starting-blast landlocked

2013 in review.

To say things changed in a wicked fast way in 2013 would probably be a slight understatement. And it started pretty much right at the beginning. Before the new year actually showed up, May and I had gone and signed the lease for the place we’re living in now. We fell in love with the place the day we saw it, and are still in love with it nearly a year later–that does not mean we’ll be renewing our lease, sorry Minto. We actually took possession of the place at the end of January.

In february, I started the process of getting me back in school–and we started the process of getting us ready to bring a little one into the mix. Both processes ended up taking just a little bit longer than I’d have liked, and the school process required I bounce between colleges a while until I found one that actually, you know, bothered to answer me with a little bit more than a boilerplate “We’re looking into it.”. In and around all that, there were trips to see family, attempts to reconnect with friends, attempts to reasure some of those friends that I do, in fact, still remember they exist–even if I’ve half the time been too damn busy to say so.

For the first time in a few years, I can actually honestly say 2013′s the year I finally started to get my feet back under me. There was still the odd little issue with the folks we used to rent from, but that little controversy died off after a while. May and I got closer, if that’s possible, and learned a little bit more about how we both work. Sure, that meant some personal drama here and there, and we tested each other’s sanity probably more than either of us would have liked to admit, but I like to think we’re better for it.

I didn’t actually end up *starting* class until closer to October, sadly–the majority of that time was spent trying to beat an actual answer out of college people at the other end of the city. And it’s not quite where I was hoping to be at this point in my life, but it’s a foot in the door and getting me closer to where I’d like to be, so I’m not about to shake my head at it too much. The rest has pretty much been routine as usual–go do the thing, come home, relax, spend time with May, take a little time for family, do the hockey thing, that kinda thing. And in and around all that I somehow managed to remember I still have a website to post to. I’d still call it a pretty up and down year overall, but at least this time it’s been mostly up. Hopefully I can shove that along with me into 2014 and we can pick up where that left off–minus the way 2014 actually started. I’m on steadier ground now, with a mostly solid support system–again, minus how this year actually started–and it’s kept me relatively sane even when things were trying their hardest to blow up in my face. If that continues, I don’t think I’ll have any problem owning 2014. And that, right now, is exactly what I’m off to get a start on. Get onboard if you’re coming, because when this thing starts moving, I’m not touching the breaks.

In which life decides to happen all at once. And I fall behind again.

You know how you get all comfortable with a routine, you even manage to work your busted sleep schedule around that routine, then it all just kind of comes undone and before you know it you’re going 80 million different directions in the same 30-minute timespan? Yeah that. It was how I spent a few weeks here in December, after keeping things relatively quiet–periodic posts up in here notwithstanding–for the couple months before that. And somewhere in between there I still managed to remember to breathe. Actually that’s kind of how parts of 2013 in general went, but that’s a post for later. As for right now, life in a nutshell–or a somewhat rambling essay. Whichever.

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling…

The folks over here at Accora Village, also known as the neighbourhood we live in, threw together an attempt at a sleigh ride earlier in the month. Pretty sure it was maybe the second weekend of the month–late enough, anyway, that things like wind chills in the vicinity of -30 C were a definite thing. What we didn’t have quite yet–it would definitely come shortly afterwards, though–was the actual snow. So instead, it was a horse-drawn wagon. Was still fun, though, if a little chilly. It was also May’s first, ever, sleigh ride in spite of the fact she’d been in Canada for a decade. Clearly we need to get the girl out more. I’d been on quite a few of them, both here and in BC, but it was nice to actually see it from the perspective of someone who hadn’t–she posted that perspective on her own site if you’ve got a few minutes. Definitely something I’ll do again if I’m here for it. Hopefully next time on an actual sleigh.

Somebody call for global cooling?

I mentioned the -30 degrees C wind chill already. That made a couple more reappearances after, sandwitched in around some pretty significant snow events–winter definitely showed up all at once in Ottawa. It wasn’t even the official first day of winter yet, and already we’d had to have the walkway/sidewalk in front of our place cleared a few times. Walking to class was quite on the fun side. Not to mention damn cold. I actually need to get used to such evils again, it would appear–it’s been a while since I’ve actually not had much choice but to stick my nose out the door and pray it didn’t fall off before I made it to the freaking bus. And I was getting paid to do such monumentally stupid things last time. I stayed my ass home on the coldest of the wicked cold days, though, which… Actually turned out to be probably the smartest brainstorm I had all year. Because…

I did not authorize death bug 2013, thanks.

I only grow a major, major health issue maybe once a year, if that. When I do, though, it’s quite the impressive one. This year’s episode came with everything but the kitchen sink–and the major inability to keep food down. Dizzyness, fever, wicked nifty cool cough, and a perfect combination of all of the above to pretty much guarantee my ass stayed itself at home, if not in bed, for the better part of 24 hours. And because I can never seem to develop these things any other way, it came perfectly timed to keep me off my feet a day before a test I was hell bent I was taking before I left for Christmas vacation, because like hell I was leaving that out there to be delt with in the new year. New year, new chapter. Besides–what the hell else was I gonna do on my last day there other than drag my feet? So instead, I stayed as close to comfortable as I could manage with a temperature, and just bounced what I needed to off my instructor from the comfort of the home office and college email–I do love that about this college, if we’re being honest (more on that in yet another entry). And the next day, not quite at a hundred percent yet but definitely better than I was, I went in and tossed off that test in about 15 minutes. Might have been 10, but like I said not quite at a hundred percent yet.

Death bug 2013, the sequel? Well crap.

I was getting over it just in time for May to be catching pretty much that same thing herself. So after dealing with college things on Friday, and then dealing with unplanned, unexpected and uninvited financial things after that, it was off to do 4 different flavours of running around in preparation for getting her well enough to travel and tying up the few loose ends that were left before we did so, which ended up being pushed back a couple days on account of a combination of she was nowhere near well enough (she caught it worse than me), and round 45 of let’s throw as much winter as we can at pretty much all of Ontario–at least this one waited until the first official day of the season before it nailed us but good. She was off her feet for pretty much the weekend, and part of last week while she kicked what was left of it. Though we did actually manage to leave the city for Christmas, I don’t imagine doing so was overly comfortable for her. We tried, though…

All your travel plans are belong to winter.

In a way it ended up being a good thing we weren’t ready to travel on the weekend before Christmas. Because right around the time we were thinking maybe it might be smart-ish to stay ourselves right at home for a day or two longer, weather was fixing to make sure we did exactly that. Major snow storm Friday and into Saturday, then apparently a wicked major ice storm in parts of Ontario (I’m looking at you, toronto) on about Sunday. Ottawa didn’t see a whole lot of the actual ice storm, but we did catch enough of it that roads got interesting for a majority of the day from what I’ve been hearing. We’d pushed our travel back to the 23rd of the month for health reasons, and that turned out to be the second smartest decision I was involved in of pretty much the entire year–look above for the smartest. By the time we got moving, things had cleared up at least enough that I wasn’t seeing news of delays, accidents and general traffic crappery every 5 or 6 minutes. So now all we had to do was beat our schedule into submission–not an easy thing to do when your schedule’s primarily out of whack because you’re out of whack, and you still haven’t quite corrected that malfunction just yet. But, hey, when you’ve been brought up in my family, you tend to develop the ability to take a messed up tangled up mangled up routine and turn it into getting where you need to be ahead of when you need to be–either that, or you get run over and left behind by the folks who know what they’re doing. That first thing sounds better, so we somehow went with that.

I’ll be home for Christmas…

On the Monday, we did actually manage to leave the city. As said it took some scrambling, because we were both running a little slow still what with neither of us being entirely over what ran us over the week before yet, but we managed to hit the bus station with more than enough time to get things situated so we could actually leave relatively on time–not bad for leaving the house a few minutes behind schedule. Which worked out just fine for us after all, since we gave the bus the room it needed to not actually pull out of the station until a bit after we were supposed to, and we still got to the other end about an hour after we were supposed to–a thing we, surprisingly, were both somewhat okay with and not a bit responsible for (Go us!). Pretty sure it was a combination of we were still in recovery and generally dealing with being tired from the trip, but travel day at the other end was pretty much spent barely conscious once we got situated, fed and made the people who needed to know aware that we were in approximately 1.5 pieces, but we made it. I… Don’t actually remember much more about that day aside from we made it. Which I suppose is really all that counts. Well, that and I was warned to expect a nephew ambush. Good thing one of us was mostly mobile…

… Please bring caffeine, and medication, and food, and…

The warning of a nephew ambush was not unjustified. As in at all. As in adoreable overload–again. The oldest was more than a little testy, but when he wasn’t pushing just about every limit his dad didn’t actually set down, he was pretty freaking adoreable. His brother, on the other hand, pretty much didn’t know how to be anything else but. Which worked out sort of well in our favour, given they stuck close to May and I every chance they got. When we weren’t having a nephew afternoon, or morning, or evening, or everything, there was plenty of good things to be had. My mother knows me and May both too well, so the caffeine was stocked. And because it’s Christmas and she can never resist doing it on Christmas, there was more food of more varieties than you can shake a cat at. Baked goods, healthy goods, grab some to munch on the way by goods, you name it it was out there. If you went hungry in that house, there was seriously something wrong with you. And just in case death bug 2013 followed us from Ottawa, or the kids left you with a migraine, she stocked up on medication. Because it’s not a Christmas vacation without someone needing at the very least to pop a tylenol or two. Of course it could also just be that she worries too much, but whichever. We came ready for christmas, and probably ate enough to see us through to, well, newyears.

