Friday, December 30, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Justice Clifford of the Wellington, New Zealand, High Court ruled that Nick Lowe's nude bicycling did not meet the standard of "offensive." A female driver, who passed and repassed him five times, had complained to police.

• China's population is 1,300,000,000, which equals the total number of people on planet earth in 1939. India has 1,100,000,000 people.

• IBM says that, in five years, we’ll simply be able to think something, and a computer will respond.

• A large, hollow, metallic ball with a circumference of 1.1 meters has fallen out of the sky in Namibia. It weighs six kilograms and is made of a "metal alloy known to man," prompting inquiries to NASA and the European space agency.

• To ensure that the Rockettes' tap dancing can be heard in the huge Radio City Music Hall, Canadian firm Quantum5X mounted tiny microphone-transmitters on the bottoms of their tap shoes, allowing the sounds to be amplified through the theatre's sound system.

Never Liked It Anyway is a website "where once loved gifts from once loved partners get a second chance," when love has dissipated and you just want to get rid of that stupid junk.
Looking for change? Check the sofa. Or find a wishing tree.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Black's days will brighten in 2012

Conrad and Barbara in more blithesome times.

On July 13, 2007, Conrad Black, peer of the realm, erstwhile industrialist, press baron, former owner of multiple mansions, and vocabularian nonpareil, was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

The intervening years have seen a series of alternating appeals and periods of incarceration, hopes elevated and hopes dashed. Coleman Federal Correctional Complex was graced with his presence for 29 months. He cleaned bathrooms and wrote a book.

His right honourable lordship materialized at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami this September, to complete the final semester of his education in American justice. He will graduate on May 5, 2012, provided he doesn't behave indecorously.

[Completely unrelated fact: The 100th anniversary of the Titanic's demise will be marked just 3 weeks prior.]

What will he do next and where will he do it? Who will play him in the movie?

Personally, I find Conrad an excellent entertainment. He is indeed an egotistical blowhard, but his pluck is estimable, and he surprised many by emerging from his tribulations unbowed, growling indignantly all the way.

Finally, he was [formerly] a colourful Canadian, and in the Great Grey North we need as many of those as we can get.

He's lost friends and fortune, but it would be folly to underestimate him.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If you deep-fry it, they will come

If it can be deep-fried, it will be deep-fried.

The list runs from Mars bars to ice cream.

Among the latest are turkey testicles, and they have their own annual festival.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Does your word pass?

Here are the 10 most-used passwords of 2011, which means they are an open invitation to hackers.
• password
• 123456
• 12345678
• qwerty
• abc123
• monkey
• 1234567
• letmein
• trustno1
• dragon
If your New Year resolutions include tackling your password problems, remember to avoid any simple numerical sequences, common names, and any word in the dictionary.

Also use a different password for online financial transactions than for shopping and entertainment sites.

For passwords that are strong but memorable, create a nonsense phrase with words separated by numbers or characters, such as "10dogsRchopping" or "3cats8cake4vitamins".

You may also consider using a password manager application that generates, organizes and protects passwords.

Be careful out there.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Friday, December 23, 2011

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear...

Merry Christmas to all who have put up with my ramblings for another year. Very best wishes to you and yours. Travel safely.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Smart Christmas gifts for grandparents

Perfect for the Florida beaches. Gramps can make money just by shuffling through the sand with these metal-detecting flip-flops.

Get Grandma racing! Yep, these slot-racing grannies will give the euchre crowd some real competition.

Are the attendants at the nursing home always snatching grandma's secret gin stash? Get her a pair of Dram Sandals footwear flasks, and she'll never be without her "medicine." Great for euchre, too!

Both grandma and grandpa will appreciate these swell lighted slippers to illuminate their way on those "night-time errands."

Does grandma have cold hands? Get her these snuggy Handerpants. Great for euchre!

Give grandpa a break. No more trips to the fridge every 20 minutes. Load up this beer belt and he's set until halftime. Also great for euchre!

Sure to be popular when pasta is the early bird special, the Drib keeps costly polyester golf shirts stain-free, and no need for a doggy bag with those nifty, catch-all, bottom pockets.

These shirts are sure to be hit with the Depends set, especially when the grandchildren come to visit at the retirement home.

In case grandma's T-shirt warning is ignored, give her a back-up pair of emergency underpants. They come in a handy package that tells everyone she's ready for fun.

The Uroclub is the perfect gift for older golfers with a frequent "urge to go", especially when there's no nearby shrubbery. Towel not included. Pair it with the beer belt! Also handy for euchre!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

At the Dalek Christmas party

What, no presents? Exterminate!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas shopping problem solved

87 implements! Great stocking stuffer from the person with deep pockets to the person with big pockets. Not safe for airport security. Get it here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

You look fine

Friday, December 16, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Frustrated by their inability to capture the Geezer Bandit, who has robbed 16 California banks since August, 2009, police are now investigating buyers of a silicon mask named The Elder. The mask has the appearance of a 70 year old man.

• Mother Nature went on a spending spree in 2011, which will probably be the third-costliest weather year of all time for the U.S.A. It has endured 12 weather and climate disasters with an aggregate damage of approximately $52 billion.

• You can now tweet your insurance company during an accident. Despite the estimation that 30-50% of accidents are caused by driver distraction (OPP), new BMWs allow drivers to access Twitter and Facebook while underway. How socially irresponsible is that? It's now inevitable that you'll see this on most cars within a couple of years.

Babyloid is Japan’s latest therapeutic robot baby, designed to help ease depression among older people by offering them companionship. It's cheeks turn red to let you know when it's happy and content, and it sheds blue LED tears when it is sad.

• Huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, are bubbling to the surface from the arctic seabed. Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost. That could lead to rapid and severe climate change if suddenly released.

• The Occupy movement apparently has a win. The New York State Senate and Assembly passed, almost unanimously, an increase in the top tax rate on the state's wealthiest citizens, at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's request. Just two months ago, the governor said such a move was out of the question.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Places I have been

[Thanks to one of the Freds for sending this along. Author unknown]

I have been in many places, but I've never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can't go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I've also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don't have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I'm not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I've been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I'm in Capable, and I go there more often as I'm getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get.

And sometimes I think I am in Vincible but life shows me I am not.

I have been in Deepshit many times; the older I get, the easier it is to get there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Devilish fun

I bet you can't guess what this commercial is advertising, until the end.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peace signs

[Thanks to Mimi for sending this along.]

A Doctor on TV said to have inner peace we should always finish things we start, and we all could use more calm in our lives.

I looked around my house to find things I'd started and hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of scotch, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiuminun scriptins, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner piss. An telum u luvum.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Friday, December 9, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Annually, Canadians drink the equivalent of 8.2 litres of pure alcohol, per person over the age of 15.

• Fear of going blind is second only to fear of developing cancer, but a survey found that 50% of Canadians have not had an eye exam in five years or more. Half of newly diagnosed glaucoma patients are already at moderate to advanced stages, with irreversible and often devastating damage.

• North York Harvest food bank has moved to a supermarket model, replacing the old method of giving everyone a general box of food. People can now choose from from the shelves.

• 46% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would choose internet access over owning their own car, according to a Gartner survey.

• Fewer Americans are sipping from the Tea Party's cup these days. In the latest Pew survey, only 22% agree with the movement.

• The number of millionaires in America increased 16 percent in 2009 following a 27 percent decline in 2008.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Four buddies and a funeral

[Author unknown]

A minister's 6-year-old son and his three playmates found a dead robin.

They thought a proper burial should be performed, so they secured a small box and cotton batting, laid the bird in it, dug a hole, and made ready for the disposal of the deceased.

The minister's son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers, and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: "Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A G-Man Promise

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How are we doin' compared to the Yanks?

Canadians have been accused of a smug attitude of superiority towards Americans. These days, there's less to brag about, it seems.
• The World Economic Forum puts Canada in 18th place worldwide on gender equality, trailing the United States. The ranking measures health, education, income, economic participation, and political participation.

• Remember when, eight times, the United Nations ranked Canada number one on its Human Development Index (HDI)? We're now sixth, behind (you guessed it) the United States. The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living.

• A report on global wealth from Credit Suisse Research Institute says that Canada's wealth per adult (US$245,000) is lower than that of the United States (US$248,000).

• A 2004 study found that Canada had 4.6 MRI scanners and 10.3 CT scanners per million population while the U.S. had 19.5 per million of the former and 29.5 per million of the latter.

• The Conference Board says Canada is 12th in productivity growth, experiencing an actual decline of 1% in 2008, compared with the front runner United States, which increased productivity 1.5%.

• In 2008-09, university funding per student for teaching and research averaged C$21,000 in Canada, compared to C$29,000 in the U.S., according to a Canadian Chamber of Commerce report.

• The same Chamber of Commerce report said that, compared with their American counterparts, Canadian businesses invested 23% less in machinery ad equipment per worker, and 41% less in information and communication technologies over a 23-year period to 2009.

• When it comes to innovation, the World Economic Forum rates Canada in 19th place, far behind the U.S.

• Canada’s Gross Domestic Product per capita, which measures the value created by workers and firms from the human, physical, and natural resources in the country, trailed the US by $9,500 or 17 percent in 2010, according to the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity.
There's more, but you get the idea. The teacher's remarks on our report card might be, "Plays well with others, but needs to apply himself if he is to achieve his potential."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Call now!

Friday, December 2, 2011

So God made a farmer

[Thanks to Anita and Wayne for sending this along.]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gettin' social

Everything is social now.

I just received a promotional message for a company that offers social performance management.

It seems everything has now been renamed to include the word "social," which is the new hot buzzword since social media arrived on the scene, and there's a minefield of jargon out there.

Not sure, but I think social media are pretty much the same as social networks, but it's possible that confusing the two in conversation would be an embarrassing social faux pas, and might risk one becoming a social outcast for breaching the social norms of his social stratum, even if he is just trying to be sociable.

And don't confuse social marketing with societal marketing, or social media marketing, all of which, apparently, are entirely different things.

If someone says they're into social wallpapering, they are not holding a keg party to redecorate their dorm room, and a social application is not a form to sign up for a swingers club.

It goes on... social workplaces, social finance, social bookmarking, social business, social thinking, social learning, social computing, social technographics, social search, social monitoring, social epistemology. All quite worthwhile, I'm sure, but not terms you're likely to encounter in casual conversation at, say, the strawberry social.

I've found that it's safest to completely avoid the word "social" when socializing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cowmand performance

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What worries us?

Leading research firm Ipsos tells us what's on Canadians' minds these days, and how that compares to those living elsewhere.

There are some interesting differences.

Our top three issues are healthcare, jobs and taxes, and Americans agree with us about the first two. But, surprisingly, despite all of the caterwauling about taxes south of the border, only 23% of them rank this in the top three, compared to 37% of Canadians.

Collectively, we are less concerned about poverty and social inequality than the French and the Germans, but much more so than the Americans.

The human propensity to focus on immediate problems, rather than longer-range threats that may actually have more dire consequences, is reflected by the universally small percentage given to climate change.

