Oh Great - Squeegee Kids

04/17/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, People

I hate squeegee kids.

It wasn't even that I had really met any before. Living in a 19th Avenue apartment and walking to and from work each day, I had my fill of panhandlers. I had my fill of natives trying to pass off funny stories for a buck or two whenever I tried to go anywhere in my neighbourhood. The guy with a sign about his starving kids who turned out not to have kids... at least, not in his care, and my favourite, Mr. "Allergic to Soup" guy who, upon me trying to give a bit of charity with a good meal, refused it with the claim that he was allergic to soup.

I guess I'd just heard all the stories.

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It's a boy!

04/09/07 | by dena | Categories: Announcements, Hoots, Raves

Early this Monday morning, Ritchie and I were up and off to the Prenatal Genetics Clinic for an 8:30 am appointment for our 18-week ultrasound.

Pretty terrific that Ritchie was able to come this time-- for the ultrasound part of the triple screen I had in late February, he was mired in project work and couldn't make it to see that our spawn was indeed just chugging along in there in terms of growth... One head, two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two arms, two legs-- no sign whatsoever of punctuated evolution giving us the next great jump in human development. ;)

x-men angel (rehosted)

So no X-Men-like incarnations! (No tails, no horns, no flippers or fins.)

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Pretzelbet

04/07/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions

Ever been on a long flight, and they give you one of those little packages of pretzels, and you desperately need just a little more amusement than merely eating the pretzels?

Well, perhaps you haven't, but I have, and with all the connecting flights, I did figure out that I could spell just about anything with those tiny pretzels, just by nibbling off just the right pieces. Now granted, there had to be a certain amount of license taken, but some of the letters come out okay. For example, the X:

X
(dim rectangles of course indicating the parts you need to eat!)

So, for crazy people's enjoyment, here is my whole sample alphabet in preztels, or "pretzelbet", as nobody in their right mind would call it: the full pretzelbet.

You will notice that there are actually more ways to make the letters than these. Yes, yes there are! Perhaps a lowercase r would be more recognizable, or the M and W could actually be based on the same bites. Go wild! Some letters are definitely more challenging than others. Airplane mini-pretzels seem to be a very good challenge, and you might have to practice to get the full letter "G" I list.

Yes, I miss the span of time when they actually came out with pretzel letter snacks, thanks for asking :)

 

Yup, they think we're stupid

04/05/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

In my mailbox today was a letter postmarked from Spain, Madrid to be precise. I don't actually know anyone in Spain so gave it a look. Inside was -- oh, I can hardly contain myself -- a notice that I had a winning ticket in the "El-Gordo Sweepstake Lottery" and won $815,950.71. This was my "notfication" of winning from the "International Lotto Corporation" courtesy of "Eurolinks Securities Madrid." And better still, I could still win the $1.3 billion international lottery. Man, I could make more money than most countries here!

However:

Due to mixed up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this award from public notice

Oh, my, what a good idea. Wouldn't want anyone else getting in on this.

Of course the fact that the wonderfully named "notfication" completely excluded any personal information and is a somewhat askew colour photocopy shouldn't raise any issues; the lack of a real contact address is surely just a minor omission and of no consequence.

My cynicism could be due to me winning this a few months ago too. Same cover letter with a few details changed and that's about it. They didn't even stretch to buying a nice little watermarker or perhaps one of those cool stamps of incorporation that engineers get. Nope, just one poorly duplicated sheet of paper. I mean, if they're going to defraud me, at least try to make it a bit convincing.

You might have thought that if I didn't bite the first time around I might just not possibly the second. Yup, they think we're stupid. That's all there is to it.

Addendum: "Eurolinks Securities" makes a quite amusing appearance over at a href="http://escam.blogspot.com/" Scamblog.

Update: Removed the Scamblog link as it's apparently become some sort of adblog site and lost all of the original content.

 

Alienating business plans

04/04/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

I've been using DataViz's "Documents To Go" for years now on my Palm Tungsten. When I bought my Macintosh, I was delighted that they offered a OSX version as that made switching platforms easier. When v9 came out late last year, I paid the upgrade fee quite happily. Recently DataViz released v10 of the program. Around the same time they made a few little adjustments to their business practices.

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The Counter-Creationism Handbook : Mark Isaak

04/01/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Books, Religion, Science

Link: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0520249267?ie=UTF8&tag=thecerealkill-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=0520249267

I was moved to pick this up when I saw a book-signing in the front of the bookstore I was walking into, and got close enough to realize they were peddling mystical garbage. I ended up in the science section just to shake off the willies from such close contact :)

This is a book by Mark Isaak, the editor of TalkOrigins' "An Index To Creationist Claims".

