2006-09-29

 

"Your neighbour is doing a big construction."

I am always amazed how people I don’t know, or don’t know well, seem to know so much about me. It is not as if I go about advertising myself or trying to draw attention to myself, but nonetheless, people always surprise me by seeming to know more about me than I would expect.

Case in point: as I paid for my gas before heading home for Montreal, the attendant, an elderly gentleman whom I only know from the gas station 2 blocks from my house in Ottawa, said to me: "Your neighbour is doing a big construction."

Yes, it is true, the neighbour across from me is doing a major renovation of his home, however, I do not expect this gas station attendant to know where I live.

While I do live two blocks from the gas station, it is not line of sight (it is 1 block, 90 degree turn, another block). The gas station only came into being after Sofia and the kids relocated to Montreal. I come home late, I don’t hang around the neighbourhood, nor am I there on the weekends.

These types of incidents only further reinforce the notion that I am somehow not plugged into the general happenings around me. It seems people have underlying social connections that I am totally unaware of. All my life, I am the one left wondering what happned because I certainly did not see the group moving in one direction. It reminds me of a story a deaf friend related to me about taking aerobics classes, she said it was difficult because she could not hear the music or instructions, so she had to follow what the people were doing, but they would unexpectedly change direction and she would be left trying to follow them.

NOTE: there is nothing flashy about my car, it is a fairly basic charcoal grey Mazda 3.

NOTE 2: for those who don't know it is 170Km (about 100 miles) from the door of the house in Ottawa to the door of the house in Montreal.

Image nabbed from here.

2006-09-28

 

Wherever you go, I will follow

Today is Sofia and my 10th wedding anniversary. This was the final song at our wedding and reflects well my feelings then and today.

Covenant Hymn by Gary Daigle and Rory

Wherever you go, I will follow,
Wherever you live is my home.
Though days be of blessing or sorrow,
Though house be of canvas or stone,
Though Eden be lost to the past,
Though mountains before us be vast,
Wherever you go, I am with you.
I will never leave you alone.

Whatever you dream, I am with you,
When stars call your name in the night.
Though shadows and mist cloud the future,
Together we bear the light.
Like Abram and Sarah we stand,
With only a promise in hand.
But lead where you dream: I will follow.
To dream with you is my delight.

And though you should fall, you will find me,
When no other friend can you claim,
When foes beat you down or betray you,
And others desert you in shame.
When home and dreams aren’t enough,
And you run away from my love,
I’ll raise you from where you have fallen.
Faithful to you is my name.

Wherever you die, I will be there
To sing you to sleep with a psalm,
To sooth with tales of our journey,
Your fears and doubts I will calm.
We’ll live when journeys are done
Forever in mem’ry as one.
And we will be buried together,
And waken to great a new dawn.

Wherever you go, I will follow.
Behold! The horizon shines clear.
The possible gleams like a city:
Together we’ve nothing to fear.
So speak with words bold and true
The message my heart speaks to you.
You won’t be alone, I have promised.
Wherever you go, I am there.


(I am sure I am seriously bending some copyright laws in publishing the lyrics here.)

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2006-09-27

 

Silence

I suppose it could be a reference to my diminished presence on the web this past week-and-a-half or so, but it is not.

For the last month I have been consciously aware of not hearing birds chirping as I wake up in the morning – there is no 5am roll call.

Image nabbed from here.

2006-09-26

 

Arbitrary precision

I love libraries. I have spent a lot of time in them. I have borrowed lots of books from them.

One of the great things is the Dewey Decimal Classification system - which allows you to reasonably quickly find a book (at home I tend to organize books roughly by subject matter and size).

What I have always found odd, is how precise some of the numberings are. I am aware of the gross categorizations, you can look at it here, but many go well beyond being 800 or 650. They include narrowings like 803. They go to even further precision by appending some decimal digits - 808.02.

Today I picked up a book that has a very long decimal sequence 791.430233. Not only that, but it has a further refinement of R514. It makes me wonder me wonder what range of titles lie between 791.430232 and 791.430234.

The book I picked up (among others) is this one, but, before following the link, why not try to find it by the DDC classification.

2006-09-25

 

DVDs and magic lost

DVDs are wonderful, they provide exceptional video quality for viewing. However, this also works against them in some instances.

Secret Agent, a TV series I particularly enjoy, is an old black and white British series. One of the wonderful things about it was the continually changing story locations. One week the story may take place in Rome, the next in Santiago, the next, Macau.

When I initially watched it over the airwaves, from a PBS station over the border, the image quality was good, but not perfect. This helped to enhance the believability of the exotic locals - almost every episode began with an opening shot of a plane landing in some foreign local.

When I got the DVD set, some of the mystery was lost because it was obvious that sound stages were being used - which was not so obvious from the slightly fuzzier, slightly grainier images coming in over the air.

