Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Scenes from Granville Island

I had to go down to Granville Island to get some produce. Though we had a bunch of snow yesterday, most of it was gone today. It wasn't especially warm but was definitely very sunny. I took these photos and hope you like them too!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

We Won, We Won, We Won!!!

Over the past 10 weeks my volleyball team has struggled to win the golden crown. And this evening we did!

We won our first match without too much difficulty.

In the 2nd match we won the first game but lost the 2nd. The 3rd game was a short one, just up to 7 points. At one point the score was 4 - 1 in the other team's favour. But then we came back and won 7 - 4.

A big Yoo Hoo for everyone on my team: Myriam, Brooke, Frances, Rich, myself, and Dennis.

We set a goal of winning this league so that we'd get promoted to the league above. And we did! I'm sooooo happy!!!

An Old Fable - Updated for Today's Canada

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold. The End

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. So far, so good, eh? The shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like him, are cold and starving.The CBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper, with cuts to a video of the ant in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food. Canadians are stunned that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty.

The NDP, the CAW and the Coalition Against Poverty demonstrate in front of the ant's house. The CBC, interrupting an Inuit cultural festival specia lfrom Nunavut with breaking news, broadcasts them singing "We Shall Overcome." Svend Robinson rants in an interview with Pamela Wallin that the ant has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his "fair share". In response to polls, the Liberal Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti-Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant's taxes are reassessed, and he is also fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as helpers. Without enough money to pay both the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government. The ant moves to the US and starts a successful agribiz company.

The CBC later shows the now fat grasshopper finishing up the last of the ant's food, though Spring is still months away, while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain it. Inadequate government funding is blamed, Roy Romanow is appointed to head a commission of enquiry that will cost $10,000,000. The grasshopper is soon dead of a drug overdose, the Toronto Star blames it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity. The abandoned house is taken over by a gang of immigrant spiders, praised by the government for enriching Canada's multicultural diversity, who promptly set up a marijuana grow op and terrorize the community. The End

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Canadian Political Situation - In American Terms

A number of American friends have started asking me what is happening with the federal government here in Canada. So I thought I'd provide a Coles Notes version for Americans:

To understand the current state of the Canadian political system, imagine an election taking place in 90% blue (Democrat) states. But also imagine that the Democrats have been in power for most of the last 100 years, with only brief periods of Republican rule. And since 1993 they've been in power constantly.

In Canada, the Democrats are called Liberals and the Republicans (albeit a much more centrist version) are called Conservatives.

Because of this almost certainty of power and for several other historical reasons unique to the province of Quebec, corruption is rampant amongst the Liberals. They have changed leaders and moved a few other pieces around the chessboard, but they're still the same old party.

Just like the Mainstream Media (MSM) in the U.S., the MSM in Canada are distinctly left-wing, thus heavily supporting the Liberals in most every case. And unlike in the U.S., our senators are appointed, as is our Governor General (the Queen's token representative). The last and the current GG are left-leaning CBC hacks who accomplished little in their careers but were both female minorities. There's more than a general awareness that if you're in the media and kind to the ruling party that good things will happen to you later in life. And surprise, surprise, they often do!

So what happens is that election after election, the Conservatives get demonized by the MSM whereas the Liberals gets softball questions. And just like a good magician (but a pathetic journalist) the MSM focuses the public's attention on unimportant issues, whereas the important things - like crime, medicare, and productivity - get little to no attention.

Does this all sound like a Banana Republic? Welcome to La Rebublica Norte de Canada!!!

The Election Campaign Begins!

The federal Liberal party was defeated in Ottawa today. Thank goodness. Now Canadians have another opportunity to vote against corruption, patronage, and same-old, same-old. But I have little faith they will do the right thing, especially those with a 416 area code.

What this election will really come down to are two things:

  1. Whether NDP supporters will stay true to their convictions or buy into the Liberal fearmongering and for vote for the Liberals instead.
  2. Whether Quebecers will stand firm and not vote for the Liberals who have treated them with such disdain.

