Friday, January 31, 2003

Pravda? (*sigh*) Nyet...

Pravda asks Is Hussein the Owner of a Crashed UFO?.

I kinda doubt it after reading the article, but the story may interest you anyways.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

This collection makes him smile

The Saginaw News is reporting that a local dentist is collecting toothpaste tubes from all over the world. Now he has over 800 different tubes in his collection of toothpaste from all over.
It's a classy script, really

People has an update on the 1980s actress Heather Thomas.

The story notes:

Thomas...became disenchanted with the roles that were coming her way. "The parts I was being offered were not terrifically satisfying," she admits. She decided the time was right to return to a childhood love of writing.

The title of her latest script that she is trying to self-produce? School Slut. Touchstone Pictures was briefly interested and decided to take a pass.

The story has more's about two high school girls who decide to step outside the "paradigm" of the behaviour expected of them. Her word.

"Heeeere's Number One! (one, one one....)")

I've found a site for you which lists the weekly top 50 of CHUM radio in Toronto. The lists are complete from 1957 to 1986, here. A tip of the hat to the guys who did all the transcribing and formatting work.

The lists are billed as the "Canadian" top 50 (*sigh*), but the lists seem naturally biased towards Ontario artists. You also get quirky hits, as obscure artists get playlist rotation and the listeners really like the song. For example, Big Ed Wheeler is at number four on the first chart on this list.

A very useful resource.
Why new Hollywood movies have to stink

The noted movie critic James Bowman has a well-reasoned theory on The Death of Criticism. I commend it to your attention.
Neat website of the day

Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy also has some material on the Moon landing hoax theory. Other interesting material too.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

What to wear...

Sasha Castel has an interesting problem: How does she look nice at her wedding while being wed outdoors in a Maine winter. Something "wispy", she writes, is out. She adds "But then again, I want at least a smidgen of elegance. Getting married in full L.L. Bean snowpants and down parka might not fit that category."

Please check out the couple's suave weblog while I work away to meet my copy deadline. Back soon...I hope.

Monday, January 27, 2003

And you can see more of the Super Bowl ads here...

The fine folks at IFILM have more of the US Super Bowl ads that AOL Broadband doesn't show on their website.

(A tip of the hat to the denizens of for the links. :) )
Where to watch the U.S. Super Bowl TV ads online

Say Colby and other readers of my blog, has the special US TV Super Bowl ads, which we couldn't watch in Canada due to cable simulcasting ad laws, here .

My fave is "Terry Tate: Office linebacker!". There's a total of 18 ads there for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Why our first VCR was a Beta

The Guardian newspaper, doing some historical research, finds the cruicial reason why VHS proved better than Betamax. The answer is, in retrospect, very simple.

The first VCR that my mother bought, though, was a Beta. I remember my mother mentioning some of the reasons, noted in the Guardian story, why the Betamax should have been the winning tape format over twenty years ago. I also remember that in the video stores there were roughly equal amounts of Beta and VHS tapes then.
I had a car like that too

Does it snow inside your car? Helpful blogger David Janes reports that recently it was snowing in his car.

I had a car like that once. My first. (It was intended to be "the car I would learn to drive on"...but it never worked out that way.)

When I was about to graduate from high school, I came home from school to learn that my father had bought me a present. "I bought you a car," he said. I raced to the back yard of the house to see a 20 year old Chrysler Simca 1000, a rusty blue-coloured box of a car. (I am pretty sure it was a mid-60s model, which would have made it around 20 years old.) It looked completely unhip...but it was a car.

Here's a comment from the auto expert from the above link on this car:

Not a performance car, it made do with 12-inch wheels, drum brakes, worm and roller steering, transverse leaf front suspension and swing axles at the rear. Early Simca 1000s were not known for directional stability, although this was cured as we shall later see.

(While looking for information on the car on the internet this morning, I learned that the French had seen this car as chic and hip when my *dad* was a teenager. Check out this set of ads and publicity shots. Here is a different set of magazine ads about the car.)

"I bought it from an auto wrecker yard for $50," my dad said. Yes, my late dad was sometimes as dumb as a bag of hammers, but he had no excuse as he was a professional auto mechanic for many years.

We went for a drive, my father driving down the deserted street. At 40 MPH, the car started to vibrate, backfire and belch smoke. Looking around the car, I noticed that the floor was rusty in the front passenger side, where my feet rested on black plastic mat. I pulled up the mat to find that there was a vacant space about 24 inches square. I watched through the hole as the road sped by under where my feet would have been. "Hmm. Guess I'll have to fix that," my dad said.

"Well, if the brakes ever fail, we can stop the car just like the Flintstones stop theirs," I replied.

Well, it was a car, so I started studying my drivers education booklet. Then, a couple of weeks later, I noticed that the car was gone.

"I took it back to the wrecker and he gave me back my $50!" my dad said. He had been working on the car that afternoon, and had taken it for a quick spin to test his work.

