talking Heads - Take me to the river
The Cars - Good times roll / Just what I needed
Van Halen - You really got me / Runnin' with the devil
The Police - Roxanne / Can't stand losing you
Bee Gees - Stayin' alive / Night fever
Boney M - Rivers of babylon
Wings - With a little luck
Rolling Stones - Miss you
Taste of Honey - Boogi oogie oogie
Exile - Kiss you all over
Nick Gilder - Hot child in the city
Anne Murray - You needed me
Donna Summer - MacArthur park
Kate Bush - Wuthering heights
10CC - Dreadlock holiday
Rod Stewart - Do ya think I'm sexy?
Van Halen - Aint talkin bout love
Eddie Money - Baby hold on
Gerry Rafferty - Baker street
Styx - Blue coller man
Barry Manilow - Copacabana
Kansas - Dust in the wind
Steely Dan - FM
Genesis - Follow you follow me
Wings - Goodnight tonight
Heart - Heartless / Straight on
Toto - Hold the line
Foreigner - Hot blooded
Gino Vannelli - I just wanna stop
Bonnie Tyler - It's a heartache
Joe Walsh - Life's been good
Sweet - Love is like oxygen
Walter Egan - Magnet and steel
Ace Frehley - New York groove
Bob Seger - Still the same
Al Stewart - Time passages
ELO - Turn to stone
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
The Who - Who are you?

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Small things 3 May

  • The only problem with the first 30 minutes of exercise is that only 2 minutes have gone by....
  • Tired of getting parking tickets? Just take your wipers off.
  • Make deals with the devil while you're still a child. Contracts signed by minors aren't legally binding.
  • The risk with getting too high, is that you might order a pizza, and open the box upside down and think they punked you with a crust-only pizza.
  • Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?
  • Sometimes I look at pictures other people have posted online and say things like, "Hey!! I have that shed too!"
  • The word 'nun' is just the letter n doing a cartwheel.
  • When someone says "I need my space", that is NOT an invitation to remove all the furniture from their home.
  • Fake fact: A group of kangaroos is called a kangacrew. No? Kangagang?
  • UPS driver job requirements:

Should be dyslexic
Must be able to ring a doorbell and sprint 30 metres back to truck
Look good in brown shorts
Illegal parking skills beneficial

Socrates vs Nietzsche

Food truck names, real and imagined

The Grillenium Falcon; Be More Pacific; Planet of the Crepes; What the Fork?; Patty Wagon; Waffles & Chix; RoadTisserie; Kurry Up; Rolls Rice; Wilk's Booth; El Camion; Fry Girlz; Serial Grillers; Sticks and Cones; The Greasy Weiner; Burger, She Wrote; Cluck It Up; Pimp my Rice; Curry up Now; Easy Slider; Hamborghini; I Dream of Weenie; Guac N Roll; Mamas and the Tapas; Ms. Cheezious; Nacho Bizness; Pretty Thai for a White Guy; Truck Norris; VolksWaffle; Bacon me Crazy; Basic Kneads Pizza; Bun Intended; Crepe'N Around; Deli Llama; Fork in the Road; Frankenstand; God save the cuisine; Great balls on tires; Great Foodini; Starchy & Husk; Vincent Van Donuts; Pavement Snacks; Winneburger; Chrome on the Range; Fidel Gastro's;

Thin skin


A lot of people have chosen to champion the cause of blocking the approved Kinder Morgan oil pipeline from Alberta to BC. I have some thoughts.

To these people - your heart is in the right place. I get it. Pipelines are risky. They have the potential to cause significant, sometimes irreversible damage to the environment. Oil tanker ships aren't much better. Neither are rail cars full of oil. Incidentally, rail cars full of oil is more of what will likely be passing through BC if the pipelines don't get built. I'm mentioning that fact because some folks have convinced themselves that if the oil pipeline is successfully blocked, it's problem solved. Nope. The oil will still get to the west coast, just via other means, and it will most definitely be via rail.

One problem I have with this stance though, is that unlike Northern Gateway, which would have built a risky pipeline in virgin territory, Kinder Morgan's project expands on what is already there. It's like protesting the adding of a lane on a freeway. It's a little bit redundant. And, as I mentioned previously, it's a bit like insisting that the extra lane shouldn't be built, and thinking that the added traffic won't go somewhere else, if you follow my analogy.