Except for the Yanks and the Brits, terrorism barely shows up on most people's radar.

Lots more to ponder:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Have a banana

Friday, November 25, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The income threshold for the much-maligned 1% is $380,354 in the U.S., according to IRS statistics for the calendar year 2010, the latest available. For 2011 in Canada, it has been calculated at about $208,000.

• Light from the exploding stars, galaxies and other glowing cosmic beacons that arrived shortly (100 million years or so) after The Big Bang that created the universe 13 million years ago is just now becoming visible through the most powerful telescopes.

• The United States has about 2% of the world’s proven oil and gas reserves, but consumes 22% of the world’s oil production and 27% of the world’s natural gas production. It has 4.5% of the world’s population.

• Canada has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world.

Research indicates that generosity leads to a longer, happier life.

• There are 978,000 dairy cows in Canada, being milked at 13,000 farms.
How about that?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The penguin dilemma

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soaring with ruffled feathers

You may have no interest in the recently deceased Steve Jobs or, by now, are tired of hearing about him.

I've always been interested in Jobs. During the late 1980s, I worked in Apple's Canadian operation for a while. This was in the period between his degrading expulsion and his triumphant return, but his imprint on the company was still visible on everything from office decor to product and packaging design.

I have been captured by Apple products ever since, including seven Macintosh computers, several iPods, an iPad, and an iPhone.

Walter Isaacson's fascinating new biography depicts Jobs with all his strengths and frailties, successes and failures, following his path from garage geek to gazillionaire.

I am particularly struck by the way he dealt with people. He was often arrogant, antagonizing, bullying, humiliating, insulting, overbearing, manipulative, and intimidating. He screamed at co-workers, attacked their competency, disparaged their efforts, shouted obscenities, and cried when things didn't go his way.

If this was all we knew of him, we would assume that his employees and colleagues were disgusted and demotivated, that they loathed having to deal with such a tyrant, that they found him soul-destroying, that they avoided being in his presence, and yearned for release from this particular purgatory.

Apparently not. Working with Jobs was seen as the apex of one's career trajectory. He is held in almost universal awe by former employees. Very talented people, with plenty of career options, craved a job at Apple. They celebrated the 90-hour weeks of repeatedly reworking miniscule details as demanded by the obsessive Jobs, while he bellowed that it better not delay the product launch. To be on Jobs' team meant you ranked near the top of the Silicon Valley pecking order.

Even Steve Wozniak, the Apple co-founder who was shabbily treated by Jobs, voices his admiration.

What gives? Why do people speak of getting chewed out by Jobs as a badge of honour?

Was it the high pay, stock options, and generous "perks" for which Apple was known? Was it the status of working for what was, arguably, the most innovative technology company in America? Was it the chance to learn from a rare genius. All of these, no doubt.

But I think it was mostly the sense of being involved with a guy who wanted to "put a dent in the universe," and who could say that without having it sound like a line of ad copy.

And he did.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shifting out of park and into gear

The "Occupy" movements are being thrown out of the parks.

This is a good thing. For them.

No major protest movement has ever accomplished anything by passively sitting around drumming and singing songs. Such movements, to be successful, need resistance from opposing forces to validate them, test their mettle, attract media attention, and rally broader support to their cause.

The peace movement of the 1960's wasn't peaceful. Heads were bashed. People were thrown in the slammer. When people saw that on the evening news, some minds were changed. More heads were bashed. The National Guard shot students at Kent State. More minds were changed. Eventually the tide of public opinion shifted and forced change at the highest level of government.

Same thing for the civil rights movement, the Arab spring, and every other successful uprising in the name of injustice since the Athenian Revolution established democracy in Athens in 508 BC.

If the Occupiers have the guts to rebound from these initial skirmishes with the authorities, and regroup to carry on the fight in new ways, they will have demonstrated to themselves, and to the world, that they have the right stuff and are committed to their cause.

They will show that they just might have enough grit to stay the course. Otherwise, they are doomed to be a minor footnote in the history of social change.

The 1% are never going to say, "We hear you, and you're right. We have way too much wealth and power, so we're going to give it all back. Thanks for pointing this out."

On the contrary, the rich and powerful will use all means at their disposal to stomp on any threat to the status quo.

If you're not ready for that, don't start a rebellion.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Cows contribute more to greenhouse gases than do cars, and 95% of the methane produced by a cow is burped out the front end, not farted out the rear end.

• City of Toronto police cruisers are not fitted with snow tires for winter.

• Canadians' use of food banks has jumped by 26% since 2008.

• Strangely, many Americans who receive benefits from government programs fail to grasp that these benefits come from the government. This disconnect applies to 60% of homeowners who qualify for a home mortgage interest deduction, 44% of social security recipients, 39% of those on medicare, and 53% of people with government-backed student loans.

• The botherations of the mega-rich are unknown to the rest of us. Consider the headache of finding a suitable vacation spot now that the south of France, Tuscany, and the Greek Islands are so overrun with the riff-raff. Help has arrived in the form of the yacht island. Yes, it's an island that you can relocate at your whim.

• It was was Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase, who got "In God We Trust" printed on U.S. currency, despite the founding fathers insistence on separation of church and state.
How about that?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crabby Old Man

[Thanks to Anita and Wayne for sending this along]

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte , Nebraska, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

Since then, the poem has been reproduced far and wide in magazines and slide presentations, distributed via eMail, and now you're reading it here.
What do you see nurses? . . . . . What do you see?
What are you thinking . . . . . when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man . . . . . not very wise,
Uncertain of habit . . . . . with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food . . . . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . . . . . 'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . . . . the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . A sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not . . . . . lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . . . The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? . . . . . Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse . . . . . you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am. . . . . . As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, . . . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . . .. . . with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters . . . . . who love one another.

