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Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Peculiar Day

Published March 25, 2013 - 2 Comments

crystal-ball

Today would have been a good day to have bought a lottery ticket.  Why?

It started with a conversation at work with a woman who is making a baby quilt for someone she knows.  The baby hasn’t been born yet, but apparently the parents plan to name him Chace.  (that’s not a typo)  She’s going to make the baby quilt and sew the baby’s name onto it.  I made a smart-ass comment “The baby hasn’t been born yet?  Watch.. you’ll make that quilt and then they’ll decide to name him William or something like that…”  My co-worker looked at me in amazement… “His middle name is William… they’re going to call him Chace William…”  I just shrugged it off, and said jokingly “I knew that…”.

Not good enough for you?  How about this?

Less than 30 mins after that exchange I sent an instant message to another co-worker asking her if they were done discussing The Following.  I’ve started to watch that show, but I am several episodes behind, and when I heard a discussion starting, I immediately put my headphones on.  I made a joke that I had ABBA playing as loud as it could go, so I couldn’t hear them.  She wrote back, criticizing my choice of music, and asked if I had any Rob Zombie.  I explained that I had over 14,000 songs on my playlist, so it was just a random mismatch of pretty much anything.  I said that I DID have a Rob Zombie song from The Matrix soundtrack somewhere.  And then I clicked next…

I swear this is the absolute truth… of exactly 14,005 tracks on my iPhone iCloud playlist… it randomly chose Rob Zombie – Dragula to play.  I was completely blown away… I got up and walked over to where she was sitting and showed her… I don’t think that there was any doubt from the look on my face that I wasn’t pulling her leg.  It was incredibly freaky!

I really should go get a lottery ticket. I have just over an hour before midnight, and I have to go out anyway because I have a work activity starting at midnight.

Learn How to Drive, A-Hole!

Published March 22, 2013 - 2 Comments

Tonight I was taking the kids out for a drive and I had to pull into a gas station for a moment.  When I tried to get back onto the highway, I found myself in the undesirable position of trying to merge into traffic with another car whose driver wasn’t keen on allowing me.  The speed limit is 110 km/hr.  Because I started from a stand-still, I needed time to get up to highway speed before merging.  As I looked at the car beside me, wondering why he refused to either move into the vacant left lane or adjust his speed to allow me to merge, I noticed that I was currently going 90 km/hr and increasing.  Certainly this was worthy of a merge.  Yet no quarter was given.  No yield  forthcoming.  The other driver was obviously unfamiliar with the rules of the road.

Skip ahead to the part where I mentioned this encounter to someone, only to be told that I was in the wrong.  That I should have adjusted my speed accordingly, even if that meant slowing down to allow the other driver to pass.  Impossible!   The speed limit is 110km/hr.  HE wasn’t doing the limit.  If I had slowed down and gotten into that lane, I would have been a sitting duck for the other cars coming along.  The other driver had loads of room to move over and allow me to merge.  He’s in the wrong.  My friend is wrong.  And I was determined to prove it!

Off to the internet…

WikiHow has a great article on how to merge properly, complete with pictures and a video.  Perfect!  Let’s see what they have to say…

  • Make sure you are going at the same speed as the traffic into which you are merging as you reach the point where the ramp merges with the highway.
  • Maintain a safe distance from anyone in the ramp/merge lane in front of you; expect traffic to possibly slowdown or stop, causing you to have to do the same to avoid a rear-end or clip while merging.
  • Put your turn signal on so that the drivers on the highway notice that you are merging into their lane.

By this point I’m feeling a huge “I told ya so” coming on…

  • Determine if you have room to merge onto the highway, if you do not (a car is currently beside you) you will have to speed up or down just a little until you have ample space to merge into.

I’m willing to overlook that one…

  • Gradually, never abruptly, merge into the lane, following the natural path of the merging ramp

Sure… all of that still sounds like I have a pretty good case.  I was certainly doing all of those things.  A-hole wouldn’t move over, slow down, or increase his speed to what it should have been all along.  Clearly in the wrong, and my friend had no idea what she was talking about.