"I was driving down the street," he added, "and the engine fell out of the car."

Saturday, January 25, 2003

A Day in the Blog

Kevin Steel shows that you can create something funny while watching the NDP leadership convention on TV and listening to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper LP.

(NDP announcer comes up to the microphone: "I'm announcing that we will make an announcement about the first ballot results shortly....")
"One bedroom, w/d, hardwood floor, n/s, no pets, $300 per, incl. weblog..."

David Artemiw's anonymous female roommate has created an interesting weblog One Girl's Opinion.

I certainly would hope that my roommates never get a blog. Or that they are very forgiving.

The NDP voting schmozzole

Blogger David Artemiw has the latest breakdown on the federal NDP leadership convention. He calculates that each labour vote was worth 15 regular votes. He also voted in the online ballot using the name of a friend who belongs to the NDP.
A brave pup

This is a neat story: Puppy saves woman from 3 pit bulls.

Friday, January 24, 2003

This just in: Man landed on the moon

The moon landings were faked! Well, that's what some people believe.

NASA seems to be have been briefly spooked by the put-on-your-tinfoil-hat-it's-time-return-to the-mothership crowd. Following the rebroadcast of a Fox TV program asking if NASA faked the moon landings, it commissioned and then quickly cancelled a contract to hire noted space historian James Oberg to write a book debunking the conspiracists' theories. The link, by the way, includes some of Mr. Oberg's objections to the debunker's theories.

"The issue of trying to do a targeted response to this is just lending credibility to something that is, on it's face, asinine," NASA chief Sean O'Keefe is quoted as saying in an AP story from late last month.

The latest, Mr. Oberg writes at his website, is that he wants to continue writing the book for a commercial publisher. If you can't wait for the book, check out the Moon Hoax Index
Married by Santa

I'm surprised that this doesn't regularly happen in Japan.

The Kelowna Daily Courier recently reported on an unusual wedding in Kelowna's Aberdeen Mall on December 22 (sorry no link). The mall's Santa, who is unnamed in the story, is a licensed marriage commissioner in B.C.. So, he recently took a quick break from his child greeting duties and, in costume, officiated at the marriage of Debbie Smith and Brian Clapperton:

I have other powers," Santa Claus announced to about 75 people at Aberdeen Mall before the wedding ceremony at 7 p.m.....

The bride descended the maill escalator, accompanied by her son Bryan and daughter Christa. Bryan then escorted the bride to Santa's toyland in the centre of the lower mall. On red carpet and amid giant rotating reindeer, Santa led them through a 15-minute ceremony....

Santa's photographer even took the wedding shots. And Mrs. Claus was a great organizer.

The new Mrs. Clapperton added that the decision to hold the wedding in Santa's toyland was a suggestion from her nephew.
The mighty earmuff

Associated Press has recently reported on the evolution of the earmuff, and why you can't get those traditional balls of fur over the ears earmuffs any more.

Chester Greenwood was only a teenager in 1873 when he invented the earmuff. Check out his patent drawings in the link.
The mischief-minded Peak

Here's the quote of the week from the Jan. 6 issue of The Peak, the Simon Fraser University student newspaper:

I got candy from the bathroom. It's yummy strawberry and cream."

--Deanna's friend Arlena gushes about the fine washrooms at the Plaza Club downtown." Lab Rats, page 6

However, the previous paragraph in the actual story says:

There's, like, caramels and lollipops and Tic Tacs and hair spray on the counter," Arlena adds. "And there's an attendant that you have to tip."

"I got candy from the bathroom...."
Dave Barry's weblog

Dave Barry, the newspaper humour columnist, has a weblog!
Is your life a country and western song?

From the weblog We Made Out...Statements Made in Casual Conversation That Sound Like Country-Song Titles (Vol. I). Lots more of these to read, and other stuff too. :)
It's The World's Worst Record Show!

In Wednesday's mail, I received an eagerly awaited used record from England: The World's Worst Record Show .TWWRS is a 1978 release from the English K-Tel company (on their Yuk Records subsidiary label).

It was a project of English comedian and radio dee-jay Kenny Everett who asked his radio listeners in several contests to pick what they thought were the worst records of all time. If you are brave, there is a online seven-minute medley of the songs on this record at, an interesting tribute site to Mr. Everett. (Once you get past the flash intros, scroll down about a third of the page until you get to the audio samples section. Please click "play" underneath the album cover with the "superhero" on it, which is the second item from the left.)

Another cool-looking tribute site to the late Mr. Everett is Everettweb.

I hope you find the medley funny. When I ran the LP title though Google, I learned that a "Lemmy of Motorhead" likes this record too (Mind the profanity!).

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

What's latin for "No mas!"

