Powered by Blogger

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whole Lot of Leaving...

I really like this new song from Bon Jovi - Whole Lot of Leaving. I happened upon it in my TV channel surfing one night, and I haven't seen it since, but thanks to YouTube I have it saved and can play it on loop. It's got a really good rhythm, and good lyrics too. Almost country-ish. I guess if today's country is being pushed to the teenie bopper pop market, I'll have to turn to the likes of Bon Jovi and Kid Rock for good tunes. In the words of Benton Fraser - "Oh dear."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To London And Back...

Well, I'm back from the London trip to do the quarterly kidney checkup. As Lavinia asked in a previous comment, what is a kidney checkup? Well, sometimes I forget not everyone has read every post I've made in the last 3 years (haha). As it so happens, almost 5 years ago now I had a kidney transplant, after a bit of time on dialysis. It was a success, and been working good so far. About every 3-4 months though, I go back to where I had the transplant done at London University Hospital in Ontario (great staff there, and good people) and the Doctors check me out and make sure everything is doing what it's supposed to do - the kidney, the diet, the meds, etc. Once again, I got a clean bill of health. The blood pressure is always an issue because of the meds, but we've made a slight adjustment and it should be clear sailing.

The day is always a long one, leaving early in the morning to make the early morning appointment. However, a trip out of my usual routine gives me a chance to work my (relatively still new) camera. Was never one to be much of a shutterbug, but since I got my digital camera, I enjoy it quite a bit more. The only way I'd carry a camera around was if it was slim, small, and lightweight and still take good shots. I think I've found that with my Casio Exilim. Takes good shots and records video in MP4. It's not professional grade, but it works for me. Combined with iPhoto / Pixelmator on my Mac, it's a lot of fun.

Anyway, you can go here to check all the shots I put up at Flickr, but here's some select shots of the day for the blog...

We came across a rollerblader in the bicycle lane. Does that qualify? Traffic wasn't too happy passing him on the bridge...

Pulling up to the Hospital. It's a pretty big building, and they always seem to be adding / changing with construction too. They do a lot of work here.

This was weird. The hall to the nephrology clinic was covered with sheeting on the wall for the construction and other safety lamps for lighting. Gave it an Indiana Jones treasure hunting feel to it or something...

Looking down on the helicopter pad from the parking garage. We saw one come in and land once, and there is not a lot of room to do it. Coming down between the hospital and two parking garages would take some skill.

London has some rather old buses in their fleet. The orange stands out though.

After the Bachelor's post on old Barns, I had to snap this shot as we drove...

I really liked this shot with the mirror. I'm still half hidden in shadow and shades, so I'm putting it out there. Still on the fence whether to post myself online, but I'm think I'm starting to lean over...

And finally, a really nice shot of the beautiful clouds and sky. Makes a nice wallpaper too.

All in all, a good day, a good report from the docs, and a day to count one's blessing...
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, May 26, 2008

No Rest For The Weary

Sorry for the delays in posting here folks, but been a busy couple of days. I did get some rest at least before I went to work Friday. Saturday was busy with condo work and general "things that need doing" getting in the way, but I did get to enjoy watching a few of the Death Wish movies on TV. That first one was good as an ordinary man going on revenge flick, and the second one was ok too as a man caught in a vicious cycle. But boy, that third one just did away with any pretense of being serious and just went full on action cheese / overacting fiasco. Still kinda fun, but in a Batman Forever kind of way. Death Wish 4 was predictable as all get out, but the end was a different twist. They weren't exactly great cinema, but decent entertainment. I guess I was in a Death Wish marathon mood anyway.

Hockey season is winding down as well. The local team lost the Memorial Cup, and Pittsburgh opened the Stanley Cup finals with a loss. I really should stop cheering for the teams I want to win - they never do. The last three Stanley Cup finals all blew as Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa all lost and I was cheering for them too. So, um, go Detroit! Maybe reverse psychology will work.

Going to try to grab some sleep here, before getting up at the crack of dawn to head out of town for the quarterly kidney checkup. Should be fun, or not. Wish I had an iPhone so I could post from the road. That would be cool.

And I was messing around with Pixelmator again, and came up with this. Its a shot I took driving to work, and then wound up making it look funky. The practice is fun anyway...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

No Cable, No Sleep, No Luck

Not very happy, happy today.  Got out of work at 3 in the morning, went and got some groceries, got home at 4, got to bed at 5, tossed and turned and got to sleep at 6, and got woken up by an overzealous garbage truck driver outside my windows at 8, and then woken up again at 9, 10, 11, 12, and 1.  How they managed to synchronize their noise to be on the hour, every hour, is beyond me.