In my humble opinion, you're protesting the wrong thing. You shouldn't be protesting pipelines. You need to address the source of the problem. The source is the world's reliance, and most especially our own reliance, on fossil fuel. They are building a pipeline because people still want to buy our oil. People still want our oil because they still haven't weaned themselves off of it for making plastics, gasoline, heating oil, diesel, and all the other things we make from oil.

I personally believe that the best way to stop new pipelines from being built is to cure the world's need for oil. Starting with ourselves. Alberta has a carbon tax, but we don't (unlike other jurisdictions) offer any incentive to buy electric cars. Nor do we insist that new homes get built to a higher R rating, to use less (or even no) fuel to heat our homes. I could go on.

So if you really want to make a difference, start putting your focus on the source of the demand for the oil in the first place. Going back to my analogy, don't protest the extra lanes in the freeway. Insist that more people take the bus or train.

Things I learned lately 3 May

  • Neil Finn, formerly of the band Crowded House, and Mike Campbell, formerly of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, are now part of Fleetwood Mac. Lindsay Buckingham is out.
  • President Donald Trump's longtime personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein said on Tuesday that a 2015 letter declaring then-candidate Trump to be in "astonishingly excellent" health, was actually dictated by Trump himself. "He dictated that whole letter. I didn't write that letter."
  • Fort Connah is the last remaining post of the British Hudson's Bay Company in the US (possibly Canada too?). It played a vital role in the fur trade. It is off highway 93, near Post Creek, Montana.
  • Scientists may have found evidence that humans 10,000 years ago hunted / fought giant sloths.
  • By the early 1980s, Israel had routinized the aggregation and purification of the country's wastewater and built a parallel water infrastructure system to transport treated water to farms. Today, nearly 90% of Israel's sewage is treated to an ultra pure level for agricultural use.
  • The Royal New Zealand Air Force has no combat capable aircraft. No fighter jets or bombers.
  • Southdale Mall was the first fully indoor mall ever built, in 1956, in Edina MN.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Small things 27 Apr

  • Some days, my idea of a reduced carb diet is eating peanut butter with a spoon.
  • It would be funny if a biology or physics teacher had a little joke at students' expense by showing them a black lung and insisting that this is what oxygen does to the lung - it makes it rust on the inside.
  • "I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."  ~Stephen Hawking
  • The scariest thing at school should be a pop quiz.
  • I think in a few years Elon Musk is going to miss his old Tesla roadster and wish he didn't launch it into space. Then he's going to try and launch a rocket to try and retrieve it.
  • Banker pick-up line: "Are you a loan, because you're gaining my interest." Appropriate come-back: "Are you a banker, because leave me a loan."
  • Elon Musk is making a sequel of the movie "Dude, where's my car?"

Parenting today

How to be a parent in 2018:

Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, and social needs are met while being careful not to over stimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen free, processed foods free, GMO free, negative energy free, plastic free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-storey, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development. Also don’t forget the coconut oil.

How to be a parent in literally every generation before ours:

Feed them sometimes.

Neil still ruining sci-fi movies

Things I learned lately 27 Apr

  • Abba is writing material for a new album.
  • You can ask for a 'round egg' at McDonalds to get the real egg. So like, order a Big Breakfast with the round egg and you won't get the powdered egg.
  • Ford plans on killing off sedans in its lineup. This is partly due to Trump's tariffs.
  • Fewer than 10% of people in Norway use cash.
  • Best headline seen this year: Uranus smells like farts, astronomers have confirmed — which could indicate there was 'a big shakeup' early in the solar system.
  • Amazon Prime members who own a car equipped with OnStar or Volvo's On Call will be able to choose Amazon Key delivery, where the package is put in your car's trunk.
  • YouTube has revealed the scale of the task it faces in removing videos that violate its terms. The platform pulled down 8.3 million videos just between October and December 2017. Pulled videos were under the categories of: Sexual: 30.01%; Spam or misleading: 26.4%; Hateful or abusive: 15.6%; Violent or repulsive: 13.5%; Harmful dangerous acts: 7.6%; Child abuse: 5.2%; Promotes terrorism: 1.6%.

Save the balance for the last sentence?

Here is an example of what I find hypocritical of some media.

In a tasty article on CTV's website, we start with a controversial headline 'Outrage in Alberta after feds discovered funding anti-pipeline group'. The article goes on to say that a position is being filled, paid for by a federal summer jobs grant, that will be involved in helping coordinate Kinder Morgan pipeline protests. Oh no! Bad Liberals! Jason Kenney, now UCP leader, formerly of the previous federal Conservative government, weighs in. 'This is what you get with Trudeau, [etc.]'.