Karen Hall of weblog Disordered Affections recently sat through a homily from a silly anti-war priest. Although I'm not a Catholic, I felt her unease as I know people who confuse leftist politics with holy writ. Please scroll down to her Jan. 20 entry to find out how disappointing it was.
Millenium Falcon blows up English soccer stadium, returns to space. Authorities puzzled

Darth Vader [actor] takes 'The Force' to [English pro soccer team] Exeter

Thanks to and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. :)
(police bullhorn) "This is the candy police! Step away from that illegal Kit Kat and hold your hands up..."

A British epidemologist wants candy firms there to volunteer to ban "giant" candy bars. This is for health reasons, he says, Britons are eating too much candy and we have to have regulations to ensure that they don't eat too much.

Thanks to for the link.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Now that she is free, I could use a volunteer helper with my blog...

This year's Miss Canada International has been fired. She's talking to lawyers.

You may recall that Lynsey Bennett was the first contestant to walk out of the Miss World pageant when the Muslim rioting started in Nigeria. Eventually, they had to move the contest to London, England.
Hmm, and I thought it was the Timbits that were addictive...

The excellent Urban Legends Reference Pages, which tells the truth about all urban legends, reassures Canadians that Tim Horton's does not put nicotine in its coffee to make sure customers become addicted to it.
Colby Cosh, super sleeper

I'm happy to declare a tie in the Report blogger "Who is the soundest sleeper?" contest. Colby writes that he can't beat my tale, but then goes on to write that he fell asleep in a heavy metal rock concert, which I'm sure I could not manage!

It's a funny entry, so I concede a draw. :)

Monday, January 20, 2003

Sleeping through nuclear explosions

Colby Cosh has an interesting entry on how his bed entices him into oversleeping:

As a result of the peripatetic sleeping, my bed has become an instinctive locus of only very deep sleep. My mother didn't help matters by buying me new sheets for Christmas that are made from some insanely soft damn material--I think it's the down from goose fetuses whose parents were fed on silkworms, or something. Basically when I crawl into that bed, there's no leaving for a good long time. I have to have my schedule cleared out for the next 48 hours if I even think of lying down there. There could be smoke alarms going off, a cop outside the door counting down from ten into a bullhorn--it wouldn't matter.

I have a story too. When I was a boy I slept very soundly in a queen sized bed, so soundly that I could sleep through everything.

In 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington state became an active volcano again. It erupted spectacularly, spewing ash that rained throughout the Western U.S. (I have a pill bottle of the ash that my family saved when we went down to look at the moonscape that the volcano created.) I also need to mention that in my family's living room, we had giant stereo speakers, 3 feet high by 3 feet wide.

On the morning of the biggest Mount St. Helens eruption I was sleeping in my bed when, due to the unusual atmospheric conditions, a sound wave from the volcanic eruption, "KABOOM!", hit the house. My parents sat bolt upright, convinced that my younger brother had knocked a speaker over or climbed up on top of one of the speakers and done a head-first face plant through the floor of our house. (Think of being just under a low-flying jet as it breaks the sound barrier.)

I learned about all this second hand. I slept right through it all.

(I still find, sleeping in my twin bed, that I need a sound 8 hours a night pretty consistently. I'm told that I can snore as loudly as a local sawmill.)

I wonder if Colby has ever slept through a volcanic eruption in his super-comfy bed. Yet, I will take his word that he can sleep very soundly.

(I'm also wondering how much he sleeps when he is in his bed. 10-12 hours at a stretch? Does he wake up wanting to sleep more?)
Does Allah like rap?

Here's an interesting story about Native Deen, a group of rap singing U.S. Muslims, reported by FOX News

Catchy rhymes, but I think I prefer the Rappin' Rabbis from The Simpsons:

Don't touch pork
Not even with a fork...
Can't touch this!
Yo, Osama!

Sly Stallone is set to make Rambo IV for release in 2004. Rambo's new target: bin Laden!
Campbell's roommate has "never seen him drunk" in two years

The Surrey Now is reporting that MLA Gordon Hogg, who has lived with Campbell part time for two years has never seen him drunk.

The story includes a big reprint of the main Campbell mug shot, for those of you who are looking for it.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Dennis the Menace is dumped by Dairy Queen

In an article on George Flint, a retiring owner of the local Dairy Queen, the January 8 Alberni Valley Times notes that the DQ chain will be dumping Dennis the Menace as their advertising mascot:

"While you and I might recognize them, the younger people don't know who Dennis the Menace is," Flint said. Dairy Queen is getting a new menu -- and a new name Along with a move back to an open grill and healthier menu options, Flint said the sign out front will soon change from Dairy Queen to DQ Chill and Grill, in an effort to focus more on the food.

I'm not sure that this is wise, as I always liked their ice milk treats better than the burgers, which were okay. They should lead with their strength, and Dairy Queen is one of the few places that you can get traditional hot fudge sundaes and banana splits. (Not to mention, Blizzards and Dilly Bars...mmmm.)

Closing the barn door after the horse ran out department

Here's a report that France may fund mosques to thwart militants. The idea, the story says, is to create a class of pro-French Muslims who will be grateful for government largesse and thus not be under the sway of foreign Muslim clerics.