While watching the news during the election campaign, try to rise above the Liberal propaganda. It will get echoed very well by so-called unbiased news media, who are anything but. Here's a handy little guide to help you. Anytime you hear any of the following phrases in relation to the Conservative party then you will immediately know that the speaker considers you to be an idiot:

  • Neo-conservative
  • Hidden agenda
  • Harper is scary
  • Gays will lose all their rights
  • Minorities will lose their rights
  • End of Medicare as you know it
  • Your entitlements will be taken away

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Crispy November Day - Part 1

The cold weather has definitely hit Vancouver. Well, not exactly "cold", as in what most of the rest of Canada gets, but chilly for sure. I went on my favourite walk, to get some fresh air, clear my head, and capture a few scenes from my beautiful city.
It's hard to see, even if you enlarge this photo, but there are 5 Pug dogs down on this beach, plus one shaggy interloper of some other breed. I often wonder if the "Men in Black" movies made Pugs the dog of choice for many yuppies?!
Here are a pair of kayakers going on there merry way on this beautiful afternoon day.
Finally, we have a nautical mural in front of the old A-frame building that houses the HMCS St. Roch, a RCMP boat that went up into the Arctic. These buildings are slated to be shut down once the museum inside them finds a new home downtown.

Crispy November Day - Part 2

Continuing on to Kitsilano Beach, there were plenty of great scenes everywhere. There's an old rule of thumb amongst photographers that the best outdoor photos tend to be taken in the early morning or the early evening, because that's when the light is the most "dramatic". If you enlarge this photo and look on the near right side, you'll see that the North Shore mountains have already received a light dusting of snow. I have a friend - we'll call her 'S' - who adamantly claims that she can "smell" when it's going to snow. I've never known whether she was pulling my leg but this winter I'm going to keep an eye ... errr nostril open for this possibility!
I arrived here at Kits Beach around 3:30pm. If this were the summer, it would be brilliantly sunny but this time of year, it's dark by 5pm.
This is one of the many pieces of art that were recently placed throughout Vancouver. This one sits in front of the Watermark restaurant. You can see part of the British Properties in the distance.

The Perfect Mobile Device?

I often discuss with a colleague of mine what would be the PERFECT mobile device. He's a businessman and engineer and does a lot of travelling so I very much heed his thoughts on the subject. He just sent me a complete list of his required specs:

  • Quad band phone
  • Handsfree speakerphone
  • Touch screen
  • Long life battery and a light travel charger
  • Portrait and landscape capable screen
  • Windows Mobile Office
  • A keyboard that slides out from underneath
  • A keyboard of similar quality to a Blackberry
  • 1 GHz+ processor
  • 1 GB+ RAM
  • Plays MP3 files
  • Bluetooth and WiFi wireless capability
  • Infrared port
  • USB port
  • SD slot
  • 2 MegaPixel+ camera
  • Auto e-mail notification like a Blackberry
  • Unlimited data and no extra charge long distance package for a reasonable price (say $60 per month)
  • 120 grams or less in weight
  • All in a 10mm thick package with the screen the same size as the current Pocket PCs

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shabusen: Good Eatin' on South Granville

Shabusen is a restaurant I had been to long ago but for some strange reason hadn't returned in decades. But I just went there again today and had a really great meal. They have an all you can eat lunch special for just $11.95 ($12.95 on the weekend) that is absolutely fabulous. You can pick from a variety of Japanese offerings, including some really good tasting sushi.
Plus, there are plates of beef, pork, or chicken, marinated Korean style that you cook yourself on an open broiler right at your table. I didn't think of it until later, but I suppose you could BBQ the fish from the sushi too!

Everything was very tasty and you can't beat the price. There are 2 locations but I went to the one at 2993 Granville Street - it's upstairs at the northwest corner of Granville & 14th Avenue. It's very popular so calling ahead for reservations might be prudent: 604.737.6888

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Little Christmas Donation Project

Last week a friend of mine asked how much she could get for an old computer she no longer needed. I looked at the specs, thought about the fact that another friend of mine had just bought a brand new one for $299, and told her: $50 - $100. Then I said to her, "Why don't you give it to me and I'll find a family who would really appreciate it." She agreed. I then e-mailed everyone I know in Vancouver, asking if they knew someone appropriate to give it to. I got back no immediate responses.

So being the persistent fellow I am (some have used the word "stubborn"), I posted this on Craigslist. As you'll read, I specified some simple criteria to try to sort out the truly needy from those who just wanted something for free. So far I've received 42 responses. Of those, I immediately discarded 31 for one reason or another. Some were simply overtly selfish, whereas others didn't even bother to explain how they met the criteria - ie. Did they even have any kids who would benefit from the computer?

But there were 11 others. Eleven that were extremely touching. Some of the stories just broke my heart. Though I'm not rich, reading these made me quickly realize how incredible fortunate I am. I'd like to share some of these with you here. After you read them, HERE is a way you can help put some smiles on the faces of some Vancouver children on Christmas Day.

