the first sign of spring in the city

So how did I know that spring was on its way today? We’ve still got huge piles of snow, it’s pretty chilly, and there are few birds and no green things. I knew ‘cos Roll Up The Rim To Win started today. And I won a coffee with my first one. Sweet.

Don’t think I need one of these, though.

big ole bagel

City Cafe Bakery, at the corner of Victoria & Strange (!) in Kitchener has the best bagels.

I hadn’t been there for years. Last time was with Steve Izma (typesetter and BTL Books guru) and his family, who are regulars.

Being Scottish and consequently dough-addicted, CCB is heaven.

yay bloggers, it’s cold!

GTAbloggers tonight. Is there any coincidence that it was absolutely baltic last time, and there aren’t exactly that many brass monkeys hanging around today?

our robust power system

I’m writing this during a blackout. Our little enclave, just southeast of Kennedy and Eglinton, can have the power out when the nearby streets are fine. I can see that the (formerly derelict) Coffee Time has power, as has the block the other side of Kennedy. I wonder what makes us so special?

GO Transit, you suck!

I discovered last week that GO don’t have a central announcement system. That means that unstaffed stations like Kennedy and Exhibition always leave their passengers in the dark. Plus, the e-mail announcement system only alerts you if the train is more than 30 minutes late. I think by that time I would have gone home.

No sign of that train yet …

“It will feel strange …”

Leo Marks, on hearing of an old couple who died within days of one another, and were buried together:

It will feel strange
Not to nudge you
Or to talk to you
Or keep you warm
When you’re lying there
Only a few feet away
Or perhaps even less
But we shall get used to it in time
Of which we’ll have plenty

We always treasured silences
In which we said everything
We shall continue to treasure them
And to say everything
Throughout the longest silence of all.

 — from Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker’s Story 1941-1945.

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

penticentenary (if that’s the right word)

I’ve been driving for 20 years. Seems a long time since I took that Mini Metro (which stank of Insignia aftershave – the instructor used it to clean the glass) from the BSM depot in
Pollokshields and puttered around the south side.

No speeding tickets, no parking tickets, and only one insurance claim. The insurers must be making a fortune from me.

a bit better than before

I just ran the fuel numbers for our recent grand trip to Missouri. For 4380km in a Honda Civic DX, we used about 292 litres of fuel. That works out to be 6.7l/100km (or 42.3 / 35.3 UK / US mpg). That’s not quite as good as I’d hoped; I’ll put it down to driving a little fast on very chunky snow tyres.

At least it’s better than last time

T’aint what you coup (it’s the way that you do it)

I know I shouldn’t, but every time I see the name of Fijian military coup leader Frank Bainimarama, the songs of this eighties girl group come to mind.

Frosty’s Drano (or the snowmen’s suicide pact)

Catherine pointed out that the current Tim Hortons “Happy Holidays” campaign depicts an ill-advised, possibly fatal, beverage choice for snowmen:

tim hortons suicidal snowmen

To me, it’s clearly a suicide pact. They don’t want to see another summer. They’re going to a better place where it’s always ten below.

in the running

Almost ‘Best of The Year’ time. In the running are:

A Hawk and a Hacksaw – The Way the Wind Blows
A.C. Newman – Souvenir of Canada – EP
Beck – The Information
Calexico – Garden Ruin
Casper & the Cookies – The Optimist’s Club
Colin Meloy – Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins
Eels with Strings – Live At Town Hall
Elf Power – Back To The Web
Erynn Marshall – Calico
Faun Fables – The Transit Rider
Grandaddy – Just Like The Fambly Cat
Grant-Lee Phillips – nineteeneighties
Hidden Cameras – Awoo
Joanna Newsom – Ys
Jolie Holland – Springtime Can Kill You
King Biscuit Time – Black Gold
Mayor McCa – Cue Are Es Tea You
Peter Stampfel – The Jig Is Up
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 – Olé! Tarantula
Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas – Volume V: Peace
Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche – Outtakes And Extras From The Illinois Album
The Be Good Tanyas – Hello Love
The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
The Essex Green – Cannibal Sea
The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
The Handsome Family – Last Days of Wonder
The Instruments – Cast A Half Shadow
The Sadies – In Concert Vol. 1
The Wailin’ Jennys – Firecracker
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Thomas Dolby – The Sole Inhabitant
Wendy Arrowsmith – Crying Out
Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

Miraculously, all of them fit on my iPod Nano, so they’ll be in heavy rotation over the next week or so while I decide.

nostalgia for something that never existed

The Verbatim FlashDisc seems to be a solution without a problem to solve.

verbatim flashdisc

It’s a cheap ($4) but very tiny (16MB) USB memory key in the vague form of some kind of magnetic media. There are problems:

  • $0.25/MB may seem cheap, but it would mean that a 1GB key at this price was $256
  • It neatly blocks most of the USB ports on a machine
  • Just what kind of media is it supposed to be? It looks closest to an old spool of mag-tape, but folks buying this wouldn’t remember that.

they own 1983

Go and see The History Boys. Sharp dialogue, killer casting and and a great depiction of the time (post-Falklands Thatcherism just finding its feet) — not a second of your time wasted.

the wide democra sea

Well, I voted, the first time as a Canadian. My world is unlikely to change much.

I was the 71st person to vote at that station. FWIW, I voted Miller (mayor), Russell (councillor) and Pan (school board).

a good reason to blog less

Yesterday went to The Twelfth Fret and traded in the Goodtime for this:

Bob Carlin BC-350

It’s a Gold Tone Bob Carlin Signature. It sounds beautiful, and unlike me, plays like a dream. So if I’m not blogging so much, this might just be the reason.