One wonders if Canada, with its growing populations of Third World religious disciples who bring their old country feuds with them, will have to someday consider a similar policy.

Hey, I had one of these!

If you want more information on records printed on theback of cereal boxes, visit the Cereal Box Record Discography.

I remember having one of the Jackson 5 that must have been amongst my first records.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Occult cannibalism

Deutsche Welle reports on a new fear in Germany:a rise in occultic cannibalism
May I speak to Professor Legion please?

AP: Bible college shuns 666 phone number
Fox: Woo Hoo!

Speaking of The Simpsons, the show has been renewed to run through the end of its 16th season in the spring of 2005.

This will make it the longest-running sitcom in history, edging out The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

A belated thanks to Tim Blair, the Australian boffin and blogster extraordinaire, for his mention of my blog last November. (I just noticed the post...*blush*)

His weblog is well worth reading. Check it out.
Homer Simpson. What kind of weblog would he have?

The other day, I saw a repeat broadcast of the Simpsons episode where Homer Simpson starts his own website and develops it into a source of avidly sought after false news. It's The Computer Wore Menace Shoes if you haven't seen it.

Now that I have a weblog I empathize with Homer, and not because we both like doughnuts. I chuckled to myself as I realized that Homer was going through many of the issues that I have been going through with my own weblog.


To begin, Homer searches the 'net and finds a bunch of things that he really likes (such as flying toaster graphics and a Dancing Jesus) and puts them on his website, only to find that they are old news to everyone on the Internet.

I sometimes have this problem as, unlike Instapundit, I haven't been blogging for years. I come across new-to-me-but-really-old items on the Internet. Sometimes, I fall behind on serious issues that I might want to write about on my blog, or find that my would-be comments have been made already by someone else.

Homer sat and tapped on his computer waiting for his first hit to his website. I almost did that as I started my weblog. I haven't told my friends to start looking at my blog, so I am happy that people are starting to come and look at it. Slow, but steady growth.

I was also intrigued when Homer started to make up things to keep his website run of success going. I won't do that, but I am trying to strike a balance between what I want to write about and what my readers may want to see. Hopefully, they will sometimes coincide.

I hope not to be taken and held on a Prisoner-type island...but the rest of the episode made me wonder if someone on the Simpsons writing team knows a weblogger.

Idea: What kind of weblog would Homer Simpson have?

(mmmm....Homer Simpson's weblog (drooling noise) :) )

1. Like that policeman who noted what he ate for lunch on his website for several years, Homer would probably have a running feature: Doughnuts I have known.

2. Homer would make lots of URL errors. His site would often crash.

3. He'd sell his pop-up ads to Duff Beer.

4. His blog would take pot-shots at "nerds". Many alleged nerd-like topics (Star Trek, etc.) would never be discussed. (I like Star Trek, by the way, but I am hardly a Trekker.)

5. Homer would update infrequently, based on his laziness, or he would become bored and quit. (I base this on the fact that Homer is frequently at Moe's drinking or having crazy misadventures of some kind.) I think, though, that he would like to try weblogging in a bid for fame and fortune, based on the above Simpsons episode.

6. Bart would try to hack the weblog. Lisa would want to include her pet ideas, and would try avidly to discourage Homer's readers from printing the posts. Kills trees you know.

7. Homer would frequently get facts wrong.

8. Homer usually already be asleep at this post's time of day!

9. Would you like to make suggestions of your own? My deciperable e-mail is at left. Thanks.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Gordon Campbell mug shots

If the link a few entries below to the Hawaii newspaper dies, the Gordon Campbell DUI shots are also reproduced next to this story.

However, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin page link I found earlier gives a lot more page space to the pictures than the CBC link above does.
Songs from cereal boxes

You might be intrigued by The Internet Museum of Flexi / Cardboard / Oddity Records> I had one of these as a little kid--The Jackson 5's song ABC, cut off of the back of a cereal box.
"Elvis is everywhere..."

The cover story of the February 2003 Fortean Times is very interesting: a study of the people who worship Elvis, or see him, well, everywhere. It's not on the Fortean Times website yet, but there are lots of interesting stories to look at.

But, there are some websites you can look at in the meantime, that I have transcribed from the endnotes of the story. Such as:

The Official Elvis site

The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis

Elvis Crawler--The Elvis Community

Dead Elvis--Sightings

It's one of those things that make you go "Whaaaa?"

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Claymation alert

Here's The Unofficial Davey & Goliath Home Page. I remember watching it early on Sundays as a little kid.
He loves Amy Grant's mandible

Deuce of Clubs has an unusual impulse for a fan, with his Amy Grant's Mandible Web Site.

The story of how he got a friend to get an autograph for him ("He's an artist...") is funny.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Gordon Campbell must have had at least 10 drinks...

...guess experts quoted in the Globe and Mail
What's really going on with Gordon Campbell?

