Sunday, December 30, 2007

Life: A Seasonal Antholpendium

It started as a few pictures of Christmas in the Beach.


It turned into a two day project, learning to use Pinnacle Studio , all to create a 60 second video of Walter.


Life is good.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Observations: Sards in Sardineville

I am jammed into the 501 streetcar, with a lap full of gifts, and a face full of ass. No, I said I was on the streetcar, not the street. This, the Friday before a Tuesday Christmas, is rather a busy commuting day. I walked a block West to get on the car at all. Many riders can not reach a hand hold, but no matter - there is no room to fall.

The red rocket is not just full - it is full of interesting characters: a drunk who asked the time, time and again; an elderly woman praying into a plastic bag; a gaggle* babbling about their adventure TTC adventure, laughing and hanging on to the poles in the doorway; a scruffy man yelling "Merry Christmas, man!" out the window to a friend on a bike; two men moaning and bitching about, well, everything; Santa - I mean really, he looked like Santa! - standing to my left.

Not a comfortable ride, but a good ride, filled with mostly happy, smiling - and tired - faces.

Happy Ho Ho!

*"Gaggle" is the official collective noun for teen girls: pod of whales, murder of crows, gaggle of girls. I'm not certain, but I think the collective noun for teen boys is a "bluster". Actually, that might apply equally to just one teen boy. And now that I consider it, is there one for commuters? A "quest" of commuters? A "rush"? A "crush"?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Business Analysis: My Professional IQ

I just took this 'how good a BA are you' test at Take the quiz before you read my responses, below - it will make much more sense.

Julian's BA IQ Test SCORE: 74%

PASSED [Whew. -Ed.]

Congratulations on your Business Analyst IQ rating. (Note: 75th percentile means that you scored higher than 75% of those taking this test.)




Your overall Business Analyst rating is:


Analytical Thinking & Problem Solving


Requirements Elicitation and Analysis


Professional Knowledge


Logical Reasoning and Systems Thinking


Information & Process Modeling






Julian's Answers and Commentary



My Answer

"Correct" Answer



The figure is cut out and folded along the lines to form a cube. What is the letter on the face opposite the face labeled A?



Did the rotation wrong in my head, and deserved the fail - I could have modeled the solution.


Which of the following statements do you most agree with:

b) While the sponsor may own the requirements, the analyst is responsible to assist in defining it.


Aside from the grammatical problem (plural in first clause, singular in second), the question is ambiguous. I think they were trying to say: "The BA is responsible for the definition of requirements, regardless of who owns the requirements."


The best way to identify data requirements is:

b) Through the description of business activities or use-cases.


This is true if the context for the activity is a Customer or User driven scenario. Like all 'Best Practices' it is only true in context. It is equally "best" to identify process requirements based on information needs - particularly in a highly regulated environment, where the data produced must conform to an external standard - regardless of how you produce it.


Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of a good Business objective?

b) accurate


Poor question. Presumes that SMART (where A = Achievable) is the sum total of all 'good' attributes for a business objective. These are likely useful. They are not the whole story. I suspect accuracy - or rather, known degree of accuracy - is a fairly critical attribute of an objective.


An RRSP (in Canada) or a 401k (in the US) is best described as a:

d) investment

c) account

Um. Okay? I'm pretty sure I've got investments in my RRSP, and that daily withdrawals and deposits are not a big feature of the RRSP, and that it's money I put away to gather interest for a later time, but hey, I'm a bit of a monkey and I don't know what a 401k is.


Price is to Order as:

e) Cost is to Product

c) Balance is to Account

What sort of trick question is this? I just took six comparisons to get my answer. I wonder what they did. 


Price is:

Cost is:

Balance is:


a calculated value

:) a calculated value

:) a calculated value


charged to someone

:) charged to someone

:( charg… oh. nope.


based on the components of the Order.

:) based on the components of the Product.

:( based on the transactions to date


unique to the Order

:) unique to the Product

:) unique to the Account


fixed at time of Order creation

:) fixed at time of Product creation

:( recalculated with each new transaction


A five letter word - the same length as Order

:( A four letter word - not the same length as Product

:) A seven letter word - the same length as Account


A user enters a person's name to retrieve their customer profile. How many possible types of outcomes could there be?

d) 3

e) 4 or more

Outcomes are (usually) the successful results of the execution of the process - what the process is supposed to achieve. In this case there are 3: match 0, match 1, match many. 