I've necessarily removed all name references to protect their privacy:

My name is -------- and I'm an aunt who is living with a family with 4 kids all under the age of 13 and their parents who have a disability. I have been looking all over the internet to find them a good working computer for the kids to help them with their school work because the parents are not able to help them with their academics. Both parents work a minimum of 2 jobs doing janitorial duties. My family had let them live in our basement for a few months now and they still can't afford to buy beds for their kids. The kids are sharing a one bedroom with one twinbed between the 4 of them, so you can imagine how life is like for them. I myself wish I could afford to buy them a computer but I am also just a single person who is helping my mother out with our care home. I hope that you can find it in your heart to maybe donate or sell this computer to the family that lives downstairs from us. If not I thank you for the opportunity and heartfelt donation and hope you have a wonderful holiday season. God Bless

Hello,My name is ------. I moved to Vancouver from Romania with my family (my husband and two twin bebies) a month ago. Tomorow we are moving to Port Coquitlam in a social house. For now we can not buy furniture or a computer, but a computer is the way to find a job, to find everything we need now. Write now we are staying at our friend -------, so I am using her computer. Actually, you decide if I we can be calified to get your gift for Christmas. If you want to talk with us call 604 ###-####. Thank you, what ever your decision is.------p.s. sorry for my mistakes. i still have to work to empruve my english.

Hello Robert;
I would be EXTREMELY interested in your computer. I have read your agenda for the FREE pc. Here is my story sad but true! I am a 45 year old single parent with a 20 month old baby & a soon to be 11 year old. My pc was built in aprox 1942 lol! It is aprox a PC 1? if that is still possible? It is like the old tv's that were going on the fritz, when they were getting too hot they would automatically shut down! That is exactly what this one does. I am on assistance trying to get onto disability, as I have EXTREMELY bad EXZEMA on my hands & my daughter who has a birthday on Dec. 9th & Christmas coming soon too, I just can not afford anything other than the basics, if you know what I mean! Unfortunately I do not donate my time to any charity as I do not have much time, to do so with a 20month old & I would not be too much help to them anyways without too much use of my hands! If you find someone other than myself to give it to, that would be great! Although if nothing comes up, would you PLEASE consider me for this GREAT opportunity? Thanking you in Advance for your time that you have taken with this matter.

What a wonderful gift for a deserving person on Christmas.I am writing on behalf of my nephew ------ ---------- , who just emigrated from the Philippines. His wife, daughter- 9 and son- 8 months old will arrive on Dec 29.They have no money to buy a computer but they need one for ----- to find a job, and for ---- (A-student) to keep up to date academically. His wife, who just trained on computers, also need it to hone up her skills so she can start to earn money.----- works at a factory at night for a minimum wage, so at the daytime he goes to the Immigration Services Society in Richmond to access a computer to search and apply for jobs online. It is their full intention to be involved in the community as volunteers as soon as they are settled.(as we all do in the family - I help teach computers to Seniors and my daughter and son-in-law are constantly volunteering for various causes. We also have a daughter with cerebral palsyin a group home that we constantly assist).I hope you will consider him for your good intentions.Good luck to you.----- ------------
604 ### ####

I am replying to the posting for the computer you would like to offer to a needy young person. I know a boy, ------ a friend’s son he is 14 years old and loves to draw on the computer I have taught him to use some programs when they come over. He really is enthusiastic about art. His family cannot afford a computer his mother is raising 3 children and is a single parent. I thought he would be a good candidate for the computer because this would help ------ immensely and give him a tool to pursue his interests in art and computers.

Thank you

We landed Canada as independent immigrants in March 2004. My husband and I have skills, but we can’t express ourselves in English. We need time. My husband set up a computer with free and cheap computer parts. My husband wants to contribute his skills to community, so he has been a volunteer for ---------- Information and Community Services Society for about one year. He was a volunteer driver for their Seniors Transportation program. We just moved to BC affordable housing in ----------- in October this year, so my husband quitted the volunteer job. He is looking for another volunteer job in Richmond.

We have an over 8-year-old son. He is very clever. He is grade 3. He can use computer in school. He told Santa he would like a computer when he saw Santa parade in Vancouver yesterday.

I can fax a reference to you.

Any way, thanks for your kindness to donate an excellent computer to a needy family. That’s a great idea.

