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12/09/06

  10:42:14 pm, by Nimble   , 1135 words  
Categories: Distractions, Thoughts

Making A Card Game

I don't know how far I can go with this card game I've put together, but it might actually be worth pursuing publication.

Without giving away too many details, a short history...

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12/07/06

  02:15:37 am, by Nimble   , 420 words  
Categories: Announcements [A], Thoughts, Politics

Ed Stelmach is In

My wife and I went down to our local polling station at the sportsplex, bought a Progressive Conservative party membership for $5 apiece, and voted.

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12/06/06

  03:22:59 pm, by Nimble   , 261 words  
Categories: Announcements [A], Thoughts, Science

Moon Bases and Dribbles on Mars

Today's big announcement from NASA was more signs of possible water on Mars. Not that this will turn out to be any guarantee for life on Mars, or indeed whether the effect is caused by water, but with all the liquids we have been finding around the solar system, it makes life on other planets yet more plausible, slightly increasing the ne term of the Drake equation, at the same time as we are increasing the number of extrasolar planets observed, increasing the fp term.

Then there's the new plan for moon bases, which had been started at the behest of the president a couple of years ago. Sounds like they might go to the south pole of the moon, which has been reported to have ice, which is a great boon to a moon base for producing air and possibly fuel, and which has peaks that remain in sunshine for most of the 28-ish-Earth-day-long lunar day, so that they do not have to operate off batteries for the 14-day-long night.

2024 seems like it might be a tad optimistic, and may very well be if the huge U.S. debt and deficit come home to roost looking for easy targets to pick off, but I'm all for it if they can pull it off. We certainly have much better materials and engineering for pulling something like this off now than we did at the times of previous plans on paper for a moon base.

Hopefully, I'll be around and thinking about kicking the first round of children out of my house ;)

12/05/06

  07:46:35 pm, by Nimble   , 346 words  
Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Science

Vacutainers

There is a certain fascination to getting blood drawn. No, I don't even really like to watch it being done, but phlebotomists are rather interesting and slightly nerdy folks, and there are interesting pieces to the process.

Only from a phlebotomist are you likely to hear veins being given human attributes, the cheeky or shy veins wilfully sequestering themselves in your arm, and the phlebotomist must tease it out, with slaps, strokes and squeezes, all not in the slightest as rude as it sounds.

I remember going to have blood tests done, the first I had been given in a very long time, and hearing the number of vials of blood they needed. I thought I was going to have to go through this vein puncture process several times, and despaired...

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12/03/06

  02:17:46 pm, by Nimble   , 127 words  
Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Religion

Hot Chick Tracts

Link: http://www.316now.com/heaven.html

I must admit, I like this idea. Jack Chick tracts made into video, under the title "Hot Chicks".

Well... I must admit, I only like the idea with the intentions of parody aforethought.

The art of parodying Jack Chick reminds me of the wonderful summoner geeks video based on the Dead Alewives' response to Jack Chick's infamous little horrid tract, Dark Dungeons.

I do so hate Jack Chick tracts. Bad, literalist theology combined with a snuff film version of every ignorant parent's fantasies about what their children could be doing every second they are out from under their parent's crushing, caring thumbs. Did Jack Chick know better? Did he care? Had your Persecution Flakes this morning?

The DVD might be worth $20 for a good parody of hate :)

  01:08:52 am, by Nimble   , 211 words  
Categories: Distractions

Tradekey

Link: http://tradekey.com/

I was checking up on how the LED projector revolution was coming along, when I ran across a site that connects exporters and importers. Normally, that wouldn't seem like a very exciting place to look around on, but a great many of the sell offers are accompanied with pictures and descriptions, and there is some truly bizarre stuff available for import.

Not sure how long these links will last, but looking through their LED products, you find things like an LED parking sensor which indicates your distance to things as you're backing up, LED stir sticks (including some with an Islamic logo), and walking sticks with LED flashlights in them.

Continuing to other areas, you find such gems as needle detectors (for your food products or haystacks), silicone garlic peelers, a digital Qur'an, laser tattoo removal systems, camels (no, not the cigarettes, camels!), fake watches (just what I need), electroluminescent Guinness signs and odd PS/1... knockoffs? (complete with gun!).

Tradekey itself is run in Saudi Arabia, so you see a few more things from the middle east on it. Is there anything like this for European or North American markets?

Of course, it's just all fun for browsing. I won't be making a 6000-piece order of silicone garlic peelers anytime soon.

