Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years Ingrates

I needed to get milk, and it was 20:00 on December 31. I didn't want to do it the following day, because I don't want store managers to get satisfaction out of making their employees work on holidays.

Nevertheless, I went to the bank, withdrew a twenty, and went to the 24-hour convenience store.

Twice--once when locking my bike before entering the store, and once while unlocking it after my purchase--a young couple walked by expressing their distaste at the fact that the clerk was on the phone the whole time.

When I went in, the guy was on the phone, speaking a language that even I couldn't recognize. I didn't care. He was probably talking with his family or something. I thanked him anyway.

I didn't say anything to the first couple, but when I heard the second couple, I reminded them that maybe they should be grateful that this guy was working on New Year's Eve.

"Still, it's not good customer service to talk on the phone like that," said the girl. She was all made up, and they were probably going to a bar for some late-night partying.

The guy commented, too: "Hey, I work in retail and I had to work today."

I imagine he probably works in the underwear department at Sears. The only people who probably would have been shopping at his store were consumer whores looking for their Boxing Week specials. If he didn't work today because the store were closed, a horse might have yawned.

Whatever the guy does, his fancy coat and clothes demonstrate that his employment is clearly not comparable to a convenience-store clerk who works the midnight shift for a large chain.

If you don't like it, go somewhere else. Oh, wait--that's right: this is the only place that's open. Fuck off already.

- RG>

When you drive a Hummer all day long, you may need to go to...

I frequently see this Hummer downtown. Maybe you have too? Or have you....

(Read the words closely...)


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Whoa. That's a fancy camera!

I got a new camera last week. It's leaps and bounds better than my old one. In addition to being small and not having a lens that goes in and out, it's waterproof and dustproof (my last camera became useless when it got dust inside the lens).

Unfortunately, when buying a camera, you don't get the option of getting a megapixel or two less and saving a lot of money, because those cameras sell out too quickly. So I paid more than I wanted to. But it's worth it.

One of the many features (aside from user-friendliness) is macro mode. This lets you take photos of things really close up. It saved me a lot of trouble when I saw a nice plant someone was tossing out. It looked alright, but there was some white stuff on it. I took a shot of it in macro mode and zoomed in on the 2.5" screen, and discovered the white things were bugs!

I left the plants where they were.

Earlier today, I was bored, so I took a photo of a ballpoint pen. Go on and click it to see the larger version.

In case you didn't notice, that black spot on the tip is a reflection of the camera in the tip. Forget horsepower, this puppy's got 7.1 megapixels, and isn't afraid to use them.

I assume that, like my typewriter, I'll keep finding more funky features as I use it (although I've already read through TFM).

- RG>

Monday, December 18, 2006

Burning ethanol does not reduce GHGs!

I had been meaning for quite a while to bitch about these ads on the bus stops, and also about Christmas lights.

This person wrote a comment on Slashdot, which I felt I had to reply to. I liked the way my reply was worded, so I thought I'd copy it here and kill a few stoned birds...
"I estimate rather conservatively that my compact florescent (CF) bulbs will pay for themselves in less than 18 months"

Sorry to burst your bulb, but this is a really dangerous style of reasoning.

For example, there are a lot of ads at the bus shelters here in Ottawa talking about how ethanol and biodiesel "reduces" greenhouse gases.

I'm sorry, but when you burn any hydrocarbon there are more--not less--GHGs in the atmosphere as a result. Carpooling with one other person will reduce your emissions by 50%; teleworking or cycling one day per week will reduce by 20%.

Similarly, CF bulbs (yes, I do use them) don't "pay for themselves": you don't get paid to use them, they only cost less, when compared to an older, less efficient technology. Do you still hear people talk about the money that they save from not having to pay for lamp oil by using incandescents?

That's why I don't bother with those LED Christmas lights: sure they use less energy than the old kind, but I use no energy at all when I don't have any Christmas lights! (well, plus I have it in for Christmas; see username)

The advantage of performing a task with less energy (or at less cost, or with fewer pollutants) often distracts people from asking themselves if that task needs to be done at all, or as much.

- RG>

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ontario MPPs have nothing to protect...