A young boy of Sixteen . . . . with wings on his feet.
Dreaming that soon now . . . . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . . . my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows . . . . . that I promised to keep.

At Twenty-Five, now . . . . . I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . . .. . With ties that should last.

At Forty, my young sons . . . . . have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside me . . . .. . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . . My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me . . . . . my wife is now dead.
I look at the future . . . . . shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing . . . . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . . . and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man . . . . . and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles . . . . . grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone . . . . where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass . . . . . a young guy still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys . . . . . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . life over again.

I think of the years, all too few . . . . . gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people . . . . . open and see.
Not a crabby old man . . . Look closer . . . see ME!!
How often are we tempted to brush elderly people aside, without really seeing them, in our impatience to get on with our busy lives.

With any luck, we we will all be there soon enough.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Automobile enthusiasts may now make the trip to the great beyond in their favourite car. Last Rides will sculpt a replica of your beloved jalopy or the exotic wheels you couldn't afford.

• Richard Muller, a prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right.

• 18.6% of American men aged 25 to 34 are now living with their parents, according to the U.S.Census Bureau.

• Not to be dissuaded by economic storm clouds, the 1% are shopping. Third quarter sales for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the worlds largest retailer of luxury goods, rose 18% to $8.26 billion.

• Only one in ten Canadians are planning to leave money to a charity as part of their estate, says Leger Marketing.

• Pole dancing classes and parties may be arranged at the Toronto studios of Brass Vixens. Girls' and boys' classes available.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A day made of glass

A preview of the future. Amazing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The doctor is in

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering Willie

On November 11, we think of the muting of armies, of acres of graves, of old, beribboned men with heads bowed before a cenotaph.

Too often, when we remember the men and women who fought and died in foreign wars, we think of them only as soldiers. But, of course, they were young people in their prime, full of energy, curiosity, and hormonal urges.

Such was Calgary's Willie McKnight, born just days after the first World War's armistice, and therefore coming of age just in time for the second.

Having been expelled from medical school, and running away from a turbulent relationship with girlfriend Marian, the rambunctious McKnight fell into the welcoming arms of RAF recruiters and signed on as a fighter pilot. He shipped off to Little Rissington, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham, England, for training to fly Hurricanes.

Skirmishes with those in authority continued, including an incident that had him and a classmate charged for "being perpetrators of a riot."

McKnight scored his first kill in a dogfight over Cambrai when he brought down a Messerschmidt Bf 109 by entering a steep climbing turn to get on the tail of the diving German.

Ultimately, in the only calculus that mattered in wartime, he had 17 kills, plus 2 shared and three unconfirmed, thereby becoming Canada's first air ace of the war.

Also confirmed, in the midst of all this, was an affair with a French girl who was escaping from Paris. Willie described it thus:
"This girl and I took a flat in Nantes and had a hell of a time for about two weeks. . . I tried to smuggle the girl back on one of our bombing planes but one of the few big noises left in France caught me and raised a merry hell. It was too bad because she was certainly one first class femme - she had been to university and was a modiste until the Hun started toward Paris when she had to evacuate and then I ran into her."
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Bar, for his efforts in the Battle of Britain.

He was killed on January 14, 1941, by anti-aircraft fire.

He was 22.

[Written with information from World War 2 Eagles]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Every hour, Canada has 42 births, 28 deaths, and 25 immigrants, and is growing at 1% annually.

• Battery recycling is lagging behind the wave of electric and hybrid vehicles now entering the marketplace, according to The New York Times. Lithium, used in the current generation of batteries (which can weigh up to 250 kilograms each), costs five times as much to recycle as to mine, so legislation will likely be needed to force recycling. One possibility is to use the batteries to store energy from wind farms or solar panel arrays.

• The profit per square foot from an Apple Retail Store is six times the profit of a Best Buy.

• A Canadian organization, Small Change Fund, is based on the idea that many small donations can make some big things happen. It provides an online platform for charities to pitch their projects, and for donors to give a few dollars to the one that resonates most with them.

• Social responsibility is seldom considered by Canadian investors when selecting their investments, according to a recent Ipsos survey.

Cleavage seems to be a really big deal in China. All part of the Great Leap Forward, no doubt.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ancient mysteries solved?

A retired carpenter demonstrates the ingenious methods that may have been used to construct huge, ancient, stone structures like Stonehenge, without metal tools.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A singular notion

For about 200,000 years, homo sapiens have been the planet's smart guys.

That may be coming to an end, and not because we wipe ourselves out, as probable as that may seem to some, or because aliens arrive from outer space.

No, the new top gun, many believe, will be something else entirely, something with intelligence far beyond even the best human brains. Further, it will be capable of rapidly reproducing, with each generation measurably more intelligent than the preceding one.

Some refer to this as the Singularity. This is based on the belief that several technologies (artificial intelligence, direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering, etc.) will converge to produce intelligence that is smarter than humans.

OK, take a deep breath.

This isn't exactly science fiction, but it's also not the kind of thing that gets reported on the six o'clock news. Not yet, anyway.

But maybe it won't be long, if some very smart people are right.

Well-known futurist/inventive genius Ray Kurzweil thinks the crossover point is about 20 years out, followed by the intelligence explosion. Others, such as Intel's chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, are less "optimistic." He's thinking 2048 is about right. Others think it's unlikely for quite a long time.