Then I read through a few “Tips to Remember…”

  • Make sure you are going fast enough to merge safely.
  • Always turn your head and look, don’t just use the rearview mirror, as you will miss cars in your blind spot.
  • Try to merge into traffic with at least one car length of space in front and behind of your vehicle.
  • Look at the highway traffic flow as soon as possible in order to help you determine the opening you will want to accelerate into.
  • If you are really nervous and there are others in the car, ask them to be quiet so you can focus.
  • Pay attention and do not be distracted by other things.
  • Always keep an eye on how much of the merge lane remains. Merge lanes, even on the same highway can vary greatly in length.
  • When you can’t safely merge into the highway traffic–if you have the option to stay in the entry lane as it immediately becomes an exit lane, then do exit–do not stop on the acceleration/exit lane. You usually can then simply loop around on the service (or frontage) roads or local streets and try again.
  • Remember to check if you can stay in the lane you have just merged into. In several major cities, the right-most lane is a commuter lane that is only open during certain hours.

I rock.  I should have been a driving instructor.

  • It is your responsibility to merge into traffic. The traffic already on the highway has the right of way. You must adjust your speed accordingly and merge safely!

Shit.  I think I just lost my argument.

  • You may have to slow down and move in behind the vehicle traveling beside you. Do not try to “punch it” to get in front of this vehicle. You may run out of room to do so.

Yup.  So much for that “I told ya so”…  Thanks for nothing, Internet.

Postcards From the Wedge

Published March 22, 2013 - 1 Comment

I bought some postcards this week.  I don’t know why.  And stamps.  I think that I still had stamps in my drawer, but I bought some more.  Don’t ask me why.  I don’t know.  I didn’t send Christmas cards last year, which is unusual for me.  Maybe this is a way of making up for that?  Maybe this is a way of remembering a simpler time.  Before email.  Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a hundred other ways of passing a quick message.  Who really takes notice of another email in their inbox anymore?  But a postcard.  That might stand out.  It costs money.  It takes effort.  Not a huge amount, but certainly more than typing a few words and hitting send.

Remember the good ole days?

Hair Braiding for Daddies 101

Published March 10, 2013 - 5 Comments

The mission:  Take this mess of clean, tangled hair, and turn it into something a little less messy… preferably something resembling a braid.

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Using only what you see in the picture below…

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OK… It’s starting to come together…

 

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And voila!  After 11 years (and several failed attempts), we have created what some might consider to be a fairly passable hair braid.  Sure, it could have been a little tighter… and I definitely learned that I should have a spray bottle on hand… but all things considered, I don’t think that it looks that bad.  Those cables beside/under the desk, on the other hand… not so much…

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And They Call This Journalism…

Published March 3, 2013 - 0 Comments

The internet is one of the best inventions ever… certainly of my time… Information travels at nearly instantaneous speed from one computer to potentially millions in the blink of an eye.  It’s awesome.  But it’s not perfect.  One of my personal beefs with the internet is the kick in the nuts that professional journalism has taken.  Speed is more important than accuracy.  Being the first one to break a story is more important than getting the facts right.  Having a catchy headline that can easily be forwarded or retweeted is often more important than the story itself.

I’m no journalist.  I don’t pretend to be.  This is my personal opinion.  Right or wrong, these are my thoughts.  There are still good journalists out there.  And then there’s the shit…

Last week I read an article on Canoe.ca (which has gone downhill greatly over the years, but that’s another story) about a man with an outstanding bill for unpaid toll highway tickets in excess of $2,855.  At the end of the article was an online poll asking the reader whether the man should have to pay the bill, or if $2,855  was excessive.  A third option of “I don’t know” was also included, although what’s the point of that, really?

As I read the article, I immediately felt like this was another one of those attempts by someone who screwed up, and thought that they could garner some public sympathy in their fight to maybe have the bill reduced, or better yet, waived completely.  I voted that he should pay his bill… just like anyone else should have to pay their bills.  End of story.  Or was it?