2006-09-23

 

You say tomato I say tomato

We all have different ways of speaking and pronouncing our words - I am no exception. Where I find it most obvious is when talking about programming with fellow programmers, most notably when talking about the programming languages C or C++ (C's successor, or sorts).

One of the language keywords is char.

Everyone else I know pronounces it the way it is spelled - char. I pronounce it kar.

The reason is simple, I learned C in isolation, from a book, some 20 years ago. char is the shortened form of character (just as int is the shortened form of integer), consequently the logical pronunciation must begin with a hard k sound not the soft ch sound.

Another word I mispronounce is kludge. When I say it, it rhymes with sludge or fudge. The way everyone else says it, it rhymes with stooge. However, when I use it as a verb or adjective, I use the long oo sound, but as a noun, it is definitely the short u.

Image nabbed from here.

2006-09-18

 

Landing on the Forbidden Planet

I always like to see the search terms that bring people here. I blogged once before on this. Award winning chili no longer seems to make the rounds, although anthony de croud still does. In order of popularity, from the past week or so, the search terms are:

anthony de croud
palladium oxide uv fluorescence
forbidden planet pictures
how can a elephant adapt to its environment
masa & purple corn
how did organisms changed the planet
forward chino de la suerte
cold cuts slimy
personality test circle, square, triangle
calliope planet star
ovo-lactic vegetarian
return to the forbidden planet - poetry
forbidden planet california jason
nathalie richard montreal
heavy rye bread
touch her belly to
things that originated from canada
arequpa the white city
rocotto relleno recipe
my nice nieces
today i married my friend
zno is not a good photocatalyst


Twenty six came in from google, and one from yahoo - this is not surprising since google owns blogger. Some of these are pretty obscure and people have to dig deep in the search lists to actually find me.

2006-09-16

 

Many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment and will die here like rotten cabbages.

Found a 5 minute clip from one of my favourite episodes from The Prisoner: Free For All.

Short synopsis: After resigning from a sensitive government job, the prisoner is abducted from his home and brought to a place called The Village. A cosmopolitan place populated with people who have been similarly abducted. It is a story of his struggle to retain his individiuality in the face of increasing pressure to give in and become a model citizen. There are no names, only numbers. The prisoner is assigned the number 6.

In this episode, he is encourage to run in The Village elections for the position of number 2.


2006-09-15

 

YAPT - Yet Another Personality Test

Until I get around to posting something real, here are the result of a personality test. Inspiration (or should that be lack of inspiration) from ms. q - her results are here.


My Personality
Neuroticism
39
Extraversion
14
Openness To Experience
21
Agreeableness
65
Conscientiousness
61
Test Yourself Compare Yourself View Full Report

MySpace Codes, MySpace Layouts and hi5 by Pulseware Survey Software



While you are at it, you might want to check out other tests I have taken:


How logical I am.

Another personality test.

My Roger's indicator of multiple intelligences

Three highly dubious, but ego inspiring, instant insight internet interrogations indulged in.

What kind of soul I possess.

My personality DNA.

2006-09-13

 

A graveyard of lost cultures

I am currently reading (among other things) Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs. How could I resist, I think I have listened to it at least four times on CBC's Ideas (they seemed to repeat it over and over and over again during the summer season).

...in North America we live in a graveyard of lost aboriginal cultures, many of which were decisively finished off by mass amnesia in which even the memory of what was lost was also lost.
.
.
.
Writing, printing, and the Internet give a false sense of security about the permanence of culture. Most of the million details of a complex, living culture are transmitted neither in writing nor pictorially. Instead, cultures live through word of mouth and example. That is why we have cooking classes and cooking demonstrations, as well as cookbooks. That is why we have apprenticeships, internships, student tours, and on-the-job training as well as manuals and textbooks.


You can read the whole of chapter 1 from the link above.

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2006-09-12

 

Feeling secure?

Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychologist from the University of Bath, has determined that drivers pass closer to cyclists who are wearing helmets than those who do not.

Apparently, drivers have the impression that cyclists wearing a helmet are more experienced whereas those who do not are more unpredictable. Drivers also give more distance to female cyclists.

You can read the press release here.

Image nabbed from here.

2006-09-11

 

Trimeme

I have been doubly tagged by both Mother of Invention and Barbara. I was tagged once before, but I declined because I had already done that one.

For those who are curious about other memes I have committed (although, perhaps they are not truly memes since I was not tagged to do them, nor did I tag others with them), you may want to check out Fourever meme, Memes of Seven, and End of Year Survey".

3 things that make me laugh
1. Fawlty Towers
2. Non-sequiturs
3. My kids

3 things I can do
1. Breath
2. Tie my shoes
3. Cook

3 things I can’t do
1. Fly
2. Live forever
3. Travel through time

3 things I’m doing right now
1. Blogging
2. Breathing
3. Looking over my shoulder.

