Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Edmonton, Remembrance Day 2008

I normally stay home on Remembrance Day, make excuses and feel bad about it. But the old guys are dying off and I am feeling more patriotic this year so I made the extra effort and attended the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Edmonton Cenotaph in front of City Hall.

It was a good day for people watching. Snappy uniforms and some nice music. Yes there were few old guys marching any more but they had a full complement from the nearby army base. (I think that there was another indoor ceremony somewhere else in Edmonton where the Mayor attended).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Sarah Palin

I was doing some Internet research after watching John Cleese on the Keith Olbermann show yesterday. Mr. Cleese is just as smart and funny now as he was 40 years ago! He apparently thinks both John McCain, Sarah Palin and Bill O'Reilly are all funnier than Michael Palin. Why are there so many Americans that don't understand this?

I just discovered John Cleese's Eulogy for Graham Chapman. I do wish that someone writes something half as lovely about me when I am finally expired, dead, gone and no more. Here is some classic Graham Chapman.

And now for something completely different. The Lumberjack Song
This is completely wrong! Since I have spent much time in the backwoods of British Columbia (see photo), I hate Canadian stereotypes, I would never refer to a logger as a "lumberjack" and I have never worn suspenders and bra... I should write a letter of complaint but instead I just giggle and sing along.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

West Virginia Vote Flipping Caught On Tape (VIDEO)

Speaking as a software developer who has personally counted paper ballots in a country where they still do things the old-fashioned way:

Why don't Americans put the waitresses in charge of the election with some help from SQUIRREL? Waitresses know all about counting cash and making things balance at the end of their shift, they know about keeping records for any tax audits, they know that their credit card receipts have to balance with the total in the cash register and -- from their first day on the job -- they know the chaos that results when they accidentally ask for a well-done Obama burger when they really meant the refried McCain special.

I am sure that the average waitress -- and perhaps even the average waiter -- knows more about technology and the need to track orders and money straight far more than the elderly semi-retired people that American counties hire at minimum wage to run their elections.

I also expect that the average point-of-sale machine manufacturer knows far more about keeping data accurate, keeping machinery working in difficult conditions and making things easy to use with minimal training than Diebold does.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dropping 2 Blogs (ActiveAlertWorld and ActiveAlertData)

When I started this blogging thing I thought that I would keep the different sizes of my personality in different blogs. (Just like I once had several web sites for different purposes). Instead I am reverting to just two blogs.
If you want to keep track of me in the future then please here and my travel blog:

The blogs that I am dropping should remain online with the old blogs. For the curious the old efforts can be found at
and ActiveAlertData.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Twitter.com, tweets and usage thereof

I have a had a couple of enquiries from my friends and relatives who have not signed up at Twitter.com. It really is simple and a lot of fun. Their system works like a highly simplified version of Facebook or MySpace without all the endless nudges and requests to join or do something. I have been having fun there and so I will write a little about Twitter and how to use it.

First: Sign up at https://twitter.com/signup Give them a unique short user name.
Second: Upload your general local location info at http://twitter.com/account/settings.
Third: Upload a small silly photo of yourself or something amusing at http://twitter.com/account/picture.
You are now a Twitter person!

Then use the Find People feature to locate people that you want to follow.
You can also search here: http://search.twitter.com/advanced (It could use a better search engine).
Whenever you find someone who is interesting writing interesting things in an interesting location then click on the 'Follow' button at the top of their page. (I find that it is best to find some interesting people that update regularly once or twice a day. There are some news feeds that update many times an hour but that can be confusing). When you sign on next day -- or even many days later -- you can see all the updates made by people you are following.

Under Notices (http://twitter.com/account/notifications) I suggest choosing the option to receive an email when someone starts to Follow you. If they are creepy or if they are a politician or trying to sell something you can easily block them. Just click on where it lists your all your followers and there is 'Block' link beside each person on the list.

If you really want to be a hermit curmudgeon there is a setting to "Protect my updates" so that only Followers that you approve can see your updates. It is up to you to update as little, as much or as often as you wish.

Besides people there are also organizations, schools and companies doing updates. It is a great way to disseminate news to the public. Whenever you return you can see what the people that you are Following are writing about. You can update from a cell phone text message or from twitter.com or from other applications.
(Or you can never update if that is what you wish to do).
During Hurricane Ike there were people on Galveston Island updating from flooded homes by their cell phones.

I find the 140 character limit for messages to be liberating. There is no need to get carried away and actually write something serious. Much easier than writing an essay. If you want to add a link to a long web address then the tinyurl.com web page provides a useful to create a short URL instead. Once you create an update you can not edit it but you can remove it. (There is a little trash can symbol on the display).
If you have photos that you wish to share on Twitter then upload them at TwitPic.com. That site handles the complications of creating the short URL and creating your Twitter update.

They have a neat new feature at the top of the page where they show the hot topics that people are writing about at that moment. If you add a tag similar to #debate08, #canada or #dinner to the text of your own 'Tweet', then Twitter will 'tag' the subject that you are writing about. (Current hot topic as I write this are updates about McCain saying 'Horseshit' at debate last night). It was fun to watch what people were writing as I was watching the debate on TV.

