Entries from November 2002


(Non-Canucks, read this article on how to make cheese instead of the following political rant.)

If I see that beery-faced lout Ralph Klein on the tele-o-vision one more time, with his made in Canada solution (what the hell does that mean?) to the Kyoto Protocol, his painful smugness, his alcoholic complexion, and his right-wing beefism, I will be an angry man.

Not angry enough to do something rash like toss my TV out the window, SCTV-style; more like angry enough to drive all the way to Calgary just so I can moon the son of a bitch in person.

The guy admits that he has a drinking problem that has "affected his capability to do his job", and yet he's still in office. I still shake my head.

Then again, Chretien is a bumbling, moronic fool at the best of times, and we're still stuck with him... so I suppose it all balances out somehow.

What pisses you off about politicians in your corner of the world?


I love those moments when you feel, right at that precise moment, like you're in the exact place in the world you are meant to be.

Sitting down on the couch this morning, with a steaming cup of coffee on the table (perfectly brewed and with the proper amount of sugar and cream), the cats curled up together sleeping quietly next to me, and the calming gurgle of the radiator intermingling just right with one of my favorite melancholy morning albums (The Rachel's Music for Egon Schiele), I felt as though everything was perfectly in its place, just for me.

After nearly two months of teaching full-time at the college, I'm quickly realizing why teachers get their summers off.

I really am constantly working, whether I'm prepping for an upcoming class, troubleshooting a student's computer or software problem, or giving some one-on-one help to a student that's having troubles keeping up with their workload. Weekends are filled with assignment marking, course planning, and brainstorming ideas for future classes, all the while trying to find private, quiet time for myself, and for my sweetie.

I love my students, and I'm really enjoying the intellectual challenge teaching full-time presents, but the constant work is draining. This morning I felt like a moment, no matter how fleeting, had presented itself for me, and for me alone, to luxuriate in. I swooned in it.

Transmit / Gyazmail

I rarely get excited about software.

Okay, that's a boldfaced lie. I'm such a bleeding edge geek. At any rate, I spend a lot of time using e-mail and FTP, so I'm always on the lookout for better clients for both.

I do believe that I've found possibly the best overall FTP client I've ever tried (and I've tried all of them). Panic Software's spanking new Transmit 2 is pleasant on the eyes, feature-complete (without being overkill), speedy, has a built-in text editor, and supports geek stuff like secure connections, batch transfers, and site mirroring.

Being a point-zero release there are a few small quirks, and the fact that Transmit 2 drops the original's support for editing files in the most commonly used (and best) text editor available (BBEdit) is a bit of an oversight. That said, Panic is working on an update that will address all of these issues. It's apparently due "any day now".

I know, it's hard to get excited about file transfer programs, but it's damn refreshing to finally discover a program that does everything I've wanted a FTP program to do, without feature-itis or poor interface design. Heck, the Panic Web site is damn fine looking too, which doesn't hurt.

With 's not bad iCal now out, and Mac OS 10.2's built-in Address Book, I'm finding I need the swiss army knife of Mac OS X personal information managers (Microsoft's Entourage) less and less. Because of that, I've been on the hunt for a good e-mail only client.

I'm going to have to keep looking, but one client I tried out which may turn into something worthy is GyazMail, programmed by Japanese coder Goichi Hirakawa.

GyazMail is still in beta (it's at version 0.93 as I write this), but it's surprisingly usable and feature-rich even in its unfinished state. The only thing it's missing right now is support for HTML e-mail, but Hirakawa says this will be available some time after the 1.0 version is released. Personally, I'm hoping he doesn't support HTML e-mail in the end (it's all spam, anyway), and does what some clients do and just strip all HTML out. You're left with just the text, which is all that matters.

Besides that, however, it's not too shabby, with fairly good mail filtering capability, multiple account support, message threading, and a speedy search function.

Check it out if you're using 's built in Mail client - GyazMail is very fast, not too resource-intensive, and well-designed. I'm still on the hunt, though....