Please see the perceptive comments of The Ambler on what may well be really at stake in the controversy regarding what Mr. Campbell has done.

I like what Colby Cosh has to say on the subject too.
The text of Gordon Campbell's remarks about his DUI to the press Sunday

Here's a link to his press release.
Here's the link to the Gordon Campbell DUI mug shots

Here's the Honolulu Star-Bulletin story on Gordon Campbell's drunk driving episode.

The mug shots you may be looking for are at the top of the story I link to in the above paragraph. There's an error about the premier of B.C. in the last paragraph of the story--although he has been a school teacher briefly, it's his wife that is currently a Vancouver school vice-principal.

Welcome to my weblog, if you are visiting for the first time. I hope that you find lots of other things to interest you amongst my posts.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Campbell won't quit: CP

The early Canadian Press story on today's Gordon Campbell press conference is here. A precis: Campbell is very contrite, will plead guilty to the charge, but will not step down as Premier or MLA.

It slices! It dices! It makes julienne fries!

I found this column on Infomercials this student has watched to be amusing. Perhaps you might as well.
Uh oh, Jared only weighs 47 pounds now!

Colby Cosh confesses to being a bit creeped out by the latest ad featuring Jared Fogle, the fellow who lost 245 pounds by eating only Subway sandwiches.

If you read that, and then this blog, this is the official Subway page explaining what all the fuss is about and this is a interview, of sorts, with Jared conducted in a US student newspaper. Just in case you want further information.

I liked Jared Fogle's tale of weight loss and I suspect that he's a nice guy, but I dislike the subliminal implication in the latest ads that he has a pretty wife and a brand new house because he eats at Subway.

Oh well, I enjoy Subway subs....despite those silly ads about Clay Henry, which were played far too often on TV.
Lots of Campbell coverage here

CTV Vancouver has lots of online video clips about the Gordon Campbell DUI here.
Dogpile on Gordon!

Talk show caller on Peter Warren's CKNW radio show in Vancouver, just now: "He [Gordon Campbell] should be banned from driving for the rest of his natural life!"

Well, I think that the Hawaii courts would have difficulty banning Mr. Campbell from driving in the afterlife. I understand they lack the jurisdiction to do so. ( : ) )
Off with his head?

Gordon Campbell, B.C.'s premier, plans to plead guilty after he was charged with drunk driving on a Hawaii vacation on Friday.

The dogpiling has begun--there are T-shirts with his mug shot here. Quickie polls are running slightly in favour of his resignation.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

An ironic death

Ghost Sites, which has marked the death of various websites, weblogs and such, is itself going to the great Internet server in the sky. Too expensive to operate, says site owner Steve Baldwin:

That the chronicler of ghost sites should become a, it seems, as poetically ironical as can be expected from a medium that, in the author's opinion, is now a lifeless rustbelt awaiting a massive infusion of spiritual and/or finanincial energy.

This is too bad, as Ghost Sites was informative and fun to read. (Hopefully, he will find acting work in a movie biography of Woodrow Wilson--please see his black and white promo shot here : ) .)

He deserves our thanks for doing something very useful for the Internet.
Eurodoofus watch

Gretta Duisenberg, wife of the head of Europe's central bank, says the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is worse than the Nazi occupation of Holland (if you discount the Holocaust). Little Green Footballs cites the story.
Doing that thing you do....

I see that Colby Cosh also likes the film That Thing You Do! Be sure to read his post marvelling that Tom Hanks has yet to make a woofer of a film.
Minnesota's black hole

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is wondering if there is a 'black hole' at the bottom of a Minnesota lake.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Firemen who always try to avoid smoke

The Vancouver Sun reporter seems a bit surprised that local firemen can actually cook in their firehall kitchens. The story has stories of "hockey pucks" and other culinary disasters of the past.
The perfect cuppa

Reuters is reporting that chemists in England will be researching the best way to make a cup of tea. Their story is here.

We're tea drinkers in my family, but I don't know if we make tea in the proper fashion. We add milk and sugar.
"The hardest to deal with in my bra are the squirrels."

A Texas veterinary technician has a unusual way to keep sick baby animals warm. According to this column, she sticks them in her bra.

Thanks to Fark for the link.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003


A Nova Scotia court has ruled that a worker can't get damages for the sleep disorder he now has after working years of shift work and trying to sleep at all hours of the day and night. Here's the story
When I grow up, I want to be a circus geek

If you are looking for a new career, you could always learn to be a circus sideshow performer and breathe fire, hammer nails into your head. Here's an interesting story on the school. Check out the accompanying photo of someone breathing fire!
Piano player tickles ivories for 52 hours straight

Why did John Conte play the piano for so long? Well, part of the reason according to this story was to win back an old love.

