Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Good Podcasts

A friend of a friend was complaining that the podcast universe was full of dross. I have to agree with him, but would also say that there's some good stuff out there. You just have to look for it, and once you find it, it's worth it.

Some of the podcasts I like:

Comedy 365 - a British couple who's skylarking often makes me choke on my toothbrush in the morning. Look for the "Sowerby & Luff" podcasts in particular.

CBC - still catching up, the only podcast worth listening to so far is Quirks & Quarks. It is my fervent hope that they'll get their act together and start podcasting much more in the near future.

NPR - puts out several podcasts. The two that I listen to are the 7am New Summary, and Story of the Day.

Slate Magazine - also puts out several podcasts, including the Slate Explainer & Slate Magazine podcasts.

The Signal - for all us FireFly & Serenity fans.

The World: Technology from BBC/PRI/WGBH - recent topics include glowing pigs, flood control technology, & Bush's domestic eavesdropping program.

Have fun, and if you have any favourite podcasts of your own, please share!

Monday, January 30, 2006

MPAORIAA Warning - Truth in Browbeating

A send-up of the warnings that we are forced to endure at the beginning of every DVD we buy, and have all come to know and love:

"Warning: Unlawful duplication of this media carries a maximum penalty greater than that of many violent crimes.

The expense of retianing legal counsel comparable to ours may result in liquidation of personal assets.

Proceeds from the sale of this media may be used to arrest you children."

I'm so glad I live in Canada. Oh wait, never mind. At least that MP lost her seat this last election, but I'm sure they'll try again.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

For Gamers with Girlfriends...

...or boyfriends, whatever. A love song for your sweety. Again, please don't eat or drink while watching this clip. Moderate chocking hazard.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Become a Sushi Power Eater

I like sushi. I wasn't too sure about it the first time I tried it, but it's grown on me over the years. To the point where I even make a limited variety of sushi at home. The kids think it's a treat. Sometimes I think I have weird kids - and I'm so proud of them! For the ten-year-old, of course, it's "hot-dog" sushi (where I substitue a diagonally sliced hot-dog for fish). It makes her very happy.

But if you've ever wanted to become a SUSHI POWER EATER, this article is for you. It tells you how to select a restaurant, order drinks, properly suck up, er, be respectful of the chef, and generally look like you know what you're doing. There are even some tips on Fugu and not dying from the experience. Always good to know.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Coffee Soap

I love my coffee, but I've had to cut down to three cups a day (from 7-10) just so I can get some real sleep at night. It's been a good change.

I have a co-worker who loves coffee. Much more than me. I don't have chocolate-covered coffee beans sitting on my desk for everybody to help themselves. I don't have a contact in Costa-Rica who ships me coffee by the case so that I can re-sell it and support my coffee habit. (It's good coffee, and cheap. Let me know if you want a brick or two, I'll see what I can do.)

I sent him this link, which shows you how to make your own caffeinated chocolates. He did me one better by sending back this link, where you can buy coffee-soap. For those mornings where you don't want to get out of the shower to have your coffee.

Also available: caffeinated hot sauce, caffeinated lip balm, and caffeinated skin moisterizer. Who needs sleep?

p.s. The coffee beans have been replaced by caffeinated chewing gum. Go figure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Zen Stories

Yesterday's post reminded me of another site I used to frequent years ago for material for my Scouts. I went looking for it, and lo & behold, it's still there. Read, and enjoy watching your brain go "WTF?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Coyote Story

"Coyote" has always been one of my favourite Native North American characters, which is why I was delighted to find this modern re-telling of a story about self-responsibility. I am so using it as a campfire story with my Scouts.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Meetings Harmful, Stop Going

I always try to prepare for meetings that I'm going to. Especially for ones that I have control over. I also try to keep them small & short, 'cause the more meetings, and the more people in meetigns you have, the less information that's going to be exchanged. If I don't having anything to prepare for a meeting, I know it's a good one to take my laptop too. That way I can at least catch up on some e-mail.

This blogger argues that we shouldn't have meetings at all. He bases his premise on this research, which concludes that the more interuptions we have in our day (including meetings, phone calls, and other unscheduled annoyances) the less productive we are (duh!) Not only less productive, but we become prone to depression, anxiety, and burn-out in direct proportion to these annoyances.