It’s beginning to look a lot like giftmas.

Christmas morning came and went, and when it was all done and over with, the kids came out well ahead of the rest of us. Santa was at mom’s place this year, so for the first time since probably we were growing up, the tree was quite a bit on the full side. It didn’t last long, though, once the kids actually got up–maybe an hour or two, and all the evidence of a productive Christmas morning was all over the living room floor. The adults all pretty much got things they needed, or things that we figured would go right along with what they already had. I got to scratch a few things off my 2014 shopping list, which is never a bad thing if you’re a guy what can’t actually stand shopping. From a concert May got to go see in November (I’m still mad at you about that, by the way), mom got a CD from the two of us–she’d mentioned being a fan of the group, so that worked out quite nicely. No one went over the top this year, really. Well, except for things for the kids, but you can’t really not spoil the kids–it’s really their day, after all. But I think we all had a hole or two in our personal inventory filled. Or if nothing else, a little something extra that might could come in handy later.

One food coma, please.

As always, Christmas dinner was a stuffed afair. Turkey, potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, a couple different vegetables and of course a wicked selection of desserts. I think I may have gained a few pounds just in that one evening. One of my sets of aunts and uncles dropped in for a bit, which also meant we didn’t have to coordinate trying to find them while we were doing our visiting later. Which also had the advantage of meaning May and I didn’t need to go visiting later, as we’d already seen my grandparents the day before–so when it came time for food coma, all we had to do was waddle down to where we were sleeping and pass out. Which we had no problem doing. There’s something to be said for just shutting down for the evening while you try and find more room for that second piece of pie you couldn’t quite fit in earlier–which, I have no shame in admitting, I so very much did. Oh, and there may or may not have been a Big Bang Theory marathon tossed in there as well. Not entirely sure how much of that I actually saw after supper–see also: food coma, victim of. But it was there, and it was seen, so it counts. Mostly.

I need a vacation from my vacation…

As fun as christmas was, I think we were both pretty ready to come home, Or at least ready to be free of tiny things under the age of 10 for a little while. So after we took boxing day to pretty much recover from Christmas, we packed our crap up and my brother drove us back to Ottawa this past Friday. I took the weekend to relax, catch up on things I fell behind on while I was gone, and generally enjoy the piece and quiet. And at the same time I tried to pretend that us coming back home didn’t mean it was nearly time to get back into the same old usual routine. That part didn’t work so well. As I almost always do, I really enjoyed the Christmas vacation with the parents. I think I enjoyed it more this year because we weren’t piecing together a plan for how to handle things over the vacation about 5 minutes before they needed to be handled for a change. My only actual complaint is I freaking missed hockey in my absense. But in 2014, I will correct that. And hey, since I don’t have anything planned for tonight… I think I may just start right about now. Okay, so maybe getting back to the usual routine won’t suck entirely too horribly after all.

Copyright strikes again. Same guy, same download, 3 lawsuits. Who’s taking bets?

I can’t even laugh at Comcast for this, because surprisingly, while it’s definitely a broken, broken thing, it’s not actually *their* broken, broken thing. For a change. A copyright monitoring agency (or, as I like to think of them, undiscovered copyright troll) discovered the IP address of a Comcast customer was attached to a torrent they were spying on. So they turned around and sued the as yet unknown owner of that IP address for copyright infringement. Then, because why not, they sued him again. And again, for good measure. Because the same IP address showed up 3 times, somebody decided there aughta be just as many suits. Or, as the still unidentified defendant in the things figures…

Torrent Freak and the defendant speculate that he was sued three times in the hopes nobody would notice, thereby increasing the chance of getting a subpoena from at least one of the three Judges.

Sorry, DSL Reports, but had to minorly edit the section I quoted—-the plaintiff was probably speculating, but more likely on how to screw the unknown sucker over a little more. Oh, and, should probably appologise to the plaintiff too while I’m at it–all 3 suits ended up before the same judge. If any one of them had a chance on their own, the 3 of them together more than likely pretty much just sunk. Unless the judge is a completely brainless idiot, which now that I think about it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Okay, forget I said a word. Sooner or later, I’d like to think, copyright folks will learn…

That’s what ya do with a drunken traveller… (*)

So. I get all ready to mock the hell out of another city’s politicians for doing something absolutely braindead stupid, and instead they go off and throw some common sense at me. I mean what’s with that, anyway? Aren’t they all supposed to have given that up as a prerequisit for, uh, being politicians? So what’s the occasion? As it turns out, cab companies in Woodstock get an aweful lot of, shall we say, less than sober passengers on weekends. Who knew? Could probably say the same thing for, say, Toronto. Or Ottawa. Or Kitchener. Or pretty much anywhere that has bars and taxi services. Some of these passengers don’t necessarily have the ability to keep all the booze they’ve slammed before calling their cab where it belongs. Or, for that matter, keep just about any other fluid that doesn’t belong in the back of a taxi cab from, you know, being in the back of a taxi cab. According to folks that are pushing for this, it costs about $120 to have a cab professionally cleaned after one of these alcoholicly fluid-filled episodes. The city’s solution? You break it, you buy it.

The City of Woodstock is looking into imposing a $120 charge on anyone who vomits or leaves other bodily fluids in taxis.

Taxi companies in the southwestern Ontario city have been complaining about an increase in intoxicated passengers on Friday and Saturday nights.

A taxi industry representative recently told council that vomit and other body fluids must be dealt with as a bio hazard and the affected cab must be taken off the road until it is professionally cleaned.

That costs about $120.

The city plans to consult with its solicitor, police and bylaw enforcement officials before coming up with a report on how to deal with the issue.

Of course I wouldn’t place any money on not hearing about this again because someone’s taken the idea to court, but hey, if more cities did this they’d probably not need to be charging the responsible folks so damn much for, you know, being the responsible folks. Yeah, I know–I really aughta stop with this whole thinking thing. But since that’s not gonna happen…

(*): for maximum effect, sing the title of this post to this song and enjoy. Then, see if maybe your city does something similar. And for the love of all things sane if the answer is no, ask them what the hell they’re not thinking.

Wonder if he’s still waiting?

I’ve heard of praying for a better break in life. Hell, I’ve heard of just praying for the mysterious discovery of a qwerky rich relative who just so happens to have $40000000000000000 sitting around they don’t plan to do a whole lot with. Somebody’s apparently decided to hell with this mess and is cutting out the middle man. By way of google. And it gets me this.

Apr 26 6:06am: Jesus could you please deposit

I wonder if our poor lost soul’s still waiting on that check…

Week made. And I had very little to do with it.

And sometimes, things just happen that make you take a step back and appreciate the fact that not everyone you pass is a walking advertisement for Toolsville. Take this past Tuesday morning. I’d left here to head off to class (that gets its own entry later), and was about 3/4 the way to the bus stop. A guy walks past me with his kid going the opposite direction, either back home or walking his kid to the school across the way–whichever. Kid sees me, sees the cane, and immediately makes with the 20 questions. It took a second for it to click that that’s what was going on, though, not because I was having a slow morning (I *did* remember to caffinate before poking my nose out the door), but because he wasn’t stopping to play 20 questions with me. Instead, he was playing 20 questions with the guy he was walking with (I’m assuming his dad, but I’ll be damned if I could be sure). The kicker, though? Dad wasn’t just answering for the sake of making the kid shut up–you know the type, you guess at the answer and kinda hope enough of it sticks that the kid buys at least part of it and moves on to the next distraction. No, this time, dad actually gave it an honest to goodness try. And the answers not only stuck, but what I caught of them didn’t border on giving me a migraine–I call that significant humanity achievement unlocked.

