Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Monday, January 30, 2012

And then the fight began

Friday, January 27, 2012

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• The first use of instant replay happened on Hockey Night in Canada.

• Canadians who are furthest from retirement are most likely to maximize their RRSP contributions each year: 21% of those in their 30s do so, versus just 12% of those in their 40s and 14% of those in their 50s.

Poutine, invented in Warwick QC in 1957, can be translated as "bad stew,""damn mess," or "fat person."

• Scientists are puzzled by an area of lesser gravity in northern Canada.

• There are scientific reasons that alcohol makes you feel better.

• Adolph Hitler was Time magazine's Man of The Year for 1938.
How about that?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lies we tell ourselves

[Thanks to Elaine for sending this along.]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• To deter people from hitching a ride on the top of rail cars, railroads in Indonesia are suspending rows of heavy, grapefruit-sized, concrete balls to rake over the top of trains as they pull out of stations, or when they go through rail crossings.

• Scientists at Bio Architecture Lab say they have isolated an enzyme they could use to rapidly convert seaweed into its constituent sugars, which would make it a source of fuel and other chemicals.

• A new law promising internet users the "right to be forgotten" has been proposed by the European Commission, requiring data about them (Facebook posts and the like) to be deleted upon request unless there are "legitimate" grounds to retain it.

• While flying his drone aircraft a Dallas, Texas, hobbyist spotted an enormous, oozing, illegal river of blood behind a meatpacking plant, emptying into the Trinity River. He called the cops. [Footnote: So now we have hobbyists flying their camera-equipped drones over our neighbourhoods? Nude sunbathers be advised.]
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rules of life

Monday, January 23, 2012

A nasty tumble

Friday, January 20, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• Tiger Woods' ex-wife bought a $12.3 million, 17,000 sq. ft., oceanfront Florida mansion with eight bathrooms, and then had it bulldozed.

• Some have predicted the demise of Moore’s law, which says that the number of transistors that can be squeezed onto an integrated circuit doubles every two years. But it has been given new life by the development in Australia of a wire just 4 atoms wide and 1 atom tall, which will facilitate more miniaturization and much more powerful computers.

• A new Illinois law lets people salvage pelts or even food from roadkill.

• When historians trace the decline and fall of western civilization, microwaveable slippers are bound to mark an acceleration of decadence.

A new GPS-enabled dog or cat collar will send an text or email to your smartphone if your pet wanders outside of a prescribed zone.

• Montreal-based web startup UnemployedProfessors.com wants to give university students more time to party by outsourcing their academic assignments to freelance professional writers with graduate degrees.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The fast way down

Some people like to climb mountains. Others like to jump off them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Twitchin' threads, man

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

The sexual revolution was in full flight in 1969, and pretty much anything was possible. Even these see-through lace bell-bottoms would have raised few eyebrows on the Yonge Street strip back then. Oh, how buttoned down we've become.

Thanks to Torontoist.com for this look back.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A whole new you

I've written before about the way the fashion and cosmetics industries, and their pimps in the media, mess up young female minds with impossibly perfect images that have been photoshopped (manipulated) to portray an unachievable ideal.

This spoof gets the message across with humour.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Posted in the Kew Gardens (UK) gift shop.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Signs of the times

Just because everything is different doesn't mean anything has changed. ~ Irene Peter
• One of the largest construction firms in Japan proposes to build a wide belt of solar panels across the surface of the moon, potentially the largest public infrastructure project in human history.

• Japan’s agriculture ministry is building a fully robotic experimental farm on a swath of farmland inundated by the tsunami last March. Unmanned tractors will till, plant, tend and harvest rice, soybeans, wheat, and various fruits and vegetables.

• Tea grown with panda excrement is said to have cancer-fighting properties, and will sell for around $36,000 per pound.

• NAV-TV has come up with a "bypass" that allows you to watch a DVD in your BMW or Mercedes WHILE MOVING. Can you spell d-i-s-t-r-a-c-t-e-d d-r-i-v-e-r?

• A German physicist has come up with a faster, more secure, replacement for Wi-Fi based on LED lightbulbs.

• The pilot of a passenger jet descending to Christchurch International Airport on Boxing Day radioed ground control with a sighting of a shark flying at several thousand feet. Turns out it was a radio-controlled, helium-filled shark, the hot Christmas gift item this year in New Zealand.
Looking for change? Check the sofa.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Still good advice

Recently, I was browsing through the iTunes store for a couple of audiobooks that would keep me awake on my annual dash to Florida.

Getting immersed in one of these makes the miles fly by. There's nothing like Noam Chomsky while cruising through the West Virginia coal country, or Stephen King while going wheel to wheel with giant semis on a dark, fogbound, Georgia interstate.

I happened to notice the list of most popular picks, and was surprised to find Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People, a book first published in 1936, in 5th place.

This old book is doing better than the latest "hot" novels from Tom Clancy and Michael Connelly, which testifies to humans' unending quest for help in our relationships with others.