Merry Christmas!

hi to u we have just moved here from back east leaving and abusive home ... i have 2 kids, 8 and 5. My son who is mildly impaired cannot read yet but loves computers and would love to have one for Xmas but we barely have any furniture and can barely make ends meet i would greatly appreciate it if u could consider my son for u pc thank u

Me again. Please continue on to the next posting to see how you can help. If it's not immediately available then you can find it HERE.

Xmas Donation Project - Here's How You Can Help!

As I mentioned in the post above a friend donated a computer and monitor for me to give away to a needy family. But my search to find such a family quickly revealed that there is a great need out there. In economic terms, demand far outstrips supply ... at least my supply!

So I've started searching through my older computer accessories to see what I have available to donate. There are a few things I had forgotten about. Asking around to some friends this evening, I discovered that they have some computer related items that are just collecting dust as well; not always a complete computer system, but sometimes a spare monitor, sometimes an extra keyboard & mouse, etc.

It's my belief that this blog, as public as it is, is the most effective way to get the word out about what I'm trying to do. I can refer to it in e-mails and others can do the same. I will be getting the word out to my friends, my fellow professional engineers, my colleagues in the software business, and anybody else I can think of. If you can help then please send an e-mail to a special address I've just set up: If you don't know me personally then I will provide any & all references you require.

I'd like to close by saying that I'm not trying to be some kind of Mother Teresa here. I was just trying to help a friend free up some space, and do the right thing in the process. Just like everybody else, I have a ton things on my plate already. But my inquiry to find one family in need has identified several more. If I can help them then I surely will. All I would hope of anyone reading this is to look around your home & office and think about asking others to do the same. For without a doubt, should more than 11 computer systems be made available, I'm sure we could easily find legitimate homes where they could really help out. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, isn't that what Chrismas is really all about?

Vancouver Rainbow

What a crazy day in Vancouver weather-wise. It started off foggy, then got brilliantly sunny, and then started raining. But we were also blessed with this vivid & glorious rainbow!

Winter Has Arrived en Montréal!

Having lived in Montreal I still frequently listen to radio programmes from there. Today they were hit by the first big snowstorm of the season
And sure enough, people were driving too fast for the conditions. The worst accident involved 36 (yes, thirty-six!) vehicles.
Here are some photos from today's Montreal roadways for your viewing pleasure. If you want to see more then you can go here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pre-Xmas Is In Full Swing!

Are you ready for it? No, not Christmas itself, but the pre-Xmas shopping, parties, and more merriment? Yesterday I went out for coffee with my Dad at Vancouver's City Square Mall. This is actually where I went to Kindergarten and Grade One, long before it became a mall. I think they've done an absolutely marvellous job of incorporating the original stone walls with modern steel and glass.

As you can see in the photo, the Xmas decorations are already in place ... long, long, long before any of us have dug out our naughty & nice list!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Does the media ACCURATELY report on public opinion?

Shown below is an e-mail I just sent to my favourite afternoon show on CKNW. Let me provide you the context: The host wanted to discuss the aftermath of the BC Provincical Government backtracking on its plans to give themselves and the opposition party members a sizable raise. So he interviewed Adrienne Carr, the leader of the B.C. Green Party. If you're unfamiliar with BC politics then you need to know that the Green Party has never been successful at achieving even one elected seat. In fact, I don't even think that Ms. Carr has come any higher than 3rd place in any election in her own riding! Immediately after the interview a listener wrote in to ask why she was being interviewed on this matter.


I agree with what your e-mailer had to say about Adrienne Carr but let me express my thoughts in a different way . . .

Who is that Ms. Carr purports to represent? The Green Party, of course, but which segment of society does she represent? Looking at the recent provincial election results I see that the Green Party obtained 161,842 votes, or 9.17% of the popular vote. In electoral terms this is practically nothing! I could easily gain more votes than the Greens by forming any of the following political parties:

  • The Dog & Cat Owners Get a $500 per Year Rebate on Pet Food Party
  • The CKNW Listeners Get to Spank Philip Till When He's Naughty Party
  • The Husbands Must, By Law, Do ALL of the Housework in the Summer Party

Seriously though, I think the media does its listeners/viewers a disservice by always putting on the same old folks that happen to be in their Rolodex or on their Speed Dial. Does Mr. So & So REALLY represent the views of EVERYONE in the Chinese community? Does Ms. This-Hyphen-That REALLY represent the views of ALL women? I think not. Yet with all forms of broadcast media we keep on seeing the opinions of perhaps no more than two dozen people occupying the airwaves of Vancouver.