Kid seemed very interested in how it is I managed to get where I was going. So dad explained about the cane (he called it a stick, but I can forgive him that infraction), and he actually got the general idea of what it was supposed to be used for. But as they were leaving earshot, he took it a step further and went into an explanation of how we as blind folk use that in step with what we can hear around us to figure out where we are versus where we’re going. Naturally he didn’t nail all of it, but hell, for a guy who I’m going to assume has had very little if any dealing with blind/visually impaired folks, he didn’t do all that terrible a job with it–I’ve heard much worse attempts at it from people who’s job it was to actually handle blind/low vision folks. And from what I could tell, the kid seemed to be hanging on to what he was being fed. Which, okay, could have just as easily meant the guy could have fed him a line of absolute crap and he’d have taken it, but you know. However it is the rest of my week ends up, this just pretty much escentially stuck it in the awesome category. A few more people like dad over there, and the universe will have just made my month. And if it sticks in that kid’s head when he gets older, that will be a new brand of wicked. And that right there makes spending the next couple hours bored out of my head just a little bit more worth it. My week, made. And all I had to do was not much.

H2O is wicked evil dangerous! Related: the US education system strikes again.

I know, old story is old. But on April Fool’s Day, the last thing you probably want to be known for is being a town full of fools. Which probably means the last thing you want to do is flip your everloving lid when a couple of morning show DJ’s make the announcement that dihydrogen monoxide has been reportedly leaking from area taps and residents should use caution. And yet, in fort Myers this past April, the locals up and did exactly that, with the station they were on immediately and indefinitely suspending the DJ’s in question for broadcasting that water has been detected in the city’s water supply. And there was at one point discussion of possible felony charges for calling in a false water quality issue–further cementing that the administration in the fort Myers area is officially no more qualified to run the city than any of the folks happening to have called the thing in. Folks, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Yes, even people who’ve been put through the US education system. And then some fool or fools go off and pull one of these and all that doubt just kind of takes off in that there other direction. I mean I get these two got all technical fancy on you. And sure, okay, they maybe aughta not do that, or maybe be a little more gentle about it–you’re new to all this, I can see. But isn’t that why folks like the guys at Google invented things like, you know, Google? When in doubt, look it up. Or better yet, take 5 seconds and glance at the calendar already. And for the sake of all things sane, don’t dare let any of that dihydrogen monoxide get anywhere near you–it may very well impair what’s left of your otherwise amazingly good judgement, and well, we just can’t have that. You’ve already been doing so well.

It runs in the family.

Things you probably wouldn’t want to be admitting you come by honestly from the parental units may or may not include some of the obvious things. Like, for instance, your inability to bring in a steady income that didn’t come in on a wellfare check. Or an impressive inability to keep your mouth shut when the best possible thing you could do to save yourself, your friends and what little reputation you might possibly have left is to keep your mouth shut. That list may also include a tendancy to put yourself behind the wheel of a vehicle after having had a few too many. If you’re a 27-year-old from Innisfil who’s just been brought up on DUI, you’re probably not thinking you should probably give your mom–who would likely also be brought up on a DUI charge if she were on the road–a call to come bail your ass outa the clink for that very reason. You are therefore not, in fact, this guy. And I have that much more respect for you on basic prinsiple for it.

Police say it started when an officer pulled over a speeding vehicle in Innisfil, Ont., just before 1 a.m. Sunday.

Investigators say the driver, a 27-year-old Newmarket, Ont., man, failed a roadside screening test and was taken to a police station north of Toronto, where he was charged with impaired driving.

Police say when his 53-year-old mother came to retrieve him a few hours later, the same officer smelled alcohol and made her take a breathalyzer test.

They say she failed the test and has been charged with impaired driving.

I don’t imagine the “what were you thinking” conversation comes off altogether that authoritatively from the cell across the hall, mommy dearest. But, A for effort? My money’s on next time he’s on his own. In the meantime, at least he can say he got this one honest.

CTV gets a bright idea. Bet it won’t happen twice.

So remember all that rambling I did about the CBC and its inability to actually put together anything resembling good canadian content outside of HNIC? Yeah, about that. I wrote that entry, having completely forgotten about another brilliant idea CTV latched on to a bit ago. They’ve launched a show for weekday afternoons they’re calling The social. It’s supposed to be escentially another news talk show with cohosts, live audiences and all manner of interaction. This one’s huge selling point? They’re even interacting on Twitter. So now we’ve got a show that talks about current events and the like, not unlike any number of shows that already do such a thing, only this one wants to throw Twitter into the mix–presumedly they’ll be reading people’s tweets to them on the show, I’d imagine? And they’re airing the thing at a time when it’s very likely the only people who’ll be home to watch it are people who have much better things to do than to also be attached to Twitter–like, say, any number of things people do while they’ve got the TV on in the background. And because this is how we do it up in Canada, they’re calling this new show idea of theirs The Social. Folks, I rest my case. We totally suck at content. Although, I suppose it’s a little better than some other US idea we’ve copied and stuck Canada on the end, but you know. If it wasn’t for sports, I’m pretty sure we’d find ourselves up a creak…

If the CBC collapses and nobody notices, did it really happen?

I mentioned a bit ago that Rogers pretty much bought off the TV rights for anything NHL that happens to involve a Canadian team. They probably walked off with a whole lot more than that, but that was where I stopped reading. One of the main stories people keep coming back to is what this means, escentially, for the CBC after next year–when this agreement actually takes effect. Apparently, one of the casualties of this deal was that CBC pretty much loses any control over Hockey Night in Canada–but they still get to actually broadcast that show, at least for the next 4 years or so. So the question’s been asked, sometimes repeatedly. Without hockey, what’s next for the CBC? To which I have a counterquestion. What has the CBC offered in the last several years aside from hockey?

I’ll freely admit I never did get a whole lot out of CBC, either growing up or now. I mean let’s be honest–most of the content that network produces insofar as TV series goes is, well, less than quality. I can’t name an actual series CBC still runs aside from Little Mosque on the Prairy, and I was turned right off of that after about 3 episodes. I have several sources I go to for news, most of them online, some of them redirecting occasionally to the CBC–but none of them are actually the CBC itself. On the very rare occasion where I’ll listen to radio in the traditional sense (well, in as close to the traditional sense as I possibly can without actually owning and setting up a proper radio), I do it primarily for sports, secondarily for news while I’m grabbing something to eat. So the only actual time the CBC plays a role over here is if I happen to be in front of the TV on a Saturday wherein the Leafs just so happen to be playing–and that only if I decide I need a break from the computer for a couple hours. Even the CBC itself says they get the majority of their decent ratings, and as such their advertising dollars, from Hockey Night in Canada. Which to me is an indication there’s more than a few people who, like me, would have no reason to bother with the CBC without hockey.

With that out there, I’m wondering just slightly if maybe now’s a fine time for the CBC to be skaled back significantly, if we even still need it at all–and it should probably be asked, if the CBC was to go the way of the rotary phone in a few years without HNIC, who would actually miss it? I’m not saying it didn’t serve a purpose at one time. And maybe in some areas it still does–just not necessarily a major place like an Ottawa or a toronto. But do we need a publicly-funded, escentially government-supported TV network who’s best material outside of hockey doesn’t even come close to reaching the eyeballs of a majority of the people who pay for the service by virtue of not withholding their taxes?

For the most part, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves over here, we suck at content. And I mean totally suck at content. Rick Mercer notwithstanding, I don’t know of anything semi-decent that’s come out of Canada in the TV space in a halfway to longish time. And for that, the CBC gets a pretty nifty little chunk of our tax dollars–that’s, like, a third of that 3.1 billion dollars everyone’s so hung up on the government misplaced even though the folks what look into that kinda thing say it’s placed exactly where it should be. That’s a whole heaping helping of Mike Duffy’s illegal–or at least unethical–dipping into the pot to pay for a house he’s owned in Ottawa since before he was a senator for Prince Edward Island. That’s an aweful freaking lot of money just to keep Hockey Night in Canada on the air, as good as it… Well… Was. Since the CBC’s losing HNIC anyway, would very many people actually notice if the rest of it drifted off into the sunset? I’d be slightly inclined to think maybe not. And for the money we’d save, I can’t say that’s a bad thing. Which is probably why they don’t let me make that decision.

In which rogers buys out the NHL. In other news, I’m still stuck with the Senators.

So while life was happening to me, the NHL was selling off its broadcast rights to my current and/or former and/or maybe cable company. Starting next year, if there’s a game involving a Canadian team being played, odds are pretty damn good it’ll be played on a Rogers-owned TV station. Noteable exceptions are still for some Saturday games, which they’re letting the CBC hold onto along with Hockey Night in Canada–at least until Rogers gets bored of the crew. Since I swear to god the Leafs pretty much come packing their own broadcast staff to begin with I’m not entirely bothered by the possibility of, say, one of the guys that barely comment on a baseball game jumping in front of a mic to do a worse job with a hockey game. I mean, Ottawa’s kind of had that for half an age and they seem to be doing alright, but if Toronto can avoid it I’m good. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what this’ll end up meaning in terms of overall Leafs coverage on TV if you’re not living in what the NHL and/or Rogers decides is Leafs territory–except that I’ll probably spend nearly as much time next year tied to the internet for my Leafs fix. But I’ll make a 2014-2015 prediction anyway, even if the 2013-2014 season’s not even half over yet. Whatever the new arangement ends up meaning in terms of access to more games from more teams, I’m still pretty much primarily gonna be served up an oversized helping of below average senators hockey, whether I want it or not. So in advance, thanks Rogers. I knew you’d screw it. I’m also ready to be proven wrong right about now. Still waiting…

On Wikipedia as research method: why not?