Earlier today, the Ontario legislature passed a motion Thursday to make helmets mandatory for cyclists of all ages?

Read the MPPs' doublespeak in the Hansard record.

See Citizens for Safe Cycling's letter opposing this action here, and a very strong argument against mandatory helmet laws.

Technically, the motion didn't cause helmets to be mandatory; only to call on the government to remove the exemption of those 18 and over, so there is still a slight chance.

Mandatory hemlet laws act as a barrier to cycling, are a tool for the police to pick on the poor, and distract from activities that actually make cycling safer.

- RG>

Friday, December 08, 2006

Letter to Citizen: Vote with your feet, not your car keys

Here is a letter I sent to the Citizen after reading this article. We'll see if they want to print it:

Buy, live locally to save energy

re: "'Turn off lights more, use less water,' Ambrose says"
Friday, December 8, 2006, A02

It's funny that federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is sending out the same messages to Canadians that her ministry's One Tonne Challenge campaign sent before she cancelled it earlier this year. She says "Industry alone is not going to be able to solve this issue."

Frankly, it'll be nice to see Industry do anything.

I am sick of being asked to do a little bit more. I try to set an example, but there's no more energy that I can save: Every light in my apartment is already compact fluorescent. My hydro bill is under $30 a month (with electric heaters). I bicycle everywhere, so I won't be "buying a more fuel-efficient car".

I buy local goods, which don't require as much energy to transport, but this is difficult. Maybe Minister Ambrose can tell me why the apple at the big-box grocery store from South Africa costs less than the one right next to it from Ontario? Or the beef from South America, and the myriad consumer products from China and southeast Asia (where, I might add, pollution regulations aren't as strict as in Canada)?

In Ottawa, the commercial property tax rate is much higher than the residential rate. When consumers buy their goods at a big-box store, local stores close, and the City loses their tax revenue. On top of this, the City must spend millions to build roads for citizens to drive to these large stores.

Those who want to reduce their energy consumption have already done so; Ms. Ambrose needs a better plan than asking politely if she wants to reach the rest of consumers. In the meantime, people should buy locally: vote with your feet, not your car keys.

- RG>

One small step closer to the future...

Last November (or was it December), when I got my new cell phone after switching to Bell (which has been a far better experience than Rogers. Grr...Rogers), I decided to try the 'voice tag' feature.

The purpose of this feature is you don't have to remember a person's number, and you don't even have to scroll through to find their name. You just have to speak their name.

The catch, of course, is knowing how to activate the thing that lets you use this feature. Obviously, it's not going to call my grandmother every time I say her name within earshot of my cellphone's microphone.

Last November, the only way I could figure out how to do this was by pressing and holding the "send" button, while the keyboard was unlocked. At that point, I figured it would be just as easy to use the one-touch dialing, the scrolling method, or old-fashioned dialing the digits.

I was bored a couple of weeks back, and discovered that if I were to press and hold the button on my handsfree headset, which sits on or near my ear for most hours of the day, I could activate this feature. It was quite a pleasant surprise. I spent the following hour or so recording as many voice tags as my phone could handle (to be honest, 20 isn't enough), when I probably had an essay to write or something. Actually, I have a couple things I need to write right now...

The next day, while riding my bike, I took advantage of the ability to call people without digging under my many layers of jacket and sweater to pull my cell phone out of my belt-pouch. I also called Bell, because I knew I'd be making more outgoing calls during the day with this handy-dandy feature.

Here's how it works: with my cell phone's keypad still locked, I just need to press and hold the button on my headset for a few seconds, wait for a sound, then speak the tag. It then finds the matching tag, replays it to confirm that it's dialing who I want it to dial, and it dials.

I liken it to the communicators from Star Trek. No, not those awkward handsets from TOS, but the two-taps-and-tell-me-who-to-call version from the later series.

Note to self: do a very close analysis of my phone usage on my next phone bill. Methinks I will be talking a lot more now.

- RG>

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remember what they fought for

[Note: This is a piece I submitted to the Ottawa Citizen today (sans links). We'll see if they print it.]

