Monday, June 25, 2007

Where ya bin?

Too busy to blog or somethin'?

Nope. Not busy enough, really.

Funny how that works.

A couple weeks ago, my thesis made it into submissible form. Haven't done much since. Haven't submitted either, mind you. Seems we won't be doing that until the examination committee is all figured out. May as well keep it unsubmitted in case we happen to notice things that need to be changed, I suppose. Organizing the committee is proving to be quite a challenge. I'm getting the sense that this is normal. Keep that in mind for when you're on the way to finishing your Ph.D. Other than that, I haven't been up to much that's productive, except insofar as doing nothing after doing lots can be productive in its own way. I appear to have said nothing in the latter portion of that last sentence, but I think you know what I'm getting at. You've all been there before. Maybe you're even there right now. Perhaps that's why you haven't been blogging either. Haven't been up to much fun stuff lately either. I shouldn't say that. I haven't been up to much that's out of the ordinary. Hangin' out with friends here and there, when they've all got the time. That's fun. But I haven't been sailing. I did go home for a weekend. Most of you knew that already. It was sanctioned by my supervisor this time, which is nice. I bought some clothes that weekend (hat tip to the Blogless Erica). I quite like them, though I haven't had the opportunity to wear all of them. If you don't mind, could you please hold an event where a light blue short sleave shirt with cargo shorts would be appropriate. That would be great. Please remember to invite me if you do. That shirt really needs to debut with an audience. That's all I have to say for now, if indeed I've said anything at all. Hopefully soon I'll be busy enough to blog again.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I've mentioned my love affair with grammar in the past, and how it got me through my high school English courses. I do, however, have a weakness when it comes certain types of punctuation. There were about a dozen rules for the comma that I could never get straight, and, while I would normally do quite well on grammar quizzes, I barely passed the one on the comma. I'm pretty sure that I'm consistently breaking at least one on of the comma rules in my thesis, though if I leave them out, my supervisor tells me to put them back in. At least I'm being consistent. The punctuation that mystifies me the most, however, is the semi-colon. The rules for its usage are fairly simple. It is to be used to join two sentences that are closely related, perhaps in place of a conjunction. It is also used as a sort of "super comma", used in place of a comma when the things normally separated by commas contain commas themselevs. I have rarely, if ever, seen a semi-colon used in this way. As for the first rule, I am sure that I have seen them used in this way, but any of attempts of my own to do so have been foiled by my editor. Though they appear in my thesis, none of them were put there by me.


Lament for/Ode to a semi-colon

Is there a curse on
The semi-colon?
It seems Chesterton
Is the only one
allowed to have fun
w' that punctuation

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

You're only supposed to do that on a bike!

Last night, a somewhat unusual thing happened while I was walking home. I was crossing an intersection with the light (which is unusual for Kingston pedestrian traffic). As I was crossing, a car pulled into the intersection "against" the light. The light was red for her, and she was stopped for a moment before she pulled into the intersection. I slowed my pace, hoping the presence of a pedestrian in her path would make her realize that it wasn't her turn to go yet. It didn't. She looked at me like I was confused, and once I had gotten out of her way, she just kept on going. Right now, you're probably thinking, "Randy, when the lights are flashing on the police car, you're supposed to wait for it to go." There were too many rust spots, and not enough flashing lights for this to be a police car. Also, there were too many crazy looking old ladies driving.

I've almost done it a few times myself in the past, though. But I have never even gone far enough into the intersection to get in the way of pedestrians trying to use the crosswalk (in one of those rare Kingston moments when someone can't get through the intersection before the light turns green). Usually when it happened it was when I'd been biking a lot. When I'm on my bike, as with walking, I don't often bother waiting for the light to turn green. I just wait until the cars have cleared. When I would get in my car, my cycling instincts would still be in play. The worst that happened was when I was making a left hand turn one time, and almost cut off a cyclist who was going straight. I did wait for the light to turn green though. So did the cyclist, and it was almost his downfall.

Embedding Beef

A few of the blogs that I frequent occasionally embed youtube videos on their blogs. The astute Idiot Strings regular will notice that I have never done so. This is in part due to laziness. You'll notice I don't do much hyperlinking either. Though the primary reason that I haven't embedded any youtube videos is that my experience with embedded youtube is almost invariably bad. When I watch them, they almost never load fast enough to view them in realtime. The videos seem to get downloaded in chunks, but each chunk is usually finished playing before the next one gets downloaded, making for a choppy youtube experience.

If I want to watch the video smoothly, I can either let it play through once in choppy mode, and then watch it again once it's been fully downloaded, or else get the url (which can be obtained via the menu in the embedded youtube window) and go directly to youtube and watch it there. Neither of this options are that terribly inconvenient, though it does often result in my not watching the video. Also, having to do so defeats the point of embedded youtube videos, don't you think? It ceases to be an advantage to embed a video when I the viewer has to do more work than I would have if a good old fashioned hyperlink had been used.

