What is a shrove, anyway? What size batteries does it take?

I hope they still have pancakes at the Chateau Lacombe, for today is their day. Bet they won’t have the one true topping, being sugar and lemon juice.

Vaguely related Bob The Angry Flower content: The Time Looker-Forward Tube (caution: swerries, pancakes).

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?

shavin’

They’ve just discontinued my razor of choice — the Wilkinson Sword/Schick Diamond — so I’ve decided to go old-school. Now that Wilkinson Sword has the four-blade Quattro, and Gillette their five-bladed monstrosity, I’ve realised that the whole multi-blade thing is a load of hooey.

Consider this: if the first blade was supposed to do most of the work, then draw the hair out a bit to be cut below the skin level, further blades would have less and less effect. It’s just as likely that the whole multi-blade cartridge thing was a scam to sell more, and non-standard, blades that could easily be made obsolescent by the time generic manufacturers caught on —  the old Instamatic effect.

So I bought a Merkur safety razor (from Toronto Salon Supply, at Bay and Dundas), and a bunch of Merkur blades. I didn’t shave particularly close today, but it’s just as close a shave as the old twin-blader I used to use.

The plus side is that I’m throwing away no plastic with every blade, so I’m shaving the planet.

manitoulin sunset

There was supposed to be a picture of a nice — if low-res and a bit squinty — sunset over McLean’s Mountain on Manitoulin Island here, but 1&1’s webmail isn’t too good on attachments.

Update: Here it is:—
manitoulin sunset
(The vertical lines are guy wires, btw)

london’s mean trick

I was stranded in London (Ontario, that is) last week due to a fuel pump failure in an elderly Subaru. Looking for some breakfast, I followed my nose to the most amazing smell of fruit pastries.

… and wound up next to the Kellogg’s factory. I suspect Pop Tarts. A low trick.

corvettesnowmobile

A yellow Chevrolet Corvette soft-top was having a really hard time going up Kennedy Road this morning. It was moving no faster than walking pace, and the back end was fishtailing out at every possible opportunity.

Goodbye, Star Wars Tree

burnt-out mini mall, Kennedy & Eglinton
The mini-mall burned last night. Looks like the centre of the fire was the gift shop in the middle of the block. The rest of the block is pretty badly damaged, though. It looks like the place will have to be rebuilt — or replaced with a condo block, which seems to be the fate of shops in Scarborough.

I hope that noone was hurt.

So, goodbye Yoga’s, with your selection of teas and Sri Lankan groceries. Goodbye Star Milk, the mom, pop and smiley baby store with your VLT in back and dodgy videos over the drinks cooler. Goodbye Poondy Bread, purveyors of that which has paneity. Goodbye Amma, ace Sri Lankan takeout food shop, the place where I developed a taste for really spicy food.

But most of all, goodbye to the gift shop. Even though I never went in there, I’ll miss the sun-yellowed unsold toys in the window; the almost-Transformers and plastic racing cars.

One toy, unsold through two summers, perplexed me most. It was a cardboard tube wrapped in tinsel. Cardboard tags with pictures of Star Wars characters were attached to it with those nylon annoyances you get on new clothes. It resembled more a christmas decoration than a space weapon, which I think it was supposed to be. We called it the Star Wars Tree, and I’m guessing it wasn’t officially licensed from Lucasfilm.

It’s all gone now, washed away by the fire hoses.

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 …

blog entry for dad

My folks have been visiting for the last couple of weeks (we’re just about to leave for the airport), and Dad asked for some links we discussed. The following will probably make little or no sense to other readers:

world’s slowest USB

I tried copying about 180MB of files from my old Thinkpad onto a USB key using the mini-ITX box last night. It’s supposed to have USB 2.0 High Speed, but it certainly hasn’t; it took several hours. It managed a little over 5 Kbytes/s on a single file.

By comparison, the iBook moved the same amount of data from the key to the desktop in under four minutes. That’s more like it.

I wonder what could make the mini-ITX box so slow? As far as I can tell, there are no USB1.1 devices on the bus. Unless the device was mounted ‘sync’ (where every write isn’t buffered, but immediately written to the USB key), it’s a mystery.

Tiger’s Dictionary

OS X Tiger's Dictionary
I was pleased to see that Apple had included a comprehensive dictionary with OS X 10.4. The Oxford American is a decent enough reference tome, and the computer implementation isn’t bad at all.

The typography’s fairly clean, if rather heavy on the whitespace. Cross references are active; if one clicks on the small-caps word whitlow, you’ll go to its definition (if you have to; it’s kinda nasty). For some reason, the Dashboard version of the dictionary doesn’t have active xrefs.

Searching isn’t as good as it could be. As with most electronic products, it assumes you already know how to spell the word. The incremental search does allow that, as long as you have the first few letters right, the list of possible choices is quite small. Like all electronic dictionaries that I’ve seen, it’s not possible to browse the text in that spectacularly non-linear way that makes a real paper dictionary fun.

It does seem to have a good few Canadian terms, but a true Canadian dictionary should be shipped with Canadian Tiger. Correct spelling isn’t just optional. It also only labels British and Canadian spellings as ‘British’.

So, in summary, pretty good, but far from perfect.

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.

The demented mind of Adam Elliot

a scene from Adam Elliot\'s Harvie Krumpet
I like animation more than Catherine does, so last night while she was teaching, I rented Harvie Krumpet. It’s a series of shorts by Australian animator Adam Elliot. All of them are poignantly strange. The main feature follows Harvie from his birth in Poland in the 1920s to his dotage in Australia. Bad things happen to him, but he abides.

If you can imagine Wallace & Gromit on mogadon, and imagine liking it, you’ll know how I feel about Adam Elliot’s work.