The class I take–as in, the one I should be focusing on at the moment rather than doing exactly what I’m doing right now–is sandwitched in between two presumedly highschool level English classes. During one of those classes, I walked in on the tail end of a discussion between the instructor and a student on a research project she was working on. I don’t recall if I heard exactly what she was researching, but the student seemed to be having some issues with coming up with material for that project–particularly online material. Apparently, the only semi-solid resource she was able to track down online was Wikipedia. To which, I could pretty much tell the instructor was doing all manner of shaking her head. that was pretty much confirmed when she escentially advised the poor girl to back away from pretty much anything to do with online material so far as research goes, on account of just about anyone can edit and/or create the material and so there’s no actual honest to god verification of that material. She meant it specificly in Wikipedia’s case, but the impression I got is it could be just as valid for, say, a website/community blog that focused specificly on one specialized subject–like, say, some of the sites hanging out in the sidebar over there. And it kind of got me to thinking. Isn’t that the point?

The disadvantage to a Wikipedia, according to instructor lady, is just about anyone who thinks they know something about a subject can drop an edit on a page related to that subject and have it reflect as part of the “official” record on that subject. I didn’t jump into that conversation, but I was thinking–and apparently I’m not alone with that thought–that that’d be probably one of wikipedia’s strongest advantages, if you were the type to give a thing like that an advantage. I say that knowing for every mainstream subject with 40 or 50 people who actually know their stuff, there’s another 60 to 100 who love the opportunity to theorize, criticize and just generally let it be known they consider themselves experts in the same. Which was probably what the instructor was referring to. But here’s the thing, and this is what I find nifty about a Wikipedia-like environment. More often than not, the fringe folks who can’t actually back up what they’re tossing on an otherwise mainstream page will find they’ve been escentially outvoted and the completely whacked out edits don’t usually last long. Equally usually the actual, solid material is more often than not verified by linking to places where John Q. User can’t create an account for the specific purpose of scraping the record clean. So even if you wouldn’t quote directly from Wikipedia (who would, given the particular passage you quote might not be there tomorrow), you can usually use it as a springboard to move you to places who’s exerpts you borrow will probably still be there in 4 or 5 years, barring a situation wherein the whole damn site blows up.

There’s actually a not entirely objective reason why I’m in the pro-Wikipedia-as-research-method camp. It dates back to before the average person knew what the hell a Wikipedia was. As a research project of my very own when I was doing the highschool thing, I did a profile type deal on what hockey was like in the days of gordie Howe, and ended up overlapping it with a transition to the days when Gretzky pretty much owned the place. The internet was still new enough that the trend of slapping “cyber” on a word and adding it to the criminal code with tripple the sentence hadn’t quite started to become a trend yet, but old enough that places like encyclopedia Britanica were starting to see the light and putting up at least some of their info for online consumption. I actually sort of wish I’d kept a copy of that paper around just so I could remind myself exactly which online sources I scraped for it, but that was several computers and a couple floppy disks ago. But I do remember the traditional dance of hit the library, come back with an armload of textbooks, flip through them, curse and do it all over again was escentially supplemented with stops at magazines with online archives, NHL related stats and history websites, and other people’s biographies of the man in between trips. And every internet source had a URL, exactly like every textbook source had page/chapter numbers and all that jazze. As I recall, even though most people were still trying wicked hard to wrap their heads around this whole internet thing, no one flipped their stack on account of online means somehow less verifiable than an actual, physical copy of the exact same material.

And yet I sat pretty much where I’m sitting now and listened to that conversation wondering if, assuming I’d had her as my English teacher in those days, I’d have passed the class considering my own methods. Surprisingly fewer people actually live at the library these days for research type things, unless they’ve established they can’t pull what they need for material from, well, anywhere else. Why? The simple answer is it’s freaking 2013. there’s internet access pretty well freaking everywhere. And with projects like Google Books having been ruled not in violation of copyrights–suck it, authors’ guild–there’s increasing likelyhood the exact material you’d have gone to the library for a few years ago will relatively soon be searchable, if only in small sections–which would probably suit quoting for research purposes just fine to begin with. That, combined with something like a Wikipedia to potentially get you started with at the very least links to more solidly verifiable–and, apparently, research-appropriate–material, can’t do much but be a huge favour to someone with a nack for finding pieces and fitting them where they go to get across a convincing position. And the only thing I can actually think is where would the harm be in that? Instructor lady figures it’s all over the place. Part of me hopes she runs into this–I wouldn’t mind seeing her show her work.

In Terrorland, quoting Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a problem.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten around to mocking the US’s nervous twitch when it comes to anything that has the slightest potential to come within a solar system of terrorism. Thank you so very much, Techdirt, for saving me from withdrawal and giving me this.

First, from the increasingly stupid United States of America, a story of how a teen’s life got flip-turned upside down. You see, he was just on the playground where he spent most of his days, minding his own business. You know, chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and sometimes with this friends he liked to be shooting some b-ball outside of the school.

WAIT. DID HE JUST SAY SHOOT AND SCHOOL IN THE SAME SENTENCE? ARREST HIM! Once you’re done laughing, know that that’s exactly what happened to 19-year old Travis Clawson because a doctor’s office called his voicemail to confirm an appointment, heard the above line, thought he was shooting people outside the school and called cops. Who arrested him first, then spent the 20 seconds it takes to realize it’s the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. No word on whether Carlton showed up to dance and everyone laughed at him.

Once you’ve had time to properly reorient your brain, I’ll let you consider this for a minute. Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, the receptionist what made the phone call was… how can I put it… TV stupid. Let’s also assume, being that she’s TV stupid, she’s not once even by accident overheard that damn theme song. Can probably also assume she’s got a bit of a hearing issue, but I’ll let you decide to make that leap all by your lonesome. The Techdirt article takes the position that this could have probably been resolved by about a minute and a half of questioning. I’m going to take things slightly further–say, saving the cops the driving time. Receptionist has this guy’s phone number. gave the info to the cops, obviously. So, uh, rather than lock down an entire school district to find one innocent 19-year-old who *isn’t* TV stupid, why not just call the kid’s cell? You know, actually hear–and maybe record–the voicemail greeting for yourself. Then you, without having to leave the comfort of your own office, can decide he’s quoting TV theme song lyrics and that’ll just be that right quick. Of course this is probably also why I wouldn’t cut it in law enforcement, the blind guy thing notwithstanding.

Also: 3 hours to search a locker? Tell me it required congressional approval and to take the kid to a secure facility so he can hand out the combination code. Please?

On OC Transpo’s public disservice announcements.

I’ve mentioned the automated bus stop announcements they’re now using up here for OC Transpo. They were a long time coming, and it’s actually nice to see they work really quite well–so long as the system’s been appropriately kicked into gear, but I expect that these days. On recent trips, though, I’ve noticed they’ve become somewhat less effective in actually keeping up with announcing stops. I’d like to say it’s the fault of the technology–either the GPS is off, the software needs a tweak here and there, whichever. But actually the problem has more to do with administration than the platform being administered.

I’m not exactly sure when it started–I want to say somewhere just before the official (finally!) rollout of their Presto system, but they made a change to their automated system such that every so often now, the same guy what announces the next stop will come on with a tip, or safety instructions, or something. I’ve heard him talk of how you can lend your Presto card to someone in your fare class if you’re not planning on using it–though he doesn’t actually explain what a fare class is. I’ve heard him more than once advise people, in both official languages, that the seats at the front of the bus are for people who have difficulty standing (related: I still don’t quite see how that translates to a guy that has difficulty seeing), and so they should move to the back of the bus when someone requires one. And just this morning I heard him remind people to “Let’s help keep each other safe.”, and to report any suspicious activity to your operator (interestingly, in french he says driver instead, but I’m knitpicking). All well and good. Common sense things that people maybe aughta know, but common sense not being so common these days, good on OC Transpo for including them. Except when they get in the way.

