25 October 2007

Daft Punk widget

Well, I usually just add all the super-neato weird stuff that I find to the linkroll at the bottom of the blog, but this actually warrants a post.

oi! if you want a quick fix check to the right. If you want a good healthy dose may I suggest this: Daft Punk, amen!

11 October 2007

Election Results

I don't have much to say on politics. I wish politics were more scientific and less, well, political. Why can't we treat an issue like a design, technical, or scientific problem: determine the variables and then solve the problem in an open and logical way. With 90% internet access in Canada we could just vote on all the issues from the comfort of our offices, homes, and where ever we take our blackberries. Do we really need politicians at all? Maybe just some diplomats and a ton of researchers and educators to give the info to the public so we can make our own decisions. Maybe that's too idealistic, but hey so is the concept of democracy in the first place. What we really need is a good benevolent and just monarch. Or maybe just anarchy. Who cares anyway? Aren't we all too busy working to pay any attention to silly things like government, the environment, and our future?

MMP voting system
Well, it didn't go through. I guess what was really holding me back was the argument that more proportional representation would lead to better government. I was just never sure if that was the case. Democracy is the best system we have, but it's not a good system.

At least this way I can continue to vote for the Green Party, safe in the knowledge that they will never actually have enough power to fuck with the economy or my taxes. I love the feeling of moral superiority I get from "making a statement" and then the government not being "my fault". Eventually the other parties might notice the support that the Greens are getting and put more elbow grease into environmental matters, not just the old fashioned grease into the lakes. Does it really matter? Did we really have an option anyway? What's the difference exactly between the weeping NDP, the pot-head Greens, the baby-kicking PC's and the thieving bastard Liberals? Like my girlfriend said, 'no point in voting since a coin-toss vote is as good as not showing up at the polls'. She was too busy working, too.

The Vote
Why the fuck can I not vote online? I have to admit to a feeling of proud civic duty as I marched through the rain to the polls. But really. It's 2007. I can pay my taxes online. The government knows my number. I should be able to vote online. Talk about saving taxpayer money during elections! If anyone is serious about increasing voter turnout they would just make a goddamn web page poll.

Heads are in asses here, people! But I'm too busy working to really care.

13 August 2007

Poisoned suppries from China

China executed the former head of their food and drug agency after busting him for accepting bribes in exchange for accepting at least six fake medicines.

Health Canada has been warning consumers since June about 21 Chinese toothpaste products shipped with toxic levels of diethylene glycol, a nasty little toxin.

And for some reason they bring up the Olympics:

Chinese officials also say the Western media is making too much of the scandal. They argue that exporting unsafe products is a worldwide problem and that some may be trying to embarrass Beijing before the Olympics.
Maybe so. But that doesn't mean they aren't shipping millions of children's toys around the world laced with toxic levels of lead. That's a problem. I don't think it has anything to do with embarrassment, it's more a matter of poisoning and death. Or wait, maybe we should wait until the Olympics are over before we do anything to embarrass anyone:
Don't worry kids, you can keep playing with Cripple Me Elmo. We don't want to embarrass the Chinese.
I might be a hypocrite but I think China should be embarrassed, nay, how about held liable. A little bit of social justice and environmental awareness wouldn't hurt them either.

25 July 2007

As if fat people need another reason to be feared and taunted

This just in: obesity is socially contagious! Yes, sir, stay away from fat people. Don't be friends with them, and if one of your friends--or worse even your spouse--starts to put on the gain, ditch them before you too fall victim to this spreading scourge.

From the New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 357:370-379, July 26, 2007, No.4

A person's chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if he or she had a friend who became obese in a given interval. Among pairs of adult siblings, if one sibling became obese, the chance that the other would become obese increased by 40%. If one spouse became obese, the likelihood that the other spouse would become obese increased by 37%.
There are so many angles to take this story I don't even know where begin--"Now remember kids, don't talk to strangers or fat people." "I'm suin' my ex-wife fer chunkin' up and causin' my heart attacks." This might be the basis for discrimination against obesity in the work place. Hey, we can't smoke indoors, why would we let people of girth eat around us? That's just dangerous.