I’ve copied the entire story below.  Why?  Because in this internet age, it’s way too common for journalists to amend their stories after they’ve been published.  Remember what I said about speed over accuracy?  Get the story out there… then clean it up after the fact.  Because everything is digital they simply over-write anything that needs to be updated.  It makes it very difficult to find original copies of stories.  [NOTE: Bloggers have that flexibility as well… if I make a typo or an error… I can easily go and change it on the fly.  But I’m a blogger… not a journalist.  Some people pretend that they are the same thing.  They are not.  You CAN be both… but being a blogger does NOT mean that you are a journalist.  Or viceversa. True journalists are held to a higher standard than the average blogger.]

TORONTO – When Brian Mann went to Service Ontario to renew his licence plate, he already had 407 things on his mind.

He ended up with $2,855 more.

That’s how much cash he was told to cough up before they would give him a new sticker.

“I just about fell over,” said the Oshawa, Ont., man.

Turns out, records show, he had a number of years of non-payment on his 407 ETR account and they have added up.

The original bill on unpaid tolls was $494, but with interest, taxes and administration fees of than $2,300, it’s now getting to an out-of-control point for the electrician and new father.

“It’s so stressful,” he said. “It makes it difficult to sleep.”It’s certainly raises the cost of getting the licence plate renewal he needs to drive for his livelihood.

 

The next day I went to Canoe.ca and saw the same picture, except a much different headline.  Someone had stepped in to take care of the bill.  I was actually livid.  My first impression was that this guy had whined enough publicly to get someone’s attention who then decided it was best just to make it all go away.  Great.  What a wonderful story that is.  Don’t want to pay your bills?  Just make a big stink.  But then I started reading the article…  and I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  This was the exact same incident… yet written about from a completely different angle.  The guy wasn’t trying to get out of paying a bill.  Somehow someone else’s license plate was electronically attached to his pass, and racking up charges… 14 years’ worth!

I immediately did a search for the original article and was surprised to still find it online.  I wanted to read it again incase I had completely missed the point of it the first time.  No.. I don’t think so.  Surely then it must have been written by a different reporter… nope.  Same person!  What?  Why was none of this information in the first article?  Even the poll at the end made it seem like he was a slacker… Should he have to pay the $2,855?  Yes.  No.  I don’t know.  Those were the options.

This is a copy of the second article…

It may have taken 14 years to get there, but Brian Mann finally arrived at his 407 destination.

Actually 14 years and one day.

That kind of simplifies the story of the Oshawa electrician who was facing $2,855 in back fines for tolls on the 407 ETR dating to 1999 — more than $2,300 of that in accumulated interest and administration charges.

Mann just recently found out about the years of non-payment and was facing not being able to renew his van’s licence plate as a result.

But the Toronto Sun gets action — with the help of a Hwy. 407 executive and the highway’s ombudsman, too.

Mann was sure it was not him driving on the privately owned highway since he was in Asia during a lot the time in question. He just needed someone within the 407 to listen.

This is where 407 vice-president Kevin Sack came in.

Sack ordered an investigation and found Mann should not have faced this bill.

It turns out, somehow, there was a second license plate added to his original transponder — even after that transponder was cancelled. For some reason the tolls kept being added on.

 

So, after reading both of those… same newspaper… same journalist… 24 hours apart…  what do you think?    Am I completely nuts or what?

Oh… and I have to say.. this is my favourite line out of both articles… “But the Toronto Sun gets action

Yeah right.

P!nk – Just Give Me A Reason (ft Nate Ruess)

Published March 1, 2013 - 5 Comments

I heard this song for the first time on the radio last night.  *click*   Off to iTunes I went to buy it.  For $1.29 it is a great deal!  I’m not sure what I think of the video yet.  I’ve only watched it once… the teddy bear is a little creepy…  but the chorus is amazing…

Just give me a reason

Just a little bit’s enough

Just a second we’re not broken just bent

And we can learn to love again

If you don’t recognize the name of the gentleman she’s paired with, that’s ok.  Neither did I.  But you should recognize his voice.   He’s the lead singer of “fun.”.  I blogged about one of the other songs that he did, Some Nights.