According to the Singularity Institute, here's what sets off that intelligence explosion:
"We may one day design a machine that surpasses human skill at designing artificial intelligences. After that, this machine could improve its own intelligence faster and better than humans can, which would make it even more skilled at improving its own intelligence. This could continue in a positive feedback loop such that the machine quickly becomes vastly more intelligent than the smartest human being on Earth: an 'intelligence explosion' resulting in a machine superintelligence."
Kurzweil thinks humans will have to integrate themselves with the machines in order to keep up. Brain/computer interfaces are already with us in the form of the bionic eyes, cochlear implants, and a thought-controlled robotic hand. These will appear very primitive in a decade or two, but offer a glimpse of the possibilities.

All of this is aided by continuing miniaturization, faster microprocessors, advances in neuroscience knowledge, and advances in AI theory.

Would it be a healthier/happier/safer/more just world? Intelligence is responsible for our great advances, but also for weapons of mass destruction, so that remains to be seen.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Worth a trip to the mall

Friday, November 4, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• In Canada, the leading causes of death vary by age group. For infants under age 1, it's congenital abnormalities; accidents for those aged 1 to 34; cancer for those aged 35 to 84; and heart disease for those aged 85 and over.

• Every hour spent outdoors each week can reduce a child's chance of becoming short-sighted by two per cent, a study by Cambridge University scientists suggests.

• Dr. Gregg Homer at Stroma Medical in California has a new laser procedure that will turn your brown eyes blue in 20 seconds.

• Many autistics, not just "savants," have qualities and abilities, including perception and reasoning, that may exceed those of people who do not have the condition, according to Dr. Laurent Mottron at the University of Montreal.

• Good grooming generates a wage premium of 4% to 5% for young men and can partially offset the earnings disadvantage of not being physically attractive, say researchers at the University of Miami.

• No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
How about that?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• In Copenhagen, Denmark, a city of 1.2 million, 55% of workers commute by bicycle.

• Hertz terminated the employment of 25 Somali Muslims at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after they refused to clock out for prayer times. Hertz had set up a prayer room at the airport.

• Sending used clothing to developing countries may actually do more harm than good, as it takes business away from local industry. Increased used-clothing imports accounted for about half of the decline in apparel industry employment in Africa between 1981 and 2000. Better to send money.

• Half of all U.S. workers earned less than $26,000 in 2010.

• The dream of a 58-storey "SkyFarm" in downtown Toronto is unlikely to come true, admits it's designer.

A study using brain scans of over a hundred college students showed a correlation between the number of Facebook friends a person has and the size of certain parts of their brain.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The pension problem

Unless retirement is on the horizon for you, you may not be paying much attention to the matter of income when your working days are over.

By nature, actuaries and pension fund managers aren't inclined to be alarmist. Maybe we need them to become noisier in order to get our attention on a looming problem that will confront most Canadians.

• Statistics Canada says six out of ten Canadians have no formal pension plan.

• Canadians are not making sufficient use of the tax-deferred saving power of RRSPs, having undercontributed by more than half a trillion dollars, according to StatsCan. Decades of middle class wage stagnation, and an absent sense of urgency among young and middle-aged workers, are among the causes.

• On average, Canadians each contribute $2500 annually to their RRSP, accumulating $60,000 by retirement. Using a standard formula, that translates into a monthly income of $250.

• The defined benefit pension plan, a standard benefit for 50 years from almost every employer of substance, is going the way of the Dodo bird, replaced by voluntary plans funded mostly by employee contributions.

• Even companies that have traditionally provided defined benefit plans are moving to much less generous defined contribution plans for new hires. And of course pension commitments that were thought untouchable have been known to evaporate, as former Nortel employees and others have discovered.

• The Canada Pension Plan is paying retirees about $500 per month, on average. Add in another $500 and change in Old Age Security benefits.

The RRSP, CPP, and OAS add up to about $1280 per month, or $15,360 per year. If that's your total income, you would also qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which will get you to $16,320 total income.

That's less than half the average wage, so it represents a big change in lifestyle, even considering that former work-related expenses will cease.

For comparison purposes, the Canadian government's Low Income Cut-off level for individuals, which is often cited as a "poverty line," ranged in 2009 from $15,301 to $22,229, depending upon community size.

In fact, it now appears certain that poverty among the elderly will be widespread, perhaps epidemic. The human and economic costs of this will be severe. Without exaggeration, extreme hardship awaits.

No wonder that there is growing envy, unfair as it may be, of public servants and unionized workers who are entitled to pension benefits that look comparatively generous.

We are about to test the famed Canadian social conscience.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

People are awesome

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fresh starts

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• In 2005, scientists using Google Earth discovered a previously unknown (to them) rainforest in Mozambique, and were rewarded with the discovery of many new species.

• While it still has a way to go, research is underway to grow meat directly from stem cells. This could end animal slaughter and be easier on the environment.

• Engineers are re-thinking the conventional advice to avoid using elevators during an emergency. On 9/11, in the 16 minutes after the attack on WTC 1, about 16 percent of WTC 2’s occupants used elevators to escape the building.

• Wood may be the miracle product of the 21st century. Using its cellulose fiber to make rayon is much friendlier to the environment than growing cotton. Its lignin can be used to run a biomass cogeneration power plant. Its sugars can be turned into all kinds of other useful things in a biorefinery. And it doesn't compete with food production for scarce arable land.

• There are hundreds of lakes lying miles below Antarctica, kept from freezing by geothermal activity and constant pressure from ice sheets that lower their melting point. One of them is three times the size of Lake Ontario.

People who make shopping lists spend less time in stores, and make fewer impulse purchases.
How about that?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Taking precautions

[Author unknown]

Beatrice, the church organist, was a single lady in her eighties, admired for her sweetness and kindness to all.