Heaven's brewToday, I crave beer. Big, overflowing steins with heads that go for miles gallivant through my head. I thirst for nutty brown honey dipped almond burnt oak aged golden bronze creamy top-fermented mild brown pale hopped doppelbock sweet bitters.

There's a pub down the street that serves Guinness Ale with a shamrock drawn into its head, as if to insinuate that it is your good fortune to be imbibing such ale of the gods. And darn it all, like cats want milk, I want one.

But I don't just have to have a Guinness. I'd settle for a pale ale, a cream ale, a brown ale, a Belgian lambic or Finnish sahti... heck, I'm so thirsty for an ale that I'd drink the chosen beverage of the Ford truck drivin', backwards baseball cap wearin', fist-in-the-air-to-Nickelback rockin' mulletheads: Molson Club (also called "fart juice" to some on the Prairies for its less obvious abilities).

I need a beer, but dammit, I'm allergic to alcohol. Talk about frustration.

Dear lord almighty, will someone please be my proxy drinker and have a beer for me? That be just swell thanks.

(Edit: Read in the glaring light of the day after: my goodness, what hyperbole.)

10 ways to good coffee

cuppa joeAs much as I complain sometimes about my allergy to alcohol, the truth is I don't miss drinking that much. Sure, I don't get to try all of the new, cool imported beers, but I also avoid the embarrassment of making an ass of myself at the yearly staff party.

(That said, I also don't have any excuse for my behavior. Erg...)

What I can't live without, though, is coffee. Recently I've toned down my caffeine intake, for moderation's sake, but I still need to start off every day with a good, well-brewed cup of Good Morning America. Here's ten tips from a coffee nerd that you might find helpful in your quest for the perfect brew.

» 10 ways to good coffee continues...

It’s in our hands

bjork.jpgAfter feeling incredibly "dirty" with the huge surge of T&A as branding cum promotional material, It's In Our Hands makes me believe in music videos all over again. Thank you, thank you, thank you Spike Jonze and Björk.

candle = burning both ends

It's twenty-past-one in the morning, and I'm still up, and still working. I have a somewhat heavy course load tomorrow, an early-ish morning class that I definitely will require my wits for (teaching grammar and composition, yeehaw!), and a mountain of work still to do.

If I stay up and try to plow through this (instead of wasting time posting about it), I might get closer to getting the mountain under control... but tomorrow I'm going to be dead to the world. I don't care if you're Super-Kotter-God's-Gift-To-Teachers, it's going to be pretty difficult for anyone to explain comma slices and fused sentences on four hours of sleep.

Sigh. To make matters worse, I had a minor design breakthrough with the on-going rededsign of this site, and I had a great idea a couple of days ago for a Web service that would be truly useful (really!)... I need more hours in the day.

Ah well. Oh, I added the last ten songs iTunes played to the site - it's available here, as well as its permanent home right beside the "Currently listening to" on the homepage. As always, bow down and give thanks to the pow-tastic Kung-Tunes and code-juggler Adriaan Tijsseling.

silly busy

The end of first term (already?) is quickly approaching for my students and I. I finally got caught up with my marking after a marathon push over the weekend, and just finished putting the finishing touches on a few of the final term projects I'll be giving my students.

Posts over the next three weeks might be scarce until the wooly-bulliness of the term ending has passed.

(Removed a rather silly question that had absolutely no bearing on anything worthwhile.)

Sweet RSS and Dirty Blogdex

My life (well, okay: my Web existence) changed when I discovered Brent Simmons' NetNewsWire. Being able to quickly scan through the headlines from 60 or 70 Web sites in fifteen minutes is truly devo-licious. It's also helped eliminate a lot of the aimless browsing I used to get trapped in every morning as I went around to all of my bookmarked sites.

One site whose RSS feed I have subscribed to is the Blogdex. As an aggregator of all that is hot and linked (as pornographic as that sounds), it used to be a good barometer of worthy browsing.

So, let's see what the headlines are these days:

Scientist burns penis with hot laptop
Piqua's library has to flesh out its own Web site
Report of sex in kindergarten investigated
Police find 17 sex toys in local woman's car
Porn shows up in businessman's slide show

(These were all in the top ten when I checked Blogdex.)