Perhaps 'types of outcomes' is the trick. This may mean categories of process termination states. But wait - there are still 3:

  1. process completed successfully (built working car),
  2. process failed successfully (built car),
  3. process failed due to exception (factory evacuated due to weevil infestation).

I guess 'types of outcomes' means 'possible effects from the cause and other factors', in which case the answer is infinite. For example:

  1. User enters name in Customer Profile Search.
  2. System retrieves 0, 1, n matching names to User.
  3. Meteor strikes computer centre (exception condition).
  4. System displays error message "Iridium overload. Please devolve to dinosaurs." (exception response)
  5. User bangs forehead on keyboard until shockwave hits. (exception outcome)

Infinite answers are not terribly interesting to me. Fun to tear apart though.


How many grammatical errors are their in the following sentance: Except for external documentation that affect legislation, the appropriate supervisor must authorize each document. This policy will effect all personnel and assure that we conform to recent corporate directives.

a) one

d) four

Let's ignore the spelling error in the question.

No, really, try.



The second sentence is out of scope. (Grammatical errors: 0)

Without the context for the first sentence, grammatical integrity may be ensured by pluralizing the word 'affect'. It's still meaningless, but grammar and meaning are separate concepts. (E.g. The sentence "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously." is grammatically correct in English, and also has no coherent meaning.) In this case, I'm not sure what sort of external document might influence legislation, but I do know that supervisors do not authorize them. (Grammatical errors: 1)





Did any of you feel ripped off when you discovered that there are really only 19 questions (not the 20 promised at the top of every screen)? Sheesh.


Good night.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Life: Vacations - Not just for goofing off anymore

I'm in New York with Kath, staying at her father's house. The dogs love it here, even if it is a 9 hour drive - and I like it just fine too. This vacation is a working vacation - but that's because there is no clear division for me between being creative for work or for the IIBA or for myself. For example, in the last month I produced a 30 minute TV show for BMO, reviewed the extenisive notes that Mike and I made on Powers of Darkness, and created a technique for BABOK 2.0 (Requirement Configuration Management).

In each case I am creating something, thinking about things I enjoy, and having a grand time. Now if I could just add 30-40 hours to each day...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: The Nutcracker Suite

It's time.

Walter, born* May 16, 2007, is going to have his boys eviscerated. The mojo shall be no more.

Why yes I am a little sensitive about it kind of you to notice.

It's not that I think it's a bad idea. This cut is the kind kind**. My discomfort lies more in the realm of the sympathetic agony, and the ending of possibility. There will never be a puppy named Slobberface*** Walterson, and that makes part of me sad.


*If you're interested in the birthplace of the boy, see:

Denise Cranston
Tearanook Haven
8148 4th Line
Angus, Ontario

**It took me some time to figure out how to put together a sentence where 'kind kind' kind of made sense, and with a judicious use of quotes, ' 'kind kind' kind' kind of makes sense too.

***Not necessarily the hypothetical non-puppy's possible name.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Travel: The Miracle of Third Gear

For the record: I love winter.*

The best part of the first snowfall is the way it dramatically improves the way the world looks**, and also raises the skill level of the average driver.*** There were well over 100 accidents in the GTA this morning - I wasn't one of them, but it did take 90 minutes for me to get door to door, home to work.**** I got a bit excited when I reached the underground parking at Yonge and Sheppard - it was the first time I shifted from second to third.

The first statement is still true though - driving or not, I love winter.


*Not sarcasm.

** See *.


****Scraping the ice off the car after searching for the scrapie after searching for the gloves after getting the doors unfrozen added 20 minutes to my total trip. C'est la vie (or as dad puts it, "Sest le vest!").

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Life: Listening to Teenage Girls

I am riding the subway eastbound to home, and two young ladies are like talking like about stuff and like family and stuff?

Okay, they really _are_ that yikesy likesy, but they never say 'um' - 'like' has replaced it.

They are also intelligent and observant. Much of their conversation revolves around family and friends, and the strange land called the past - where their parents live.