Remember what they fought for

I am quite bothered by a conversation I had this remembrance day.

It took place at the Human Rights memorial; I was standing a the edge
of a demonstration, listening to someone speak over the soundsystem
set up for the event. An older man approached cautiously. He was
wearing his uniform, adorned with two medals and a poppy.

"It's a demonstration in support of the five men being held in Canada
without charges," I said, in reference to the gathered crowd, hoping
for the man to be receptive to the cause.

Instead, they will have to stay at home in house arrest, indefinitely
confined in the strictest bail conditions in the country. Mr. Harkat
is neither accused nor convicted of a crime, and thus has the rights
of neither. On what evidence does the government want to deport him?
He doesn't have the right to know, and neither does the public.

If these five men are terrorists, then by all means they should be
tried and convicted in open court, with all the rights of such a
person. The Canadian government shows cowardice in keeping these men
locked up in a legal limbo, in what NDP MP Bill Siksay called "inhuman

Even, however, if they are terrorists, nobody should be subjected to
the conditions which they have faced, especially not in the names of
"democracy" and "freedom".

- RG>

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I was at Boko Bakery, buying a loaf of Flax seed bread (the softest, tastiest bread you'd ever get from a bakery!) and a garlic baguette (oooohhhhh so tasty!) when I saw these two trays of hallowe'en-themed treats.

I didn't get any, but I thought they were so cute!

Especially these little mummies! Freshly made in-house. Boko is a local small business, so support them!
- RG>

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rebrand time!

(Edits made on 2006-12-31)

As you may have noticed, I have moved my blog.

I have been talking lately much less about things Ottawa than things other. I decided then that it would be easier for someone to remember my blog address if it reflected my username.

Ottablog?!? What was I thinking?

I'm also thinking about changing the tile I've also changed the blog's name from "My Two Sense" to "Tales from a Grouch". The name is a take-off of the book Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy. Though I haven't read the book, a friend of mine told me in grade nine that I reminded him of that guy. Let me know which title you'd prefer.

On that note, I've also been planning on putting more of my correspondence up here, including many of the letters which weren't published by the Citizen (and perhaps the ones which were, too...).

Lately, as you may have noticed, I stopped putting words in brackets at the end of the post title. I might have upgraded to Blogger Beta, which has a category tag function, of course that would require going back and changing all the old posts [Edit: in progress]. I'm not against revisionism, just against the work involved. I also haven't forgotten about the "100 things about me" post. [But I also haven't thought about it.] I've had been adding items to a google spreadsheet and will update when I feel like doing it.

- RG>

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Explain yourself Dom`tar!

I was cleaning up my apartment when I came upon this little curiosity:

It was the front and back "covers" of a pack of Domtar-brand coloured cardstock, item number 80099600. A "cover" indeed.

On the front cover is a little Canadian flag in the lower-left corner (the text "Canadian Pride / Fierté Canadienne" circles it). However--and you might have to click on the image to zoom to see it--next to the UPC code it says "Made in U.S.A."

Scandal! Outrage!

What in Canada's name is Domtar trying to pull over my patriotic eyes? I'll certainly follow this up with a phone call to 1-800-6-Domtar and ask them and their Klingon-sounding brethren to explain their contradictory actions. [Edit: I have done this. They were very polite. Unfortunately, I am no John Hargrave.]

Tsk. Domtar. The front of your packaging says your paper is free of acid, but your back says you should be full of shame.

- RG>

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Google maps, you anger me! >:(

a google maps search for 90 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario returns a satellite view of a little green arrow pointing to a cloud.

This will be my excuse for being late.

- RG>

Monday, September 25, 2006

Visiting Police Officers Abuse Powers

I was parking my bike outside the Citizens for Safe Cycling office yesterday (Sunday), when I took this photo (click to see larger version):
In case you can't make it out, here's what it depicts: about a dozen or so O.P.P. motorcycle officers. Two of them sped into the intersection with their flashers on and blocked off Bank Street, while the rest of them zipped through the stop sign (there is no stop sign for the Bank Street traffic).