Not only is this disingenuous, but it comes nowhere close to representing the diversity of opinion out there. I think a much better and more accurate use of your airwaves would be to expand your show to include much more time for callers to express their opinions. Though Dave from Surrey and Terry from East Vancouver and even yours truly from Kitsilano may provide input more often than others, surely such opinions better represent the views of Greater Vancouver than Adrienne Carr?!?

Most sincerely,

Robert W.
Citizen & Informed Listener

The Upcoming Grey Cup Parade

Right on the heels of the Santa Claus Parade, Vancouver is going to be treated to another one, in celebration of the Grey Cup, which is here this Sunday. Though our much loved BC Lions won't be playing, the parade is always great fun, as our Alberta cousins show us staid Vancouverties how to let loose and have some fun. The parade starts at Georgia & Seymour and starts this Saturday, November 26th at 11am. You can find more details here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

More Mystery Fog

After today's Santa Claus Parade I took some photos from the downtown area. Like yesterday, the fog was everpresent in the city. This first shot is of Vancouver's old courthouse, which now serves as our art gallery, and the historic Hotel Vancouver in the background. This next one is shot westward down Georgia Street. Though it was a Sunday, the traffic was especially bad because many of the streets were shut down for the parade.

Vancouver's Santa Claus Parade

My mom & I walked downtown around 10:45am. With the cold, foggy weather in the city these days, we both dressed very warmly. Arriving downtown at the front end of the parade, a dozen or so motorcycle cops were
running their high-speed drills. As I had figured, unlike last year, it wasn't so crowded where we chose to go. So it was easy to get a front row position to watch the action. My mom reminded me that last year there were periods of 10 to 15 minutes without anything coming by. That didn't happen this time around, which was nice. I don't exactly know why, but there is something about parades that I've always loved. Back when I was a kid there was always a big parade before the opening of the PNE.
My father worked for a time at a Volkswagen dealership on Georgia Street, so we'd always have a great place to view it from. But I've also seen numerous parades in Chicago and loved them all!
You can view the full set of photos by clicking here.

Harvey Wallbanger

A friend of mine keeps making reference on here to "Harvey Wallbanger". I've searched my memory and the only thing that keeps coming back is a vague reference to a game I once had for an old Atari computer. It featured a large rabbit that you moved around the screen to pick up various numbers. What's interesting is how I acquired this game. This was circa 1981 or so, long before today's modern Internet existed. In fact, at that time there weren't even CD-ROMs!!! Oh, nostalgia!

I acquired the game by typing in a series of codes from a magazine. And there weren't just a few, but rather pages & pages of them. There was built-in error checking though, with each line having what's known by programmers as a "checksum". So if you made a mistake, the program could tell you on which line the mistake occurred. It was a time consuming progress but a fun one!

Fast forward to today. I Googled for "Harvey Wallbanger game" and found this. It doesn't feature a rabbit ... though is fun in its own right. Using the arrow keys you move a 3-D ball around, trying to pick up objects along the way. And there's entertaining disco music the entire time. A different kind of way to wake up this sleepy Sunday morning!

New Version of Indigo Available

I wasn't satisfied with the first version of my Indigo Media Center so I greatly improved the UI and functionality. You can download the latest version here.

An Interesting Perspective on Mobile Technology

I just downloaded and watched a very interesting interview discussing mobile technology. The interviewer is Robert Cringely and the guest is a 23-year old fashion model / entrepreneur named Anina.

When you first start seeing her talking, you get the sense that Cringely just wanted to spice up his show with a European-style Valley Girl. But ast he show moves on you quickly realize that this woman is much more of a techie than her good looks let on. She really knows her stuff and has some very interesting insights into the current frustrations of mobile technology users, as well as where things are heading in the future.

You can download the 93MB show here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Vancouverites Come To Their Senses

After 3 years of terrible leadership from the mayor and city council, Vancouver has finally come to its senses. Today the citizens elected Sam Sullivan, an amazing man who is a quadriplegic as a result of a skiing accident at age 19. He has risen above this disability, learning Cantonese, and serving as a city councillor for the past 12 years. You can (and should) read more about him here.

Perhaps even more importantly, the following left-wing nutcases have been tossed out of city council: Tim Louis, Anne Roberts, and Fred Bass. These folks were a complete embarrassment to my city. Bravo fellow citizens, bravo!!!