This morning’s trip, which is actually what reminded me, cut it close to getting in the way. There are a couple of pretty near back to back stops on my route home from the college. One such stop is, conveniently, the stop right after I get on the bus. So if someone who maybe isn’t as familiar with the route happens to be on the bus and needing to get off at, say, Baseline station, it’d be somewhat important if that person actually have a bit of warning before pulling into–and, on the off chance no one needs to get on or off there (it’s happened), pulling right back out of–the station. Some of these announcements, I’m not sure if it’s the timing or the fact the guy making them likes to–or is required to by some municipal regulation or another–take the long way around to get to his point, but by the time he gets there the system’s needing to play catch-up. So you’ll have it doing its PSA dance, then shift gears right into announcing the next stop–if you’re lucky, before you go flying past your next stop. This doesn’t happen insanely often, thank whichever divine creature’s got a hold on that, but when it does happen, it can potentially be problematic. As I said, this morning was a fine example. I’d just gotten on the bus leaving campus. We’re about halfway between stops, and his “keep each other safe” PSA comes on. Now, I’ve done this route often enough that I can recognise where we are by more subtle things, like turns in the road and things like that. So if I needed to get off at Baseline station for one reason or another, I myself wouldn’t be completely screwed–this time. The PSA does what it does, and when it’s done, we’re about ready to make the turn into Baseline station. It announces Baseline station as we make that turn.

Fortunately, I both know the route and don’t actually need to take advantage of that, and to my knowledge this particular trip didn’t have anyone who didn’t know exactly where they were going and when–or anyone who didn’t have the ability to actually look out for the stop they need, so this wasn’t as much of a problem on this trip. But if I’m taking a route for my first time ever–let’s say I need to figure out where I’m going because I’ve got a job starting in 2 weeks and, well, it involves places I haven’t had any reason to go prior to now and so didn’t bother to just get up and go out of sheer boredom, this poses a bit of a hang-up. If I’m a blind shmuck with no idea where I’m going and still need to get there in a reasonably not quite late fashion, I need to be able to somewhat accurately judge where my required stops are. If I’m doing this thing on a daily or even monthly basis, that’s less of a problem–once I get used to it. But if I’m just figuring out the workings of this new place I can’t very well look out the window to spot, I actually pay attention to what the automated system’s trying to tell me–as opposed to doing it just so I can scan the thing for issues that could be problematic to me or some other poor sop that might actually need to use it on some regular route of mine. When a public service announcement shows up the way these do, even if it doesn’t happen necessarily all that often, it throws off the automated system–which in turn throws off the people using it. That results in missed stops, which results in mobility complications–trying to find your way back to where you should be, either by walking back and hoping you don’t blow right by it, or locating the bus stop going the opposite way and hoping you don’t get to wait an age and a half for a bus you later learn doesn’t actually stop where you need it to. And that results in awkward phone calls on your first day of work wherein you get to explain to a guy who’s probably never heard of automated stop announcements that your bus made you late. Yeah. Career boosting move right there.

I’m not sure if they can improve the timing of these announcements or even just shorten them by a bit. I honestly don’t know how much if at all doing either one would help. But as it stands right now, OC Transpo’s public service announcements, which on the surface I support, are turning into public disservice announcements at the moment. And in so doing, they’re actually hurting the effectiveness of what I think is otherwise an awesome–and yes, much overdue–system. They’re useful, and a halfway decent substitute for a lack of common sense, but sooner or later, somebody’s going to miss their stop because it wasn’t announced on account of one of these PSAs. I’m not sure I’ll want to be anywhere near OC Transpo management when somebody makes that an issue.

Student descression is advised.

Being an academic is a drag. I can see that. I mean I’m just getting back into the whole thing from a student’s perspective and it’s threatening to give me a headache. I can only imagine the level of frustration your average professor must be dealing with. Physical stress, emotional, hell probably even sexual frustration–all that time spent on research instead of taking the politician’s way out and nailing your secretary after hours and praying to god she didn’t stick a camera in the corner. See? I get that. So naturally you might be looking for a little bit of a… how do we say it… sexual release. Naturally, being the only one in the classroom and, well, a long way from home–this one was from Belgium and visiting a Dutch university, you’d resort to the source most commonly tapped by people with lots of time on their hands and access to the internet–you’d go for the porn. Just, in future, you might want to possibly consider disconnecting your porn machine from the projector you were using for your lecture. I mean, it’s just a suggestion. but I figure if you’d rather the folks watching the lecture online didn’t actually stick around for the encore, that might have been the smartish thing to do. At least, it would have resulted in far fewer people getting themselves a free copy of that encore via one quick spectator taking and publishing a screenshot or two. But hey, at least you can say you’ve already got a new job lined up if this thing ends up costing you in Belgium. Or perhaps the employee of the porn site he was presenting who reached out to him was just suggesting an alternative means of releasing some of that frustration…

Rob Ford gets the remix treatment. I may or may not still be snickering.

So. When you’ve escentially been cornered and forced to admit to smoking crack by way of every single one of your denials blowing up in your face, you pretty much can’t go any lower, right? Of course not. It’s when your public life, scandalous as it might be, becomes the very material worthy of a snerkwhile remix that you pretty much can’t go any lower. See also: Rob Ford yesterday, versus Rob Ford today. Very quite probably the best kind of spin ever put on a Rob Ford the Crackmayor story. And I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. It’s not embedded, so RSS and email types should have no problem grabbing it. stream and/or download the thing at will–I don’t think it’s covered under copyright.

Hat tip to KiSS 92.5, who actually put this thing together. I only wish I coulda been there for the mashing.

Update: And right on the heels of this one, a remix of Ford’s crack confession hits Youtube. This one’s an embed, unfortunately, so if you’re reading this by way of RSS or email you’ll need to click over to the site and smack play. but it just might be worth it. You may suck as Toronto’s mayor, but you’ve got a future in what passes for modern music, Rob old chap.

Case for designated driver? Made.

so. You’re driving down the road, minding your own. Your significant other is in the passenger’s seat. One or both of you’s been feeling the urge pretty much all freaking day. So rather than find a spot to pull over, or better yet wait until you’ve gotten where you’re going, you decide you maybe might aughta just take a little care of things right the hell there. I mean why not? You’re a relatively safe driver, right? You can multitask. right?

This florida woman figured that was about how it worked, anyway. And it worked pretty damn well for her. right up until she multitasked herself right into someone else’s house. Lucky for the house its occupants weren’t home–and neither passenger nor distracted driver were killed–but she drove through two rooms of the place before one or both of them clued in that, uh, this ain’t road anymore. I expect to hear of at least one road safety organization taking up the call and putting out an advertisement. “Be safe. Find a designated driver. Don’t dip and drive.” Thanks to these two, their case would already be made.

In which someone gets all offended by garlic ice cream.

You may or may not remember me making mention of a restaurant in San Francisco trying what I figured to be a questionable ice cream recipe. Not, you see, that I have a problem with garlic. But in ice cream, I think that might just be a little much for me. It was apparently way too much for one googler. Their solution? Well, you see…

Feb 18 2:58am: go to the stinking rose and shove all the garlic ice cream up my ass

One actually has to wonder if the one what landed here figured that would be an improvement. One also has to wonder if I should be keeping an eye out for potential charges of indecent offenses committed with an almost food item. Oddly, I’m not really any more likely to decide to get adventurous in the garlic ice cream department. I, er, wonder why…

It’s time for another bad idea, worse idea.

Bad idea: getting cute with the judge for only setting your bond at $5000 when the reason you’re in court in the first place is for possessing xanax bars–related: xanax bars are a thing? Dear lord. Judges don’t usually much like the snark, unless they’re the ones wielding it or they really, really like the idea of your side of the story–hint: that’s not you, Penelope Soto, or you wouldn’t actually be tied to a $5000 bond. Judges actually tend to figure you’ve decided that’s relatively painless. This one decided since she isn’t too concerned over $5000, it’s now going to be $10000. Oops.

Worse idea: stepping it up a knotch or two and flipping off your judge on your way out.

Rodriguez-Chomat called her back and upped the bond to $10,000. Soto, looking a bit stunned, asked him if he was serious (“I’m serious, adios”) and she walked off, again, giving him the middle finger offering a her profane farewell.

He called her back to the bench. “Did you tell me to f— off? Did you say that?”

“Yes sir.”

She got 30 days for her efforts and melted after a week. One appology later, she’s back to being free on bail and hopefully a little less like those kids you see in shopping malls that make you kind of wish a parent had spent just a little more time parenting and maybe a little less on Facebook. but, you know, just in case I’m wrong…

the court case that put her in jail apparently has video. It’s apparently not all that great quality, but if you’d like to find yourself amused, it’s embedded below. RSS/email reading folks will have to flip over to the site if you want to watch–blame the technology. Also: is it bad that I watched this video and my first thought is “Hey, I know someone just like her…”?

Fun with passwords. Or, why your 25-year-old sysadmin might be looking a little grey.