And on top of it, I hate my cable provider, but I do love the internet.  Last night before going to bed I flipped on the TV and found a show on that I got into.  It was Without A Trace, and I guess it was the season finale from their first season.  I haven't watched much of the show, but it's pretty good.  Anyway, this show had a hostage situation going, and tense drama, and then with 15 minutes to go, poof - out went all my channels except for about half a dozen.  What the?!  So I hit the 'net, and I could have downloaded the show from a torrent, but the only way I could find the first season was getting the whole thing at once and I wasn't about to download 8 gigs to see 15 minutes.  So I surfed a bit more and found a transcript of the show and was able to read the conclusion.  Nice - thank you internet.  I may check out more of the show too on DVD, or maybe even that massive torrent, as it's pretty good.

Must prepare to go back to work now.  Hopefully I'll come up with more interesting posts and get around to my favorite blogs soon too and catch up.  After some sleep, of course...
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Country Music Awards Rant

In my web travels, I discovered that the ACM country music awards were on Sunday night. Now, I've lost quite a bit of interest in the awards shows over the years, but I usually knew when they were on and looked at the winners. This time, I never even knew the show was going to be on CBS, and had to go looking to find out who the winners were. (although I caught the show rerun on CMT Canada tonight) As usual of late, I was quite disappointed. The only decent call was Brad Paisley winning male vocalist. The rest of the winners were basically doing the job of pointing out that I am clearly no longer in the desired country music demographic. I'm only 31, but I fear I am now too old for todays cookie-cutter, country music "stars".

Even though Reba hosted, noticeably absent were the likes of Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, and more. In fact, most of the people I would have liked to hear sing were only walked out as presenters. Here's a note to the ACM bosses - if you have Dwight Yoakam on the show, YOU LET HIM SING! Anyway, as is their want of late, the show was a heavy push for the young newcomers on the scene. Carrie Underwood has pretty much replaced Faith Hill as the go to country female singer, and Underwood's twin upstarts of blandness - Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift - got the big push as well, with Taylor even winning an award. These three are so interchangeable, it's hard to tell them apart. Taylor got notice for her clothes ripping, water soaked performance number, but that's about it. Many other "who's that?" performers were featured, but the most ironic award had to be new male vocalist going to Jack Ingram - he of at least 10 years of singing experience. At least it was a name I recognized. The other acceptable one was Miranda Lambert winning album of the year. Previewing clips of the album on Amazon, at least she's got some talent beneath the bombast and has a more unique voice and style to stand out from the pack. And thanks to previewing her album, it sent me on a round about web tour to find EmmyLou Harris' classic Easy From Now On, which is a great tune penned by Carlene Carter, but that's another story.

There were good performances from George Strait, and um, somebody else I'm sure, but the highlight of the show had to be Garth Brooks. He won an achievement award of something, but the good part was him doing a medley of his hits. Makes one realize how much Garth Brooks is missed, at least by this fan of country music. It's funny, because when he was the big thing in the 90's, people were saying he wasn't country then either. However, listening to him tonight in comparison to the other acts trotted out, he may as well be the George Jones of his generation. Hearing him still in fine form sing songs like Thunder Rolls, Callin' Baton Rouge, Friends In Low Places, Rodeo, In Another's Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood!) and The Dance among others is downright refreshing when confronted with song of the year winners Sugarland screeching out ear bleeding notes to the masses.

I guess to each their own in who they like, but it ain't getting any easier to be a country fan these days.

Oh, and one last thing. Big, BIG thumbs down to CBS, who obviously doesn't want anyone to maybe view these performances again. There were a lot of clips put up on YouTube, but every one I clicked on had been taken down for violation. Nice going CBS. Try not to be so scared of this thing called the internet next time.

What If Your Shorts Short?

Via Engadget, we find out there are brains out there trying to come up with blood pressure monitoring system - in your underwear. The jokes write themselves for this one, but I don't want to be wearing these when the pump starts squeezing to calculate the blood pressure. I'm sure there's no real pump, just electrodes, but I think my BP would go up just looking at something like this...

Philips dreams up underwear-infused blood pressure monitoring system - Engadget
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, May 19, 2008

Australia Trailer

A new trailer has hit the web for the Baz Lurhmann directed epic, Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Normally, these kind of epic period piece movies aren't my style, but this one looks good. Here's the synopsis:

A romantic action-adventure set in northern Australia prior to World War II, AUSTRALIA centers on an English aristocrat who inherits a ranch the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver to drive 2000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country’s most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.