Isn't that always the way?
Better call the bomb disposal squad

The Campbell River Courier-Islander (sorry, no website) reports that on December 31, local firemen were asked to investigate a acrid gas smell at a local home. They found that there was no gas leak and the smell was being caused by some over-ripe turkey dressing from Christmas dinner. "Despite the potency of the stuffing, no evacuation of the building was required," the paper adds.
Mine is the best though : )

Blogger, my server, says that it now has "1 million registered users", effective yesterday. 1 million weblogs? Wow.

Monday, January 06, 2003

I'd want ice cream mixed into my protein shake

One of the possible perils of working for a newspaper is being assigned by your editors to improve yourself and then write about it. For example, the Vancouver Sun has an annual run, the 10 km Sun Run. I've often seen articles from unathletic Sun reporters who have been "volunteered" to start training and then participate in the run.

I can only hope that this idea was sparked by reporter Leanne Ritchie of the Vernon Morning Star. She's in a shape-up contest from last October to next March, sponsored by a local gym, with a week's vacation in Mexico as the top prize. Alas, it never made the paper's website but recently Ms. Ritchie reported that she had lost 10 pounds in four weeks due to her new diet and exercise regimen.

She writes:

So, I began going to the gym six days a week, just like reporting for boot camp.

The first week, I felt like a dead spider after every workout. I'd literally have to creep down the stairs at the gym. I couldn't uncurl any of my limbs. It took me less than two days to realize the real reason people continually fail at getting in shape is because it's not easy.

It hurts. You sweat. And for the first couple of weeks you constantly have to use the bathroom because you're drinking all this water.

Good luck, Ms. Ritchie...
If you play the messages backwards, does the ghost sing the Mr. Ed song?

This person in the US has deciphered the recordings they have has made and decided that their coffee maker is haunted by a Coffee Pot Ghost. I'm sceptical, but you might find it interesting.
D.W. Griffith, non-racist?

Slate also has a new article which asks whether the famous silent movie director D.W. Griffith was actually not a racist. They also have online video clips so you can judge for yourself.
This just in

Fatblueman has found my favorite wacky religious theory of the day, namely a Japanese site that argues Israelites Came To Ancient Japan.

From my wacky religious archives here is a site that argues that Prince Charles is the Antichrist. The theory is soundly discredited here, but I suspect that many of you will be content with this offhand dismissal from this old Slate piece:

There's no way Prince Charles is the Antichrist," [Ed] Hindson said. "Satan can do better than that."

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Cecil Adams rocks!

I love The Straight Dope column in The Chicago Reader. Column writer Cecil Adams manages to get to the truth about *anything* with acerbic wit. He's been writing for over 25 years, and here's a column you can read as a sample: Do tinfoil helmets provide adequate protection against mind control rays?

There's dozens of his columns online for you to enjoy...but buy one of his Straight Dope books too!
Most surprising personal internet quiz...EVER!"

What lesser known Simpsons character are you?

(My result is hinted at in the headline. :) )
Boop, boop, boop, tick, boop boop Doodley doo-dee-doo!...

I came of age when even the simplest computers were seen as amazing things.

This site is an introduction to Pong, the very first video game. If my memory serves, I think we had the Coleco Pong set pictured on this page, or it could have been made by Lloyds.

My great aunt and uncle always got the coolest video games for their kids circa 1977-1980, and then I would bug my parents/grandmother to get them too. I remember that the first video game that I was ever given was made by Sears. It was a big console that sat in your lap and you could play Breakout and Pinball. I got to be pretty good at Pinball and Breakout. So I was happy that one of my latest Christmas presents, a simple hand held video game, has a simple form of Breakout (along with Tank Battle, Car Racing and Tetris...which I spent a bit of my student loan money playing in the video game arcade at UBC. Now I can play all I want for the price of batteries. Woo Hoo!).

Then my cousin David got a hand held game--Classic Football, so I asked for that too. Classic Football is just trying to move your red dash around other red dashes to score touchdowns. I remember it being lots of much so that I bought a new game (it's being manufactured again as a retro toy) when I was in the US this past summer. (My grandmother, who was shopping with me, was puzzled...but I was happy.)

Then we got an Atari Activision...stick men running around shooting baskets, etc. I fondly remember Donkey Kong, although I wasn't very good at it. I was good at Frogger and Pitfall. I remember playing another game, the name of which escapes me, where you were this UFO shooting bases on the ground that were trying to shoot at you. I wanted this badge that you got for scoring a million points at this game and thus finishing it. You had to send a photo of the TV display at the end of the game, so I played for about 3 hours one day to do it, racking up so many extra men that I could go and eat dinner as they died off and then come back and finish the game. I loved Pac-man, and had a Pac-man T-shirt. (I think I may have a 20 year old "how to beat the Activision games" book in my book case somewhere.) And Centipede and Missile Command and Asteroids!

(Another of my recent Christmas presents was an inexpensive hand held controller...with ten Activision games, including Pitfall. Mom bought one for herself too and we are trying to figure out how to install it.)

The other major video game of the era was the Mattel Intellivision. I should have made more excuses to get across the street and bug the retired couple in our neighbourhood who had one.