One afternoon, the new pastor came to call on her, and she showed him into her quaint sitting room. She invited him to have a seat while she prepared tea.

As he sat facing her old Hammond organ, the young minister noticed a cut glass bowl sitting on top of it. The bowl was filled with water, and in the water floated a condom!

When she returned, with tea and scones, they began to chat. The pastor tried to stifle his curiosity about the bowl of water and its strange floater, but soon it got the better of him, and he could no longer resist.

"Beatrice," he said, "I wonder if you would tell me about this?"

"Oh, yes," she replied, "Isn't it wonderful? I was walking through the park a few months ago and I found this little package on the ground. The directions said to place it on the organ, keep it wet, and that it would prevent the spread of disease.

"Do you know I haven't had the flu all winter."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scraps sold as prime cuts

If you ever eat beef, pork, chicken, or other meats, this may surprise you. What will they think of next to hoodwink the consumer?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stuck in the blog bog

I just think I've escaped, and then it reaches out to push me under again.

Stuff. Digital stuff. Interesting digital stuff.

A while back, I discovered RSS feeds, a handy way to follow all the blogs that interest me. RSS saves time because you don't need to visit each site individually, or sign up for each site's email alerts.

At first, it was just a half dozen, but now there are 28 blogs dumping their content into this swamp of information. This morning, I have 277 unread posts waiting to be read, scanned, trashed --- whatever.

Please understand that all of this stuff is written by interesting people who have something useful/funny/informative/thought-provoking/insightful to say. That's why I started following each of them in the first place.

So the time has come to give the beast a haircut, but what must go?

Surely not The Walrus with its unique Canadian perspective, or the eloquent dissertations of The Parallel Parliament.

I must have my regular dose of quirky musings from A North Pelham Journal, and warnings of the latest scams from Ellen Roseman's On Your Side.

I depend on David Olive's Everybody's Business to explain what's really going on in the big stories that get just 30 seconds on the evening news, on Txchnologist to stay current with research you never hear about in the mainstream media, and on Bad Science to expose the phony "breakthrough discoveries" and misused statistics that fill newspapers and newscasts.

I, Cringely has the inside track and all the scoops on Silicon Valley's winners and losers. I want Bill Carrigan's stock market insights via his Market Chat. And I like Claire Kerr's slant on the non-profit world, found in her

With all that heavy thinking, I can't do without the silliness of The Oatmeal, and the great sampling of editorial cartoons at CartoonBlog.

There are plenty more, but you can see my problem. I'm incapable of self control. Somebody needs to take away my keys!

Just this morning, I added Seth Godin's blog after coming across his post on The math of favors. How could I not?


Monday, October 24, 2011

You do the math

Friday, October 21, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• A sabermetrician is one who analyzes baseball statistics.

• U.S. industries and other special-interest groups receive about $71 in government subsidies for every $1 of political contributions, according to research at the University of British Columbia.

• Several research projects are aimed at converting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into gasoline and other fuels.

• When it contracts, a muscle that encircles the eye socket, called the obicularis occuli is the sign of a genuine smile, as opposed to one that is faked.

• The Colonel Bogey March, whistled famously as the theme song in the movie Bridge on the River Kwai, has interesting lyrics that are much less familiar than its melody:
Göring has only got one ball
Hitler's [are] so very small
Himmler's so very similar
And Goebbels has no balls at all
• No U.S. president has been an only child.
How about that?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• City cyclists may be at greater risk for lung disease due to their inhaling of higher levels of soot than pedestrians and other commuters, according to research by the London School of Medicine.

• Facebook now has as many users as the entire Internet had in 2004.

• Thornbury, Ontario, farmer Matthew von Teichman produces a kinder, gentler hot dog weiner. The Life Choices brand product contains no chemical preservatives, does not use "mechanically separated meat," and is made from "prime cuts"of cattle that grazed freely and ate apples. They're available at some supermarkets in four provinces.

• 18. 1 % of Canadian adults identify themselves as obese, but about 1 in 4 actually are obese, according to the 2011 Vital Signs report from Community Foundations of Canada.

• In order to save money, a growing number of U.S. communities are choosing to stop adding fluoride to their water systems.

• Canada ranked number three for charitable behaviour, behind Australia and New Zealand, in the recently released "World Giving Index" compiled by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A dramatic entrance

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Drones' popularity takes off

The U.S. military and intelligence agencies' reliance on pilotless aircraft has produced the inevitable unintended consequences.

Perceived as a low risk way to conduct high-level surveillance, and to take out perceived threats in far away lands, the so-called drones have proliferated as the "war on terror" has dragged on through Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Closer to home, these remote controlled planes patrol the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico, and there have been reports of police use. The Americans are thought to have at least 7,000 of them.

As with every advance in military technology, it was only a matter of time before the genie escaped and began raising hell farther afield.

According to a New York Times report, the international market for drones is exploding, with China and Israel as major sellers. Russia, Iran, India and Pakistan are close behind, and more than than 50 countries now have them in their arsenals.

In addition to concerns about their being used for terrorist attacks and industrial spying, there is the unsettling realization that targeting of people in this manner has been legitimized. Having used them for various assassinations, the White House's protests are now unlikely to carry much weight when Iran or Pakistan uses a drone to kill someone they find undesirable.

It's hard to see how this won't get completely out of hand. Keep an eye on the sky.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• A Connecticut inventor has come out with plans for a nuclear powered car, claiming it is perfectly safe because it uses thorium instead of uranium. Thorium's radioactivity is so mild that aluminum foil is an adequate shield, but one gram contains the same energy as 28,000 litres of gasoline.