It looks like a good action adventure western/WWII epic. I'll have to watch this one. And if those comparisons of Hugh Jackman to a young Clint Eastwood weren't there before, they will be now with that one shot in the trailer.
You can download the trailer in 480P HD here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Good Enough For Me...

Still in a creative quagmire of blogging, but maybe that's just 'cause I'm tired. Got a Sunday and Monday off here - holiday in Canada - and I think I'm just gonna sit back and chill. But still, here's some random thoughts...

The Sin City movie was on Showcase last night and tonight. Has it been that long already? I remember eagerly awaiting this to come to the theatre in 2005, now it's on cable. Guess time goes quick. Of course, I'm watching it at the moment, but taking a commercial break in the middle of Dwight and Gail's scene in old town just isn't right...And everything seemed to be going so well...

Have you seen the commercial for Pepsi Max? They say, in an altogether too upbeat way, "Now with Ginseng and MORE caffeine!" Really? That's what people need these days? Instead of maybe calming down and trying to get more sleep, we'll just increase the uppers we take. Yeah, nothing could go wrong with that plan...

During an eternity of a commercial break here for Sin City, I flipped the channel down and found Sheryl Crow and Kris Kristofferson singing Me And Bobbi McGee on a Willie Nelson birthday concert on CMT. Classic song, and as somebody once said, it's one of those songs where you go, "Man, I wish I would have wrote that." Feelin' good was good enough for me, good enough for me and Bobbi McGee...

And here's a pic I took out the rain covered window of my truck looking down a road with street lights lit. Then I ran it through Pixelmator experimenting with different settings trying to get a harsh black and white image. Thought it looked cool until I realized it was only because I knew what the picture was. Otherwise, it looks like a mess. A fun mess though. Will have to try again with something more recognizable...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nope, Not The AC

Wednesday morning I was woken up early by work being done around the building. They had posted a sign letting us know they would be cleaning the carpets in the commons areas. Fair enough, I thought. Worst case, they'd make some noise momentarily outside my door as they worked through. What they didn't tell us in the one sheet notice was that they were bringing in a company that would run some kind of pump, compressor, or generator quite loudly starting early in the morning. And they proceeded to run the noise maker right outside my window for 4 and a half hours. I woke up in a weird stupor after only a couple hours sleep wondering what the hell was wrong with my air conditioner. After closely examining it while half asleep, it occurred to my fogged brain that the noise wasn't coming from the AC unit and that maybe I should open the drapes and take a look. Needless to say, I wasn't impressed.

So, of course, I couldn't get back to sleep, so I flipped on the TV and found that Due South was on. It was part one of the two part Mountie On The Bounty. It thankfully took my mind off the noise frustration for a while. That was a classic show.

Well, I did manage to catch a short nap before going to work the night shift and then when I came home I had to watch the conclusion, so I threw in the DVD and watched part 2. Great stuff. Nothing like Fraser teaching Ray how to swim with: "Bloom! Close! Kick 'em in the head!" to brighten a miserable day.

Now, brightened day or not, I need to get some sleep.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Not much new coming to mind here, but did find a couple YouTube song vids I thought I'd post for your enjoyment...

Here is the video for Allison Moorer's song I Ain't Giving Up On You, one of my favorites from her album The Duel. I really like the lyric "All I want to do is break even, And you're the best chance I've got." I didn't even know there was a video made for this song. Thanks YouTube, and where were you CMT?

At work, they have a radio station piped over the loudspeakers all the time. Unfortunately, I am not privy to the station setting or the volume as of yet (most times I'd prefer silence), but every now and then somebody sets it to a decent station and I hear some good songs. I heard this song one night, and hadn't heard it before, but I knew the voice was Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. I managed to scope the lyrics well enough through the tin speakers and came home and did some internet searching and found it. It was Bryan Adams song In The Heat of the Night. I liked the tune, so here it is.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

So Fired You're Rehired...


Big picture here, if you want to read the article.

So there was a kerfuffle in Canada about a woman who was fired from Tim Horton's for giving a 16 cent timbit to a toddler. She was called in and fired for giving product away for free. She did the smart thing and called a newpaper, and it hit big, causing a PR nightmare for Timmy's, and rightly so. Even though it's pointed out that it was the individual franchise and an "overzealous" manager, it didn't look good on the famous Canadian coffee and donut shop. They've been going downhill for years, and this is just one more bump in the downslope.