Default passwords are a thing, and for a fairly decent reason. Your crap needs to be relatively secure, even if you haven’t actually done anything useful with your crap since the start of its existence. Default passwords are also incredibly, incredibly bad for you. It’s why most actual corporations force you to change it from the default the first time you log in, whether or not they force you to change it on a subsequently frequent basis later on. Because not doing so can be a real problem for you, your content, and your sysadmin. Most of this, you’d think, would be pretty common sense–even if you’re not the technical sort. But, I’m putting it here, so you can safely assume it’s not as common as I’d prefer. This came pretty much full circle yesterday, and the only reason it didn’t get blogged yesterday is educational things have conspired to fry me.

As probably a few of you will figure out, I’ve run this site on a dedicated server for a few years. I also happen to have added a few people to the list of things running on this server in that time. In doing so, I use what I think to be relatively standard practices for security–you get an account, with whatever domains/services/whichever you need access to. You get a username of your choosing, and because I neither want nor need to know what your actual password(s) is/are, I give you a standard default password–and very strongly recommend, as in you really, really want to do this before I scramble the thing for you and hand you a generated one that’s at least 32 characters long, that you change the thing. Like now. As in before you even decide to turn around and install WordPress–which you should, because flexible. Because yes, the thing is secure. Mostly. But default passwords are usually three things. Easy to remember, short enough so as not to be overly confusing for folks who aren’t exactly up to trying to translate, commit to memory and not completely flub a 32-character-long password, and probably not difficult to figure out for your average script kiddy with a brute force program and some free time to devote to finding themselves a new machine they can borrow to spam the hell out of someone or someones. In other words, change it or you really do deserve to be slapped across the forehead with the clue stick. Gently, of course.

So I was on my way out the door yesterday with the half dozen things that usually follow me out the door when my phone pretty much blew up. I pull it out on the bus and find myself staring at a screen full of mail server failure notices. I’m talking very nearly a hundred of the freaking things. Well, I figure. This isn’t altogether too pretty of a thing to be seeing if you’re me. Did a server people are trying to send to decide to pick yesterday to suffer a fatal issue, or has something on my end gone and broke itself?

To figure out how this applies, let me summarize roughly what happens when you try and send someone an email. Your machine, through Outlook or some other program, sends the mail you’re working on to a server–either owned by your ISP, or your website provider, or the company you work for–with instructions that basicly says “This needs to get to person@place.com”. Your mail server, then–that’d be the thing Outlook just got done talking to, flips through the internet equivalent of a phonebook to figure out which other servers are accepting mail for place.com. When it finds one or several, it tries to contact them. Assuming it gets an answer from one, it asks two questions. “Do you actually accept mail for place.com?” And, if the answer to that question is yes, “Does person exist in your info on place.com?”. Assuming both answers are yes, one of two things happens. Ideally, your mail is then sent to the receiving server, who then tells your mail server, “Okay, I’ve got it. Thanks for dropping by.” and that’s that. Transaction complete. Or, slightly less likely, the server’s experiencing problems–or one of the servers it relies on is experiencing problems–and your mail server is told to escentially try again later. Which it will, repeatedly every so often, until either the mail is delivered or it just plain gives up on account of the destination’s well beyond broken. If the answer to the second question comes back a no, the receiving server escentially tells your server, “I don’t have anyone named person here.”. Okay, so that’s a problem. And it’s a problem you should probably know about so you’re not trying to repeatedly send mail to person@place.com and wondering why in the sam hell that rat bastard hasn’t gotten back to you in 6 months. So your mail server turns around and automatically sends you a quick email saying basicly “I tried to send your mail to person, but the folks at place.com don’t know who that is. Sorry about that. Oh and by the way, you should probably tell person his place.com address doesn’t exist–or make sure the sneak gave you the right one already.”. Okay so maybe not that last part, but you get the idea.

When my server sends people the “place.com doesn’t know who person is” email, it also copies that email to me. Not because I feel like snooping in on the juicy details of the morning’s gossip that you’ve accidentally sent to the slightly mistyped but still mostly correct address of the chick you usually have coffee with after work, but because in the event this kind of thing happens consistently, there’s either something wrong with the receiving server–which I may need to yell at someone about, or work around temporarily–or there’s something wrong on my server’s end, either with your account or with the server in general–which I need to fix, or prod you to fix, in order to prevent further much larger problems. So when an account on my server started generating several emails to random addresses that didn’t exist, the server got several “this person doesn’t exist here” notices from servers it was trying to deliver to. As a result, I got several copies of “I tried to deliver this, but they don’t exist” emails. And because it’s 2013, I’m a geek and there isn’t a smartphone alive today that doesn’t let you, I got to handle most of those on the way to class–and discover that those emails were coming from entirely random addresses on my server that *also* didn’t exist. Well then. Don’t we have us a situation. I couldn’t do entirely too much about it at the time except diagnose on account of I was mobile, I was on 3G and I wasn’t in one place long enough to haul out the laptop and make things happen, but at least now I knew there was something amiss in techville.

When I got where I was going, I had a bit more time to play find the hole. And what I found was the mail traffic was being generated by an account that hadn’t actually been accessed since it was set up and the person who owned it installed a version of WordPress. Since then, that account had escentially been sitting there doing not much. Unfortunately, because it hadn’t been accessed except the one time it took to install WordPress, that also meant its default password was still its current password. And, as a quick check would tell me when I got back to a network I could actually use without the restrictions of a not very well set-up firewall, it was that default password stil being set for months on end, on a public-facing system, that lead to the account being accessed by places and in ways that it might not aughta be. Having no idea at the time, though, my priority was escentially turn off the tap. So I disabled that account before class started, and it sat there being disabled until I could get a look at it when I was free–see also: when I confirmed that yes, in fact, the thing was accessed in ways it shouldn’t have been by a password that should have had a lifespan of 5 minutes.

That account will more than likely end up deleted, on account of it was never actually used and so really, nothing’s being lost by killing it. Which also means I don’t need to send an actual user an email basicly saying “by the way, because you fail at security basics all your crap is now compromized. Thank you.”, which works just fine for me. But this is a thing that could actually happen to a system or service you would probably much prefer it didn’t. think of everything that comes with a default password in place already. Routers, any modem purchased in the last maybe 5 years, university or college email/network accounts, the afore mentioned actual work related systems, the list goes on. They don’t come with default passwords because they’re worried about John Q. User developing amnesia and not having the slightest idea what their password is. They come with default passwords because they’re usually set up automatically, usually in batches, usually for several dozen to several thousand people at once. This also means if you feel like giving it a couple months, that common, default password can and will be found on Google. Which means anyone with 5 minutes free who knows the service exists and you have access can easily also have access. Which in turn means if they decide to use that access for less than legal purposes, or less than insanely irritating purposes, it’s not them that catches hell for it–it’s your access, therefore it’s your problem. Changing that default password, preferably the second you sit down in front of the system in question and access it for the first time, significantly reduces the likelyhood of it becoming your problem. It also just so happens to be exceedingly smart thinking, since in the case of people who maybe used to have access and shouldn’t anymore, it prevents them from deciding to borrow your access to try and get back at whoever decided they no longer needed it. And you’ll have just prevented, at least temporarily, your friendly neighbourhood sysadmin from developing a few of those grey hairs. That gets you bonus points somewhere. And hey, if it’s a thing I have anything to do with and you’ve just prevented me from having to piece together a working copy of your account long enough to beat you with it before telling you you should probably change your password, I swear I’ll be your best friend for life. Which will be a lot easier if you’ve also resulted in me having one or two fewer heart attacks. Now if the rest of the world would just come along quietly we’ll have it made.

If you don’t quit drinking and driving, I’ll threaten you again.

I meant to do something with this forever ago. then life happened. So, uh, have this now.

Say what you will about the way the US handles DWI laws. Oh, please, by all means, say what you will. But before you do, consider this. It’s 8:45 AM on a Sunday morning. You’ve been drinking more than enough to put you over the legal limit. You’ve been drinking exactly enough to actually double the legal limit. And you’re officially out of booze. Now, there’s a couple ways you could handle this. You could actually decide it might be time to go sleep off your very near future one hell of a hangover. You could, assuming you’re not drinking alone, try and find yourself someone sober who wouldn’t mind making a run to the grocery store for beer–I’m still a little jealous you folks in Quebec can pick up your beer when you pick up a bag of milk, I’m just saying. You can get creative and try walking to your nearest grocery store for the offending beer run. Or you can pour your drunk ass into the driver’s seat and head off to help yourself.