12/02/06

  11:50:55 pm, by Nimble   , 441 words  
Categories: Reviews, Restaurants

Edo Ichiban

We actually went out to vote in the PC party leadership elections today, which made us feel pretty good, actually.

Afterwards, it was time for an extraordinarily late lunch, so we decided to pop into the Edo Ichiban restaurant on 32nd, not too far from the Nando's the other day.

Now Edo's serves up some pretty good rice and noodle dishes in many a food court. We went to the Edo Ichiban which, since the restaurant is in the same typeface, I would assume to be closely affilated with the fast food Edo's. The sign outside had one of Dena's great loves, however: Sushi. So this was to be a treat.

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  04:36:34 am, by Nimble   , 361 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Internet, Programming

Forum Software

It's been a while since I've run a forum.

I used to run a gardening forum, a couple of hosts ago. I ran the forum under the fairly popular phpBB forum software. It was pretty easy to install, but some of the features made it hard to maintain. A dearth of anti-spam features, combined with some awkward user management features and the inability to safely prune peoples' posts (there was an add-on someone made, but it had safety caveats)... for example, the spammers'.

It's hard to know exactly what makes for forum software that just works, and that is appropriate for the given audience. Due to my phpBB experiences, administration and anti-spam features are important.

There are a number of pieces of software that look pretty much the same. A lot of them get very busy-looking, with users throwing around avatars and graphics with abandon. Those seem more appropriate to the likes of gaming forums than forums I would run, like cosmology or gardening.

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12/01/06

  12:19:24 am, by Nimble   , 443 words  
Categories: Reviews, Restaurants

Nando's Chicken

We first encountered Nando's, strangely, in Nairobi. It was at the gas station near the Indaba campsite, with a grocery store and a pizza place. We didn't have the chicken there, but we did have some of their sauces with the pizza we ordered from another counter, courtesy of other folks who were on safari with us who did have the chicken.

We come back, and hardly a month later saw signs for a Nando's coming here, being built on 32nd Ave.

It's been a long wait, and their timing was a bit poor in terms of trying to get staff - everyone is looking for workers, but it finally opened some time over the past few days. So we dropped in on our way back from Staples (picking up more card game supplies)...

It's a little bit confusing up at the front - there's not much signage telling you how things work. It's a little bit older way of doing things - you order at the front and then go sit down, red wood block-on-a-stick in hand.

We had their variety pack for two, which consisted of two sides and three kinds of chicken. Salads for the sides were about 50 cents extra.

The "peri fries" were not terribly exciting. Just fries with seasoning on top, albeit good seasoning. The caesar salad on the side was fresh and quite tasty.

The three kinds of chicken we had were chicken wings, which came on two skewers, four to a skewer, a half chicken, which was very tasty, and unlike Swiss Chalet, conveniently cut up into pieces, and kebabs of roasted chicken breast. The grilling treatment they are subjected to was nice - the chicken was all tasty and still moist - and what made it even nicer were the sauces.

Their peri-peri (a kind of pepper) sauces are just plain tasty, in particular the garlic one. One thing I must say, though, is that compared to the spice level at the Nairobi outlet, the heat level of the spices were tame. Even the hot peri-peri sauce just started to become a tiny bit hot, nothing like the nose-clearing level of even the garlic peri-peri sauce in Nairobi (I did find that odd in Nairobi, though - East African food is extremely mild on the whole)

Good food, about $32 for the both of us, smelled great.

Disappointments (all pretty mild): they don't actually seem to sell those sauces in the same size of bottle as they have at the tables. Could have used more instructional labelling near the front. Didn't know whether soft drink refills were free. Nice ambience, but the ordering-up-front part takes away from it a little bit.

Yum :)

11/27/06

  08:08:38 pm, by Nimble   , 393 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Politics

Ted Morton?

Has the Calgary Sun become less conservative over time, or is Ted Morton really that spookily right-wing a character?

Dining on fabulous nosh at Willy's (and strangely, finding the owners had used turkey bacon as a substitute for bacon), I opened up the Calgary Sun and caught news of the leadership race of the Progressive Conservatives in Alberta. Now, the Calgary Sun has always been slightly right-wing, as far back as I can remember. If you take a look at their new "Words of Faith" page, it includes such not-usually-liberal luminaries as James Dobson and Billy Graham.

Yet they had an article which described Morton as a candidate who would steer the party to the right, and portraying it as a very bad thing.

Indeed, Bill 208 is one of those odd pieces of legislation he sponsored. Not against same-sex marriage per se, but definitely an anti-same-sex marriage sentiment. It would have allowed clergy not to perform such marriages (was that necessary?) as well as marriage commissioners (which is a bit odd), as well as letting kids skip the part of the class where they cover same-sex marriage (what curriculum is that part of?)