Now, because of the uproar, they rehired her, which is good. But there were two things in two different papers I read that caught my attention. One was that she thinks the firing wasn't because of the timbit, it was retaliation for her bringing up the manager's absenteeism at a meeting. Not right, but it makes sense. Management doesn't like to be shown up, even though they usually make it easy. The other thing, in a different paper, was where she mentioned that as she left the restaurant in tears after being fired, a total stranger gave her 40 dollars. He told her somebody did that for him when he was fired.

Of all the hoopla surrounding this 'event', that last bit was the most interesting. Maybe the world isn't completely screwed just yet.

This n That

Been out of the loop for a few days of work and trying to sleep.  But another week is here, so we march on with this and that.  Got a story percolating in the back of the brain, but nothing quite crystalized yet...

Hmm, movies, what have we got there?  Terminator 4 is going into production and will be a PG-13, which effectively lowers my interest to "wait for weekly rental" trailers for The Dark Knight and Indy 4 are out on the web....The Dark Knight just looks awesome, and I think the late Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is going to blow people away....Indy 4 trailer is good too with some good lines and action, should be good.....Iron Man made another 50 million while the new movie of the week, Speed Racer, barely made 20 million in it's debut....hello flop, goodbye profits.....I guess nobody really wanted to see nausea inducing color explosions of CGI.....and I'm one of them....and have you seen the commercials for the new Adam Sandler comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan?  Wow, does that look bad.  Not even one laugh there.

Finally, after too long, I gave my PSP another go at getting converted video behaving on it.  I got around to updating the firmware, and now I can just drop MPG4 or H.264 vids into the Video folder and away we go.  It actually works!  This is how it should have been in the first place, instead of Sony's brain dead and archaic renaming / numbering system hidden 4 folders in.  Now I can watch TV shows or movie bits while I'm on my lunch break at work.  It'll do quite nicely until I determine if I can afford an iPhone once Rogers unleashes that bill nightmare on Canadians...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

More Moorer

Been listening to Allison Moorer's latest album Mockingbird, and I am really digging it. Not a bad tune on the album - shouldn't be either as she highlights songs written by other female artists that have meant something to her. It was meant as a tribute to the female voice, according to the liner notes, and a project like that could be tempted to go with more of an agenda, but she doesn't do that. She just does great songs justice with her own voice and style. I'm a guy, but I know good music when I hear it. While there aren't too many female singers these days that get my attention, Allison Moorer is one who always does. One of a very small group of singers on my list that if I hear they are coming out with a new album, I know I'll buy it without having to hear samples or the like. Always been a fan, and she does a great album here, crossing over several different genres seamlessly. My favorite track is Revelator - a Gillian Welch penned tune. It's a classic Moorer track with that opening electric guitar riff into a fiddle and then her soulful voice. A perfect midnight track when you're thinking about getting out of sight and what might be revealed She does a great job too on the June Carter Cash written classic, Ring of Fire. It's slowed down, but done very well. Orphan Train is another good track and she closes with Jessi Colter's I'm Looking For Blue Eyes which was a song with special meaning for Allison. It's certainly a worthwhile album to check out. It's not strictly country, or strictly anything. Just really good songs sung by someone with real talent. I shake my head when I think of how I'll probably never hear even one of these tracks on radio stations around here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pixelmator - Sink or Swim

I do like to dabble in editing and creating pictures on my computer, ala Photoshop.  However, as someone who had a PC that was too old to handle Photoshop requirements, and I didn't have a degree in Photoshop either nor money to buy it, I learned my picture editing "skills" on Microsoft's Photodraw.  It worked for me, and I enjoyed it.  It was basic, but it did the job.  Then I switched to a Mac and was looking for something like it.  I read great things about Pixelmator and got that installed, but on first couple of uses I found it awkward and didn't really like it although looking at stuff made with it made me want to learn more.

Then today, a friend who calls me "savvy" with computers asked me if I could come up with something quickly for a fundraising draw she was involved in and they needed a ticket made that would be printed and sold.  I do love a challenge, but now that I have my PC hooked to my tube TV at 800 X 600 resolution, it wasn't really in the cards to work on that.  So it was Pixelmator or bust.

I found some pics on the internet that I could use to work into the ticket along with the text needed, and just dived in.  And I guess that truly is the best way to learn.  Surprisingly, I found it easier to work with and the project came together very quickly and even I was impressed with the outcome.  More importantly, so was she.  I believe Pixelmator has an interface more like Photoshop than the very basic Photodraw I was used to, which caused my confusion.  However, I figured out what I needed and even got some nice text effects as well worked in.