If you picked that last one, congratulations. Odds are you are the next Maurice Larrivee. Odds are also that you will be intercepted by well-meaning grocery store employees who valiantly attempt to talk some sober second thought into your alcohol-hazed brain and try to get across to you that you don’t, in fact, want to be driving home in your way past “I only had one or two” condition. Odds are you’ll dismiss the caution, because hell, you got here just fine didn’t you? And odds are you’ll drive yourself straight into your 17th arrest for drunk driving. But you can rest safely in the knowledge that you won’t actually see much if any jail time. And, hey, if you play your cards right you might just be back in a position to take a run at arrest number 18. Because worse than the fact some of these folks haven’t yet stopped by the clue shop on their way home is the fact there’s not a whole lot the police can actually do about it. Well, unless you’ve gone and killed someone before they managed to arrest you for driving while sloshed beyond belief.

sure, the police can take your car, or suspend your license–and they have. But you can–and often times do–eventually get one or both of those back before entirely too long. Meanwhile the police are kind of left with escentially wagging a finger at you and saying pretty much “don’t do that again, or else.” Or else what? Well, or else they’ll tell you not to do that again. Because, you know, that worked so well the first, second, third and sixteenth times. But hey, one can always hope 17′s this one’s lucky number. And somewhere, someone with at least as many convictions just drank to that.

An open letter to Justin Trudeau.

Good evening, Justin. Can I call you Justin? It didn’t take long for you to go all high and mighty so far as the senate kerfuffle’s concerned. And why wouldn’t you? I mean–if a word of what Mike Duffy–nevermind those other two–came up with this week is even remotely true, I’d probably be right there agreeing with you on Twitter. And why not? This is a soap opera of Stephen Harper’s making, so naturally, it falls to him to claim it as his own, right?

Why, of course he does. He made the bed, he might aughta think about getting nice and comfortable–and securing himself a halfway decent lawyer if this thing does, as I know you’re hoping, end up going to trial. You get no argument from me there either. But here’s a thing what interests me.

You’re up in arms about something Stephen Harper, a conservative, may or may not have had a direct hand in setting a blaze based on the word of Mike Duffy, another conservative. And, as I said, that in and of itself is fine. Meanwhile, 5 hours away from you, your provincial counterpart’s in a mess of her very own–one that she and Dalton Mcguinty each had a hand in making, albeit the latter’s finger prints were probably all over a lot more of it than hers. And let’s maybe not drudge up, again, the entire reason the liberal party’s a teeny tiny little bit of a mess federally, yeah?

So I’m just kind of wondering. Did Kathleen Wynne, just for a start, get something similar from you? Maybe in a private email? Since, you know, if she ends up finishing the tank job Mcguinty started on the liberal party in Ontario, you can’t honestly tell me that won’t come back and hurt the liberals federally.

And let’s talk about Mcguinty for a second, speaking of taking responsibility and showing leadership. Telling folks to escentially go screw themselves they were getting a gas plant, then cancelling that gas plant when it actually occured to him that hey, these people vote liberal. And doing it twice. Then ducking and running when it looked for 10 seconds like he might just be sunk. He didn’t tell the media what he knew and when he knew it either. He sat on documentation that could have and eventually did shoot his entire narative in both feet with a smile for as long as he possibly could. Then he prorogued the legislature–a no-no in your book, apparently–and resigned before anyone could nail him to the wall for it. He’s at harvard now, if you’re curious. Are you thinking maybe he might also aughta come on back and testify under oath to what he knew and when? Considering, I mean, there’s a lot more out in the open that points directly at him–and a Mike Duffy wasn’t really all that required, by the way.

Somehow I’m pretty sure that consideration hasn’t really entered your mind, either publicly or privately. Actually I’m pretty sure you are and were fairly immune to that consideration, if we’re being entirely honest. Which begs the question. Is there a different set of rules for members of your own party, or did these just kind of slip your mind on account of they have no direct baring on whether or not you eventually become prime minister–I mean outside the fact if the liberals are sunk in Ontario that’s probably an added complication you’d rather not actually have to deal with.

I get that most politicians are the sort with a rulebook for me and a rulebook for thee. That part doesn’t really surprise me. But you’re supposed to be the different one, here. Doing politics differently, you’ve said a few times. From where I’m sitting, this part’s looking pretty close to business as usual to me. Not all that great if actually trying to get folks my age out to vote’s a thing you’re aiming for, Justin. A little consistent honesty–hey look, another different kind of politics–wouldn’t hurt either. But I’m guessing you’re not quite ready for that yet. Damn shame, that.

I won’t be one of those folks who decide to go after you on account of the only thing on your resume’s the fact you were a drama teacher. that’s been done to absolute death, and really, we’ve all seen what happens when a true academic grabs hold of the wheel. Not pretty, kids. But you can’t sit there and call someone on the carpet for pulling a stunt or 5 you’d otherwise have no problem with if you and he sat on the same side of the house. You especially can’t be doing that if the whole aim of your leadership campaign and gearing up for 2015′s election is that things would be different under prime minister Justin Trudeau. Well, you can–but I’d not want to be in the same room with you while you tried pulling off the mental gymnastics that would give a thing like this a remote chance of sounding like something that maybe might make a little sense if you just let it sit long enough.

So, mr. politics done differently, can we have some different politics please? For a start, a little consistency–particularly with members of your own party who wind themselves up on camera having shoved their hands up to the wrist into the cookie jar? Failing that, could you perhaps restrain yourself from openly supporting people for federal office who most of your potential voters would rather see in jail–even if they fly the same banner you do? Could that be a thing? If you could give that a try, that might actually be something I could call kind of awesome. And hey, if it ends up being something you don’t need to lie about, that’d work too. I mean you still wouldn’t be someone I’d vote for, but it’d be an improvement. Maybe someone more in your circle can work with that and I don’t have to entirely dismiss the political class. I’d honestly love to be able to say I voted for a change. Right now, I can’t. Make me, and we’ll have something here. But until that happens, I’d settle for a raincheck on the hipocricy. Really, that’s not doing you any favours anyway.

Death of a 5-year weekend. Or, an epic crash course in college mobility.

I haven’t had a job or anything like it since the recession sent mine overseas. That was in 2008. Since then, I’ve been telling folks I’ve been on one continuous long weekend. Oh, sure, I’ve had the occasional interview that may or may not have resulted in a “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, but then it usually kind of just sat there looking pretty and that was pretty much that. There were education related things tossed in there as well, but they usually fell apart for one reason or another–I’m staring directly at places like Everest College. So since 2008, it’s been weekend.

Effective as of this past Monday, that weekend officially died a death. And my brain went right along with it–did I mention I despise math with the passion of a thousand suns? But the death of a 5-year-weekend was only part of the fun that was getting things started. The rest of it came about when I went to untangle exactly where it was I was supposed to be showing up to kill this 5-year-weekend. As it turns out, you’re not officially a blind college student until you’ve obtained, in your first couple hours on campus, an intense familiarity with the layout of the said campus.

Some background, for background’s sake. Algonquin College is awesome, for the most part–aside from their still unexplained requirement for a math. They’re also, at times, awesomely confusing. So much so that even the fully sighted have been known to admit defeat and occasionally just follow the crowd in the hopes the wall of people in front of them is going roughly in the right general direction for them to just kind of let go and be dropped in front of their classroom. So when I got a phone call last Friday what said I’d be tromping pretty much across campus from where I thought I’d be to actually get to class, I was prepared to do some early morning mapping. My class was at 10, which meant if I could get away with it, I was going to be on campus and trying to see how lost I could get by 9. so I show up at 8:30 to finalise things–apparently, spreading paperwork out so you’re finishing it the day you start classes is not actually unique to an official college program. And I’m told when I get there that no, the person who told me I’d be campus hopping was wrong and that I’d be going this other direction and finding this other room instead. Well. Okay, then. I mean annoying, but at least this other room’s in the same building–so no trompings to places in which one could become mildly confused just trying to aquire the general vicinity, nevermind the specific classroom. Awesome. So I’ll have some free time, says I, to go grab coffee and maybe see if other people are in so May and I can pick brains before I go to class and she does what she does. So I go and I find what I’m told is the new classroom. Not difficult to get to, thank christ. And away I go to get other things done so when the class is over the only thing I need to accomplish is get my ass the hell home and give my brain a rest.

So that gets done, we go about the business of finding and picking at other people to make sure things are in place so 1: I can take this course without falling on my face and 2: May can start her course later on without it blowing up in her face. We manage to mostly do that, then figure it about time for me to show up at class. Give me a few minutes before the start of class to actually have a hi how are ya with the instructor and figure out how we can make this thing happen in a way that ends up being doable for me and not migraine inducing for her. For the record, my instructor is a box of awesome, but more on that in probably a less novel-like post. So it’s back over to that section of the campus so I can get set up, start actually getting my work and yada yada blah. And doesn’t the person I spoke to when I got there catch me. “James,” she starts, “I’m so terribly sorry. It looks like you’ll be going over to this other room after all. Oh but don’t worry, you just go down this hall, make a left, then a right, then straight, and a left, and you’re there.” If I had more than 20 minutes to actually find the new class, I’d have very likely used some of it to throttle the right royal hell out of her. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. I did turn around and bail it the hell out of there before it got too tempting–and also because I only had 20 minutes in which to find a less brainmelting way to find my class and do any interesting little workarounds that need doing to make it happen.

