Saturday, January 31, 2004
Moammar Gadhafi is possibly smarter than George Bush
Back on 19 DEC 03, the Libyan leader called a halt on his country's weapons of mass destruction. Give him credit for not beating around The Bush, crafty Colonel Gadhafi wants the US to lift economic sanctions. In good faith, the Libyans have just air-shipped 55,000 pounds of nuclear and missle components to Oak Ridge, Tennessee (home to good-old-boys, high-proof moonshine, and the US nuclear weapons plant). IMHO [cough], Gadhafi not only sucks up to economic development for his land of sand, he has that 1980s Soviet vision of his country going bankrupt. Under the guise of demilitarization, the Libyan dictator brilliantly uses the American president:
1. You have a pretty good idea who paid for the air shipment.
2. You also know who now has to pay for nuclear disposal on their home soil.
Friday, January 30, 2004
What? Can't men sing?
Sexist organizers have chosen Beyonce Knowles to sing the national anthem at the start of the American football Super Bowl championship this Sunday. She will be the third consecutive female performer. Officials have chosen a woman or women's group for six of the last seven years. The Back Street Boys snuck in for the 2001 Super Bowl and some would question if they're "men".
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Winter at a glance
There are picnic tables outside an Abbott's ice cream store in Spencerport, NY. During the Summer, one sits outside and enjoys their treat. Now that it's Winter, we enjoy the layered look of many snowfalls. Trust me, this only represents a fraction of the snow. A few inches will be deposited, but most will be blown off the table. In the sun, some of it will melt and crust up at night. Then Nature will repeat the process again and again. For our Indian viewers, I should mention that contrary to Darwin's Survival of the Fittest, the US bends over backwards to assist and protect the handicaped. The long, sloping, white ramp leads to a second entrance of the ice cream store. It is for wheelchair access as required by law.
The meter-long icicles are hanging off my flat's roofline, above my entry door. The landlord, Geoff Swanson, does not protect me or visitors from skewering. Depending on the sun, the icicles drip on the steps, re-freezing into back-breaking ice and actually forming upward growing stalagmite ;^(
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
I'm back in Rochester, NY, flights were uneventful, but I have questions...
1. Does anyone else get nervous landing on completely white (snowy) runways?
2. Why doesn't the plane skid during rapid deceleration as would a car?
3. As I was leaving the secure area of the Rochester terminal, I could see the incoming inspections about 10m away, particularly the fascinating x-ray screen. I stopped for a minute, totally separated and away from the process, but was told to move on. Why aren't we allowed to watch? What don't they want us to see? It's not like you can see someone's underwear. It's mostly vague and colorful outlines that inspectors are trained to decipher, but intriguing to this lowly citizen curious about the world around himself ;^)
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Hot-tubbing in the snow
Getting 5m out the door to the garden tub is not the hardest part... leaving the tub is toughest ;^)
Monday, January 26, 2004
What did we learn from the movie Jurasic Park?
Little, if biotechnology is moving faster than regulation. Apparently we're close to genetically modifying mosquitoes that put the bite on malaria. Then there's silkworms engineered to weave bulletproof vests. But many scientists note that safeguards are not in place. They cite the recent and unchecked marketing of the Glofish, a zebra fish engineered for fluorescence. While there are agencies regulating plant and livestock pests, there was no oversight with biotech house pets. This Thursday, the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology will ask the gubbermint to tighten controls.
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Canadian Call Center, before & after, DEC & JAN
How many Steps in your diet plan?
Are you on the 2 Step "20 Grams/20 Minutes for Women Only" plan by sexist sow Fred Stutman?
The 3 Step "Nashville Diet"?
How about the 7 Step "Potatoes Not Prozac" plan?