When Critical Mass does this, it is called "corking," and is considered illegal:

81. (3) No person shall drive, park or stop a vehicle on a highway in such a manner as to obstruct traffic.
-- City of Ottawa By-Law 2003-530

Immediately following this section is the exception for emergency vehicles...

Despite any provisions of this by-law to the contrary, a police officer or the General Manager may, during any emergency or special circumstance, by the erection of appropriate signs or signals, prohibit or regulate the movement of vehicles on any highway or part of a highway and no person shall drive or operate a vehicle in contravention of any such sign or signal.
-- City of Ottawa By-Law 2003-530

So the question comes out: why were they doing this?

The urgency with which they did this made me initially think they were transporting a special dignitary, but they were all on motorcycles; no sedans, limos, or Harpermobiles (tinted-window-SUVs).

Perhaps, I thought, they were doing anti-terrorism exercises, but their gold helmets and fancy attire nixed that thought.

An hour or so later, I found these motorcycles (along with a LOT of other police vehicles) parked near City Hall. Saturday had been the ceremonies to recognize fallen firefighters, and today the police were having another shindig.

However, "late for the party" does not seem to me to be an "emergency or special circumstance" under section 82. It does seem, however, to be an abuse of the Police's powers. Seeing these O.P.P. officers scoot through my city's downtown and flaunt stop signs does not do well for my perception of that organization.

The first thing you learn in any law course is the Rule of Law: everyone is equal before and under the law. This means that the Police have the same responsibility as we do to follow traffic laws. Although the law has exceptions, those exceptions are to be used sparingly, in emergencies only.

Here are the places I will be complaining to [Edit: I haven't.]:

- RG>

Quality product: Stanfield's underwear

EDIT: Jason had a less pleasant experience with Stanfield's underwear. See comments. - RG>

A few weeks ago, it came time to buy new underwear. Not something you do very often, but you have to live with your choice for a long time.

The last time I got new underwear, it was for christmas, back when I still lived with my parents. They got me Standfield's underwear, which I liked the fit of.

So I headed off to the Bay in search of Stanfield's underpants. But I was fearful. Never having bought underwear for myself before, I wasn't sure whether, for example, the design changes from year to year (making the version I currently had a few years out of date), or if there are different models of briefs.

I took the plunge, and purchased a three-pack for $27 plus tax. A bit steep, I know, but I like to wear quality material under the belt.

Before even trying them on, I was quite pleased. They are clearly marked on the back that they are made in Canada (Truro, Nova Scotia to be exact), and advertised "Buy Canadian". They came with the little inspection tag, saying that Darlene had verified their quality. This is quite reassuring in an era where most of the things we consume are produced overseas (food included).

I tried them on, and they fit like a glove. I was very pleased.

Thanks Darlene.

- RG>

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Note to self

Note to self:

When carrying a heavy wooden knife block,
- use two hands
- use dry, non-greasy hands
- wear steel-toed boots

- RG>

PS: refill gauze in first aid kit.

PPS: Ow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrating good karma

Yay! My first +5 comment on slashdot! And it's not even one of my stupid/funny ones either!

- RG>

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Beware of the Leopard

So I was typing up an article for a local paper the other night at 3 in the morning, when suddenly my internet goes out.

Having had this happen a couple times before, and called Rogers tech support only to find out that I hadn't turned enough devices off and back on again, I did this repeatedly, and checked my computer's settings, all to no avail.

So I called Rogers tech support. After getting through the security questions (Which was a challenge, as I use neither the phone nor the mailing address at my place, and the bill is in another roommate's name), the tech guy told me nonchalantly, "oh, the connection is down in your area from 2am to 6am for scheduled maintenance."

So I asked him why I wasn't warned of this beforehand, as I was working on some vital documents (okay, they weren't vital, but I didn't know when I'd wake up and be able to send them. Best to exaggerate the extent of problems big companies cause you). He said that "notice of the outage is available on the [something rogers-tech-supportish] website."

First, I tried explaining to him the irony of posting this announcement on a website, where people won't be able to access it when their internet is down due to the very maintenance it is meant to announce. He didn't seem to understand or care.