You can send personal private messages to people if you are following them and they are following you. You can also send public messages -- that everyone can see -- by putting the @ sign followed by the name of the intended reader somewhere in your message.

I hope to see a few of my friends soon. There are more options and ways of doing things but these are the basics. You can find my updates at www.twitter.com/CanadaGood

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Armpit of America

I am up early reading and laughing and thinking what a wonderful place the Heart of America is...

There is a guy from north of Vancouver who headed to the Armpit of America in an effort to be the first person to achieve a human-powered speed of 1/10 the speed of sound. While attending the race a BC writer could not resist writing an article about the political opinion at Donna's Ranch.

That lead me to this example of local boosterism and this great article at the Washington Post.
Having driven down some of the lonely back roads of Nevada, and having just a small streak of curmudgeon-like hermit personality, I do appreciate the thought and simply must stop the next time that I drive I-80 through the Heart of America.

All this reminded me of my times driving the lonely highways of the Nevada desert. The photos shown are from my trip through Nevada at the end of December, 2000. I drove from Reno south through the town of Beatty to Death Valley. I spent New Year's Eve at the best hotel in Beatty.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nothing exciting

I had a good summer but life has entered a quiet phase... as long as you ignore the excitement on the world stock markets. I completed two courses at Athabasca University and have completed all the assignments for a third. On the other hand I have an essay that has remained half-written for almost 6 weeks now.
The events of the past week or two have convinced me that money in the bank is not necessary the same as good as gold. It can be hard to convince myself to be frugal about things like buying the cheap can of beans or saving money on meals when my investments can drop almost 10 percent in a single day.
I bought a new camera this past week. A cheap Kodak camera but one I did not need. Sometimes it is good to simply give in to an occasional few wants.
I had a long summer trip this year. I bought a small Trillium trailer in April. So I headed out in mid-August with trailer and dog for a cross-country adventure. It was a a great time and I took hundreds of photos. I will have to post them on we web site and my travel page.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Macklin Bolerama / Egg Gathering 2008

I recently purchased a 15 foot-long Trillium camping trailer. So naturally enough I headed off last weekend to the annual Prairie Bolerama / Egg Gathering at Macklin, Saskatchewan. (You can find links to a description and photos at www.geocities.com/bolerama/) For me it was a good dry-run for my big cross-Canada trip next month.

That is a gathering of like-minded people who admire the logic of pulling small fibreglass trailers instead of giant metallic behemoths. More than 70 trailers attended this year. About 2/3 were the cute rounded Boler models. Most of the rest were Trilliums. My 1979 Trillium Jubilee turned out to be a quite rare model. Most of the Bolers looked well-used and well-lived in.

The owners naturally tended to be small families with small pets. This dog and owner is an untypical example. This dog is named Gizmo, like mine is, but certainly has a different personality and look.

A few trailers were tricked out, remodelled, painted and customized with matching vehicles.

Whyte Avenue Art Walk

I had a nice stroll along Edmonton's Whyte Avenue back on July 13th. The occasion was the Art Walk where local artists display their offerings along the sidewalk and hope for attention and a few sales. There was a few young artists who's work attracted my attention.

Krystin Clarke (krystin.clarke@gmail.com) is a dancer, dance instructor and a quite colorful artist. I was particularly struck with the fact that she was posing in front of a store the name of which is Color Blind!

I also noticed the various hi-tech jewelry, gadgets and other items made from recycled computers that were being displayed by www.Geekware.ca.

There was the usual mass-produced computer-printed giclée crap that one sees at all such shows. Exclusive "one of kind" prints from a run of 250.

A talented local artist actually doing something original is Jolea McMillian (jolea5150@hotmail.com). Her paintings were slightly less brightly colorful than those of Ms. Clarke but her pick of colors might be more emotional and expressive. Her interests of architecture and mathematics show up in the subjects. (She also did some dramatic and gutsy nudes). I myself ended up buying the teacup painting. (Her prices were too low for the quality that she is producing. I expect that she will be raising them soon).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Montana Meth Project and the Doors of Perception

I came across the Montana Meth Project this morning. Have you seen their powerful adverts?

It is quite amazing that these commercials were created and broadcast in Montana. Once the evils of addiction was something seen as we drove past backstreet alleyways or something seen in front of skid-road bars at closing time. Now -- after forty years of the War against Drugs and Nancy Reagan's Just Say No we have have a situation where Meth and Crack additions are common in the suburban backyards of not only NJ and NY but also MT, AB and BC.

Of course the Summer of Love (1967) was never perfect and it was a very short journey to 1969's Altamont Festival and the untimely deaths of Janis and Jimi in 1970.
Writing this lead me to some online reading about the life and death of Neal Cassiday in 1968. (He was the inspiration of both On the Road and Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test). It has long interested me in how our lives are perceived and recorded by others. Even when someone makes a so-called documentary or serious biography there is so much room for differing perceptions of reality.

Sometimes, just when I think that I have not made a big impact on the lives people I find that I am held as some kind of perceptive guru. Oh to see ourselves as others see us...