Now there's the 18,425 Step Amish Diet! That's right, the Old Order Amish in southern Ontario (Canada) have a 4% obesity rate while enjoying meat, potatoes, the ubiquitous Amish pastries, and 50% more calories than the general population. By comparison, 15% of Canadians and twice as many Ameri-fatties are catorgized obese. The difference? Pedometers were attached to 98 Amish adults. Men averaged 18,425 steps daily, women 14,196. In Canada & the US, adults only manage 2,500 steps. While the Amish shun technology, their men spend 10 hours a week tossing bales of hay, shovelling, and plowing behind a team of horses. I think I better start walking to the Amish bakery ;^)
Saturday, January 24, 2004
If you're concerned about beef and Mad Cow Disease, be warned about farm-raised salmon
In California, the Environmental Working Group and the Center for Environmental Health have filed legal action against 50 salmon farms, fish processors, and grocery stores under the State's anti-toxic law. Earlier this month, the journal Science cited a major study finding that contaminants (PCBs) in farm salmon far outweigh poisons in their wild brethern. The problem: farm salmon are fed commercial meal made from other fish. These "other fish" are lower on the food chain, "trash fish" that bottom-feed and accumulate pollutants. The fish meal industry is probably as poorly regulated as the cattle feed industry where herbivore cattle are being fed questionable animal refuse. Personally, I appreciate an excuse to fish for wild salmon ;^)
Friday, January 23, 2004
How to clean the inside of your monitor's screen
We're all familar with how the rubber eraser at the end of a pencil works. Here's a similar (and non-work friendly) technique. If you don't have Macromedia Flash on your computer, get off the Net.
[a tip of the hat and a schwing to Captain Mike, a site I originally designed and hosted]
Bracing myself for the first step outside the hotel this morning
I awoke to the radio reporting -27°C/-17°F. It's a beautiful sunrise and not snowing for a change. While not good for the environment (or the rental car), I'll be pre-starting my vehicle and letting it warm up for the second time in 2 weeks. Maybe I should re-grow my beard and continue with the diet that adds an insulating layer ;^)
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Church doesn't have to be dress-coded and "keeping up with the Joneses"
Everybody loves a cowboy and you can worship like one at 288 cowboy churches around the US and Canada. In fact, a divinity school for cowboy ministers will open next month in Midland, Texas.
Historically, the first building erected in an Old West town was the saloon. Whisky bottles were simply covered up for town meetings and church. Today's cowboy churches follow the same simplicity to deliver a sermon less demonstrative than gargantuan cathedrals. It's not about society, rather, it's elementary worship. Attire is casual and there's often live, country/gospel music. You may know the old expression "pass the hat" that has revived in cowboy churches with upturned 10 gallon Stetsons replacing the donation baskets.
Ya-hoo (shouted gleefully by cowboys long before the more recently named Net portal).
The "George Bush" of India offers bounty on citizen of neighboring Bangladesh
Muslim cleric Syed Noor-ur-Rehmn Barkati of Kolkata/Calcutta is offering Rs.20,000 (US$440) for an attack on Bangladesh's feminist writer Taslima Nasrin. The holy man will reward whoever delivers the ultimate Muslim insult:
smearing the writer's face with tar
putting a garland of shoes around the feminist.
Oh no! Not the shoes!! The horror of it all ;^)
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
I learned Hinglish and now I'm trying Cannada (quite different from Kannada)
For example, when talking about the cold & snow here in the Great White North, ex-CBC broadcaster Bill Casselman has collected a number of local expressions in his books Canadian Sayings:
"It's a tree snapping night." (so cold the tree sap freezes and the tree explodes)
"The mercury is hiding." (early thermometers were made in the US and not calibrated low enough for Canadian winter)
"There's so much (de-icing) salt on the road, you get high blood pressure walking to your car."
"Ain't a fit day for a fence post." (and a fencepost is already dead and withered)
"It's storming so bad, the birds are walking."
