hiding from The Weed Man

their 1-800 number calls about 5 times a night with no message. I call ’em right back (hey, it’s their dime) and just let the phone sit for 5-10 minutes. In between the Your call is important to uss, there’s the occasional “Hello? … Hello?”. I’m yet to formulate an evil plan (scream? giggle maniacally? play banjo? all three?), but I see a Weed Man truck prowling the neighbourhood. I think they’re on to me …

a small form of happiness is

… a USB key with the irritating U3 software uninstalled.

Seriously, U3 is a major annoyance if you:

  • use Mac
  • use Linux
  • work on a PC with locked-down permissions
  • work on a PC with a one-letter drive gap (like having D: and F:, but no E:); U3‘s read-only system will appear in the gap, but your data won’t be accessible.
    (It’s not really U3‘s fault. The fact that Windows still has drive letters amazes me; why don’t they go for the whole 70s thing and have punch cards and gargantuan 5MB hard disk packs?)

All four of the above apply to me, so u3 uninstall.exe is my friend.

audible minority

Everyone says I don’t have a very strong accent, but I’m sick of being misunderstood. I have been offered Wild Turkey when I asked for water, and my house number – 36 – is a constant source of confusion. Bell got it wrong for a couple of hours when we first got our phone in 2002, and so the poor folks at 56 have been getting our junk mail ever since.

Last straw came during the last power outage. Toronto Hydro has an automated voice recognition system which first asks your postal code, then your street name, then the house number. It got the code and the street right, then assumed I was saying big ol’ 56 again. It took me right back to the postal code question, even after confirming it and the street name before.

Rather than going postal, I ended up having to slur out my mooshiest “thihrdheesihx” before it took it. C’mon people, consonants, consonants!

Hate to think what it’d have made of the Glaswegian ‘thehrty’, which my Gran always decried as “common” …

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.


You’ve got to love bicycle helmet advocates:

This bill is absolutely right. I, quite frankly, am not going to bear any arguments. I’m not going to hear them, I don’t want to hear them, about whether we have enough police to enforce it. We need it to be enforced. We need to do it for rollerbladers, in-line skaters, anybody, any contraption. It needs to happen.

 — Michael Prue, Ontario Legislature House Debate, 4 Nov 2004

So, Michael, I don’t see you wearing a helmet in that picture on your website when you’re out on the street. Don’t you know the number of pedestrian head injuries?

Don’t make me wear that eggbox …

Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2004 12:06:02 -0500
To: Lorenzo Berardinetti MPP <lberardinetti.mpp.co/ at /liberal.ola.org>,
John Milloy MPP <jmilloy.mpp.co/ at /liberal.ola.org>,
Harinder Takhar MPP <htakhar.mpp.co/ at /liberal.ola.org>
Subject: Bill 129, Highway Traffic Amendment Act, 2004

I am an experienced cyclist. I am strongly opposed to compulsory bicycle helmet legislation. Its discussion is a waste of legislature time, and its implementation would be a waste of police time.

Bicycle helmets do little to reduce injuries. Better preventative measures include cyclist awareness training for drivers, and proper assertive cycling skills for bicycle riders.

It is unfair to single out the users of “muscular powered vehicles”. Pedestrians and motorists also suffer head injuries in collisions, and so should be compelled to wear helmets too.

Toronto has a culture of utility cycling. We do not ride bikes for sport or recreation, but as an integrated part of urban mobility.

It is no coincidence that the countries with the highest levels of cycling are also those with the lowest levels of helmet use. Please do not harm the health of Ontario by providing barriers to cycling.

I urge you strongly to drop support for this bill. It does nothing for the cyclists in Ontario.

Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail.

Yours sincerely,
Stewart C. Russell

co-transiteers annoyance

Two new annoying fellow travellers on the GO train yesterday:

  • The Clipper: she took about 10 minutes to get her nails just right … clip, clip, tick, clip … am I the only one who finds that kinda gross? I felt like making kapweeng! kapweeng! ricochet noises to go with it
  • The Thumper: Take a Stompin’ Tom Connors record. Remove the vocals and instrumental accompaniment. Slow it down 200 times. That’s what this youth was doing with his right foot: thump … thump …  … thump …  …  … thump … thump. He kept checking around to see if he was getting a rise out of anyone.

Being the consummate commuter of course, I abided by the first law of transit annoyances: Sit there and do nothing, for cowardice is a virtue.

do me a favour

Don’t ever, ever nest ternary operators. Or at least, don’t do it in code I’m likely to see. Even if you think that ternary operators are the subject of wildlife TV documentaries, just don’t nest them. Okay?

argh… software annoyances

My list of you can’t get there from here software annoyances:

  • Nautilus: you can drag the Home, Start Here, and Trash icons over to the right of the screen, but the icons for removable media always float back to the left — right under where my windows are. It doesn’t seem possible to save the position.
  • GNU Emacs‘s HTML editing mode doesn’t have a close-tag function. PSGML under XEmacs had this a long time ago, and jEdit will close a tag as soon as you type </ (although, being written in Java, it does so very slowly). So why not the editor of nearly-champions?
    Easy Solution: go back to using XEmacs — it’s just so much better for creating XHTML.

I hope only to be able to delete entries from this list, but I’ve a nasty foreboding that it’ll grow.