seat shading

Further to my TTC rant, I’ve noticed another thing: people standing over an empty seat, too close to let anyone sit in it, but not sitting in it themselves.

I call this seat shading. It’s annoying.

pathologically polite

It’s 9am, TTC subway southbound at St George. The train is packed (the crowd roared like a lion… no, wait, that was Wesley Willis). It’s the usual crowd — UofT students, Queen’s Park parliament types, downtown suits — not an elderly, infirm or pregnant person in sight. Everyone’s muffled in their winter gear, and there’s no room to move.

And there are two empty seats. No-one will sit in them, ‘cos they’re too polite, or too passive-aggressive to let anyone sit in them.

To compound this, they are window seats, and there’s someone in the aisle seats. AAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Am I a really bad person for wanting to sit down?

snow, man

It’s here. We’ve had dustings before, but this looks like it’s here to stay. Hello, winter!

Wish I could make like a groundhog, and see y’all in April …

so long, and thanks for all the fish

So I’m now the proud owner of my shiny new domain, scruss.com. My blog continues there.

Thanks, Jeff, for the kind use of your webspace.

how the blog got its name

We showed this film to an audience and asked them what they had seen, and they said they had seen a chicken, a fowl, and we didn’t know that there was a fowl in it! So we carefully scanned the frames one by one for this fowl, and, sure enough, for about a second, a fowl went over the corner of the frame. … The film was about five minutes long. …

Wilson: We simply asked them: what did you see in the film?

Question: No one gave you a response other than “We saw the chicken”?

Wilson: No, this was the first quick response— “We saw a chicken.”

— from “Film Literacy in Africa”, by John Wilson (Canadian Communications vol.1 no. 4, summer, 1961, pp. 7-14), cited in McLuhan’s “The Gutenberg Galaxy”.

The Remarkable Bob Levitt

Bob Levitt — on a budget of $0 — has built one of the most remarkable and useful websites I’ve ever seen: Toronto Tenants. If you’re a tenant in Toronto (as more than half of the city’s residents are), Bob’s site is a gold mine.

He’s taken the time to build a comprehensive site, with no concessions to commerciality. He’s even researched Google’s linking algorithm to make sure that his site ranks way up there. His attention to detail — including providing common typos, such as tennant, as search keywords — goes far beyond that of most sites.

In short, it’s a labour of love. Talking to Bob, it’s clear that he wants tenants in the Megacity (and beyond) to be safely and happily housed, and to know their rights.

Just as I thought that the web was turning into a global electronic Wal*Mart, Bob restores my faith in humanity. Keep up the good work, Bob!

scruss’s guide to domestic harmony. part 314 …

When your partner is quietly reading the paper on a Sunday morning, why not sneak up on her with an Airzooka and blast the paper away? It’s guaranteed to enhance her calm!

(um… not!)

Props

Thanks to Paul Hart, who pointed me to 1&1 in the first place.

Massive thanks to official man o’ pairts* Jeff Walker, who helped me set up Movable Type, and who hosts my existing blog.

If this had been back in Amiga days, I’d definitely write a demo with greets in a scrolly sine-wave message …


*: Scots for mensch.

new, fast, automatic domain

I didn’t really believe that 1&1 were offering 500MB free hosting for three years, and domain registration for only USD 6/year. But I signed up anyway, and got my domain of choice.

Ode to Joy

(or, how Stewart is obviously very easily pleased …)

At work, I use emacs over an ssh connection in a Gnome terminal window. For months, I’ve complained that it wouldn’t respond to mouse clicks, and thus cursor movement was tiresome.

So today, on going back to a particularly large project file, I wondered if anything could be done. Googling for “emacs xterm mouse”, I discovered xterm-mouse-mode. It does what it says on the tin; gives you basic mouse control in an xterm. I’m happy now. Almost too happy, in fact.

I also found out about flyspell-mode today, an on-the-fly spelling checker for XEmacs. It does the equivalent of the little wiggly red line under misspelt words in Word, except not quite so in-your-face. Neato-mosquito.

Wind Energy Links

On Nov 11, I gave a talk on wind energy and WindShare to the University of Toronto Natural Philosophers’ Club. As there was so much interest, I’ve decided to put up some useful links. Please feel free to comment/add more, and I’ll incorporate them into the body of the entry.