"Like sticking your head in a flour sack to get away from a tornado." (during heavy snow and wind storms like tonight)
No, I'm not talking about a new moniker for Tiny Tim or Boy George. I'm referring to a rename for the Spirit of Ontario, the hydroplane scheduled to make its maiden voyage between Rochester, NY and Toronto in May. While folks in Rochester are pretty excited, Toronto is looking for a little "speedier" image. Thru 6 FEB 04, Canadian American Transportation Systems, is sponsering the contest with a boatload of prizes... pun intended ;^)
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
How cold & snowy is it?
Not cold enough to stop the tough, Canadian steelworkers erecting our new call center. Snowy enough to require the rail plow to clear the train tracks.
Win a million bucks (real bucks, not rupees) & a high-paying job for life
Certicom Corp. makes encryption technology they call ECC, Elliptic Curve Cryptology, that arguably surpasses RSA. The complex math is integrated into everything from cellphones to
CrackBlackberries, for everyday users like ourselves to deep, dark military & gubbermint spooks. Certicom challenges the public to hack their code and in a recent case, a brainiac at the University of Notre Dame won $10,000 by using thousands of PCs in a distributed process like SETIatHome. Be forewarned: the next level of encryption is 100 million times more complex.
Monday, January 19, 2004
Into Blogging "contests"?
Check out the Sulekha Saarang Blog Fest 2004. Prizes for 400 word blogs will be awarded for everyday 16-26 JAN 04. Catch: you must be a student at some institution or an IIT grad (and they're smart enough to be featured in Dilbert cartoons). As of 1600 hrs GMT-5, 10 aspiring writers have signed up.
Only in India (and you thought I'd forgotten)
How to get diamonds from your cow... [Ananova]
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Enough about me...it's a one-sided story
From the Sault Star: Bill & Melinda Gates have a lovely, $110 million home on 2 hectares of prime lakefront property. To insure their privacy, they have bought 11 adjacent properties including 9 homes and 1.7 hectares for $14.4 million.
An editorial cites discontent with Ontario's provincial Liberal government (think: US Democrats) who want to reinstate photo radar. Disenting provincial Conservatives (ala US Republicans) claim the system doles out tickets to owners of speeding vehicles regardless of the driver, effectively an additional road tax to bolster the province's $5.6 billion deficit. I see the matter differently:
1. If Junior is speeding in daddy's vehicle, daddy will be ticketed and Junior will receive a heavier lesson that ultimately results in safer roads.
2. The speeding public now operates trusting that police presence is limited. The pervasive nature of photo radar could induce a paranoia that slows down the overall population and saves lives.
3. Speeders tax everybody. To a higher degree, they're polluting, crashing, trashing up the roads, and disrupting the saner course of events. Taxing speeders is no different than having jail prisoners clean trash from the roadside.
In Butler, Pennsylvania, Jennifer Langston was convicted of vehicular homicide. Prosecuters said she was drunk and talking on a cell phone when she drove her car across the road's centerline, hitting another vehicle, killing a teacher and leaving his pregnent wife in a coma to this day. Their child was born by c-section and is being raised by relatives. I'm horrified that the judge sentenced the woman to just 30 days in jail, but impressed that the judge ordered her to carry the deceased's photo for 5 years. It gets more interesting when the dead man's parents chose a picture of their son in his casket. It becomes disgusting when the
woman bitch appeals the court to dismiss the picture as too gruesome. I hope this killer, Jennifer Langston, gets a lot of opinionted mail in Butler, PA 16001.
Scientists at Britain's University of Leeds predict hotter & dryer climate by the year 2050. They estimate 15-37% of land species will become extinct. Climate and habitat changes have become so unpredictable that mosquitoes were observed in Boston, Massachusetts this 24 DEC.