In a short statement at the very end of the article, they throw in this little nugget. 'The same position was funded by the Conservative party when they were in power'. That kind of changes the whole point of the commentary, doesn't it? Liberals bad! Bad Liberals! Justin is bad! Oh wait, the last guy did the same thing. The article is rendered meaningless in my mind, but of course Trudeau haters won't make it past the first or second paragraph to see the balance.

So let's review, shall we? Did the former Conservative government give a grant for this position? Yes. Did they champion the controversial pipeline? Nope. Did the Liberals give a grant for this position? Yes. Did they champion the pipeline? Yes. So who exactly is the bad guy here?

Also, it's such a big story, Albertans are so enraged, that the story made it into no other media outlets. Media bias in full bloom.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Small things 21 Apr

  • Back in the day, if you were 'live streaming', basically you were fishing.
  • Bananas, nuts and crackers. 3 food words that also mean crazy.
  • If it's so normal and well intended, why don't men tell other men to smile? Or that they look great.
  • The only thing flat earthers fear...... is sphere itself.
  • If you ever see a cat meowing at the front door of their home, just sneak up to the door, ring the doorbell and run. When the owner comes to the door, they'll think maybe the cat rang the doorbell.

We get it poets

Things I learned lately 21 Apr

  • It's not just living spaces in Hong Kong that are expensive — a car space in Kowloon City district was just rented out for HK$10,000 (US$1,274) a month, making it the city's most expensive rented car park. Property agents confirmed the 135 sq ft park was rented on Monday in the residential Ho Man Tin area.
  • At Home Depot, check the price for a hint about whether an item will be marked down again. If a clearance item's price ends in .06, the price will drop one more time, and if the price ends in .03, that means it's the lowest price possible.
  • Uber just bought a company (Jump) that rents out electric bikes at a rate of $2 per 30 minutes. They only operate in DC and SF for now.
  • Some rules NFL cheerleaders (on various teams) have to abide by: no fraternizing with the players (not even social media contact); have to leave stadium wearing outfit; maintain a certain weight; no wearing sweatpants in public; turn off GPS tracking on phones.
  • When two dead stars smashed together, as was observed in October 2017, the event threw off a very large quantity of neutrons that almost immediately decayed into lighter elements. Astronomers predict that this formed 50 Earth masses of silver, 100 Earth masses of gold and 500 Earth masses of platinum.
  • If you search for solitaire, you can play the game.
  • The world's biggest hotel, by number of rooms, is the First World Hotel and Plaza in Genting Highlands, Malaysia.

Surviving Mars review

Ever since Elon Musk told us about his plans to race NASA (or anyone else for that matter) to Mars, the idea of sending people to the red planet has become a common topic of discussion. Well, now thanks to the awesome folks at Haemimont Games, you can try your hand at establishing a working Mars colony in the latest planning simulation game - Surviving Mars, which was released March 15th 2018.

I heard about this game more than a month before it was released and began watching demos and tutorials from people who got pre-release versions of the game. I put my money down immediately. This is yet another example of a sim that would work wonders in schools, to give students an idea of what needs to be managed in order to build and keep a living colony of humans on another planet that has no breathable air or surface water.

You start by choosing your mission sponsor and a few other details that essentially affect the difficulty level of the mission, including how many rockets you get, how much money you start out with, and what technologies you are gifted with out of the gate. Then you pick a spot to establish your colony, which could throw things like regular dust storms, meteor showers, cold spells and more your way.

Once your first rocket lands, robot drones will build anything you command them to, as long as the raw material resources are available. The idea is that you can use whatever money you have to order raw material from earth in subsequent rocket launches, but your goal is to start finding or mining everything you need to eventually become self-sufficient. Higher level resources have to be manufactured using the kinds of raw materials you'd get from the land, so once you are able to extract water from the soil, you can then start making other things which need water as an ingredient, like fuel. You learn that just because you have the material, you also have to have power cables, and possibly water and oxygen pipes if you want to build something new. But you also need rovers in range of the thing you're building, so they can carry the material to the build site and perform the construction.