• The term "hat trick" originated with cricket. A bowler who took out three consecutive batters received a new hat from the cricket club.

• Real-estate buyers will pay 4.2% more for a property in a subdivision that has the term "country" in its name, and an additional 5.1% on top of that for "country club," according to researchers at the University of Georgia.

• The birth rate in the United States has declined sharply during the current economic recession.

• An astrophysicist has come up with a more efficient system for boarding passengers on airliners. The system takes just half the time of the current block boarding method.

• During your lifetime, you will produce enough saliva to fill two swimming pools.
How about that?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Barbie in her fifties

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Mexico City legislators are proposing to allow 2-year trial marriage contracts that would just expire without the need for a divorce process if the couple falls out of love. The Catholic Church is not amused, calling it "irresponsible and immoral."

• New South China Mall, the world’s largest shopping centre, opened in Dongguan, China, to great fanfare in 2006, but five years later only 2% of its 660,000 square metres is occupied.

• Young adults (18-34) are sizing up the odds and saying "No thanks" to lotteries. Their purchase of lottery tickets dropped sharply from 2010 to 2011, according to Ipsos, as did their participation in other forms of gambling.

• Bartering is booming in Greece as people have been squeezed by wage cuts, layoffs, and tax increases in the current hard times. Barter networks and alternative currencies are emerging to facilitate the exchange of services.

• The South Korean government, short of funds to pay for policing, is paying citizens for video of people and businesses breaching the law. According to the New York Times, video snitches can earn rewards ranging from $5 (littering) to $850 (reporting an unlicensed seller of livestock).

• The latest Barbie has tattoos.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

There's something happening here

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
Those words were written in 1966 by Stephen Sills, of the band Buffalo Springfield, in reaction to attempts by law enforcement to enforce a curfew against young club-goers on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles County, California.

The song, entitled For What It's Worth, was recorded by the band, and became an anthem of the nascent protest movement, at that time just a blip but destined to become years filled with highly charged confrontations. The way politicians, the police, and other authority figures are viewed was changed forever, everywhere.

I lived through this period as a young adult, and was reminded of it as I read about the recent riots tearing Greece apart, and the Occupy Wall Street and 99 Percent movements that are now spreading to other cities in the U.S. and Canada, not-too-distant cousins to the Arab Spring uprisings that put dictators on notice.

The 60s protest movement started in much the same way --- unfocused, without high profile leaders, just young people feeling that something was wrong and that government was unable, or unwilling, to fix it. Its intent was to to shock the rich and powerful out of their complacency.

Leaders eventually emerged, of course, as they inevitably do, and the agenda for change became more crystallized.

Will history repeat? A large component of these new movements is the widespread frustration of young people, savvy and often well educated, who are having great difficulty getting their lives started in the current economic mess.

At an age when they should be embarking on careers, and forming families, they are stymied, struggling to pay off student loans with their minimum wage paycheques.

If this gets traction, something will happen.

Hang on tight.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Women not only prefer deep male voices to high pitched ones, they pay more attention to what they say, according to a new study at the University of Aberdeen.

• After shutdown of 39 of their 54 nuclear reactors, the Japanese got through this summer successfully by changing behaviour to reduce energy usage at the request of their government. That meant turning off air conditioning and office lighting, ditching suits and ties, working on weekends and in the cooler hours, and taking the stairs instead of elevators, among other measures.

• If you roll over in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe, you cannot open the "gull-wing" doors because they are hinged at the roof. To get around this problem, the car has explosive bolts that fire when the car is upside down, allowing driver and passenger to exit.

• To ensure passengers can enjoy the full, throaty, resonance of its engine, despite the hush created by excellent soundproofing, the new BMW M5 can play those engine sounds through the car's sound system.

• The human heart beats 40,000,000 times every year of your life. It’s lifting about 7 tonnes of blood a day, and that’s about 2 very large aircraft carriers in a lifetime.

• Customers are more likely to buy from salespeople who mimic their speech and behaviour, according to an experiment at UniversitĂ© de Bretagne-Sud in France.
How about that?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Older is better in the investment biz

I've mentioned the three Freds, all interesting fellows with different slants on life and perspectives they aren't reluctant to share.

One of the Freds (a retired investment manager) sent me an article entitled Why geezers give the best investment advice. If you have an investment advisor or listen to pundits recommending the next hot stock, you might find this news you can use.

Researchers have discovered that you ought be looking for a guru in the 43 to 63 age range.

Apparently this is the age when "fluid intelligence" and "crystallized intelligence" converge.

Fluid intelligence, which peaks around the age of 20, has to do with analyzing, processing and retaining new information. I can confirm that this definitely declines later in life, particularly the retaining part.

Crystallized intelligence, a fancy term for experience and knowledge, increases with age.

The curves cross around the age of 53 so those folks are at the top of their game. They have been through a few bear markets, and that's invaluable experience you don't get from textbooks.

So, to stay out of the red, look for a bit of grey.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• In downtown Toronto, the average new condo unit is 749 sq. ft., and a new project to hit the market in 2013 will have 270 sq. ft. units. That's palatial, of course, compared to Tokyo's 96 sq. ft. "capsules."

• I spotted Sarah Palin's book Going Rogue ($28.99) marked down to $4.99 at a local bookstore.

• Sales of high-rise apartments in Tokyo have plummeted since the March earthquake, threatening to halt the redevelopment of the city's waterfront into a skyscraper district.

• Toronto's Victory Burlesque theatre, famous strip tease venue well into the 1980s, is now a Royal Bank of Canada branch.