I'm not sure we can get away with not going to meetings entirely, and I'm not sure that you can train people to stay on the agenda or magically create time for people to properly prepare. Maybe the people over at Slow Leadership have it right: in order to be more productive and satisfied with our work, we need to slow down and give ourselves the time to do things right. What do you think?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Honey Run!

Back in December I wrote about discoverying some fellow zymergists here in Calgary, and that we were going to make a run out to a local apiary for some bulk honey. Yesterday, with my daughter and several other hangers-on in tow, we cruised out to Chinook Honey, south and west of Okotoks. Nice lay-out, fantastic view of the mountains. I picked up 15kg for myself, and felt intimidated by the guys that were buying 60kg at a go.

We ended up at a 'mazing' party later that night, and I got to taste some amazing meads, including a blackberry and a licorice flavoured one. I also got to share my own sparkling meads, and was very pleased at the compliments I received. The buckwheat mead was especially enjoyed. I am now eager to try some of the other permutations and combinations avaiable to mead brewers. Methinks I'll start with a coffee mead.

I've linked to the original recipe here, for anybody that wants to try it out. Just substitute buckwheat honey. If you want it to sparkle, add 500g of dextrose to 23 litres of your product before bottling after it has *completely* finished fermenting - and make sure you use proper bottles. Failure to do either of these two things (waiting for fermentation to finish or using unsuitable bottles) and you WILL end up with glass grenades going off in your cold-room. Dangerous, messy, and loud. Take it from me.

Riding with Rilke

I got a couple of great books for Christmas, including "Riding with Rilke", which I just finished reading. Recommended if you're into books & motorcycles - I suspect there are many more than anybody realizes out there. I had a chance to meet the author, Ted Bishop, briefly at the Calgary Motorcycle Show a couple of weekends ago. I've always wanted to write a book. I hope I don't have to nearly kill myself before I have something to write about.

I wish I'd had more time to talk with him - you'd think it would be just a simple courtesy to let a customer know that the show closes in 1/2 hour *before* they drop $25 on tickets? Grrr. I hate the Calgary Stampede Board. When they burn in hell, I'll try to help them out by pissing on their collective graves. In my opinion, they are simply bullies, and will be second up against the wall when the revolution comes.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Fungus Poetry

A friend e-mailed me a link to this impressive collection of fungus photography. It reminded me of a back-packing trip I took in K-Country a couple of years ago, as part of an adult Scout training. I've uploaded the photos to my Flikr site. My assignment during the trip was to identify as many different lichens & fungi as I could, and then write a haiku about it. Let's see if I remember any of them . . .

Lowly lichen green
Have you ever seen a time
Not on this old rock?

Don't worry, the photos are just as geeky as you think, but also very cool.

Hehehe . . . I said 'geeky' and 'cool' in the same sentance. I guess "geeky" is the new black, eh?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

South African Treehouse

These SA scouts built themselves an impressive treehouse. I wonder if my Scouts would be up for it, after their success at building a monkey bridge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Europe is My Favourtie Country Too . . .

Warning: watching this clip may induce explosive coffee-through-the-nose syndrome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Linux Installed

So I've spent the last week installing the Mepis version of Linux. It wasn't really that bad. I backed everthing up, so that when the install blew away my Windows partition (which it wasn't supposed but did anyway), I wasn't really that upset. The only two things I'm missing are iTunes, which I can run from work if I want to listen to my podcasts, and Picassa, for managing my 7000+ digital pictures. Which they're working on with f-Spot, but it's only available on a Gnome desktop, not KDE. So I need to learn to compile and install KimDaba from the source code. It will be a good exercise. I'm short of geek-credits this month anyway.

No more viruses, no more mysterious crashes, no more pop-up windows. I think it's a more than fair trade.

Monday, January 16, 2006

No More Serenity?

Got this post from Kris the other day, saying that there wouldn't be a second 'Serenity' movie. Well crap.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Garfield Randomizer

This page display three random cells of Garfield in no particular order. I don't see the difference between this and the published cartoon, do you?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Japanese Hamster Bash

I really didn't know what to call this post. "What happens when you stick a pork chop on a dozen nubile girls' foreheads and then stick their heads through a hole in the floor of a cage and let an huge, deliberately agitated lizard loose" just seemed too long.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Smart Car Crash

If you've ever wondered what a smart-car looks like after hitting a concrete barrier at 70mph, here it is. Not bad, considering it shifted the barrier.