Links

  • OSEA — the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. Dedicated to community-based renewable energy.
  • The Kortright Centre — teaches short courses in renewable energy. They’re run by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
  • Home Power Magazine — the source for home-scale renewable energy. The previous issue is always online.
  • Grassroots — a local store who can help with any renewable energy/low energy installation.
  • IPPSO — Independent Power Producers’ Society of Ontario.
  • CFRE — Citizens For Renewable Energy. Based near the Sky Generation wind turbine on the Bruce peninsula.
  • CanWEA — Canadian Wind Energy Association
  • Heiner H. Dörner — catalogues wind energy designs that didn’t quite work. Has some pictures of the huge 4MW turbine built on Cap Chat.
  • Centre for Alternative Technology — based in mid-Wales, this charity has impressive resources on all aspects of renewable energy
  • Scoraig Wind Electric — Hugh Piggott has been home building small wind turbines for his remote community for years.
  • Fair Isle — Britain’s most remote inhabited island. They’ve been using wind power for years. Coincidentally, this is where Catherine & I met … ☺

Books

Paul Gipe has written some of the best books on the subject. My favourite book of his is Wind Energy Comes Of Age (John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York, 1995. ISBN: 0-471-10924-X). It gives a good overview of the technology, and a rare look into the impact on society of wind energy.

If you just want the heavy theory, the Wind Energy Handbook (Burton, Sharpe, Jenkins & Bossanyi. pub John Wiley & Sons, 2001. ISBN: 0-471-48997-2) has everything you need. Based on the famous Loughborough Wind Energy Course (formerly at Imperial College, London, where I took it), it’s absurdly complete.

everyone else is voting, why can’t I?

It’s municipal election day here in Toronto. I’m a Toronto resident, homeowner, and taxpayer. Yet I can’t vote, because I’m not a Canadian citizen.

I can understand not being able to vote in federal or provincial elections, but I’m as much of a citizen as anyone else living in Toronto. Toronto has such a vast immigrant population that many people are disenfranchised. Perhaps that’s why the city is failing to provide for its citizens.

so long, emusic

I left emusic — despite me originally saying this — because they changed. Unlimited downloads went away.

I did download a ton of good music before unsubscribing. But they let me down — they shouldn’t have promised what they couldn’t sustain. Just like Bigfoot For Life, who promised free, unlimited e-mail forwarding for life, only to turn around and start charging.

yay, go nettwerk!

After writing this, I emailed Nettwerk about the essentially broken CDs they were selling. Very quickly, they said they could send me a non-copy-controlled one. And a week later, it arrived. I now have happy CD players, happy MP3 players, and a happy me, ‘cos it’s a good album.

Someone at Nettwerk hinted to me that they’re dropping copy-controlled CDs because of all the bother. Good.

Canada supporting copy-controlled CDs

Canada, though its Sound Recording Development Program, supports local musical talent. Canada also permits private copying of music as part of its Copyright Act, and levies a charge on recordable media to support this.

BC band the Be Good Tanyas acknowledge the support of the government’s program on their new album, “Chinatown”. Unfortunately, their record label EMI Canada has decided to copy-control the CD, depriving us of our rights to make a private copy of the work. The band is not happy about this, and ask you to complain to their label.

found sound

Hauling my bike up the stairs up the Queen St viaduct over the Don this morning, I found a beat-up discarded demo CD for Estella Fritz. Being an avid fan of the 365 Days Project, I hoped this would be a demented demo for some superannuated wedding singer.

On hauling it into the office, I was disappointed. It’s generic overly-angsty rock from Windsor, ON. They have a website, alas: estellafritz.com.

Dang.

just like Ms Morissette said

I find it amusing that, after co-chairing several acrimonious public meetings supporting the development of Dun Law Wind Farm against accusations of it being a potential eyesore, it’s now a tourist attraction — <http://www.discovertheborders.co.uk/places/33.html>

i think i like emusic …

Just signed up for emusic.com. US $10 per month for unlimited download of some excellent artists, encoded as decent MP3s.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve downloaded so far:

  • The Dickies
  • The Fall
  • Ewan MacColl
  • Jah Wobble
  • Gorp
  • James Taylor Quartet
  • Daniel Johnston
  • Holy Modal Rounders
  • Wesley Willis
  • Boards Of Canada
  • Perez Prado Orchestra
  • Young Fresh Fellows
  • Mayor McCA
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Dressy Bessy
  • The Fugs
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Maybe I don’t like them all, but at least I haven’t paid extra to find that out.

where’s willy?

Okay, so I got a $20 the other day in Scarborough inscribed with See Where I’ve Been… Track it online… www.whereswilly.com. Seems I’m the second-last person on the continent to hear about this little diversion for tracking paper currency. Shame about the name, though.