I think I was in Grade 7 when my school did a road trip to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. They had a computer room, where you could play simple scenario games such as operating a lemonade stand business, or running a program to stop malaria in Africa (be sure to use lots of pesticides like DDT). They must have had a computer to help with something else I thought was neat--a phone that let you talk and taped what you said to play back to you. As it played the tape, it used sound technology to simulate what the sound quality was like in the earliest days of using the phone, and then at 20-30 year intervals afterwards. "Hello! Hello!?! I can't hear you, hello!"

I remember in Grade 9 when our school started a Computer Club...with one computer! I think it was a TRS-80 At lunch time, the members would play this simple Star Trek game with a small simple grid, where you typed in numbers for commands to cruise the galaxy, wipe out Romulans, etc..

My first computer was a Commodore 64. ("I adore my 64, my Commodore 64!" I have a VHS tape of a 1984 miniseries--V--that includes Bill Bixby commercials about the amazing Commodore 64.) I still have it disassembled in a closet, and I was playing games on it as late as 1991. It had a state of the art memory system, a casette tape player that used sounds to trigger reactions in the computer. My mom was interested in my computer too, so she got a subscription to Compute! magazine. That magazine used to convert shareware games to page after page, line after line of numerical codes. My mother would type them in patiently and, if the game didn't work, compare her typing to what was in the book. Way to go, Mom! My favourite C64 games were an oil drilling game, a text-based football game, Stock Ticker (which would get dull as the game progressed as the computer could only buy 500 shares of stock at one time, while I had already progressed to buying 500,000 shares of stock in one transaction), and a really fun game where you pretended to be one of the two major candidates for US president and tried to do everything right so you would be elected.

Mom led the way in video games too. She got a Nintendo before I got mine. I'm quite happy and content with my Nintendo which is the only game console I own--I have about a couple dozen games for it--but my mother has a Super Nintendo too. She used to like to play Nintendo in the back room of her house and got very good at the Mario and Super Mario games. So much so that while I was struggling through levels two and three, she would be on level 1 billion and have a zillion points and would be giving me pointers too. She sometimes offered to play for me for a while so I could rack up some extra men as I was dying so much. We both had a lot of fun, as I saw the humour in what was happening.

Okay, enough of "When I was your age, we had to play with a rock and a stick." :)

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Hindsight is, alas, perfect

I wonder what the people who gave Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe a standing ovation when he spoke at UBC a decade ago think of him now?

According to The New Republic Online, Mugabe's government is taking political advantage of the famine:

Reports of desperate hunger have been trickling out of Matabeleland for months. And Didymus Mutasa, ZANU-PF's administrative secretary and senior bureaucrat, recently admitted that whittling down Zimbabwe's population from its current twelve million is his government's explicit plan. "We would be better off," he said, "with only six million people ... who support the liberation struggle. ... We don't want all these extra people."
Taking one for the team

Kine Skiaker of Norway saved a litter of puppies by nursing them herself when the mother died.

Notes the Aftenposten story: Skiaker says she's also been told by experts that she helped save the puppies' lives. "That makes me feel good," she said. "Then I can accept that some think what I did was nauseating."
Let's call it this, the kids will love it

Yesterday I received a CD in the mail. It's a reissue of the 1965 debut LP of Terry Black, a North Vancouver native who had two Canadian hits. His 1964 hit "Unless You Care" is very catchy 60's pop, one of my fave Canadian-sung songs. The LP/CD as a whole is not bad. The songs are written and/or produced by Sloan/Barri of surf music fame.

The album was (and is) called "The Black Plague"! I can imagine that that was a great selling point in record stores back then:

Teenager: "I'd like The Black Plague please."
Retailer: "I think you're about 600 years too late for that."

Lots of jokes in the liner notes from DJ's noting that the future of Canadian pop looked "Black, Black, Black,", etc. Evidently, wiser heads prevailed for his next LP, which was named for his hit cover version of the Sam Cooke hit, Only Sixteen.

(Unless You Care is also included on the first CD/cassette of Only in Canada, a fine audio history of early Canadian pop music.)

Friday, January 03, 2003

No invading the pitch here

A Romanian soccer club has found a great way to ensure that fans don't run onto the field. Dig a moat around the field, and fill it with water and a hungry crocodile.

Thanks to Fark for the link
Blogger blog title of the day

Washington Interns Gone Bad Production Diary

Future Hollywood mogul Jason Buckley's blog. Alas, doesn't share William F. Buckley's politics, but he seems like a nice guy.
"Ce maudit blogger!"

While browsing Blogger, I found this pretty weblog:Madame Bovary, c'est moi. Tres bien, Felicity!

It's written in French, but I remember enough of the language to see that some blogging issues are sometimes universal!