I recall having exactly the same conversation when I was a youth - I think it is a mandatory deliverable of childhood. I had a very rough day - they made me smile the whole way home.

So, thanks, anonymous young ladies enjoying life. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Technology: Demonstrating a "Live Blog Experience"

Indy wanted to see what live blogging looked like, over a beer. We're in the bar off the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa in Disneyland California.

Kevin says what I am doing is "awesomely geeky." We've been, well, competing over who's the bigger geek. It's neck and neck - I live blog, but he's written D&D books.*

Life is good.


*Not the first D&D - the D&D that came after the AD&D that came after the first D&D.
Yeah, we're geeks.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Review: Another Comic

I just heard about XKCD on Buzz Out Loud (e588).While I recommend starting from the beginning, I read this one and thought "Mike will love this!"


Not for everyone. Very geeky, surreal, strange, and male.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life: I Am Howard's Son

S0015 - Howard & Kathy 2x3Perhaps even more interesting than being Walter's father, I am my father's son. (I'm my mother's son too - it's just that the similarities are a little further below the surface.)

Dad wrote very funny letter to me for my birthday present - at least, very funny to me. Anyone else might also call it funny - meaning eclectic, obscure and odd, as in 'that's a funny smell'.

Mom and dad stayed over with us last night. Originally they were going to a concert - Autumn Leaves On Steel, 2007.  We did some trading around - I went with dad, and mom spent the evening with Kath. They went out for dinner and talked (with My Big Fat Greek Wedding on in the background). I was treated to a great show - far and away the best pan I have ever heard or seen.

The format is different from the traditional steelpan performance; instead of a steelband or a few pan playing calypso or such, a set of pannists performed with a jazz ensemble - Bruce Skerritt and the Liamuiga Project. Here's the rundown:

  • Danielle Ng-Chee: 14, good lead pan performance. Played the theme from Phantom of the Opera. Student of...
  • Winston 'Pappy' Fredricks. Old time performer, played enthusiastically* on double seconds. Good Trini music.
  • Al 'Allos' Foster was actually one of my dad's students way back when in Etobicoke. Very nice guy, and a very good performer. When he finished his set with the band, I said, "I didn't know his hands could move that fast!" Al has been teaching Panache this year.
    • Plug: I performed on our CD, Simply Panache (scroll down to May 22, 2007). The money from sales goes to fund educational programs in Trinidad.
  • Talib Robinson started with a very fast classical piece. I'd estimate he was hitting the pan eight times a second for the entire song, which lasted several minutes. Spectacular! He's played with the Chicago Sinfonietta at the Orchestra Hall. Oh - he played some very nice jazz too. Talib is very good - I'd describe him as a solid professional performer.
  • Kenneth Headly came on after the break, and was even more spectacular than Talib. He was faster and had even more command of the instrument. If they were playing violins, I'd have Talib in the orchestra, but Kenneth could be the first violin. Very impressive.
  • Duvonne Stewart is a big boy. He sauntered out to his pan and put on a spectacular show. He displayed a level of virtuosity and showmanship on the pan that I have never seen: he played notes by reaching under; he sang while he played; he was faster - somehow! - than the rest; he is a virtuoso.

Amazing. I'm glad I traded with mom (not that (feeling the hole getting deeper) I don't value an evening with Kath (trouble coming) but it was something the boys enjoyed more than our ladies would).



*And well - that's not a euphemism!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Future: Living in a Fischbowl

A few weeks ago I saw a wonderful link to a thought provoking presentation about the future. I thought about typing it out, but searching is easier, and the source of everything is somewhere online.

The second link on Google had it. Mr. Fisch is a teacher, who was trying to help his colleagues understand what is coming. His presentation is spectacular.

Enjoy the blog post; in it you'll find links to the Video, PowerPoint and Text.

I Am Walter's Father: My Outside Child

If you're a Trini, you'll get that joke.

Walter just woke up, walked over and flopped down on my feet. He doesn't lie down. He collapses with a resounding thump. I gave him some loves - too cute for words - then went back to work.

He got up, went to the back door, and sat looking outside - he doesn't bark or whine - just stares at the place he wants to be. I let him out, expecting him to walk to the garden to relieve himself. Instead, he flopped down on the deck, and basked in the cool autumn air.