Final election results can be seen here.

Foggy Day

Today was a foggy one - both for me and Vancouver! I woke up with a splitting headache and felt quite nauseous. In the morning I just took it easy but headed out to vote in our municipal election around 1pm. Being outside, I felt better. So I continued on down to Granville Island. I bought 3 donuts and a large coffee and sat outside listening to a great guitarist and watched the people go to and fro. Then bought some fruits & vegetables and headed home.

The fog everywhere added a bit of mystery to every scene. I took several photos and posted the best of them here.

My Diner Is Gone! :-(

A South Granville institution suddenly closed this past week and may never reopen. The Normandy Restaurant has been around for 70 years. But the retail lease rates in the area have been going sky high the past few years and the restaurant was slated to close in January.

But this past week there was a fire in the kitchen which caused extensive damage in various parts of the restaurant. Very sad.

Even more sad is that it'll likely be replaced with another generic lingerie shop, coffee shop, or chocolate boutique. If only one could subsist on just these things alone . . .

Funny Article About APEC et al

Here is a very funny article by Globe & Mail writer, Simon Beck. He takes a humorous look at a very serious subject.

Not a very good example

BC's MLAs - all of them - have got themselves into hot water over some fairly extravagant raises. You can read the full story here.

In terms of total dollar figures, the amounts are miniscule compared with even moderate raises given to public sector workers in the future. So I do not think the two are directly comparable. But the optics of politicians receiving raises in the range of 15% - 33% is pretty bad. I could see the politicians giving themselves large raises a few years from now after the debt of B.C. is paid off, or at least half of it paid off.

But what's the absolute worst about this matter is how both parties collaborated together to sneak this through in just a few hours. Furthermore, there must be a better process for such things. They need to have a committee that's as indpendent as possible to decide such things; a committee possibly headed up by a judge.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And So The Spinning Begins . . .

As if they were at war, the generals of The Liberal Party of Canada have started the spinning to keep themselves in power. Today they coerced Elizabeth May, of the Sierra Club of Canada, to do their bidding for them. Ms. May, speaking with the most righteous of tones, was adamant about how horrible an election in the near future would be, because somehow it would adversely affect her international conference. The link between the two seems tenuous at best but the Liberals, like the superb spinmeisters they are, have never let facts and the truth get in the way of their message.

This is but one small attempt to pressure the opposition parties to hold off on kicking these bums out, but it surely won't be the last! Shakespeare would be proud of the multi-faceted drama that is being weaved in front of our eyes.

Internet Radio Player

As I've mentioned here several times before, I really like listening to radio via the Internet. I've bookmarked my favourite stations and put shortcuts to my most favourite ones on my desktop. But I've long thought there had to be a simpler way to listen to (and quickly change) the hundreds of stations available.

So yesterday I decided to build a radio station player for my own purposes. It's very preliminary but functionally does most everything I want it to. And the more I use it, the more I like it. So I've decided to make it available for free to everyone else.

The requirements of this software are as follows:

  • Only runs on Windows
  • Requires the dotNet Framework available here (its already installed if you're using Windows XP)

You can get a copy of the software here. Just download the "MSI" file and double-click to run it. It'll install a copy on your hard disk, placing a shortcut on your desktop.

The application is pretty self-explanatory. You just click on one of the stations in the list, wait a few seconds, and it'll play.

For more advanced users:
  • If there's a favourite station of yours not listed you can paste the URL into the drop-down combo box near the top and press Enter.
  • You can also maintain a list of your favourite stations in a file called "UserStations.lst". You'll find this directly in the application folder, whose default location is: C:\Program Files\IMS\Indigo Media Player
  • This a CDF file, with the following syntax for each line: StnName, City, Prov/State, Country, TypeOfStation, URL
  • All entries in this file will be displayed in blue at the top of the list, thus making them more convenient for you to access.
  • This software is based on the Windows Media Player. But some Internet radio stations use a different player or require being played in their own window. If the program gets an error trying to play it in Windows Media Player then it'll try opening the station in its own embedded browser window.

That's about it. I have some ideas where I could take this software in the future but for now it just serves as a useful tool for me, and hopefully others too. Incidentally, if you have other favourite stations that you think others might like to listen to, then just leave me a comment here. If I think they have general appeal then I'll definitely add them. They'll then be available to everyone else after they've clicked on the "Check for Updates" option in the Help menu.

You Know You're From Montreal When...