From his brochure:

Protecting Human Rights

Ted Morton’s record on human rights is strong. His Bill 208 would defend freedoms of religion and speech for those who support traditional marriage and a parent’s right to determine a child’s education.

His courageous stand comes in the face of heavy criticism and attacks from those who think new found access to same-sex marriage trumps everything else.

It's doublespeak like that which has me particularly worried, especially since, by all accounts, Bill 208 was a solution in search of a problem.

Morton is a member of the so-called Calgary School, which in some ways imports U.S.-side neo-conservatism here, though with a less onerous public face. Perhaps with a less onerous private one, but it's hard to say. He's not bringing up abortion as an election issue, but pre-election and post-election issues can be very different things, especially with voter-savvy true believers.

It's almost enough for me to go buy a party membership and vote. Maybe it is enough. Party memberships are $5 and as far as I've been able to tell, I can hold multiple party memberships.

If you want to find out where the nearest polling station is, look here.

11/26/06

  05:06:28 am, by Nimble   , 2998 words  
Categories: Reviews, Books, Science

Universe in a Nutshell : Stephen Hawking

Link: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/055380202X?ie=UTF8&tag=thecerealkill-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=055380202X

I must admit, that apart from the pretty pictures, light humour and some interesting background on Einstein, I was pretty disappointed in this book. It starts out well, but holes appear in it later, not just the black kind, and a lot of space is spent on seemingly interesting things that go nowhere.

Many people loved the book, though, so I will justify my disappointment a little more thoroughly with a tour of the book and the things that I take issue with.

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11/25/06

  01:21:44 pm, by Nimble   , 104 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense, Science

Coolest Skeptic's Video Ever

This video of a talk by Michael Shermer is definitely one of the niftiest videos you may see about how your senses can be fooled.

He's the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine.

I must admit, though, I've bought the magazine before, and struggled to stay awake. I happen to own his How We Believe book, which is better than the magazine.

After watching the video, I think a documentary would be even better :)

Go ahead, rewind the video, too, if you think he was somehow playing different things. The reverse sound thing was particularly spooky. I'm disturbed that I can be primed that that.

11/21/06

  07:53:45 pm, by Nimble   , 545 words  
Categories: Thoughts, People

When Is A Prize Not A Prize?

About a week back, I got a phone call that I had won a prize in the Jysk draw: a free meal for up to five couples at the China Rose. That part sounded great, but my alarm bells went off a little when they talked about having a fire safety presentation at the end. "Are they part of some public awareness campaign?", thought I.

Yet my Internet searches brought up nothing when I tried to figure it out. No recent campaigns or the like.

I had already decided not to go, when the 'gift certificate' came in the mail.

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11/20/06

  08:00:42 pm, by Nimble   , 170 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Internet

Badware

I was trying to look up the lyrics to a few Scissor Sisters songs, since they sound Bee Gees-like and my mother loved the Bee Gees, just because I'd heard that some of their lyrics were questionable.

So I click on the first lyrics site (lyrics and songs . com) on Google for the questionable song, and see this warning:


Warning - visiting this web site may harm your computer!


You can learn more about harmful web content and how to protect your computer at StopBadware.org

That's a new one on me. Normally, I would suspect a new advertising technique, but that's a little more rare for .org sites, and I hadn't heard hide nor hair of new Google ad techniques (though I expect something eventually).

No, it looks like a collective operation to ferret out sites that promulgate badly-behaving software. Most of this is software that experienced users would never click on in their right mind, but applications like Fake Mailer might seem appealing to the unsuspecting.

Interesting development, this.

  02:44:50 am, by Nimble   , 147 words  
Categories: Distractions, Toys

Prodikeys

Link: http://www.prodikeys.com/

I had been gazing at the Saitek Eclipse II Backlit Keyboard with some longing, but now there's another product that is giving it some serious competition in the Ritchie saliva production department: Prodikeys.

I have long lamented that I have no space to set up my old Roland keyboard, but this could certainly sate some of my plinking cravings. The Prodikey is a keyboard plus a velocity sensitive mini-piano keyboard (about the same size of keys as my old Yamaha) on the bottom of the keyboard.

I'm a little worried as to whether it would work with my rather old Sound Blaster Live, but it does claim to work with them.

It's not available at Future Shop or Best Buy around here, but it can be ordered from good old ThinkGeek, who have been pretty excellent (and fast!) with their orders.

Leave me to my furious pondering...

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