Friday, January 16, 2004
Friday night, -22°C/-7°F, and I just had my first accupuncture
A chiropractor inserted a few, thin-gauge needles (disposable) around my injured rotator cuff, another near my elbow, and one between my thumb/forefinger. Painless. Then the electrodes were attached. At a massaging pulse of 80Hz, low current voltage was steadily increased over a period of 20 minutes. I got to control the voltage according to my comfort level. The sensation and muscle contractions were strange, but instead of turning me into a modern Frankenstein, my shoulder felt better after the treatment and it was easier to put my shirt back on. While it's good treatment, I'd also like to try a massage parlor where the rub, tug, and endorphin release will greatly relieve pain ;^)
I also changed my Commenting feature over to HaloScan because BlogOut is in the midst of yet another outage.
A (c)old dog learns a new trick
As I returned from my hotel breakfast to my room this morning, I detoured to start my rental car. I then continued to my hotel room, brushed my teeth, tied my tie, picked up my laptop, etc. After that 10 minutes or so, the car was warmed up and ready to go. I felt like I was getting to work safely.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Damn windshield defroster doesn't even begin to work at -26°C/-14°F
I only have a 5 minute drive between work and the hotel, so the rental car engine doesn't begin to get warm. In fact, the automatic transmission won't come out of low gear ;^(
I'm naughty and a high-heeled, long-legged, garter-belted librarian will be scolding me (I wish)
My booklist on the lower left is now updated, but I've probaly forgotten a few reads other than the most recent:
King of Torts, John Grisham, typical lawyer-medical malpractice. Disappointing ending for me.
I'm half way thru Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. It's the intro to his current best-seller The Da Vinci Code and a quick reading suspense with dashes of realistic technology & probable history. Who knew that a square meter of material would produce enough drag to slow the descent of a falling body by 20 per cent?
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Happy Pongal to South Indians
What did you get? What prezzies? New clothes? Sohan papdi (my fav)?
About 100km north of Toronto lies the small, lakeside community of Barrie, Ontario. Its 100,000 residents were a little hard hit a few years ago when the local Molson beer brewery closed its doors due to poor economics. Directly alongside busy Highway 400, the 11,250 square meter building sat idle, growing weeds and cobwebs until a savvy developer saw the bigger picture. The building was sub-leased to a number of businesses: trucking firm, coffee roaster, bottler, and factory space. The local economy was once again bolstered by renovations: several million dollars spent on electrical engineers, miles of wiring, heating duct specialists, computerized HVAC and lighting systems. Barrie hydro benefited from the sale of power and water. In-factory dorms were even constructed to attract and retain employment with difficult shifts.
Business was booming until authorities inspected the factory that had been in operation over a year. They took a closer look at the 25 stainless steel beer vats, each 7 meters across and 20 meters tall. The tanks had been converted to incubators, complete with automated lighting, venting, and irrigation. There were 30,000 marijuana plants in various stages of growth. Figuring a 3 month cycle time, this represents a $100 million per year business. It was an efficient operation: the power company reports less electrical and water usage than the brewery. Tell-tale odors were masked by the coffee roaster. Nine persons were arrested by Canadian police. They have been released on $10,000-20,000 bail. It was noted that Canada has become popular for growing operations where convictions might result in fines compared to US imprisonment.
India in this morning's Canadian news...
CNN reports that policemen in northern India are paid Rs.30 (US$0.65) per month to grow mustaches that give them "a look of authority." From my time in India, I learned that big, handlebar 'staches were a way to spot undercover cops. I also recall that with the token liberalization of India, the few female cops have a good start on developing their upper lips. BTW, my French-Canadian grandmother would have fit that image perfectly (rest her soul).
The Toronto Star newspaper reports that French Sikhs fear a ban on their turbans. France has proposed a law before next month's parliment that would supposedly maintain the country's secularism. Passage would ban Muslim scarves, Jewish yarmulkes, and large crosses in public schools. While no Sikh accoutrements have been specified in the proposal, the 5000-7000 devotees amongst the 60 million French population are worried. And probably pulling their hair ;^)
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Can you smell it?
The excrement has hit the quickly rotating inclined planes. Hopefully nobody is up a foul smelling tributary without a manual means of motivation ;^)
[translated from Hinglish: "The shit has hit the fan. Hopefully nobody is up Shit Creek without a paddle."]