I love my boy.


Oh, and now he's chasing motes of dust in a beam of sunlight. Almost painfully cute. Too bad about the bee-sting in his mouth next spring.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: The Illusion of Growth

At 10:00 on October 30, 2007, Walter weighed 45 lb / 20.4 kg.

Although it feels like his growth is slowing, Walter is still putting on at least 5 oz a day. He peaked in September, at 5.5 oz/day; now he's down to 5.1 oz/day.

I think the reason we feel like his growth is slowing is perceptual: he's putting on a pound every three days, but it's harder to see on a bigger dog.


Note: I was going to call this post "Walter takes his foot off the gas" as an allusion to our illusory perception of deceleration. Unfortunately, this is not an appropriate metaphor.

Future: Control, Chaos and a Faster Internet

John Doyle, a CalTech researcher, has been studying and developing theories to describe the way complex systems maintain stability and control. For Doyle, the interesting questions are the deep questions: what are the common controls that all complex systems have? He cares about the nature of the system because he cares about real world impacts, but it is the deeper identity that drives him.

Real world, you ask? Right now he's investigating bacterial metabolism, but Doyle and his team have developed technologies that shatter current Internet speed records without requiring new infrastructure. Impressive.

I read about this on Digg. For a general introduction to the man, the theory and some applications, see this Discover article; for more detail, visit the CalTech press release page.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life: It's Midnight, Devil's Night

...and I'm officially 37. The actual time of birth was 03:40h or so, but for our purposes, midnight will do.






Now, to bed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Review: So I Like Comics, Okay?

Several years ago, I started reading daily comics online. I became frustrated with the services offered by and and others pretty quickly; I don't want to sort through emails to find my comics, and I don't want to be online flicking through page after page after page.

The first solution I built was an excel sheet that generated an HTML document - a web page generator. Each line on the spreadsheet created a link to a different comic. As long as I opened the page while online, I could read the comics at my leisure.

After a few months, I discovered that my desire for offline reading had grown, and that there were some comics I was saving frequently. As a result, the Excel sheet was not a satisfying solution.

The next version - which I still use - is an Access database. I could have written something from scratch  using Visual Basic or .NET, but the database solution seemed simplest. Since February 24, 2005, I have used it to download around 150000 comics. I have a big stack of editorials (a great way to zero in on the important news without being overwhelmed with hopelessness and jaded by sensationalistic reporting), and a few that I save to read again (as the mood strikes me). The long and the short of it? I like comics, okay?


My list of favourites:


Ballard Street Strangeness. One of my all time favourites.
Big Top A Boy, His Clown, and the Talking Animals Of The Circus. (rerun)
Calvin and Hobbes Brilliant. They are running the series from start to finish, one a day. (rerun)
Doonsbury Political satire, with a Liberal Democratic perspective.
For Better For Worse On par with Peanuts in it's heyday.
Foxtrot Now a Sunday strip only.
Natural Selection Really Strangeness.
Non Sequitur Quasi-political observational strangeness.
Red Meat Awful strangeness. I mean it. Not for everyone. Sick. Really.


9 Chickweed Lane Weird wordplay, romance, odd characters. Very imaginative.
Big Nate The stories of a boy with many flaws.
Cow and Boy Sort of Calvin and Hobbes-ish, but the Cow is real, and she talks.
Dilbert Best. Workplace. Comic. Ever.
F Minus Strange observational oddities.
Frazz Brilliant story of a janitor at an elementary school. Sort of 'Calvin when he grows up'.
Get Fuzzy Dogs, cats, weasels and humans can talk. But they're still dogs, cats, weasels and humans.
Pearls Before Swine Animals that talk. Predators live beside Prey. Few humans. Horrible puns.
Tiny Sepuku Weekly dose of twisted advice.


Sherman's Lagoon Sherman is a shark - a big, dumb eating machine. Thankfully, he's allergic to crabs and turtles, so a few other characters survive.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tech: Using a new tool to blog

I've only been blogging for a little while; already I find the idiosyncrasies of the Blogger / Blogspot interface frustrating.

imageEnter Windows Live Writer, one of the new onlineish  applications from Microsoft. It's pretty slick. It gives me a WYSIWYG editing pane for my blog, and simplifies the placement of pictures, text and tags. In fact, I added the picture in this post by hitting ALT-PrintScreen (to get the active window only), and CTRL-V (to paste it into the blog).