All in all, I'm impressed with Pixelmator and will continue to learn it.  It's a more than affordable solution for Mac users not wanting to shell out Photoshop money (and really, who can?) and I know there are even more powerful features under the hood of this thing. Next thing is to get my Graffiti tablet hooked up so I can edit and draw with a pen stylus instead of a mouse.  Yep, gotta get on that...

Network or Channel?

Was listening to Prime Time Sports show today, and host Bob McGowan pointed out an interesting oddity between Canada and the States.  In Canada, we have the Shopping Channel and the Weather Network.  However, in the States, they have the Shopping Network and the Weather Channel.

Weird, eh?

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Nothing much to say at the moment...listening to Kid Rock "Only God Knows Why" and surfing through YouTube vids...another week fallen off the calendar, which is good and bad depending how you look at it...had truck troubles with the Dodge, but thank God for Fathers, rope, and being there...and the truck is rolling again, still got some more miles left in 'er...went out for a bit to road test it and get some gas and grub...we ain't gonna be driving long if oil companies keep drilling our wallets instead of drilling for crude...and who knew Dairy Queen was still such a popular joint on a Sunday night...I ate my Wendy's burger across the street and watched the place crowded and hoppin''s amusing watching people from a distance...but I rolled home then and think I'll watch a movie and pass out...yep, solid plan, that.

Friday, May 02, 2008

That Wasn't In The Prenup

Newlyweds spend night in jail after brawl at Pittsburgh-area hotel - Yahoo! Canada News

So they get married and follow it with a fight in the hotel.  He karate kicks her to the floor, guests from another wedding party intervene, and guess what - she turns on them!  The couple wind up moving the fight to the lobby, throwing things at the other guests. 

She gets bailed out by her father and leaves jail - still in the wedding dress.  He left jail with a swollen eye and one shoe.

Needless to say, alcohol was involved.  I'm sure someday they will laugh and laugh while they tell this story to their grand kids.  Or their lawyers.

Goodbye Bandwidth

So, around the web we hear reports about ISP's (well, the big boys anyway) going out of their way to treat every 'net user like a criminal, and then charging them an arm and a leg for the privilege.    Every time I hit the net, there's only more bad news coming from the uber controlling ISP's - namely Rogers and Bell here in Canada.

Bell is already being taken to task for their bandwidth throttling war against all things P2P.  They erroneously claim torrent users are slowing things down and they have to put a lid on it for the sake of other users.  But that's been proven false and it's basically all BS.  Same with Rogers who are getting rid of their unlimited plan and capping the Express high speed plan at 60 GB monthly bandwidth.  If you exceed that, you're on the hook for $2 a GB up to a $25 max, I think.  Basically another cash grab, but even worse, they are positioning themselves to make serious extra coin in another year or two when 60 gigs just are not going to be enough.  As more video streaming and downloading options become available, bandwidth is going to get used up fast.

I have Rogers high speed because it's really my only option where I am.  Granted, I haven't exceeded 60 gigs use yet, but my usage is climbing and I'm not too thrilled about the cap.  Nothing much I can do about it though.  Well, there is one thing.  Since ISP's are throttling us on the assumption any torrent use must be illegal (read not using their sanctioned downloading options for movies and other stuff - not to mention their fear of people dropping cable for the internet), then the only solution here is to download like crazy.  Everything and anything - download it!  Because if I were to exceed the limit by say, 12 gigs, I'll be on the hook for $24 extra bill, but if I download 50 gigs extra, then I'm on the hook for $25.  May as well cancel my cable TV and download everything off the net instead and break even on the deal or even come out ahead.  It's a thought anyway, if this is the direction it's going.  Will have to double check that $25 max limit over charge though.

Either way, it doesn't look good for the future of the internet, at lease in Canada anyway.  Rogers has a monopoly and Bell is fading fast.  And now, the iPhone is coming to Canada - finally - and guess who has it?  Rogers.  Can not wait to see how they mess that up and over charge us like crazy for that thing.  If it's as bad as I think it will be, I may have to stick with my old Virgin mobile pre paid flip phone for a while longer yet, even though I really want an iPhone.  Can't be paying an arm and a leg for a cell phone when I'll need that arm and leg to pay for gas in the truck...

Or we could all just go back to telegrams, pony express, and telling stories by the fire or on the back porch while looking at a star filled sky for our communication and entertainment needs.  Probably be a better world...

PS - just tried going to Rogers website.  It isn't working either.