Maybe we'll see more studies showing that getting up early is contagious and jogging is addictive. Then it's just a matter of hanging out with the right crowd. Dark chocolate is officially health food now, so who knows.

On the other hand, if we could "cure" all obese people, maybe there would me no one left to catch fatness from...

18 July 2007

God created the Universe in 6 days

After I cleaned up from pissing myself laughing I got scared.

It's not just a case of American ignorance or stupidity, it's part of a world-wide fundamentalist religion problem that's killing and maiming people every day.

45% of the population of the USA believes that the Universe is only 4000 years old (yes, four thousand years). 45% of the USA! That's ~135 million people, walking around with that idea in their heads every day. That means there must be 135 million Americans that have never read a book or been to a museum that wasn't part of the multi-billion dollar faith industry. Richard Dawkins has the scoop and George Carlin adds his bit.

Will wonders never cease? Jesus, save me from your followers!

I swear sometimes I'm clairvoyant

Last month I was in Europe. I spent a lot of time on the train with people whose language I do not speak. So I brought my mp3 player.

I was sitting on the train, window seat, beautiful sunny afternoon, gliding blissfully through the post-communist country side, girl-friend asleep beside me peacefully.

Star Guitar by the Chemical Brothers was for some reason stuck on repeat but I didn't mind. I kept thinking "man, this song is exactly perfect for coasting along on a sunny afternoon on a train when you're in a foreign country".

I just saw the video. Blows my mind.

17 July 2007

Customer Service: 3 strikes in one day

(I haven't written much in a long time, I've had a hectic couple of months. Luckily my dedicated readers will forgive me. I'd love to be able to sit around and just blog all day like Scoble does. What is that guy selling anyway?)

Things, as they say happen in three's. Perhaps because I've been reading a lot of Seth's Blog, I noticed a disturbing trend in three encounters I've had in the last 24 hours. I've broken it down into three posts 'cause I'm wordy. Here are links to posts 1, 2 and 3.

--- I think of customer service as a subsection of the Golden Rule: treat others in a way that you'd enjoy being treated. Obviously if you're a masochist this won't always pan out well, but you know what I mean. People are lazy. We have narrow areas of interest, and most things outside of this area of interest fall into a category called "shit I wish I didn't have to deal with".

For example, I used to have a folder in my filing cabinet marked "TAX" where I put all my income tax forms, phone bills, student loan applications, bank statements, receipts, etc. I thought 'tax' was the correct label because it included all the organisations in the world that pick my pockets. But when I realized I was also filing appliance warranties, apartment leases, and passport renewal applications in my "TAX" folder I realized that it was actually my "shit I wish I didn't have to deal with" folder after all. But I digress.

Good customer service takes something out of the "shit I wish I didn't have to deal with" pile and puts it into the "shit that someone else took care of so I can get on with enjoying my day" pile. And that's a great pile, even when it's a bit steamy and smells of beef. The best way to help people out is to take care of their needs. If you have some skill or ability like a car to lend, a delivery network, or a service that people find useful, make it easy for them. After all, you need them more than they need you: there is often competition just around the corner.

I don't want to hear "there's nothing we can do". That goes nowhere but straight into the "shit I wish I didn't have to deal with" pile. Give me "here's what we can do", "there has to be a work-around somewhere, I'll take a look", or "I'll take care of it for you". Give me some initiative. Great service does make a difference and it does get rewarded. And it's not about subjugating yourself to the customer, it's about taking control of the situation and being a good host.

Anyone want a job tending my filing cabinet? Hey, maybe Scoble will hire me to file his blog posts...

Continue to strike 1

Customer Service: Strike 1!