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Work: Teaching about Blogs

This is a blog about blogging.

I am the Chief Architect of the IIBA.

That was a link.


Okay, that inscrutable post was used to demonstrate the creation of a post with a link to the fine ladies and gentlemen at this learning day.

See, that made all kinds of sense. Right?

Work: Whither blogging? (from my table)

Gilles is talking about innovation - I need to tell him about Phil McKinney and the Killer Innovations podcast.

You think the title is misleading? Not at all. One value of a personal blog is that it forms what I call public memory. Many of my peers already think of the internet as "external memory"; when I can't recall that actor's name, I check google.

Work: Thinking at the Liberty Grand

The Liberty Grand is a beautiful place to have breakfast. I'm here for a work event on Web 2.0 - I'm going to help people I work with understand the power of blogging.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: The Continued Growth

Walter is, as you know, too damn good looking for his own good. Even in dog years he's only three! Much too young to be posing for billboard glam-shots.

(Hey baby, you lookin' goooood!)

I shouldn't worry. Most of the time he has this expression. Look at that face!

(Play! Play! Want play!)

Hannah, on the other hand, is occasionally jealous of her little brother. There are occasions where I fear for my life - the glowing green death-ray eyes might get me!

(Soon I Will Be Invincible!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Unbecredible: Canadian Mint Sues City of Toronto

I actually needed a new header for this one. 'Life' didn't seem to cover it.

Stunning. I am amazed that the federal government - through the Mint - is demanding royalties for the use of the "copyrighted" image of a Canadian penny and the phrase "one cent."



What, now that our dollar is worth as much or more than the US dollar, we've turned into lawsuit-happy Americans?

Politics: Track those pesky politicians is a new site run by the former CEO of CNET. It is a wiki-based site, allowing you to add information to the encyclopedia of information about the people who want to rule the world. There are interactive maps showing the money donated to politicians going back to the '80s. It's US only - for now.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Technology: Today is a Work Interuption

...courtesy, your friendly neighbourhood Windows / Intel / IBM / Office PC.


The trouble with technology, of course, is that it is so powerful. Without it, there are so many things I can't do, I feel emasculated.

Ok, that's too strong a word, and ignores about half of humanity, but you get the picture.

For a brilliant rant - the most recent on technology - check out Very, very funny. Very, very astute.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Life: One Ring to Rule Them All

No, not LoTR. I'm a fan, don't get me wrong. I think Tolkein is perhaps the single most powerful creative writer in a century. I don't think he was very good at telling stories, mind you, but a potent creative force. I think the movies were much better than the books from that perspective.

But I digress.

On the weekend - thanksgiving up here, to you Upper Mexicans - my mom told several stories of the past; family history stuff. It was interesting, not least because almost all the stories had a new audience.

Then mom showed us a little ring, that she thought would fit on my pinkie. It is platinum, with three little white diamonds. It was my grandmother's engagement ring, which she accepted in 1931 and didn't take off for 60 years.

I'm wearing it now, and every time my pinkie hits a key (an 'a', usually) I feel it, and think of my mother, and grandmother, and grampa (as we called him) and I smile.

Thanks, mom. I know you were going to wait for my birthday to give me this ring, and that it was hard for you to do. It means a lot to me.

Oh, and for those who care, a gratuitous picture of the pups.

Life: Having a Turkey Baby

This year, Kath and I hosted Thanksgiving - that is, her sister and my parents joined us for very yummy ham and turkey.* It was an adventurous meal - the turkey must have been in my grade ten chemistry class when Mr. Lafleur told us that cooking is a physical state change, not a chemical.**

Thermodynamics aside, the turkey didn't finish cooking when it was supposed to. Dinner was a casual affair - no big ceremony of carving or such - so it wasn't a big deal. I opened another bottle of wine, cut the drumsticks, wings and thighs off to cook in a separate pot, and we put it back in the oven.

I don't know that turkey's name, but she was very tasty.