My free paraphrases of what she blogs recently:

"I had something brilliant to write in my weblog, but my server wouldn't let me change the settings in my weblog so I can post properly. Aargh!" [direct quote:"Ce maudit blogger n'accepte pas mes modifications dans mes "settings." ]

"The internet is an odd place. I get all these people coming to see my weblog right after seeing Portuguese weblogs...."

[Rick scratches head..."I wonder who this person in Russia is who read my weblog recently."]

Merci Felicity, et bonne chance avec votre weblog!

Quotes of the day(s), Lutefisk edition

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times reported recently on a special dinner held by the local Sons of Norway featuring lutefisk. Lutefisk, a recipe from before the days of refrigeration, is a traditonal Norwegian dish. Codfish is dried until it is the consistency of carboard. Then it is soaked in a lye and water solution, and then boiled in water so the lye is removed.

Diners were asked for comments:

"It looks like snot," Arnie Fast said. "But it doesn't taste as good" added his wife Maria.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

A doctor's bravery

The Canadian Medical Association Journal reprints a letter from a Canadian doctor who reports on his harrowing D-day experiences with amazing sang froid.

Thanks to Colby Cosh, who spotted it first.
David Janes' Christmas List

I like David Janes' amusing Christmas List. Check it out!
Blogging by typewriter

It looks like Kevin Steel has found a way to blog and hyperlink using a typewriter! Read all about his New Year's Eve party and the two mysteriously left over gingerbreadpersons cookies.

When it comes to old typewriters, I'd like to have an old Underwood someday. (I really like that old typewriter typeface and would like to use it on my computer. If someone has an idea what that old typeface is, I'd sure like to know.)

New Year's Day is bowl day in my house. I've made nachos and watched the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl with a roommate who really enjoys US college football.

I am a glutton for punishment. I sometimes cheer for the Washington State University football team, because that's where a cousin of mine went to school. Unfortunately, the Cougars are the Vancouver Canucks of college football, and have played in only five Rose Bowls. To sum it up, ABC played footage of the Cougars' only Rose Bowl 1916!

Oklahoma now has their first Rose Bowl trophy thanks to the Cougars, who lost. Well, I take heart in that I am not a Columbia fan. If memory serves, they once lost more than 40 games in a row....

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Happy New Year!
I haven't made Mr. Kinsella's Enemies List yet

I see that John, operator of the Fatblueman weblog, also noticed the disappearing Kinsella post that offered the work e-mail and phone number of someone who wrote a newspaper letter critiquing a Kinsella piece. I happily concede that although I commented on it, it was his comments that struck home.

Apparently, John drew a response from Mr. Kinsella or someone who helps with his weblog. Although, Fatblueman's operator credits me in a weblog entry...I am not the person that Mr. Kinsella is angry with, because I just commented on its disappearance without saying I was responsible for it, as Mr. Kinsella's new enemy is alleged to have done. Also, as you'll see below, they sent the "offender" an e-mail, and I haven't fielded any e-mails from Mr. Kinsella or his employees...yet.

Mr. Kinsella now has a post on his website commenting on it. I'm posting it before it disappears too:

[Kinsella begins]

December 30, 2002 - A blogger somewhere out West noted that the Elliott Anderson entry disappeared, which was true. He suggested that he had something to do with that, which wasn't. Here's what was sent to him:

We took it down because Elliott Anderson's hatred didn't deserve any further exposure. After Bourque linked to it, 60,000+ folks got to see Elliott attempt to take partisan advantage of a man's death. That said all that needed to be said about Elliott.

Here at, we subscribe to the Kennedy clan maxim: forgive your enemies. But never, ever forget. Ever.

Google is a big help, in that regard.

There goes my HRDC grant. :)

Seriously though. Mr. Kinsella, if Anderson's hatred "deserved no further response", why not just make your point in a private e-mail to him, instead of blogging about it? I wouldn't have known anything about it if Mr. Kinsella hadn't discussed it in his weblog.

I think it unwise to say that anyone should be dissuaded from writing on a subject because they are the wrong sex or have the wrong political background. I agree with Mr. Kinsella on that. But, I would respectfully suggest that he overreacted by posting Anderson's office phone and e-mail. Mr. Kinsella must admit--he brags on his website about his days as a punk rocker--that it is ironic that he has grown and matured so much from his Joe Strummer-emulating punk days. Pointing that out, politely, shouldn't add you to an Enemies List.
Is yours the oldest?

The search is on for Vancouver's oldest toilet. Here's the details for you
Reader mail!

Weblog reader Capt. J.M. Heinrichs chips in with some comments!
I wrote a while back on the book Coup d'Etat, and he mentions that he was involved in the filming of a film that had a working title of "Coup d'Etat" starring Peter O'Toole:

The outdoor scenes were largely filmed at CFB Borden, where I was on my BOTC at the time. Some of the extras appearing in the film were from my course, we were "volunteered". My significant memory was of dashing around the back of an APC and nearly cross checking Mr. O'Toole with my rifle.

He adds that you can still sometimes see the 1978 movie, which is named Power Play on late night TV...