1. Yesterday I went to rent a car for work at Avis. I was renting on the company account, which is on a Gold Visa so includes insurance. The customer service agent couldn't add insurance to my bill because the feature was locked 'off' on his computer. It's locked this way to prevent redundant coverage being added to the Gold Visa (aka accidentally overly-covered accident coverage). Unfortunately only the names of the firm's partners are on the card so the insurance does not cover me (I am but a young peon). I don't know how it is that I can rent a car on the card but not be covered by its insurance, but that's a matter for Visa to address. Apparently Avis can do nothing. And that's what the agent told me again and again, and what he then told my office manager over the phone in incrementally ruder tones.

Now I've worked my fair share of minimum wage service/retail jobs and I know that sometimes you are just in a bad mood, or tired, or hungover, or going through a bout of philosophical depression: working for minimum wage is not high on The List of Things that Add Value to One's Life. But come on! Work with me people! It wouldn't kill you to think outside of the box for just five minutes would it?

So this agent, his co-worker, and manager all watched me walk 30 feet to the Hertz desk across the hall, exchange my card for a set of keys, and get on with my now substantially delayed day. They didn't just 'lose a customer' in some figurative manner of speech, they physically watched me go, and take the rest of my company's corporate account with me. We are now proud members of AutoShare, although Hertz isn't so bad despite their 'death and decay' colour scheme and the tragic onomatopoeia of their name (why not Burns brand condoms, or Choke bread company?) Hertz turned out to be less expensive than Avis, too.

Avis, you're fired.

Continue to strike 2

Customer Service: Strike 2!

2. We sent out an important document to a client with a tight deadline. Purolator (Puro-later?) ensured us that it would be there by 9am, just like the stickers on the package declared. Our client called in a panic at noon asking us where the hell the document was. Now we look like fools, thanks to Purolater . We called the couriers to see what the hold up was. They accidentally delivered it to the wrong city, so they are delivering it back and will send it to the correct address tomorrow, a day late. What?!

They are couriers. They carry packages. Just one thing that they do. That's it. And they didn't get it right. Ok, we're all human. People make mistakes. That's cool. But when you make a mistake, and you know that you made a mistake, and it's perfectly clear that your mistake is going to ruin someoneelse's day, FIX IT. Clearly if tomorrow was ok, we wouldn't have stuck a bunch of colourful stickers on the package that said
9am today!

Again we are reminded that just because a job doesn't pay well, doesn't mean that anyone can be good at it. This is the second time they've lost our packages and made us look like fools to our own customers.

Purolator, you are fired.

Continue to Strike 3

Customer Service: Strike 3?

3. I called Rogers, the local telecom/ISP company, to get some issues ironed out with my bills and to address a few promises that they had failed to deliver on since the last time I had enough motivation to sit on hold waiting for one of the agents to get to me. While I'm on hold I'm thinking, 'this fucking sucks! Why can't they call me back? I should have the option to either hold or just put my phone number in 'priority sequence' and the next available attendant can give me a ring when they're ready. They are the phone company, if anyone should be able to call me you'd think it would be them. They own my phone dammit.' Of course being a cable company too, they'd only be able to do as good as 'call you back sometime in the next 1 to 5 hours' and we all know how well that turns out...

Anyway, eventually I get a super-helpful agent who solves all my issues. She was so good that I was going to ask for her manager's email so I could write a thank you letter. Hey, you can't tip a call centre worker, but good service should be noted and duly rewarded, I think. Unfortunately, 36 hold-ridden minutes later, while she was getting ready to transfer me to a tech person to finish off my call, my phone died and we lost connection. Now I can't call back because I'll just be on hold for 10 minutes before I'm transferred to some new attendant. I will have to explain everything over again because it's never "on their computer". I don't remember the name of the attendant I was working with, and even if I did I'm sure there is more than one Julie or Amanda or whatever working there. They have my number. It's right there on her screen. They have my address, my name, my credit card number. There are about 5 different ways that they can find my number, even if they didn't own my damn phone. And they didn't call back. Why the hell won't the phone company call me back?