I just received this from a friend in Montreal. Having lived there myself, I know the inside scoop on several, though not all of them!

You Know You're From Montreal When...

  1. You pronounce it "Muntreal", not "Mahntreal".
  2. You have ever said anything like "I have to stop at the guichet before we get to the dep."
  3. Your only concern about jaywalking is getting a ticket.
  4. You agree that Montreal drivers are crazy, but you're secretly proud of their nerves of steel.
  5. The most exciting thing about the South Shore is that you can turn right on a red.
  6. You know that the West Island is not a separate geographical formation.
  7. You refer to Tremblant as "up North."
  8. You know how to pronounce Pie IX.
  9. You greet everyone, from lifelong bosom friends to some one you met once a few years ago, with a two-cheek kiss.
  10. You know at least one person who works for the CBC, and at least one other person who used to work for Nortel.
  11. You've been hearing Celine Dion jokes longer than anyone else.
  12. You cringe when Bob Cole pronounces French hockey player names.
  13. You were drinking cafe-au-lait before it was a latte.
  14. You order fries 'with sauce', not 'with gravy'.
  15. Shopper's Drug Mart is Pharmaprix and Staples is Bureau en Gros, and PFK is finger lickin' good.
  16. For two weeks a year, you are a jazz aficionado.
  17. You need to be reminded by prominent signage that you should wait for the green light.
  18. Everyone on the street - drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists - think they're immortal, and that you'll move first.
  19. You know the difference between the SQ, the SAQ, and the SAAQ.
  20. You measure temperature and distance in metric, but weight and height in Imperial measure.
  21. You show up at a party at 11 p.m. and no one else is there yet.
  22. You don't drink pop or soda, you drink soft drinks.
  23. The margarine in your fridge is the same color as lard.
  24. Every once in a while, you wonder whatever happened to Luba.
  25. You never thought that Corey Hart was cool, but you know someone whose cousin dated him.
  26. There has to be at least 30 cm of snow on the ground in less than 24 hours for you to consider it too snowy to drive.
  27. You remember where you were during the Ice Storm.
  28. You used to be an Expos fan, but now all you really miss is Youppi.
  29. You don't understand anyone from Lac-St-Jean, but you can fake the accent.
  30. You discuss potholes like most people discuss weather.
  31. While watching an American made-for-TV movie, you realize that "Vienna" is actually Old Montreal, that "New York" is actually downtown and that the "The Futuristic City" is actually Habitat '67.
  32. You find it amusing when people from outside Quebec compliment you on how good your English is.
  33. You have yet to understand a single announcement made on the Metro PA system, no matter what the language.
  34. You think of Old Montreal as nothing but a bunch of over-priced restaurants, old buildings and badly paved streets.
  35. You don't find Non-Quebec comedians speaking "gibberish" French even remotely funny.
  36. You don't find it weird that there's a strip club on every corner downtown.
  37. You like your pizza all-dressed

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Sampling of Canadian Radio Stations

Long ago I gave up listening to the radio on ... well, a "radio". Instead, now I almost exclusively listen to radio stations around the world via the Internet.

I thought it might be interesting for Canadians and non-Canadians alike to check out the talk radio stations across this big country. More precisely, here's a list of the Corus family of radio stations, from Vancouver, BC in the West to Montreal, Quebec in the East. You can click on any of the links to immediately start listening to the online feed of these stations:

CKNW - Vancouver, BC
CHQR - Calgary, AB
CHED - Edmonton, AB
CJOB - Winnipeg, MB
CFPL - London, ON
CHML - Hamilton, ON
CFMJ - Toronto, ON
CKOI - Montreal, QC

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Trouble in Paradise

Qualicum Beach is a beautiful community on Vancouver Island, about 3 hours drive north of Victoria. Yet, even there they have silly politicians who see no problem wasting taxpayers money. This seems to be a "disease" amongst many politicians throughout Canada!

You can read more about what's going on here.

Ever Wanted To Learn How To Program?

If you've ever been intrigued with software programming but never knew where to start then you may want to try downloading some free versions of Microsoft's programming products. They're called "Express Editions" and are available here. I strongly recommend trying the C# package. It really provides the best compromise between power and ease-of-use.

The Pigs of Vancouver

Today I saw a well dressed young woman leave her disposable coffee cup on the bench of a bus stop. Then she walked inside an Insurance office, to either do business or go to work. Why was it too much trouble for her to dispose of this cup in that office?