Then, I tried explaining to him that the average internet user's morning routine isn't "wake up, eat breakfast, check e-mail, brush teeth, check Rogers tech support website for upcoming internet outages" (particularly since this routine doesn't involve porn).

I think it might have been clearer for him if I had put it that way; what I actually said was "well by that logic, I should go to the airport right now in case there's somebody waiting for me!" Still, he didn't quite understand why it should matter to him.

So I explained to him that he should pass it up the ladder as a suggestion. I told him that when the City recently had to do some maintenance on our water pipes, they didn't just do it and expect people to go to City Hall to find the explanation on display there. (Again, it was only afterwards that I figured I should have been more clear by adding, "in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.") What the City did do was pass flyers to the doors of residents that would be affected; I suggested that Rogers should send e-mails to those of its customers who will be affected by scheduled outages (I did not mention that I wouldn't have gotten such a message anyway, as I don't have an e-mail addresss tied to that particular account).

Many times as I tried to explain to him the stupidity of what Rogers had done, he kept saying "I don't want to get into an argument with you," and I kept thinking, "good, just understand what I'm saying and you won't have to."

I also forgot to tell him that I was moving soon, and if it is at all possible, I will try to get an internet connection from someone that is not Rogers. [Edit: mission accomplished.]

In other news, I'm not having any problems with my Bell cellphone (other than the 5 voicemail limit, but hey, they're free).

- RG>

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Charity Rant

Every weekend during the summer, there is at least one large fundraiser ride, run, telethon, or other event raising funds for this charity, or that hospital (the Ottawa marathon being an exception, as it has no charitable beneficiary). Every single one whores itself out to a barrage of corporate sponsors, and plasters its sponsors' names across the city.

These rides have turned into a ruse for Corporate [North] America to play nice guy and encourage average citizens to donate their own money to these dilapidated causes, because the Big Boys want to keep their dandy profits.

It occurred to me at this year's Tour Nortel ride. It probably came to me at the same ride in previous years, but this year I simply couldn't bear it. If I heard "McDonald's Dream Team" one more time, I'd simply lose it.

If you visit, you'll notice two things. First, "McDonald's" appears more times in the website's opening text than the names of any of the ride's beneficiaries (CHEO being the chief among them). Second, you'll note that the website is designed to showcase front-and-centre the many corporate sponsors of the ride.

For me, the epiphany was when I heard Max Keeping's voice call out the "Esso 12K cycle and In-line Skate". Excuse me, but what have Esso and McDonald's done for children's health? Much less, I'd posit to say, than they've done to it. All five of the rides have sponsors, and only one of them is not a large corporation. Active Ottawa Actif ran a very poorly designed campaign for the City of Ottawa's Public Health department.

Allow me an aside to share with you the gist of their campaign. In order to encourage kids to get the flu shot, they have devised a theme character: Gerry the Giraffe. However, as with any other marketing blunder, the majority of their effort is spent trying to woo kids to pay attention to their Giraffe--by handing out stickers that say "Gerry" and have the giraffe's picture on it. These stickers have no text that identifies the nature of Gerry's campaign, and the picture is merely that of a cartoon giraffe. Even if this campaign gets kids to recognize Jer--er, Gerry, it will have failed at encouraging kids to get inoculated. Of course, what child is going to go to their parent and say "Mom! Mom! I wanna get a flu shot, because Gerry told me to!"

At least the dalmation wore a firefighter's hat.

Anyway, getting back to how corporations are destroying the social system...

There are at least two reasons for Esso to sponsor this corporate challenge, aside from the obvious PR boost. First, most people who ride their bikes in the Tour Nortel drive them to the suburban Nortel campus in their cars and SUVs. They have to get their gas somewhere.

Since Esso charges the same as other fuel companies, but spends less than any other on reducing its products' toxicity, or on developing alternative fuels, or on protecting the inhabitants it displaces in developing countries, it has more money to burn on PR stunts like this ride.