Monday, January 12, 2004
I have seen it all...
Like an announcement on a company's bulletin board for a 50-50 raffle to fund the company water cooler. Either the economy is much worse than I imagined or there's some cheap finance department that doesn't understand eSat (employee satisfaction) as a precursor to cSat (customer satisfaction).
Sunday, January 11, 2004
It was a weekend of movies in frigid Canada
Big Fish where Albert Finney was brilliant and his strange, wandering tale appropriately directed by Tim Burton. Shades of Beetlejuice.
Cold Mountain also told the tale of a long journey, this one for the love of Nicole Kidman. I moreso liked Renée Zellweger and Rochester's Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Paycheck was a filler for me, something I chose when there was nothing else I liked, but assumed a John Woo direction would be full of action. I wasn't disappointed on the effects tho the premise of this film is so pedestrian. Uma (Hindu "Bestower of Blessings") Thurman has matured nicely in the 10 years since Pulp Fiction.
Friday, January 09, 2004
Bitter cold, but clear flying on Wednesday
A co-worker was with me and concerned that he couldn't see runway when we landed at our final destination in northern Michigan. I figured our pilot had "bush" experience landing the 30-seat prop job on a snow covered field and lived to tell this tale. The drive across the Canadian border was uneventful and we dropped in for a quick inspection of the call center. I later enjoyed a Tex-Mex dinner at the hotel before heading to the nearby dancing emporium. I had a very good view, albeit thru too much cigarette smoke. An improvement in health law will eliminate public smoking come April.
Thursday evening, I found myself enjoying the ballet. During intermissions, there was something called table dancing in the private VIP lounges, only there were no tables. Gentlemen are expected to offer their laps.
Here it is, Friday night, and the thermometer is starting to climb from -24°C. The weekend promises to be warmer, brilliant (snow everywhere) and clear.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Vietnam Chennai (with apologies to Robin Williams)
I just came back from the laundromat and can best describe outside as "frozen tundra". It's -11°C and the wind is whipping the snow such that you don't see the ground. It's like a swirling cloud that hovers just above your ankles. Here in the US where lane markings on the road are obeyed, they can't be seen tonight. Tomorrow we're expecting a high of -7 and a low of -17. Good thing I'm flying north to Canada in the morning...assuming the plane flies ;^)
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Dinner at a friend's house in the country...
Brockport, NY, to be exact. I brought a great bottle of wine and they did the cooking (with a little Southern flair):
beef, injected with lovely chunks of garlic, roasted on the charcoal grill
white & sweet potatoes boiled, then mashed with a little milk
long green beans sauteed with mushrooms
collard greens, stewed with ham hocks (so good that I took three helpings and one of the beef)
In their yard, they had a tree die. They cut it off flat at 3m and installed the cutest birdhouses:
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Starting the New Year...
It was a funny New Year's Eve with my new DVD Home Theater and Get Shorty. Travolta, DeVito, Hackman, and Rene Russo (I never realized she was also a top model and has the body to prove it). It's a film with deep history:
1. Elmore Leonard novel directed by legendary Barry Sonnenfeld
2. Nominated for 2 Golden Globes & winning Best Actor (Travolta)
3. DeVito turned down the lead role due to busy schedule and took a smaller part
4. Travolta also turned down the lead until Quentin Tarantino slapped some sense into him
5. "Hood" Dennis Farina was a Chicago cop for 18 years before acting
6. Airline versions of the film substitute a train wreck for an airplane disaster.
I rounded out the evening with two, delicious Spaten from Munich.
New Years Day, I did some hiking along the historic Erie Canal. The Canal is drained for Winter and this exposes the overwhelming infestation of Zebra Mussels. This environmental & commercial disaster originated from the bilge water of ships traveling from Poland & the Balkens. If you've got ShockWave, here's a horrifying animation of their un-wanted immigration & extensive breeding.