So. I planned an hour for tromping across campus in the event I got my ass lost. I ended up with 20 minutes for trompings and no getting my ass lost room. And I still had little to no actual idea where I was going. Awesome. Okay, time to cheat a little. May knew most of the building the new class was in, just not the specific area my class would be. So, fine. So between the two of us, we got at least to the general vicinity. Then it was ping a random and have it point us in the general direction of the specific room. Fun times all around. And it somehow happened with about a minute to spare. Don’t ask–I have no idea. But before I even started class, my brain was twitching like a crack addict on a cold streak. Not bad for a Monday. Now, let’s have at the rest of this thing. Just, er, hold the general failure, deal? Well, I can dream.

The government wants you to pick your TV channels. Here’s why it won’t happen.

So around the middle of last week or so, there was a big to-do around the speech from the throne–that’s the kickoff to the new legislative session, for those folks what read this who aren’t up on their Canadian politics. The government’s decided, what with it being 2 years before the next election and all, that now would be the absolute perfect time to go all consumers first on us. Taking aim at cell phone bills. At the trend of selling 75 tickets for a 60-seater airplane. At those fees you cough up for the privelege of being able to pull cash out of a bank machine on the rare occasion in freaking 2013 where you actually still need to pull cash out of a bank machine. But my absolute favourite part of the throne speech was aimed squarely at folks like Rogers, who I’ve gone back and forth and back again with a few times for pulling the stupid out of thin air. It’s my favourite not because I expect it to actually have a chance in hell of happening, but rather because there are too many wicked obvious reasons, just taking into account the TV viewing habbits in this house, why it’s got every chance in this world and the next of not happening.

Our Government believes Canadian families should be able to choose the combination of television channels they want. It will require channels to be unbundled, while protecting Canadian jobs.

Don’t get me wrong. It sounds awesome. And if it actually happens, I’d absofreakinglutely love to be proven wrong–I’ll take those words with a side of fries and a coke, please. But it’s not happening, or it’ll be a long freaking way off if it does. An explanation, in list format, based on viewing paterns here in the last year or so. Because lazy, efficient, and why freaking not?

  • The most regular watching that’d be happening now, if Rogers and I were on speaking terms not related to arguing over their various levels of broken, would be hockey. And very little of that, unless I wanted to watch the Senators ruin what’s left of their season.
  • I’m in Ottawa, so Leafs TV isn’t happening. If you’re local, go ahead and call your provider to ask–it won’t exist for you. Thank the Senators in particular and the NHL in general.
  • Even if a chunk of the games wouldn’t be broadcast on Leafs TV, living in Ottawa means I get the local feed of stations like, for instance, sportsnet Ontario. I’ve yet to find a workaround for that. So if Toronto and Ottawa are playing on the same night and broadcasting on the same channel, I get Ottawa. Which is awesome, except I’m not looking to *watch* Ottawa.
  • That leaves the CBC, and Hockey Night in Canada. Fortunately there are enough of those channels that at least one of them will be broadcasting the Leafs game even if Ottawa’s playing on the same night. Of course the CBC also has HNIC online for streaming or on-demand purposes, so I technically need not even be concerned with that necessarily. Not to mention several radio stations will stream the games–it’s how I can follow even the ones the NHL won’t let me watch on TV in the first place.

Second on the list would be baseball, unless the Jays actually manage to outsuck themselves next year.

  • Most of those games are on one or the other of TSN or Sportsnet, so if I absolutely had no other option but TV I could still watch pretty much all of those.
  • Again, they’re also carried on several dozen radio stations, one of them local, so if I had to there’s that option as well.
  • Plus, Gameday Audio. Which, let’s be honest–for the price you pay it would almost be worth cancelling cable for the summer anyway. I mean unless you’re a fan of reruns but I address those below.

Trailing behind both of those, but not by much, is the occasional tuning into CPAC–that’s Canada’s answer to CSPAN, for you US political folks. Because while it can be interesting to read about political events unfolding, depending on the event it may be more interesting to actually watch it live. I mean I didn’t tune in to listen to the whole damn throne speech, but I’ve had question period on in the background while I’ve done things around the house–it’s a thing to do. That’s also streamed online, so again if it were a thing I needed to watch for reasons, that would hardly be problematic by any means.

Game Show Network. That gets watched every now and again, mostly if May and I happen to be downstairs at the same time with little else to do. I haven’t yet found an alternative to requiring a TV for that, but I also wouldn’t lose sleep over it if I never had that channel on again. There are probably several less than legal ways to catch hold of at least most of those shows, but again, doesn’t really bother me enough to go wandering about looking.

All things wrestling, but mostly of the pay per view variety and primarily for May’s benefit rather than my own. Again, most if not all of those are probably available online if you’d rather not cough up the cash and don’t mind waiting a day or two for them to come available, but if you’d actually like to know what’s happening before John Q. Fanatic with a cable package and a pay per view order in decides to get on Twitter and advertise it, you’re ponying up the dollars. But you’d be doing that anyway whether or not you paid for 900 other channels of which you may only watch 2.

Local/national news. This one used to be huge back before things like RSS feeds and Twitter took right the hell off. Part of my routine was come home, fix me something to eat, flip on the news then flip over to hockey or baseball or whatever after. Now, I can’t recall the last time I actually had a news station on for specificly news related purposes. This includes both the TV and radio versions. I mean sure, I’ll flip on an all-news radio station once in a while. But nine times in ten I go back to the computer after on account of I’ll find more info online on whatever story I’m following. And the rest of the time that particular all-news station’s broadcasting the Jays game, so we’re good.

New episodes of current shows, and reruns of older ones. I honestly just about snickered writing this, but it’s still a thing. The only time I actually sit down to watch a CSI or Big Bang Theory or something like that on TV now is when I’m at my parents’. Because being realistic over here, they’re not all that technical enough to be going out and scraping the interwebs for the same damn thing. Besides–it makes for fairly good background noise while we sit down to supper and talk about taking the backroads to get out there by way of greyhound. But other than that, I’ve got an external HD full of TV crap and the ability to glom onto more if the need be.

Looking at that list, there’s actually nothing on it that’s really up in the “must have it” category. I mean sure, GSN would be nice occasionally, but unless Rogers and friends decided to start massively overcharging on a per-channel basis (ha), it would almost cost more in extra service fees and crap they’d no doubt tack onto the bill than it would for the actual channel. Assuming the price for pay per views don’t do some massive skyrocketting as a result, and assuming a per-channel rate of we’ll call it a generous–in my opinion, anyway–$10, the highest bill for cable services we’d see around here for our one channel and maybe a pay per view, before any additional service charges and the like, would run about $70 or $80. That’s on the outside. Assuming the cable/satelite providers stuck to the theoretical $10 per channel model, and assuming the average subscriber watches more actual TV than we do here, that can add up amazingly quickly–to the tune of roughly what we pay for the package we’ve got now, most of which neither May nor I have bothered actually watching, for maybe 6 or 7 channels. That before you factor in any of the pay per view goodness. And this assumes they decide to do the flat rate thing re: that per channel fee–a mighty fine assumption, given who I’m talking about. Suddenly things look a lot less like the consumers first picture the throne speech painted for us. Which is why I’m not holding my breath when it comes to actually seeing this become a thing. It’s a wicked nifty cool idea, in theory. The problem with theory, though, is it dies a death just as soon as it meats reality. Putting this kind of thing into practice will be a right royal hot mess. And in the meantime, I’ll be over here watching the Leafs online. But hey, thanks for trying, guys. I owe ya one.

Did you find what you were after?

The search engines have conspired to ruin me. Or at least screw with my head. I was just beginning to gloo together a post on how since SSL encription became the standard with places like google, keeping an eye on stats for amusement reasons has become just slightly less amusing. And then along comes our friend the sexual deviant from India. And our sexual deviant friend from India drops this into the mix.

Oct 20 11:27am: water fuck

I don’t even know where you were trying to go, pal. Really I don’t. But I hope you got there. Just please remember to at least pretend to use protection. Fake it if you have to. In the meantime, remind me never to think about accusing the search engines of conspiring to deprive me of amusement again. Well, at least until 2014.

Update: He searched for water porn, and instead discovered my no hot water rant. From 2007. And folks said google didn’t have a sense of humour.

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