It also has more money to burn on lawyers and lobbyists, who encourage governments not to raise corporate taxes to pay for our overworked health care system. What does this have to do with a fundraising ride? Because the over $600,000 raised by this year's ride is simply life-support for our local hospitals. Every year, the amount of money raised by private individuals in this ride and in the CHEO telethon, which is on this weekend, is higher than the previous year. This money is not used by hospitals for extracurricular things like research (which also lacks sufficient government support). Instead, institutional charity recipients depend on this as a source of regular income.

In the event of a recession, people would no longer be able to give so much money in telethons, and our hospitals and school boards (who are required by law to have balanced budgets) would suffer tremendously. Oil companies, fast food companies, and other Big Businesses, however, would still reap large profits.

If these charity fundraisers didn't exist, we'd be able to see exactly how badly our social institutions (health, educational, and community) are doing. Then we'd see that tax cuts (be they for the rich or for the middle class) are a luxury that we as a society simply cannot afford. Instead, not only do we have to put up with the press releases of how many pennies McDonald's customers donated to this-or-that cause, but we have to shoulder--through fundraisers--the increased costs of institutions that seek to heal the very problems that are caused by these tax-evading corporations.

On a more local level, the alumni association for my alma mater is very active, and is a large source of revenue for the school's projects. This is all fine and dandy for Lisgar, but what about the many schools that don't have the advantage of rich kids attending? Most of the people who graduate from Lisgar rise to the top of society and reinvest their wealth in the school's next generation. Students and parents are thus somewhat insulated from the effects of the funding crunch, and they--the ones who will go on to lead the country--may see no need to increase school funding.

If you have the money, it's not so bad. You can give a couple dozen bucks to the ride if you're feeling generous, and you can pay the $80 surcharge on your next hospital visit, or $50 for your kid's textbook.

However, if you can't afford this, the McDonald's Dream Team isn't going to comp your hopsital trip.

Now do you want fries with that?

- RG>

Saturday, June 03, 2006

100 things about me

In about every other entry, I've been talking about writing a "100 things about me" entry. I'm always thinking of things to put in it. Enough talk. I'm starting it now.

  1. I hate it when people send me text files in .doc format, or when they don't use styles to format it.

  2. Although I'll buy food that isn't certified organic at my local grocer because it's an independent business, I draw the line there. I won't buy Kraft products, even from them.

  3. When I want a water bottle, I'll buy a bottle of cola, drink it, then re-use it. Usually this will take me longer to drink than when I crave a bottle of cola, because I really wanted water.

  4. I only call it "cola" when it goes into print.

  5. I believe that "suburb" is a four-letter-word.

  6. I use a can opener on average about once a month. Usually for baked beans.

  7. I hate Rogers.

  8. I realize this list doesn't have 100 entries.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Let's hope I don't get sick

So today I started making a stir-fry, and didn't realize until I had already started that the only meat I had was this clump of stewing beef that's been in the freezer for as long as I can remember.

I took it out, defrosted it, and was disgusted by how much it smelled like dog food. Nevertheless, it was the only meat I had, so I cut it up. I tried discarding some of the less appetizing bits.

As I was cooking it, my roommate came in and assumed the dogfood smell was her cat, who had just gone for a bath in the toilet. I assured her that it was, in fact, my beef.

So I cooked it, and ate a portion. I couldn't bring myself to eat all of the meat I had served myself, as some of it tasted just too raunchy.

When I went back and took the lid off the wok, I detected the unmistakable smell of dog food. Not wanting to waste the vegetables that I had cooked, I threw out the remaining beef in the mix, at put the veggies in a plastic container for later consumption (or disposal, as necessary).

Anyway, I really hope that it doesn't make me sick before my 4pm shift.

- RG>

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's been a while. Fuck you!

Heh heh. The "fuck you" is just for fun.

A lot has happened in the last week, much less since whenever I last posted.

I had my first meal at an Indian restaurant. I had originally planned on eating somewhere before meeting my friend there--an idea I got that last time I was at an Indian restaurant and couldn't get past the spicy bread--but I was actually quite satisfied with it. With encouragement, I could be pushed to go to another one.

I also got my very first full-time, permanent job this month. It ain't excactly CEO of MegaSuperCorp, but it's alright. Working the night shift sorta screws with my sleep (or rather, trying to juggle sleep and doing things while the rest of the world is running 9 to 5). I've been eating a lot at the nearby 24-hour diner.