3 things I want to do before I die
1. Write and be published
2. Have my own lab / workshop / research centre
3. Be independently wealthy

3 things I hate most
1. Conformity and / or unquestioning obedience
2. Injustice
3. Willful ignorance

3 things that scare me
1. Falling
2. Crowds / mobs
3. Failure

3 things that I don’t understand
1. People
2. Popular culture
3. Crowds

3 things I’d like to learn
1. How to draw / paint
2. How to swim
3. To understand people

3 things that describe my personality
1. Ascetic
2. Stoic
3. Avuncular

3 things you should listen to
1. John Lee Hooker
2. The queen of Rock and Roll: Little Richard
3. Bif Naked’s album Purge

3 things you should never listen to
1. Phil Collins / Genesis
2. Elton John
3. The Eagles

3 of my favorite foods
1. Bigos
2. Roladę y kluski
3. Fresh baked bread with fresh cooked ham.

3 beverages I drink regularly
1. Water
2. Milk
3. Iced Tea

3 shows I watched as a kid
1. Spiderman
2. Hercules
3. Rocket Robin Hood

2006-09-09

 

Uber tie-dyed T-shirt

For those who like tie-dyed shirts, this is something to die for:




2006-09-08

 

My mind rebels at stagnation.

"My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation."

Sherlock Holmes, in "The Sign of the Four"

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2006-09-07

 

Make your words work

This is a title of a book by Gary Provost. No, I don't know who he is, however, I did find a passage - which I found interesting - attributed to that book. I have requested a copy from the library. It deals with varying sentence lentgh to create rhythm in writing:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length.

And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals -- sounds that say listen to this, it is important.


You can also find some interesting cached writing materials here. From what I understand, they are now collected in a book called Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer - they are no longer available directly from his website, but the originals are still available from the wayback machine archives (use the first link provided to access the materials, though some articles are not in the archive).

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2006-09-06

 

Aaack!

I dislike finding typos and grammatical errors in my posts - makes me feel like a real idiot (of course, maybe I have an exaggerated opinion of my own literacy).

The most common typo I notice is teh instead of the.

Then there are the little typos that Word fails to pick up like, "Then there are he little typos that Word fails to pick up."

There are also the times I insert or omit one or more words in a sentence.

I could also gripe about my use of punctuation - which I consider creative in most instances - not to mention run on sentences - for which I sought no help (they just seemed to go away - mostly).

This morning, I noticed a typo in my Evolution of a Peeve blog. sigh.

I suppose what I need to do are: (1) write my posts out well in advance - say a month or so – put them aside and reread them shortly before posting, (2) get an editor who will proofread this stuff.

I also habitually break various grammatical rules because it sounds better to break the rule than to follow the rule. I misuse hopefully, I split infinitives, and I have been known to verb the odd noun - for these, I am unrepentant. For all the others ... aaack!

Image nabbed from here.

2006-09-05

 

Origins

As a religious person, I have no problem believing in God. Furthermore, I believe in a creator God who is in someway wholly responsible for the origin of the universe. My God is one of the Christian interpretations of God.

There have always been throughout history those who wish to do away with a Divine entity of any sort. For a time, following the discovery of genes and DNA and RNA, there was a belief that life arose independently on Earth. Nowadays, this is not so popular. There appears to be a deep seated human need for life to have originated outside the Earth – whether this is Erik Von Daniken's space aliens seeding the Earth, or meteors bearing bacteria from mars, or the stuff of life raining upon the Earth (panspermia).

No matter how people try to get God out of the equation (aside from those believing it arose independently on Earth), they always turn to an external source for the origin of life.

Personally, I have no preference on how life originated on Earth nor do I have objections to asking the questions: how, why, when.

I smile when people try to convince me that there is no need for an external God to explain life and then proceed to try and convince me how life originated externally to Earth - they replace one external source with another.

Image nabbed from here.

2006-09-04

 

Nice Niece

I have a total of 6 nieces and 3 nephews - none blood related. This one is Paola.

2006-09-02

 

Touch your toes - the original

Found the science book the post was inspired from. It is called Amazing Science Tricks for Kids and Parents by Michio Goto.

It is quite good because most experiments can be done with things easily found around the house (although, I have to confess, "easily found around the house" can be very subjective, but, in this case, I don't think so).

Image is and content of image is copyright Kodansha International Ltd. (I just scanned it and posted it).

2006-09-01

 

Thirty days hath September ...

Shorter days
Cooler nights
Wilting leaves
Autumn near
Burnished gold
Flaming red
Warm orange
September



Image copyright by me.

[modified 11:23 01-September-2006 to make all lines three syllables - which means "fiery" gets axed and replaced with "flaming" - or maybe that should be "glowing" or "blazing", or "burning"?]

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