Let's compare to what Blogdex reported in the top ten a year ago:

US shuts down Somalia Internet
Adbusters: Buy nothing day
Food Fight (an article about consumerism in Iraq)
A List Apart: Reading Design
(A Japanese site for some fancy, geeky watch)

More and more, Blogdex is listing the kind of sensationalistic tripe found most often in the pages of the supermarket tabloids.

Is this another sign of the increasing mainstreaming of the Blog world? Or, has it always been like this but I've never noticed?


Two years ago, my parents decided to get a dog. We've never really had large animals around the house before. There were birds, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, one beautiful rabbit (named "Aloyisuis"), and a painfully brief dalmatian cross I named "Spanky" that we had to give away after a month (brother was allergic)... but that's it.

My dad has been retired for a few years, forced by company cutbacks and corporate belt-tightening. I think the days away from the workforce have been lonely and bewildering for him; my father has never been good at simply hanging out. He likes to keep busy, but with my mom working full-time, he's had a lot of idle time on his hands.

Cleo LeeSo they got a dog, specifically, a Wheaten Terrier puppy that my dad named Cleo, after Cleopatra of the Nile. I think my dad had a thing for Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra; at least that's why I think he chose the name. All of the kid's names have connections to famous people (mine is Neil Armstrong), and it only makes sense that my dad's dog would, too.

The dog completely changed his personality. My dad, usually an impatient, brusque man, was mellowed by Cleo. Having a young, energetic animal around him seemed to bring his enjoyment of life back, and put a smile on his face. Everyone was happy.

(You can see this coming from a mile away, can't you?)

My parents just found out a few days ago that Cleo has hepitatis. The vet apparently cried when she told my parents the news; Cleo's condition is "guarded... grave". She had a long-standing thyroid problem, which masked the hepitatis until just recently. She hadn't eaten in two weeks and has lost five pounds already.

Today I went by my parent's place for Sunday dinner, but the real reason I went was to visit Cleo and my father. She's finally eating again, and on medication, but the prognosis isn't good. I was shocked at how much weight she had lost. The puppy fat that she still carried around a month ago was completely gone, and she seemed tiny; too tiny. Even so, she still bounded to the back door to welcome me as she always has, followed closely by my mom, quietly scolding her as she came. Cleo seemed spent, however. The vitality just wasn't there.

When we take on the responsibility of pets, we take on the quiet (or not so quiet) understanding that there's a very good chance we will outlive them. I've never lost a "big" pet like a dog or cat before, but I know that when Raj and Emma pass away it will be devastating.

Pets take up a special place in our lives that we never knew existed until they came along. As I cleaned up after dinner, my mom, with a slight touch of sadness and wonderment in her voice, said I can't believe how attached we've become to her. It's just like having a child in the house.

Everything is one day at a time, and every moment is precious.

My parents have already talked about it, and they plan to get another dog soon after Cleo passes away. Even so, the experience has profoundly changed them. Even with the stress of Cleo's illness, my dad has seemingly been reborn as a completely different person. What used to infuriate him and his short temper no longer does. His typical crabbiness has been blunted off, and smoothed over.

I saw my parent's hearts breaking today, and mine broke along with theirs. I am also filled with amazement at the immense power that owning a pet can have.

kooo lou-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-kooo

As much as these two have contributed to more misguided stereotypes about Canadians than anything else, I can't help but have my spirits buoyed (and my stress banished) when I listen to these guys:

"Take a six of your favorites, right? It's like Russian Roulette: it's called the Beer Hunter. And like, we're going to play it here."

(When this album first came out [1981!], I never noticed the rather strange message and equally unusual "mark of quality" that graced the liner notes. We Canadians, it seems, are rather defensive about the perceived lack of a truly "Canadian" culture. Take off, eh.)

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's wishing a safe, mellow, turkey / tofurky rich (but not turducken - that's just gluttony) Thanksgivings to all of our American visitors: eat and drink too much, share a hearty laugh, hug someone you love, and be happy.

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