Everything needs power, so you need to slowly build out a working grid supplied by solar, wind, and other futuristic power sources, with storage capability. As you collect materials and harvest power, you can watch your stockpile grow and shrink, while monitoring power, water and oxygen.

You need to have built a sustainable water, power and oxygen supply, plus a dome with living quarters and hopefully a food supply, before your first colonists even arrive by rocket. Once they arrive, they'll need a place to live, jobs and ways to be entertained. So, before long, you're managing things like work shifts in factories, farms and diners, while watching their morale and comfort. You can even be picky about the skills and personality traits of the colonists before they board the rocket from Earth.

You even have to monitor the battery levels of all your robot vehicles so that they don't get stranded far away from base. I like that you can override to a certain extent what vehicles are doing, to help focus on tasks that are falling behind, like emptying a cargo rocket of its load, or moving a bunch of rovers closer to a dome you're trying to build more quickly.

While all of this is going on, you can decide which research projects get prioritized in the background, as each researched technology unlocks more research, and the ability to build new structures or enhance existing ones. The research also evolves your biotechnology, engineering, transport, mining and extraction, social resources, and more.

In addition, you can send an explorer vehicle out to newly scanned sectors of the map to scan anomalies, some of which reveal new technologies to you, some of which make the mission a bit strange and mysterious.

Mars is a harsh environment though, so even while you're building and exploring, your infrastructure is being punished with dust, radiation and other Mars mysteries, wreaking all sorts of havoc on the health of your colony even if you chose a location that is relatively meteor and dust storm free. Thankfully, as long as you have time, materials and working rovers in range, whatever is broken can get fixed.

Ultimately, once you have the infrastructure built and colonists living and working in your colony, the rest of the game becomes one of sustaining what you have and keeping your colonists from getting bored or going crazy while starting a new generation of humans born on another planet.

Since research is what unveils technologies to make life easier, getting that research becomes a priority. You can accelerate things by selling rare metals to Earth, which allows you to spend that earned money on outsourcing some research.

Depending on the level of difficulty you chose at the beginning, you might get a decent colony built and then start seeing things get sabotaged by the tough Mars environment. Let that damage get out of control and your colonists will die. Not to worry, you can fire up a brand new mission and try, try again.

Presidential approval ratings since the 60s

More insight on how Facebook data is used

Filtering your newsfeed of friends' posts is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you wanted to get a better insight of how your tracked browsing history, searches and Facebook posts (and more) can, and are being used, watch this incredible Ted talk.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Kickstarter strikes again (DJIN)

I'm always thrilled when I find a new product that I feel could make life easier on Kickstarter. Or just a cool gadget. Well, one of my most recent discoveries is a bit of both. It's the DJIN card holder by Koala Gear. Koala Gear made their name with a uniquely designed ergonomic backpack and decided to try their hand at a small, efficient card holder.

Here's why that appealed to me. My most recent wallet is nothing more than a glorified card holder. It has a lot of slots for credit, bank and club cards, but when fully loaded, it's thick. It's like sitting on a brick, and from all that butt-weight, starts causing some of the cards inside to bend. If you know anything about plastic cards, they don't like being forced to bend and the stress eventually makes them break. My workaround up until now was to occasionally turn the bent cards over in the wallet to try and bend them back straight. This works temporarily, but in time they bend the other way, which just weakens the plastic more. And it's ridiculous to have to even deal with such an issue.

Enter DJIN. It has a capacity of 10 cards, which you slide into a metal frame. It's perfectly sized to make it easy to slide the cards over top of each other to find and access the one you need. Before I pledged to help fund this product, I was skeptical that it would be easy to get a card out, but since taking delivery, I worried for nothing. The holder comes with an RFID blocking card, which you can slide over top of your other 9 cards to protect from unauthorized scanning. I didn't bother, as I need the space for all 10 cards. Extremely small, but capable magnets keep the holder closed. No worries of demagnetizing your cards inside.

There are other features that I haven't found a regular use for yet, but with the card holder open, there's room behind the card frame for a few coins or small keys, that just slide in and out with ease. Even cooler, is a small but clever hidden storage space under the card frame that can only be accessed by sliding the frame upward. This hidden space is big enough for an SD card and not much else.

I like the card holder, which I bought in the leather covering, because of just how small and purpose-built it is. I'm hesitant to keep it in my back pocket, but it's so small, it fits in my front pocket. When they arrive in stores, I may buy another for my ID cards and such. They're small enough that I could easily fit 2 in one pocket.