God damn it, I'm going to wait a month until my next bill comes. I hope it shows the changes I spent 36 minutes of my life working on. If not, then Rogers will be fired too, unless that agent can think outside the box for just a second, take some initiative and call me. How sweet would that be? Sadly, it would set a new bar for customer service in the telco industry. Just like the 73 helpless minutes I spent on the phone with Primus set a new low. Primus (fully and forever Fired since 2005) still owes me $3.70 but they "can not process returns through a credit card" like that's fucking rocket science.

09 July 2007

I can't resist sharing this video of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the Microsoft Developer Expo.

09 May 2007

Well-oiled Bird Killing Machine

Well, since every silver lining has a cloud, I thought we'd look on the dark side today. This post about how buildings in Toronto kill as many as 10 million birds each year could be looked at from another angle:

Just 10 more years of condo development along the waterfront and some more high rise towers spotted across the city and Toronto will be one of the most effective bird-flu and West Nile Disease filtration systems in North America. Just think how safe we'll be! Finally we can be rid of those pesky hawks and sparrows.

Now if we could just pave over the few remaining green spaces and fill in those dirty wetlands we'd be free of these mosquitoes, too! Maybe we can make a cell phone that fucks up all insects, not just honey bees.

07 May 2007

Sexist Religious Freaks

I've been bothered all day by an article about a Muslim-Christian soccer match that was intended "to foster understanding between religions" but was canceled because the Muslims refused to play against a team that has female players. WFT?
I was going to write a huge rant about backwards religious customs, outdated rules, discrimination, prejudice, equality, and good old-fashioned ignorant stupidity.
But then I realized the real problem here: Soccer is not a way to foster understanding.
Exhibit A
I rest my case.

The topic of this blog

Be it settled that I have chosen a direction for this blog. So far I have tried to stick to one topic, or brainstorm a decent stream of related topics, to give this blog some kind of theme. I admire the steadfastness of someone who can keep to one issue, but the world is so f*cked up that you have to be really narrow-minded or boring to keep on about one specific issue. Unless you have a real issue, like David Suzuki does, then you're allowed to make a life's work of it. But for the rest of us bloggers, it seems like the deal is not to tackle an issue, but to relate a perspective.
So that's my topic: my perspective.
And it's not going to be pretty. I don't want to offend anyone, or be a bad guy, but it seems I have no choice. For example, it seems that every time I get together with family I end up putting my foot in my mouth. Like at Easter when I made what I thought was a witty Zoolander joke, everyone took it seriously and thought I was being really conceited. And this from family who watched Zoolander with me over and over again, to the point of quoting the whole movie.
Clearly I have some issues. Hopefully just issues with my comic timing.
At any rate, one thing I seem to be good at is being taken seriously when I'm joking and being laughed at when I'm serious. So perhaps my perspective is novel.
At any rate, like I said it won't be pretty, and here's why. I generally write at two times of day: when I'm on my lunch break at work and haven't eaten yet, in which case I'm needlessly pissed-off (aka "Hangry"), or late at night when I'm overtired, in which case I get delusions of grandeur and/or have been drinking.
Which should give a good indication of where my perspective in this blog is coming from.

The Weather

WTF is wrong with the weather? I bet a case of beer that if you did an analysis of weather patterns you'd find out that statistically the weather is shittier on the weekends.
Last week Monday to Friday mid 20's, weekend, 17 and 14 C.
Today (Monday) 23C, and mid twenties all week, until Saturday & Sunday 16. Just watch as the skies shit on us on the long weekend two weeks from now.

(To any americans who happen to be reading this, less than 20 is cold, more than 20 is nice. Get the metric system already, it's not new).

Is it just me? Am I being pessimistic? Or are we getting screwed? It could be rain, blizzard, hail, snow, 90 km/h winds all week, as long as Friday night to Sunday night it's calm, 26C, and sunny, and it would suit me just fine.

PS. as I write this I realize that my hubris will be unleashed upon me when I start biking to work in the near future. Just watch.

30 April 2007

Eratica, not erotica - see definitions top left

Right, so for those of you who kinda expected that this was going to be some kind of p*rno site... and you know who you are, I've found the site for you.