Yesterday was the Great Glebe Garage Sale. After going through the entire Glebe and picking up only one thing (as well as stopping by the bike shop to get some work done), I ended up back at the very first place I had visited, to pick up the iron I had looked at, and the very second place to pick up the mixmaster (I had neglected to ask if it worked--the beaters don't stay in the holes).

Interestingly, nobody who was selling their ironing board was willing to part with only the cover, something which I had been seeking for a couple of weeks. I also wasn't willing to try to bring home an ironing board on my bike.

This morning, I had planned on going to Zellers to get one, but after visiting their website to get their hours, I was totally put off by the audio/video advertisement that didn't seem to have an STFU button. I e-mailed them to say that I would instead be purchasing my merchandise elsewhere, and I stopped short at saying that "elsewhere" was the Bay--Zellers' upscale corporate sibling.

Since I last blogged, I think I've been interviewed on the TV news twice, and been printed in the paper (in articles, letters to the editor, and media releases) a good handful of times. Since it's no longer a secret who I am, I may end up back-posting those letters and articles, as well as the ones that didn't make it in. [Edit: I think I'll use a separate blog for that, as Keith Lowell Jensen does]

I've also been thinking more about writing that "100 things about me" post. I've also noticed that I can save as a different time and date from when I actually post, so there are a few posts on here that are really quite useless.

Anyway, that's it.

- RG>

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Say no to two-tier justice!

Cheney shot a man while hunting. Now, it seems, that the man suffered a heart attack.

The government prosecutor should sic the extremely harsh laws on Cheney and stick him in jail for the mandatory minimum sentence.

Why don't they?

Well for one, the laws are stupid. Clearly harsh punishments don't work at preventing criminal behaviour or rehabilitating offenders; they merely seek vengeance to satisfy our sadistic society.

So why should he be jailed anyway?

Because stupid as they are, they laws are still there! And they're still used, but they're used to oppress those who threaten the ruling class, not society's upper-crust!

It's precisely like when that Canadian diplomat's car in Baghdad was shot at recently: fine when it happens to locals or unimportant people, but all hell breaks loose if we try to apply the same standards to the social elite.

The media keep us blind by not reminding us that the rhetoric used to justify laws is that they are supposed to be applied equally. Because if the media did force the government to apply the law equally, it would mean Cheney going to jail for many years because of a hunting "accident".

That would lead to people realizing that the entire justice system is fucked up and doesn't work. Ninety-five percent of people are in jail for drug offenses. In Canada, only 2% of prisoners are classified as "dangerous". The other 98% are in jail because the media has made crime all fun and glitzy to report, thereby spreading fear, and pandering to poiticians who say they'll be tough on crime. Being tough is all fine and dandy if that's what you want to vote for, but it doesn't actually prevent crime, it just wastes our tax dollars and strips people of their rights!

Incarceration rates in the US are highest in the Western world. They're five times higher than Canada and Mexico, and higher than Russia (though just by a bit). And they're going up FAST.

Media should treat Cheney's shooting as an opportunity to show the way that lower-class people are marginalized by the system, while upper-class people get off scott-free for the exact same things, and while running on "tough on crime" platforms that increase the penalties for the very things they do, because they know that they'll never get charged!

- RG>

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bad ideas made worse

I was at a grocery store (a bigger one than I usually go to), when I saw the most terrible thing being offered in those stupid toy-dispensers....

The two in the middle there are little rubber bracelets, like the ones originally put out by Lance Armstrong. But these are much much worse.

First, let me explain why the bracelet idea was a terrible one to begin with (The Asylum Street Spankers have a very good song and dance on a similar topic: "Support our Troops" car magnets):

  • They serve no function; and are therefore a waste of resources (I suspect they're also not recyclable);
  • They come individually wrapped in plastic packaging, and these are further packaged in packs of ten;
  • They represent that you bought them for $1, ONE FREAKIN' DOLLAR, the proceeds of which will go to (in Armstrong's case) the (US?) Cancer Society. The amount you spent on shipping went to USPS and, if you live outside the US, your local government customs bureau.
  • They are used as a status icon. People even collect these bracelets to get the different colours! It doesn't even matter that some measly part of the money you spent on them actually went to a good cause!

