an end to triangular, aching thumbs …

I could use a Thumbthing. I have been known to fall asleep reading in bed, with my thumb jammed in the spine of a book. Waking up hours later, my thumb is aching and decidedly tobleroneform

You know you’ve been studying engineering law too much when …

… you think that you’d want to start a band called The Tortfeasors, with stage names derived from precedents: Hedley Byrne, Rivtow Marine, Junior Books, Donoghue Stevenson, Lambert V. Lastoplex

Then you realise that would be a bad idea. On every level. Not least that I wouldn’t know what to do in (or with) a band.

I’m resitting the legal part of my PPE for the PEO next Saturday. Was somewhat taken aback when I heard I’d failed it first time, but now studying again, and seeing my notes and sample answers from last time — what, if anything, was I thinking?

I’m still waiting

One of the side effects of Catherine’s Library Quest is that she digs through the sale books. She’s found a library getting rid of National Geographics for 25¢. September 1969’s issue, published when I was less than a season old, has a great and hilariously dated article The Coming Revolution in Transportation. It’s all hovercraft and personal transport pods (though none less than the Federal Highways Administration’s The Rambler cautions don’t blame the future when we read this article).

My favourite prognosis from the article is this one, on electric cars:

Electric cars should be common within a decade. They will be “pure” electrics, if batteries become lighter, more powerful, and longer lasting; otherwise, “dual-mode” vehicles—battery-powered in town but propelled by gasoline engines on cross-country trips.

It took just a little longer than this, and it sure wasn’t GM who brought the first ones to market, despite this picture of a hybrid Opel from 1969:

Hybrid Opel car from 1969 - National Geographic

indigo’s most overpriced yet

I saw the most obscene markup in indigo this evening: the Linux Format special edition was priced at a hefty $34.95. This costs £10 in the UK.

The thing is, UK prices are quoted tax-inclusive. The ten quid you see is the ten quid you pay. Not so in Canada. In the most boneheaded move ever, our prices don’t include tax, so that $34.95 really costs you $39.84 (in Ontario, at least).

According to Google, £10 is $20.53. Indigo’s markup is almost 100%

skiffle is fun

I’m listening to “Skiffle – The Best Of”, and it’s interesting to see what pre-rock British artists did with folk, gospel and trad jazz tunes on the cusp of the 1960s.

It clearly came out of the Trad boom (to which my father is still very much attached) – not just because folks like Barber and Colyer played both styles – but there are weird echoes of rockabilly. In a way, it was a short-lived answer to the US “folk scare” of the time.

Some of it’s quite quaint and dated now. The faux American accents, untrained by constant US TV exposure are hilarious, hovering somewhere between New Orleans and Brooklyn. Lonnie Donegan’s is especially funny – “this man, he was thoisty” he sings in “Being Me A Little Water, Sylvie”.

Micro-wind turbines often increase CO2

Micro-wind turbines often increase CO2, says study | Environment | The Guardian

The Building Research Establishment Trust, which advises the government and private sector, has found that in built-up towns and cities weak winds and turbulence mean turbines are likely to add to, not subtract from, a home’s carbon footprint.

goodbye, stamps

Bullfrog Power are going to stop issuing their own bills, and go through the local utility. Though I understand it is a bunch cheaper to get Toronto Hydro to do it, I’ll miss getting my bills with a stamp affixed.

Hmm, now that I have a smart meter, does that mean I can access the metering information? Bullfrog doesn’t do time-of-use (yet), but the stats would delight this nerd.

2007 contenders

I’m going to play the blogger’s best of the year game differently this year, but I need to keep the rules roughly the same so that I am (for once) on the same planet. I’m going to choose ten best albums, but they’re what I discovered in 2007, not just those released in 2007.

So these are my contenders:

  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun Hangár EnsembleA Hawk And A Hacksaw And The Hun Hangár Ensemble
  • AirPocket Symphony
  • Akron/FamilyLove Is Simple
  • Akron/FamilyMeek Warrior (2006)
  • Animal CollectiveStrawberry Jam
  • Architecture In HelsinkiPlaces Like This
  • Avey Tare & Kría BrekkanPullhair Rubeye
  • BeesOctopus
  • BeirutThe Flying Club Cup
  • Black LipsGood Bad Not Evil
  • Bonnie Russell and the Russell FamilyMountain Dulcimer Galax Style (1995)
  • Bright EyesCassadaga
  • CaribouAndorra
  • Cathy FinkBanjo Talkin’
  • ColleenThe Golden Morning Breaks (2005)
  • Dan Jones and The SquidsTotally Human
  • Devendra BanhartSmokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
  • Dock BoggsHis Folkways Years (1963-1968) (1998)
  • DonovanBarabajagal (1969)
  • DonovanHurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
  • DonovanMellow Yellow (1967)
  • DonovanSunshine Superman (1966)
  • Enoch KentI’m a Rover (2006)
  • Erynn Marshall & Chris CooleMeet Me In The Music
  • FeistThe Reminder
  • Fountains of WayneTraffic and Weather
  • Fred Spek’s Camp ComboRock Paper Scissors (2006)
  • GrindermanGrinderman
  • Hamish ImlachCod Liver Oil & Orange Juice (2006)
  • Howe Gelb‘Sno Angel Like You (2006)
  • Ideal Free DistributionIdeal Free Distribution
  • Jeffrey Frederick & the ClamtonesThe Resurrection of Spiders in the Moonlight
  • Jesse Sykes & The Sweet HereafterLike Love, Lust, & The Open Halls of the Soul
  • Joanna NewsomJoanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band EP
  • John FaheyThe Best Of John Fahey Vol. 2 1964-1983 (2004)
  • Johnny CashAmerican I & II
  • Judee SillJudee Sill (2006)
  • Ken ReaumeFour Horses
  • Kevin DrewSpirit If…
  • Kilby SnowKilby Snow: Country Songs and Tunes with Autoharp
  • Kimberley RewRidgeway (2006)
  • Marissa NadlerSongs III: Bird On The Water
  • Michael HurleyFirst Songs (1964)
  • Mimi & Richard FariñaVanguard Visionaries – Mimi & Richard Fariña
  • Monica GrabinContinental Village
  • Neil YoungHarvest (1972)
  • Of MontrealHissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
  • Okkervil RiverThe Stage Names
  • Old Man LuedeckeHinterland (2006)
  • Otha TurnerEverybody Hollerin’ Goat (1998)
  • Panda BearPerson Pitch
  • Po’ GirlHome to You
  • Porter WagonerWagonmaster
  • RadioheadIn Rainbows
  • Ragged But RightDown Harmony Road
  • Robert Force & Albert d’OsschéTiger Dreams
  • Sons of the Never WrongNuthatch Suite (2005)
  • StewGuest Host (2000)
  • The AliensAstronomy For Dogs
  • The Apples in StereoNew Magnetic Wonder
  • The Arcade FireNeon Bible
  • The Besnard LakesThe Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
  • The Carter FamilyThe Carter Family 1927-1934 (2001)
  • The Foggy Hogtown BoysPigtown Fling
  • The Harvey GirlsThe Wild Farewell (2005)
  • The High Water MarksPolar
  • The HouseplantsLivingroom
  • The HylozoistsLa Fin du Monde (2006)
  • The IciclesArrivals & Departures
  • The Ladybug TransistorCan’t Wait Another Day
  • The Negro ProblemPost Minstrel Syndrome (2002)
  • The Polyphonic SpreeThe Fragile Army
  • The Soft MachineThe Soft Machine (1968)
  • The UnicornsWho Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2003)
  • They Might Be GiantsThe Else
  • Tiger Lillies (with Kronos Quartet)The Gorey End (2003)
  • Uncle Dave MaconClassic Sides
  • Various ArtistsSkiffle – The Best Of (2006)
  • Various ArtistsThe Old Time Banjo Festival
  • Vashti BunyanSome Things Just Stick in Your Mind
  • Wendy ArrowsmithNow Then…?
  • WilcoSky Blue Sky
  • Willie NelsonRed Headed Stranger (1975)

(Before you freak out at the number of CDs I bought, I do subscribe to emusic, so a bunch of these were MP3 only.)

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid – 2008 Green Car of the Year … in parsley!

I don’t believe this … Green Car .com has named the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 2008 Green Car of the Year [archive link]. This gargantuan obesemobile has a 6 litre engine which gets a dismal 21 mpg (about 11 l/100 km in real money). But it’s okay, because it’s a hybrid! Well, bravo Chevrolet! Your greed and stupidity is killing us all.

M-W Visual Dictionary Online

M-W’s Visual Dictionary Online is rather good. F’rinstance: ENERGY :: WIND ENERGY.

Update: whoa, I just looked at this on IE, and it’s an absolute ad-beast. It has been a while since I surfed with ads enabled.

perfect Harmony

Got the Harmony back from Bruce Dowd last night – wow! The work he did on it was amazing, and the price very reasonable. The sound is beautiful – plunky and warm – and the Aquila nylon strings are stiff enough to make it easy to play.

I had difficulty keeping Nichol away from it last night. Looks like he’s got the nylon-strung bug too.

thappy hanksgiving (belated)

We’re in Ohio, having had too much turkey yesterday. I think this thanksgiving was brought to you by Married To The Sea, as Mindy, Karl and Carl sat around with their laptops chortling like turkey-filled chortling things.