*We will host American Thanksgiving too. There are advantages to a mixed relationship.
**Note for the non-geeks: Physical reactions are reversible in a trivial way; chemical reactions are not. The physical change of state from ice to liquid water is just a matter of temperature; wood won't unburn when it cools down - and turkey won't get raw in the fridge.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: Bou Breeds

Bouvier: Such a wonderfull breed. There are two attributes are missing from this reference. I have included them for your viewing pleasure.

Variegated Bouvier: This breed has spectacular patterns of black, grey, brown and white in it's hair. May include spots, stripes and swirls.

Baleen Bouvier: All bouviers, variegated or not, slowly metamorphose into baleen bouviers. The long fibres that surround their flesh are used to trap all manner of small edible items for later consumption.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: And Hannah's Father Too

Not a lot to say on this one. Just some pics from the day before the Sammy Country Lime.

Hannah, she so bootiful!

Dog wrestling close to home.

The Dao of Dog: I just missed it with the shudder delay - they formed a perfect, tumbling yin-yang!

Does this haircut make my ass look big?

Mad dogs! Mad dogs! (They were having a grand time.)

Dogs with the rips.

When I have pics from the event, I'll post them too.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Life: Lightning DOES Strike Twice

Many people have ridden in many cabs. I have been in two cabs that were pulled over by the police. I'm standing on Victoria Park at Adair Rd, beside the second one.

The first was a long time ago, on the way home (to Hamilton) from a party (in the back-woods of Oakville) after a night clubbing (in Burlington) where I picked up (she was hideous (my "friends" should have beaten me - or maybe her - with a crowbar to stop that pick-up action)). I ended up at this party with her with no money and no way home. I collected travel funds from drunk and stoned people and left with a borrowed sweatshirt (the party was outside and it was cold).

As we rocketed down the QEW at 130km/h, I asked my cabbie, "Do the cops ever bother you?"

"No," he said. "We do our job and they do theirs."


When the cop - an attractive woman - reached the driver side window she didn't give him the chance to ask what the problem was. She jammed her face in the car and snarled, "One twenty? I can accept 120. You blow past me at 30 over? Give me your license and registration!"

An hour later, approaching 5am, I drove the cab to Oakville (he had no license, registration or insurance - though he did have a court date for a DUI and another for a hit-and-run), and the next cabbie drove me to Hamilton for free. I ended up with $35, a sweatshirt, and a great story.

Today was much more blase, but there was a curious resonance. This cabbie was driving down Victoria Park like a manic. The cop pulled him over, angry, for going 20 over in a 50 zone. "I was passing, I was passing," the cabbie said.

"License and registration!"


Of course his information was out of date, plates expired, insurance a photocopy with no back, the cab not operating legally for the day, etc..

This time it was simple: I told him to call me another cab. He did, and this time I had no romantic entanglements on the way.

* Flashing red lights behind us.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: The Change

Walter and I share certain characteristics - long legs, long hair, collecting burrs...

Oh. Wait. That last one is all Wally.

His romping and rummaging in the underbrush is a joy to behold - and a horror to repair. He does NOT like being brushed but (again unlike papa), has no trouble with scissors.

...Foreshadowing not subtle enough?

It started with a few surgically removed burrs - mere skirmishes in the coming War. All too soon I realized that there was no middle ground: Walter Must Be Shorn or the Allies Would Die!

If the noise he makes while being brushed are any measure, he is big on hyperbole too - like father...

In my defense, he loves his new 'do, and it will look better after he goes to the groomers this week, and all I had
to work with was a squirming dog and small scissors. I couldn't get it all one length - some burrs were to the skin - but I think he looks pretty good.

You be the judge.

I Am Walter's Father: Wagons North

As a preface to the rant and gripe: this is a gripey rant.

It was a long drive to Mulmur. Normally a 2 -2.5h, the time was extended by:
a) being trapped behind an EVIL streetcar driver,
b) having to pull off the Gardner to push down the hood,
c) stopping in Caledon to get water and let the pups wander and widdle.

Each of these is a story in it's own right. The hood latch popped near the Yonge exit. I got out, but the first place I could stop safely was after the last on ramp downtown. Lakeshore was ok - even faster than the Gardner in spots, but still an extra 20 minutes. This, after sitting behind a streetcar driver who would open the doors and sit, no one getting on or off, for 30 - 60 seconds at each stop. People were going i n s a n e. Caledon was okay - just 1 person in line in front of me, with a dozen or so items, who took 10 minutes to finish paying.