Does anyone else have this problem?

It's not my connection, since when I view the videos on the youtube website, the whole video downloads in seconds, and there are no problems.

Minty, Not So Fresh

When I was a kid, I was always excited to get a "horse quarter", one of
the quarters issued in 1973 to commemorate the centennial of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, in my change. A lesser thrill, though a thrill
nonetheless, was when I would get one of a few other coins with
something other than their usual reverse, most
of which were issued at Canada's centennial in 1967, or one of the 12
sided nickels (1942-1963). Basically anything that stuck out from the
standard issue was of interest to me.

Since 1992, however, the Royal Canadian Mint seems to have gotten a bit
carried away. In that year, they issued a set of 12 circulation coins,
one for each province or territory, to commemorate Canada's
sesquicentennial, or 125 year anniversary. I did enjoy collecting these
coins, though it seemed a bit strange to me at the time to celebrate 125
years (less strange than, say, 137 years, mind you). Perhaps the board
of the Mint concluded that Canada would cease to be an independent
country in the face of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement or the then
upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement which superseded it, and
they thought that they should celebrate an anniversary while they could.
Who knows?

They were mostly inactive until the turn of the millennium when they
issued 24 quarters, one for each month of 1999 and 2000. I'm not sure if
striking a series of coins was what Prince had in mind when he said he
was gonna party like it's 1999. I guess fun is relative though. Some of
the designs I like. Others are corny, and a few are downright hideous in
my opinion. I managed to collect them all, though I did it mainly for
the sake of completeness, and not so much because I enjoyed the designs.
It did take me at least until late 2002, and probably as late as Winter
of 2003, before I ever saw the January 1999 coin, which was the last coin
I needed to complete the set. I got two of them not too far apart from
each other, and haven't seen one since.

Nothing special was produced in 2001, but from 2002 to 2006, there were 8
different commemorative quarters introduced (not to mention the various
special pennies, nickels, and dimes, loonies, and toonies).

About a month or so ago, I received in my change yet another variety of
quarter. On taking a closer look, I saw that coin was commemorating the
2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I think this was the point where I
concluded that the Mint has become just a bit too obsessive in producing
commemorative coins (I had been on the verge of concluding this for at
least a year now). Up until this point, the coins they've issued have
celebrated anniversaries, like centennials, or else were related to
current events, like remembrance day. But this time, they've issued a
series of coins in recognition of something that's happening 3 years from
now, and really isn't all that special in comparison (recognizing those
who served and died in various wars, finding a cure for breast cancer,
vs. an amateur athletic competition). Now if a series of coins is to be
produced before the actual year of the event, then I suppose that this is
the year to do it. Last year was too soon after the 2006 Winter
Olympics. If they were introduced next year, they would interfere with
the 2008 Summer Olympics, and I'm sure that they've got something planned
for that too. 2009, only one year before, is not soon enough. So 2007
would be the year, if any, to issue the coins. But I just don't get why
they thought it necessary to introduce a series of coins in advance of
the games at all. I know that they're going to be in Canada this time,
but, as entertaining as they are and as cool as that is, they're not that
important in the grand scheme of things. Adding the small logo for the
Vancouver Olympics to the regular circulation coins is enough. Strike
the usual Olympic loony that gets issued during the games, and put out
the funky quarters at the same time as that.

I shouldn't be too hard on the Mint, though. I'm just as obsessive about
collecting the coins as they are about making them, and these will be no

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Saturday Night Lyrics

In honour of the NHL playoffs that I'm not watching, I'm offering up some hockey related content.

A humourous addition to Stompin' Tom's well known Hockey Song due to Tim Hus and performed by Corb Lund.

Well goodness me,
Fox TV
where did you get your sight?
Can't you keep track,
the puck is black
that's why the ice is white.

And that big red glare,
that you see up there,
well we've seen that for years
Heaven sakes,
all it takes
is a couple dozen beers!


The Hockey Monkey
By the Zambonis

all the scientists are running around
looking for the monkey but he can't be found
cause he's down by the pond playing hockey with the kids

and all the mothers are running around
looking for their children but they can't be found
cause they're down by the pond playing hockey with the monkey

and its 1..2..3.. the kids love the monkey and
4..5..6.. the monkey's got a hockey stick
7..8..9.. havin a good time yeaaaa

national guard is running around
looking for the monkey but he can't be found
cause he's down by the pond playin hockey with the kids

and all the teachers are running around
looking for the children but they can't be found
cause their down by the pond playin hockey with the monkey

and its 1..2..3.. the kids love the monkey and
4..5..6.. the monkey's got a hockey stick
7..8..9.. havin a good time yeaaaa

it's 1..2..3.. the kids love the monkey and
4..5..6.. the monkey's got a hockey stick
7..8..9.. havin a good time yeaaaaaaaaa