These piles of plastic paraphernalia being pushed in the supermarket also serve no function, and are also individually wrapped. However, they come further packaged in hard plastic bubbles (which, whether or not they are recyclable, you know the kid's just going to toss it in the trash).

They also cost a dollar, only the proceeds of this go to the company that you bought it from. Not that it will stop others who see your status icon from thinking that the money went to charity.

They are a complete bastardization of this concept. It's exactly like Christmas. Christmas was originally (never mind the pagan/Christian roots) supposed to be a way of celebrating charity and humanity (giving money to charity, in this case). Then, this charity took the form of giving gifts--material objects that represnt charity (the original wristbands). Now, the entire Christmas industrial engine is about getting, and about having, and the ties to humanity are lost (the grocery store wristbands).

If you look closer, you'll see the one on the left actually is a children's bracelet. Exactly like Christmas I say! Hook 'em in as consumers as early as you can!

I'll be writing a letter to the manager.... [Edit: I didn't.]

- RG>

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Money for fooooood...

Ten billion bucks for machines that kill people in faraway lands, eh?

How about sparing a couple of dimes for something constructive?

Sorry, but we don't have any money left to buy condoms for Africans.

Fucking military.

- RG>

Monday, January 30, 2006

Blair: Global Warming needs your help to continue (commentary)
[Edit: Link no longer operational]

From the article:

"The threat posed by climate change may be greater than previously thought, and global warming is advancing at an unsustainable rate..."

You hear that, folks? If we don't want to keep having to invest more and more into raising the earth's temperature, we've got to act now.


- RG>

My First Cyrillic Spam

I got my first Cyrillic (Russian alphabet) spam today in my Gmail account, complete with attachment!

"Земельные участки. Новое в 2006 году." - makes 1337speak look like a pile of crap.

Gmail is actually very good at filtering spam; most of the false negatives are from my e-mail accounts that forwards to G-mail, and I know that there are at least 200 spams/day from there.

- RG>

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My First All-Nigher

Friday night, after the weekly activist movie, I went to the office to analyze four years' worth of financial documents. This took me until about 03:30.

When I got home, I did my regular checking-of-the-internets, ending about 04:30. I went to go to sleep, and failed to do so. So I went back on the internet and started watching video clips from I did this until about 10:30am. I then read the two issues of Macleans that I had lying around, and got really tired. I went to sleep at 11:30am.

And then I had to get up at 13:00 again.

It was my very first all-nighter (although not the typical kind, where you do it out of necessity). Prior to this, the latest I'd ever stayed up was about 04:00. I did it without food or drink, and the 6-hour finance meeting at 13:00 was a pain in the body, though I was able to concentrate. Thank you Tim Horton's donuts.

I just hope that I'll be able to make it on Election day--I will be the only Registration Officer working at the polling location, from 09:00 to 21:30 (or later, if there's a lineup when the doors close). Seeing how I'm in Ottawa Centre, a very political riding, and they're predicting a high voter turnout, I might be in for a big day.

Anyway, I'm still sick. I think it might be tonsillitis.

- RG>

[Edited 2007-12-29 to correct the url "", after discovering a surprising number of referrals for the search term "". Other errata/updates include: m90 is no longer in my rounds for internet videos; I cancelled my Macleans subscription years ago; the thank-you was to the donuts, not to the corporation; and I was not the only Registration Officer that day; I do, however, still feel a little under the weather.]

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Deep thought

I was just thinking to myself about myself, and I started saying "I feel like Schrödinger's cat," because I don't know whether or not I am alive.

And then I thought, wait a minute! If I were Schrödinger's cat, I would know whether I were alive.

Then I thought, what if I were Schrödinger's cat, but also outside the box, unable to see inside it? Then I both would both know and not know at the same time!

And then I said, "whoa..."

- RG>

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

(no title)

Does the spoon spill far from the soup?