It's not pretty. It's not usual. And it's probably illegal in most american states (but then again most things are). But for those of you with a strong stomach, and a sense of adventure, I invite you (at your own risk, of course) to visit this site:


Warning: don't say I didn't warn you. I was searching online at work for furniture and this site came up. Honest. It was weird.

24 April 2007

Sleep and Dreaming

I've found some great podcasts of CBC radio's Ideas program on sleep and dreaming. There are 2 parts about an hour each. For some reason I can not download part 1, but part 2 comes into iTunes no problem. Regardless, they are well worth a listen.

Anyway, it turns out that there's some scientific and even genetic background to whether people are early birds or night owls. I am definitely a night owl, and I live with an early bird. It's really funny in the mornings how I'm nearly dead and she's talking already, and then at night it's the reverse: I'm just waking up finally and she's passing out.

I really like the bit on different culture's sleep practices. I've always been a very skilled napper. One of my favourite parts of the day at summer camp was the after-lunch rest-period until 2:30. I know a good nap when I just barely lose consciousness but not quite, but my body goes completely relaxed. These are the naps where I wake up feeling fully reset and ready to go. 10 or 15 minutes is perfect, but 45 minutes is a real kick-ass nap, sometimes even better than a regular night's sleep. If I nap more than 45 minutes it'll take hours to wake up again.

In highschool I would nap during my spare period in the library using a very think history encyclopedia as a pillow. Highschool classes were 50 minutes long: perfect nap time with 5 minutes of leeway. If you get the right book, you can sleep without cramping your neck. No one ever used the history encyclopedias, so there was always ample floor space in that aisle. In my undergrad university I had awesome naps after lunch before my afternoon classes. I thought I was an insomniac by senior year though because my sleep schedule had stretched out to the point to where I couldn't fall asleep until 6am. Definitely a night owl! I'd say my circadian rhythm is like 28 or 30 hours. On the weekends I easily stay up until 3 or 4, and monday is always a case of jet lag.

I've also noticed that every once in a while, maybe once a month or so, I absolutely can not fall asleep until 3 or 4 am, but then I get up at 7:30 or 8 and go to work and feel like I had a regular night's sleep. That happened last night, and now I'm writing this blog at 2am again. Wish I could figure out the cause and even harness this power.

I would love to explore the siesta more, too. Seriously! There has also been some research published lately relating sleep to stress, health, and length of life. I can't find the link right now, but it's a pretty popular topic so it's all over the web. Maybe you've found a link you can comment on below. I did find a really cool article by a guy who went on a polyphasic sleep cycle, sleeping 20-30 minutes 6 times a day. He kept a log for 90 days!

I would love to try something like this, or maybe more like the Mediterranean siesta routine. I can't see a sleep schedule working out if you don't share most of your schedule with those you live and work with. Maybe one day (hopefully soon) I'll be the leader of a very progressive Creative Economy company that will have napping facilities and encourage people to recharge, relax, live longer and be healthier and more productive. Imagine being able to read into the wee hours of the morning (or blogging at 2am) and then going to work for a few hours and nabbing a kip before lunch. Brilliant! Then you could work from 1 to 5, run home for a nap, have a huge dinner and stay up for another 6 or 10 hours. Well, I still work for a bunch of early birds who expect me to put in a full Industrial Age 8 hours, so I'd better put my head down. Now where's that history textbook?

21 April 2007

up and running

Well, here it is! I've finally gotten down to learning enough of the basics in blogging and html to put together a site dedicated to my own off-beat sense of humour and interest. I hope you enjoy wandering through the flotsome and jetsome that I've accumulated here.

I add new sites almost daily, so bookmark and check back every now and then to see what's new. If you have any sites that would seem fit the theme here (if there is one) drop them into a comment below.

The search tool unfortunately doesn't scan my links, so for now it's only as useful as google itself, and that's not too shabby I suppose. When I have a bit more time, I'll maybe even write some real content...

Recent eratics:

There's a lot of gold here and it's updated often.
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