In fact, the book is essentially a very slightly pared-down list of the claims and their rebuttals in book form, though with a few more images. When you have it laid all out in paper format, it's a substantial amount of material. It can be used as a reference for specific claims, it's true, but you can do that on the web site. I enjoyed it most just reading it from cover to cover. Creationist claims are pretty colourful, so they and their rebuttals don't get dry all that quickly :)

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Those whacky, whacky searches (again)

03/30/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Time for another installment!

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Creative answers to technical questions

03/30/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/5107/They-didnt-study

Yes, you've probably seen all of these before. I think they're funny and worth repeating.

(Via Daring Fireball)

 

Want a lot of hits of your name in Google? Write an Amazon review

03/27/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

Or better still, don't.

Every now and again I do the vanity search thing on Google. Typically a search on my full name brings up a couple of pages, mostly associated with other people who share it. This time a slew of pages appeared which is a trifle unusual. Almost all of them had the same review for an album on Amazon.

What was a little surprising was that although I had actually written those words, I'd never posted them to anywhere other than my old personal website. Someone had copied them (and kindly cited the source!) on to his own Amazon music reviews page. From there they propagated to what feels like every music search and retail operation on the internet.

I'm not going to link to the review or album since it's not terribly important, but it's a fascinating example of the flow of information on the internet. Alas, it seems that my principle contribution to the internet's font of knowledge is to be the guy who gets a "[sic]" as he misspelled a specific musical style!

 

Filing taxes electronically

03/27/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Canadian

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/03/27/laytontaxfile.html

Last year I decided that I'd had enough of paying quite a lot of money to an accountant to do my taxes. I'm less than convinced about the "Tax Experts" of H&R Block, and thought that that yearly purchase of a package like QuickTax or UFile seemed like a bit of a waste. So, in the end I went with one of the online systems as suggested by Revenue Canada. For some people with more complex returns, I can see that any of the above make sense, but mine tend to be a T4, a couple of charitable deductions, maybe an RRSP contribution if I got around to it, but that's about it. Anyway, the one I chose worked just fine and took me marginally less time than filling out the paper equivalent. I plan to do the same again this year.

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VoIP patent reaffirmed

03/25/07 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032300986.html?nav=rss_business

Like to use Skype to talk to people who use POTS (the plain ol' telephone system) rather than a computer? Maybe Vonage's equivalent? Be prepared to say bye-bye to it. In the linked-to article, Vonage has been found guilty of infringing on three VoIP patents belonging to Verizon. Two of them aren't mentioned further, but the third is to do with how a gateway between traditional phone systems and VoIP systems are constructed.

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Bad Day LA : American McGee

03/22/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Games

It was a game that looked mighty silly on the shelf, and amazingly cheap (I picked up my copy for $15 at Electronics Boutique). Given previous American McGee Presents releases like Alice (they're making a movie out of that!? Holy crokinole!) and Scrapland, I knew that it might not be an Age Of Empires or Half-Life, but expected that it might be fairly well-written and pretty darned quirky.

I have not been disappointed :)

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An Introduction to Genetic Engineering : Desmond S. T. Nicholl

03/18/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Books, Science

Link: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0521004713?ie=UTF8&tag=thecerealkill-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=0521004713

This was a pretty interesting book. Note, though, that it is in no way an introduction to biology at all. As a matter of fact, if you don't have at least the highest level of high school biology or equivalent hobbyist reading under your belt, you might as well skip to the short discussion chapter right near the end of the book :)

The most surprising feature of the book is that it's a surprisingly practical book. If you wanted to clone a fragment of DNA, or sequence it, or determine which bacteria took up the segment of DNA that you wanted them to, there's enough practical information in here to do it. However, lest you think this be some cookbook of doom for armchair geneticists, it's pretty unglamorous hard work to do such things, including very strict matters of cleanliness (if you're trying to amplify DNA, for example, you can imagine how anything containing DNA getting in contact with your work could prove to be a problem), hours of chilling, heating up, growing, mixing just the right dilutions of enzymes to chop things up into the right pieces, running gels, working with radioactive phosphorous (just for marking things! this isn't even about creating radioactive creatures!)...

...I'm not saying that it's not nifty, just that I'm glad I'm not doing it.

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Fewer seats on the LRT

03/17/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri, Calgary

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2007/02/27/lrt-transit.html?ref=rss

One of the issues that's hit Calgary what with all the growth an' all is that the public transit system is overloaded. In particular, the LRT is horrible for hours around rush hour due to incredible density of usage.

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The visible hand of the marketplace, et, traffic circle

03/17/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://www.bitforms.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29&Itemid=58&lang=en#id=83&num=2

Link is to an exhibit in New York where one of the presentations is a Korean artist's video of a hand overlayed on a traffic scene. It's quite effective.

(Via PopGadget)

 

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