Although sections on writing effective business letters and improving marital satisfaction have been dropped over the years, and the language modernized a bit, Carnegie's advice still applies in the internet age.

For example, don't criticize, condemn, or complain. Give honest and sincere appreciation. Smile. Remember people's names. Be a good listener. If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

We might think these are just common sense, but how many of us can say we don't need the occasional nudge to be better, more likeable people?

Not the 15,000,000 plus folks who have purchased this book since it was printed 75 years ago.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Easing into a longer life

Can you limit your sleeping and sitting to just 23.5 hours per day?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thanks for your thoughtfulness

[Author unknown]

As we begin a new year, I want to thank you for your informative e-mails in 2011.

I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can't sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one's nose.

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of transfats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public toilet.

I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo in the glue on envelopes, because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I can't have a drink in a bar because I fear I'll wake up in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys gone.

I can't eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.

I can't use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.

I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.

And thanks for letting me know that I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.

I no longer go to the cinema because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS when I sit down.

I no longer go to shopping centres because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

Thanks to you, I'm nervous about toilets because a big black snake could be lurking under the seat and cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up a dime dropped in a parking lot because it was probably placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over.

I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbour's ex mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's best friend's beautician...

Oh, and by the way, a German scientist from Argentina, after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

P.S. I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because I was told by e-mail that water splashes over 6 ft. out of the toilet when it's flushed.

Take care.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• Vying for the affections of an eligible bachelor tends to bring out the worst in women. A University of Ottawa study found that women gossip about a sexily-dressed rival’s level of promiscuity, ridicule her appearance, roll their eyes, stare her up and down, and show anger.

• Men's clothes have buttons on the right because it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Women's clothes have buttons on the left because early buttons were expensive and wealthy women were dressed by maids, so dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right.

• Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research have developed glass that cleans itself. Eyeglasses and windshields are among the applications that will benefit.

• Nearly half of the 130,000 cancers diagnosed in the UK each year are caused by avoidable lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, and eating the wrong things, a review by Cancer Research UK reveals.

• Batteries for phones and laptops could soon recharge ten times faster and hold a charge ten times larger thanks to a change that involves poking millions of minuscule holes in lithium-ion batteries.

• China has plans to step up its rain-making endeavours and increase precipitation by 10% during the next four years.
How about that?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The death of serendipity

Serendipity has to do with making fortunate discoveries by accident.

In the era of newspapers, this was a common experience. While reading a news item, another headline on the page would catch your eye and seduce you into learning about something else.

It was one of the appealing characteristics of newspapers, this exposure to information that we weren't necessarily seeking --- points of view that were at odds with our own, knowledge of things we hadn't considered, and so on.

It gave us a broader, more balanced, view of the world, and may even have led us to change an opinion or two.

That won't likely happen much in the internet age, as this thought-provoking video reveals.

[Discovered on the blog North End Journal]

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't worry. Be happy.

2011 had plenty of uncertainty, conflict and turmoil, but the indomitable human spirit shone through in countless ways, proving yet again that dark days may not be allowed to interfere with a good festival.
• Brazil overtook the UK as the world's sixth largest economy. As this was occurring, residents of the UK were immersed in the Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Festival, the World Bog Snorkelling Championships, and the Stinging Nettle Eating Championships.

• Spain's economic prospects turned worrisome in 2011, but this did not deter residents of the town of Ibi from dressing in mock military uniforms and pelting each other with flour, eggs and fireworks in the annual Els Enfarinats festival, or jumping over babies in El Colacho

• Japan suffered an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown, but the annual fertility festival Kanamara Matsuri went off with it's usual gusto. The festival revolves around giant penises created from every possible object.

• Drug wars, poverty, hunger --- nothing stops La Noche de los Rabanos (Night of the Radishes) in Mexico, which features elaborate sculptures made from the prized vegetable.

• Finland's problems include widespread alcoholism and one of the highest suicide rates, but spirits brighten during the Wife Carrying World Championships.

• Turkey has problems with Kurdish separatists, was rejected for membership in the European Union, and is on the outs with Israel. But it still dominates the world in Camel Wrestling, a weekly feature in many villages and towns during the winter.

• It wasn't the best of years in the U.S. either, what with gridlock in Washington, a bunch of natural disasters, and a tanking economy. Nonetheless, Americans got on with the World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup, the Combine Demolition Derby, the Turkey Testicle Festival, and Frozen Dead Guy Days.

• On the not-too-good to not-too-bad scale used by Canadians to measure everything, 2011 was middling, so we blew off steam at the Giant Omelette Get-Together in Granby. Yep, while the rest of the world celebrates by throwing things, smashing into each other, blowing stuff up, running from large animals, creating extreme art from vegetables, and worshiping huge sex organs, we mad fools play fast and loose with our cholesterol count.
Play on.

Monday, January 2, 2012