I’ll be your terrorist for the evening…

I’m at YYZ, and despite the Canadian passport, I’m still Mr Designated Searched Guy. Thought that the passport might’ve changed things, but no. Sigh…

It does mean I no longer have to do those dumb visa waiver things, yay!

And it didn’t help that part of one of the lighting panels started to fall off inside the cabin before takeoff, so we had to taxi back, get it fixed, and head back out an hour later. Gotta love Air Canada.

so it is true!

First-class airport lounges really do have free beer taps and open spirits gantries. It’s quite the opposite of the little shed that the Midwestern flights depart YYZ from.

mother’s day treat: critters!

We were visited by the raccoon family last night; mother and four little ones. Please excuse the ‘painterly’ blur; it’s kinda hard to handhold a 300mm lens for 1/3s exposure. Plus, wee raccoons are speedy little things.

mom and baby raccoon

wee raccoon

wee raccoons

wee raccoon

This one was taken a few days back (of the mother alone) in better light:

mom raccoon

Sarah’s Solar Art

Sarah Hall works with glass and light, and her most recent commission for Regent College in BC combines solar photovoltaics and an LED light show into the installation. It’s a beautiful design, and I’d like to thank Sarah for inviting me to the official unveiling yesterday.

Crappy Lanes: spread the love

Further to Matt Seaton’s article in the Guardian about atrocious cycle facilities, and highlighting Warrington Cycle Campaign’s Facility of the Month, can I just say that Pete Owens of WCC got the idea for the web page from my Crappy Lanes (archive.org copy) site?

no nimh joy in my speedlight

I wonder why my Nikon SB-600 won’t work with (expensive) Panasonic 2300mAh HHR-3SPA NiMH cells? It loves Duracells to death, but won’t even fire once with the rechargeables.

(Oh, and wish me luck; I’m about to clean my the sensor on my D70 for the first time.)

In Edmonton, but no thanks to WorstJet

Edmonton: view from my hotel

Jet lag, lack of sleep, and a whole day of company orientation isn’t doing much for my clarity of thought right now. What I need is steak and beer.

Last night’s flight was supposed to get in at 10:30, but what with WestJet‘s faffing around, we got in well after midnight. It was about 1am (or 03:00, Toronto time) before I got settled in the hotel room.

I’ve never been in a city with trolley buses before. Guess I can’t say that any more. It’s also the furthest west I’ve ever been.
I wonder if the snow drawing below (as seen from my hotel window) is supposed to be a hometown homage to Bob The Angry Flower?

hometown homage to Bob?

shaving on the go

Neat eBay find; an unused Gillette Travel razor:

Gillette Travel Razor

It is absolutely tiny, and it looks as if it has never been opened, let alone used. The blades are still in their cellophane wrapping, and the razor has its cardboard “blade” in place. I wonder how old it is?
The case doesn’t look very robust (it’s that cardboard leatherette that falls apart at the slightest use) but I’ll be able to shave in style anywhere in the world.

Ontario Government Giving Every Household a Say in Province’s Electricity Future

The Energy Minister wants your thoughts on the Supply Mix. Quick, do you know what the supply mix is? Do you care?

I’m guessing that, as long as the lights are still on, that you can read my blog, the fuel bills aren’t too high, and acide rain hasn’t caused the cat to rust, you don’t really care about the Supply Mix.

But Donna Cansfield wants you to care. She’s sending everyone a brochure Our Energy, Our Future (online here) to make you think that they’d give a one before they go build nukes anyway. And since you were consulted, it’s your fault when the cost overruns roll in.

A little Irish festive spirit

If I stood on the bow-backed chair, I could reach
The light switch. They let me and they watched me.
A touch of the little pip would work the magic.

— Seamus Heaney. Electric Light

and also Airtricity’s Christmas e-card

we’re shite and we … invented the modern world

(a rant for St Andrew’s Day)

It must have been great to be part of the Scottish Enlightenment. This wee country seemed to blossom, from a muddy backwater to a world leader in economics, philosophy, mathematics and engineering.

And yet, for the average Scot, all that was a long time ago. All it seems we can manage now is to churn out neds by the million. So how did we get from the place described (rather breathlessly) in Arthur Herman’s How The Scots Invented The Modern World to the place where the football fans chant “We’re Shite, And We Know We Are.“?

Urban disenfranchisement of the formerly agrarian workforce, perhaps? Who can say. We even chose the darkest, grimmest part of the year for our national day (hint: St Jean-Baptiste would make a smashing national day …). So, have a happy St Andy’s, get properly munted, and wha’s like us, eh?

music of 2005

It’s getting towards the end of the year, so I’m thinking about what albums I enjoyed most. These are the 2005 albums I have in my collection:

  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw — Darkness At Noon
  • Aimee Mann — The Forgotten Arm
  • Animal Collective — Feels
  • Beck — Guero
  • Bettye Lavette — I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise
  • Bright Eyes — Digital Ash In a Digital Urn
  • Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • Calexico / Iron & Wine — In the Reins
  • Caribou — Marino Audio
  • Dan Jones — Get Sounds Now
  • The Decemberists — Picaresque
  • Deerhoof — The Runners Four
  • Devendra Banhart — Cripple Crow
  • Dressy Bessy — Electrified
  • The Duhks — The Duhks
  • Eels — Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
  • Fiona Apple — Extraordinary Machine
  • Gorillaz — Demon Days
  • Grandaddy — Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla
  • Jennifer Gentle — Valende
  • John Parish — Once Upon a Little Time
  • Kate Bush — Aerial
  • Kate Rusby — The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly
  • Kimberley Rew — Essex Hideaway
  • Lazerlove5 — Flicker Mask
  • Lemon Jelly — ‘64–‘95
  • The Lollipop People — We Need a New F-Word
  • Malcolm Middleton — Into The Woods
  • Marbles — Expo
  • The Mountain Goats — The Sunset Tree
  • My Morning Jacket — Z
  • Of Montreal — The Sunlandic Twins
  • Sigur Rós — Takk …
  • Sleater-Kinney — The Woods
  • Sufjan Stevens — Illinois
  • The Vanity Project
  • Wolf Parade — Apologies to the Queen Mary

I know there are some that won’t make my list (Aerial, for one) but the rest of them all have their moments.

What’s with the Council of Canadians, eh?

Every couple of months, the Council of Canadians sends me a large and visually unappealing (1986 called; they want their typewriter font back) mailing, ranting about how those pesky Americans keep stealing our water.

Close reading of the mailing (which is hard, given the woeful typography) shows that the initiatives being railed at are either:

  1. run by Canadian companies, or
  2. are part of legislation voted for by Canadians.

Like most environmental things, Canada has an appalling record of looking after its abundant water. I think we think that the rest of the world thinks better of us than they do, or maybe even frankly cares about Canada.

I’m a bit worried by the CoC’s use of the n-word — nationalist — since it has unpleasant connotations, like the BNP and SNLA. Also, at least half of the mailing could be summed up as The Maude Barlow Fanzine, with only slightly lower production quality than the average zine.

And anyway, pesky Americans haven’t been stealing our water. Catherine hasn’t been sneaking any more out of the house than usual …

review of CanWEA 2005 swag bag

So I’m at the 2005 CanWEA conference for the next few days. The swag bag is a standard nondescript nylon thing, thankfully big enough to take my iBook and a few other bits and pieces. The contents are a bit disappointing, though:

  • a very plasticky flashlight that I may discard after harvesting its batteries.
  • a small bag of jujubes.
  • a copy of North American Windpower magazine (which in itself is quite a decent magazine, so is actually one of the highlights).
  • a trade show guide, but no conference program (they were held up in customs; can’t we print ’em here?)
  • various company brochures, zzzz.

You’ll note an absence of useful pens, pads, USB keys, model turbines, or other special swag. I was hoping for more …

the search for fair trade coffee @ SB’s

got a tall Estima (supposedly fair trade — they didn’t know) at the First Canadian Place branch at Adelaide & York, Toronto. It’s okay, but most fair trade coffees are too light for me.

all around the lakes

Had an impromptu visit to Port Burwell today to fix a cranky cell modem. It was also my first experience of driving a stick shift — and not just any stick shift, one with 400Kclicks on it — on the wrong side of the road. It was weird, but since I neither wrecked the car nor hit anything, I think I got the hang of it.

Anyway, no trip to Burwell is complete without a visit to the Lighthouse Restaurant for fresh fried lake perch. While I was there, I got chatting to a couple from Chicago who were working on their plan to cycle round a Great lake each summer. By doing this, they were hoping to appreciate the scale of these huge bodies of water. Neat plan.

One day, when I’m a Celebrity Windfarm Designer with my own television show, I’ll take a summer off to go round Lake Erie.

Quigmans.com

Long ago, Quigmans.com used to be the web home for The Quigmans, a comic of slightly higher than usual amusement.

But now it’s not. It’s about The Quigmans, but not in a way you’d expect.

Mozilla Update :: Extensions: New Tab Homepage

Ah, New Tab Homepage brings happiness to this Firefox user. I rather got to like the lightweight Epiphany browser during my mini-itx odyssey. When you opened a new browser tab in Epiphany, it loaded your home page. The supposedly more advance Firefox never did this.

New Tab Homepage fixes this, and doesn’t add any other tab-related cruft that I couldn’t use.

pech pech

I cycled out to the end of Leslie Street Spit this evening. It’s far. I got to the concrete pad by the lighthouse: Google Maps: Leslie St Spit: 43.61374° N, 79.34352° W.

My legs hurt. A lot. But it was pretty. I saw one of the beaver-felled trees, too.

ididn’tBook

For a truly soulless evening, take yourself down to the BestBuy at Scarborough Town Centre.

STC is a mega-mall, with the obligatory huge concrete and asphalt deadzone around it. Its current sales slogan is For what defines you, which must mean that its denizens are in a pretty parlous state, existentially speaking. Its only slightly attractive feature is its derelict KrispyKreme store, which opened as a flagship, then frazzled almost as quickly as a KK’s dextrose rush. Abandoned donut shops are Canada’s ruined abbeys; places of worship gone to seed.

BestBuy itself is an outcast from the mall, in an especially ped-unfriendly way. Perhaps the only defined route there is through a monster split-level Wal-Mart, but I didn’t have enough hitpoints to make it through that particular slough.

I’d checked their website, and it said that the store had iBooks in stock, at $50 below retail. Did the store have any on display? No. The Apple section was set behind the customer service desk, which was a scrum of slightly disgruntled shoppers. So I left without seeing one.

I wandered in a bit of a post big-box haze to McCowan RT, a weird little station at the very end of the rails. At least I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset over the 401 at McCowan; all boiling red and purple. That’s about the best you’ll get near STC, and for free, too.