One we finally arrived, the kids had a blast. Hannah and Walter rampaged across the land, exploring the tall grass, the gardens, the meadows. I pulled three burrs off Hannah's collar. Walter, on the other hand? I'm going to book Walter in for a shave on Monday or Tuesday. He h a t e s being brushed, and still squirms like crazy when I pull at the burrs, so I concentrate on the painful or hard-to-bite areas and leave the rest to him. He really does love the country!

Today is beautiful, windy, and autumnal. Leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and the sun low - beautiful light. The kids are romping again, chasing little tumbleweeds across the yard.

It's going to be a day full of work, setting up for the party. It will be a good day.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Future: Living La Vida Simulation

"Life is but a dream" is a fairy tale song, right?


Nick Bostrom,
Director of the Future of Humanity Institute (Oxford University) has an interesting arguement about the nature of reality. The basic idea is simple: when you consider whether we are brain-in-a-bottle simulations or not, there are only three possibilities - and one of them must be true. It's an interesting perspective, and it might even be testable - which takes it from philosophy to science.
ABSTRACT. This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Meta: A Blog About Blogging

If you've met me - and even if you haven't - you may have realized that it is rare that I have nothing to say.

This is true with this blog. My messages have been sparse, not for want of content, but for want of time to turn thoughts into content. For example, right now I am pounding my crackberry while waiting for a streetc-

Oop. It's here.


Monday, September 10, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: Adventures in Walking

He's over 30 pounds now (actually, last Saturday).

This afternoon, I took Hannah and Walter over to the waterworks for a romp. In the leash-free, I had a brainwave: I attached a pink-and-black 'hydroball' to the end of Walter's leash while he romped. Hannah was barreling after the Kong while Walter assaulted the ball-onna-string. I swear, he thinks he's a cat.

Later, I took them down to the water. Hannah crashed steadily through the waves, out to the Wubba. Walter chased that same ball - now on the end of a long piece of twine - along the shore and into the water. He even started after Hannah a few times. Bouviers are certainly capable swimmers, but they are herding dogs, not retrievers. Walter is thrilled to chase anything close to the ground. He will sit quietly when I throw a ball - even if it hits his nose. He just doesn't see it.

Regardless, he was having a blast in the water, romping with other dogs, and generally loving life, when a big (my thigh high) wave walloped him. Hannah just powered through it. Walter somersaulted and came up sneezing. I immediately gave him kudos and loves for courage and tumbles - his little tail was working pretty hard when I was done. When I threw the ball he dove in after it without hesitation.

Later, he slipped on the boulders that make the water breaks on the Beach, and wedged himself in. He didn't cry or whimper or panic - though he did look quite confused, lying half on a rock, hind legs in space. He waited calmly while I climbed over him and lifted him out, and then ran around the wall of stone to join Hannah and I on the other side.

What a cute boy!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: Just How Big Is He?

I've been neglectful - I have not been posting much about Walter. In fact, I have been informed that the lack of pictoral evidence of his existence is wildly inappropriate.

No more.

First, here's what he looks like when he amuses himself.

The question you're asking is: just how much has he grown? You may remember him back on day one - he practically fit in the palm of my hand. Now, he definitely will not.

He's become a big, beautiful boy, and he's still only about 1/3 his full growth.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Life: At least the editorial stance is clear

But that's really searching for the silver lining. Today's National Post front page has a big picture of a Puffin. The headline: "Is this bird a Liberal?" The layout and text were reminiscent of "Is this man a killer?" (Note: the link to the online version of the article is not identical to the print edition.)

Sufficient to capture my attention, I crouched down to read the caption through cloudy, filthy plastic. It said, among other things, that the Puffin is Newfounland's official bird, that a Liberal MP has suggested it as a symbol to represent his party, and that it "...lays one egg a year, flaps it's wings a lot, and hides it's excrement."