• A condition known as De Quervai's tenosynovitis is becoming more common due to the popularity of texting. The inflamed tendons make moving the thumbs painful.

New data released by the U.S. Census found that 14 percent of Americans (43.6 million people) now live below the poverty line, which is annual income of $10,830 for an individual or $22,050 for a family of four.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Brain teasers

15 Things You Didn't Know About the Brain

Monday, October 3, 2011

Doggone it

Friday, September 30, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• A surgeon's apology will often head off a malpractice suit, or expedite the settlement process, but doctors are typically unwilling to admit error, so U.S. states are passing "apology laws."

• A two-man team from Poland and Switzerland has come up with a way of making inflatable steel.

• American parents may be trying to save by skipping a few diaper changes. Disposable-diaper sales fell 9% last year, three times the rate of decline in the number of babies age 2 and under, while sales of diaper-rash cream rose 2.8%.

• Research indicates that our sex hormones affect our career choices. Specifically, people of either gender who have higher levels of androgen (a type of male sex hormone) will tend to be attracted to occupations involving things, while lower levels are associated with occupations related to people.

• E-reader users must read 50-100 e-books before those gizmos become more eco-friendly than the plain old ink-on-paper variety.

• The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45 percent when a person looks at something pleasing.
How about that?

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Bank robberies are declining in Canada. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), they're down from 202 in 2006 to 122 last year. Even in BC, the country's bank robbery capital, they're down from 472 to 217 in the same period.

• Legitimate graffiti is no longer an oxymoron, Toronto having declared that graffitists who get permission from the owner of a building are artists, not vandals.

• Locations of the now-defunct Blockbuster movie rental company, are now clothing stores, food outlets, and even campaign headquarters for local politicians. The company is another victim of the trend to online shopping.

• The king of Saudi Arabia says he'll allow women to vote and stand for office. No mention of allowing them to drive. [Update: Two days later, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for getting behind the wheel, then two days after that, the king overturned the sentence.]

• After three decades, the Lincoln Town Car has been discontinued. Will the limo industry switch to a stretched Prius?

• Some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are attending seminars on "Quick Exits," learning how to sell their start-ups to big tech companies.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guy lips out

[Author unknown]

A foursome of guys is waiting at the men's tee while a foursome of women is hitting from the ladies' tee. The ladies are taking their time.

When the final lady is ready to hit her ball, she hacks it 10 feet. Then she goes over, and whiffs it completely. Then she hacks it another ten feet, and finally hacks it another five feet. She looks up at the patiently waiting men and says apologetically, "I guess all those f**king lessons I took over the winter didn't help."

One of the men immediately responds, "Well, there you have it. You should have taken golf lessons instead!"

He never got a chance to duck. He was just 43.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flying to the future

This flying club, seen here in 1930, became Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dead solid perfect

[Sent along by Ross]

Even if you're not a golfer, you will find this story of courage and friendship heart warming and inspirational.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How it came to be

[Author unknown]

On the first day, God created the dog and said, "Sit all day by the door of your house, and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back. That makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God. "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

If you are looking for me, I will be on the porch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gettin' the hang of it

They try to turn on their new webcam, and inadvertently become internet stars.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here's lookin' at ya

[Sent along by Fred]

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Elk can get drunk on fermented apples. Drunken elks are common in Sweden during the autumn season when there are plenty of apples lying around on the ground and hanging from branches in Swedish gardens.

• A runner recently beat an Aston Martin Vantage S sports car in a 2.5 km race through downtown Toronto.

• In 2009, 16% of U.S. car crash fatalities (5,474 people) were caused by driver distraction.

• A drug derived from the saliva of vampire bats can thin blood and dissolve blood clots in the brain, saving lives and limiting the damage caused by strokes.

• An artist named Sputniko thinks that, in this day and age, menstruation shouldn't be limited to ladies, so he has invented a machine that makes it available for men. It even simulates menstrual cramps.

• Possibly of greater interest to most gentlemen will be the next McLaren sports car, which will allow technicians back at the dealership to diagnose your car's problems remotely and, in the event of a breakdown, dispatch an engineer to your location with all the required parts to get you going.
How about that?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blame the seniors

We senior citizens have to get with the program, pull up our socks, pick up the pace, so to speak.

According to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, we are to blame for many of the current ills.

First, we are retiring. This is bad because it shrinks the workforce thereby weakening economic activity. The article says we can expect two decades of this. (We seniors would be pleased to still be experiencing anything in two decades.)

Also, retirees are not forming new families. Most are sticking with the ones they have, meaning sales of houses, appliances, and general stuff, suffers.

Then there is the frugality of seniors. They just don't splurge on "impulse" items and useless trinkets like they did in their teens.

And now that they aren't working, their income is down quite a bit, and this hits consumer spending. Motorcycle sales are expected to fall.

That's not all.

The stock market will also take a hit, as older investors try to hang on to their nest eggs rather than taking a flyer on the next hot play in stuffed animal vending machines, or whatever.

The picture is pretty bleak so, for the good of the country and the world, we need to come off the bench and get in the game.

You up for it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An old farmer's advice

[Author unknown]

“Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.”

“Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.”

“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”

“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.”

“Meanness don't just happen overnight.”

“Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.”

“Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.”

“It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.”

“You cannot unsay a cruel word.”

“Every path has a few puddles.”

“When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.”

“The best sermons are lived, not preached.”

“Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.”

“Don't judge folks by their relatives.

“Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”

“Live a good and honourable life, then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.”

“Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.”

“The outcome of a rain dance has a lot to do with timing.”

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.”

“Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

“The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin'.”

“Always drink upstream from the herd.”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”

“Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.”

“If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.”