Back at my apartment I just discovered a used Coleman stove thrown in some trees by the back lane. There's a large garbage container no more than 10 metres away. Was it really that difficult for the person to walk those few extra steps.

Just further proof that kids are being raised by irresponsible parents and then grow up to become these selfish, irresponsible adults. Sad.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A New Canadian Flag?

The current Canadian flagThis afternoon CKNW radio host Gord McDonald asked the question, "What's wrong with a federal election at Christmas?"

I was the first one to get on-air and succinctly explained that our honourable, brave soldiers in World War 2 did not fight as they did, and die as so many did, just so that Canadians today could complain about taking a few minutes out around Christmas time to exercise their democratic right. Yet so many are already complaining
vociferously. And to each of them, I have one simple message: "You represent the very worst my country has to offer. You are no less than truly pathetic!"

Another excuse often given to avoid an election is that "we'll end up with yet another minority government". Well folks, until the Quebec issue is resolved ... and it might not happen for 5 - 20 more years, minority governments are going to be commonplace in this country. So this rhetoric espoused by Liberal sychophants that elections cost us so much money is absolute and total drivel!

The future Canadian flag?If & when a Conservative minority government is being forced out of power in the future, listen carefully for the same cries from the same people. All you will hear is utter silence. Instead, like pigs fighting to get to their snouts to the front of the trough, you'll here them screaming about how important it is to keep democracy flourishing. Maybe it's time that we get honest about who we are. Step #1 would be to change the red maple leaf on our flag to a big yellow banana ... to accurately portray the Banana Republica del Norte we've most surely become.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Maybe We Should Listen To Our Mothers

There's an interesting study recently done by the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff, England.

They took 180 volunteers and asked half of them to keep their bare feet in icy water for 20 minutes. They found that 29% developed a cold within five days, compared with only 9% in the control group not exposed to a chill.

You can read the full story here.

Great Dating Movie

No matter what age you are, if you're dating these days then you will love this movie. It accurately shows how easy it is to meet people through the power of the Internet but how incredibly difficult it is to meet someone with whom you can make a real connection.

Internet dating sites are great in that they allow you to quickly & easily meet a number of different people, many of whom you'd generally never cross paths with. Several of my friends have met their spouses this way, some even not in the same country.

Their are problems with Internet dating though. First, it gives people the ability to hide certain key facts about themselves (I could have used the word "lie" but wanted to be more tactful), which often leads to a lack of trust. And for some people, there is a certain addictive quality to being able to meet someone new - someone new - someone new - without really giving any particular relationship a chance to grow & flourish.

Do see the movie. It's a good one!

Somebody Inspiring To Vote For

Prior to today I had never heard of Colleen Hardwick Nystedt before. But she was on David Berner's show.

To say I was impressed would be a huge understatement. This woman "gets it". She understands that there must be a growing level of business in order to support the services we all depend upon. She's very hip to the latest technology too, which is an added bonus for anyone in I.T. like me. If you live in the city of Vancouver then please make the effort to vote next Saturday, November 19th and among your other checkmarks, tick one for this great lady!

Get Into the Christmas Spirit in Vancouver

This year's Christmas Parade commences at 10:30am on Sunday, November 20th. I attended last year and didn't enjoy it because the route was so short that it was virtually impossible to find a vantage point to watch it where there weren't 7 layers of people in front of you. Even though I'm 6'1" I saw practically nothing. The organizers have switched from Shaw to Rogers and they seem to have realized this, significantly lengthening the route. If you're going to go, be sure to dress warm, including a hat and scarf, and wear comfortable shoes or boots.

Check Those Crazy E-mails With

I just received an e-mail showing these 2 photos of a redneck wedding. Though hilarious, I was a bit suspicious so I went to Snopes and checked them out. Sure enough, it's a hoax!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jealousy Over A Woman

There's a friend of mine - we'll call him "Mr. Ed" - who has become very jealous of the fact that I know Rachel Wacholder, the famous beach volleyball player.

Well, in truth, to say that I know her is a bit of a stretch but recently she became part of the worldwide travel website that I've been a member of for 2+ years. So I'm clearly one step closer to knowing her than he is. (Hey, let me live with my delusions!)

And perhaps I did and continue to stretch my actual familiarity with Rachel ... ummm Ms. Wacholder ... but I really see no need for Mr. Ed to know the full truth about how well I do or don't know her. For it has provided me with endless glee to keep him guessing!