Thanks for the link, Kris.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Motorcycle Packing List

I keep my packing list on my PDA. It has over 250 items in it. Before every business trip, camping trip, or vacation, I just pick the stuff I want and pack it. If I forget something I add it to the list so I have it for next time. My problem, like this guy's, is not that I forget stuff but that I usually pack too much.

He's going around the world the really long way 'round the world. Unlike these wimps, who simply rode their bikes 'round the world the easy way. This is his packing list with his interesting post-trip notes.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Free True Type Fonts

When I went looking for a new font for my newly bottled "Gravedigger's Cream Ale", I wish I'd found this website first. It organizes it's fonts by type, which make it much easier to find the right style for your particular application.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Windows XP: Never Again

I got home last night to find my computer in an endless boot loop. I booted in safe mode, did a virus scan, and found that the boot sector couldn't be run because there was a read error. This after installing the WMF vulnerability patch. Never again. I'm installing Linux next (after re-installing Windows & salvaging what I can. Thank the gods and all the little fishes that I did a backup over the Christmas holidays.)

I've even narrowed it down to four choices after taking this quiz: Ubuntu , Kubuntu, Mandriva, or Mepis. Anybody have specific recommendations?

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Future of Television: NCSI:SVU WKRP

Don't don't get me wrong. I'm a big CSI fan, but I don't think Joss Whedon is that far off the mark when he predicts: "The networks wil all be creating exciting, innovative new spin-offs of today's shows. Approximately 67 percent of all television will be CSI based, inculding CSI: DesMoines, CSI: New York but a Different Part then Gary Sinise Is In and NCSI: SVU WKRP, which covers every possible gruesome crime with a groovin' 70's beat. (Jerry Bruckheimer will also have conquered Broadway with the CSI musical "FOLLICLE!" starring Nathan Lane as frenetic but lovable blood spatter and Matthew Broderick as lint.)

His full article is here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Your Most Dangerous Idea?

Science can be a risky game, as Galileo learned to his cost. Now The Edge asks over a hundred thinkers, “What is your most dangerous idea?”. Fascinating answers.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Best Blonde Joke Ever

Best blonde joke ever.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Why Do the Heathen Rage?

I try to come up with original stuff for my blog every once in a while. At least, I try to write original copy for my little pointers to the interesting places on the 'net. Here I cannot improve on the original author's text, and must simply point you, silently, while I hang my head in surprise at the blindingly obvious: the apocalypse that fundamentalists fear so much is really themselves, and we must fear it too.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Falling Sand Game

Curse you for sending me this, Kris.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Telemarketers Are People Too

That's a rather bold statement coming from me, as I hate hate hate telemarketers. I usually deal with them by letting them get started, then putting them on hold until they give up and go away. Or just hang up, 'cause they're not worth the waste of my breath. I could be more polite, but telemarketing companies have earned my eternal emnity by using automatic diallers. I answer the phone, but there's nobody there. It's just a computer characterizing my answering patterns so a telemarketer can call when I'm most likely to pick up.

Other strategies for dealing with telemarketers I've come across are "counterscripts", legal countermeasures, and wasting their time, automated virtual conversations (a variation of the time-waster using your computer), and even pretending to be a voice mail script ("Press 1 if you're conducting a survey, press 2 ..."

But I had an opportunity to sit down to dinner with a couple of university students who earn their rent by telemarketing. These are bright, funny, hard-working kids who need a way to make a living. So I asked them what some of their funniest phone calls had been.

First off, "Why don't you give me your home number and I'll call you back during your supper" is getting old. They've heard it. It's not funny anymore. The more interesting conversations they've had are:
  • "I'm standing in front of my living room window in my bra and panties . . . Oh! I thought you were somebody else!"
  • "Sure I'll take your survey, just a sec . . . " [sound of the Lord's prayer, sound of holy communinion, sound of more prayer.] At this point she gave up and went to the next call.
  • "You have a sexy voice. I bet you're good looking . . . " [ewww]
. . . and my favourite:
  • "Only if it really takes a minute. I have to take my wife to the hospital. Her water just broke and she's having a baby." (The survey was completed in 45 seconds.)