I am no fanbay for the Liberals. I apperciate the wit and the sentiment. Oh, and I think editorials should remain on the editorial page.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Future: Traditional Bacn

When I talk about the pace of change accelerating, I am not kidding around. I just read this on the CBC site:

Providing free SMS "...comes as Yahoo Mail faces stiff competition not only from traditional rivals such as Microsoft's Hotmail and Google's gmail, but also social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook."
How can a company incorporated Oct 22 2002 be a "traditional rival" to a company incorporated in March 1995? Gmail hit the scene as a beta circa 2004. Three years makes a tradition now? Less? Facebook is still a toddler in human years (started 2004, grew from 24 to 32
million users
in June and July 2007).

The thing that really struck me about all this was that the word felt right. Google and Yahoo are mature web citizens. Facebook is a perky kid, and Microsoft is geriatric. The time frames for traditions are quickly shifting: already, they are o longer based on the last human generation, they are based on the last digital one.

So what's this "bacn"? Last week (Aug 18-19), at Podcamp Pittsburgh this term was invented. Pronounced "bacon", it's any email you receive that isn't spam, but isn't really personal either. An electronic phone bill; Facebook updates; Google alerts: these are bacn. (BTW, the 'o' is missing in homage to the current trend of dropped vowels - like the blubrry network.)

Today, only eight days later, the search "bacn +spam" turns up thousands of entries on Google. It's a legitimate word, invented and in common use in days. I remember my excitement when "pythonesque" joined the 'official' dictionary. Etymonline says it originated in 1975, but I know it didn't become a 'real' word for at least a decade (I can't find a reference for this one - just my memory, from high school, I think).

The singularity will always be just a moment away - but the moment is getting shorter, fast.

Life: I was sitting in a Tim's down in Miss'auga...

...where it bubbles all the time like a great big carbonated Soda. Es oh dee ay, Soda.

All the references, implied and , are relevant.

I sit sipping, reading and writing for work and the IIBA. A figure: wrinkled and craggy; short and rotund; waddling walk into the shop; long ears; lips pushed up, cheeks pulled down; green tinge.

I spend a busy moment looking for a light saber or Frank Oz or both.

Then, as I examine the profile, I wonder: Yoda or Yodette? I can see only the left side. Gold earring. Old man golf clothes, but with that walk, not a golfer. Feminine shape to the face. Short.

I have no idea. I return to my laptop.

On the exit waddle, I see the person from the right. Much more masculine profile. Merlot shoes. No earring on the right.

Oh, I think. Wrong song; this soundtrack is by the Kinks, not Weird Al.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Technology: Vista my @$$

I just spent hours trying to get a new Dell to connect to the internet, update it's preinstalled software and actually be good for anything at all.


The parts that Microsoft had a direct hand in were actually surprisingly simple - Outlook Express, and an Office installation were quite easy. Everything else was a horrible mess. Sympatico - I don't even want to type about that phone call!


The PC is mostly working now, but it's not there yet. I'll be back at my friend's place next week to try, once more, to make it go.

Damn Pakleds.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Libationary Pursuits: New Best Time!

Not that this will increase my reputatation with the headhunters, but I hit my new personal best time: 5.55 seconds to down a Guinness.

Note: I refuse to pay for a sub-ten-second Guinness, so if you want to see it in action you have to buy it. It's the only way to keep a lid on the madness.

Life: Who Knew? BINGO!

Day of excitement! I'm on a schoolbus (yellow), with 20 or so colleagues, on the way to Dave & Buster's, and just won a bottle of New Zealand Chardonnay playing BINGO.

Who knew a company off-site could be so much fun? The people up front are singing "Wasn't at a party" from the Irish Rovers.

I like my job. :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: He went galumphing back.

Walter has been growing like crazy, but everyone who has seen the old pictures says, "But he's HUGE!"

He's also insane. I mean starkers. Really. Right now he's blasting from the back of the back yard to the front of the house, carrying a small piece of paper. Nuts.

He's been frolicking with Hannah, who has been frolicking back, and life is great. They spent over an hour rolling around today, entertaining each other. Hannah did get tired eventually (which is when Walter started to entertain himself) but then Kath came home and frolicking began again.

It's cold enough tonight we've put a fire on. Kath is sitting in front of it with a bowl of popcorn. Walter is trying to climb into the bowl. Oh - now she's feeding him a kernel at a time. Bad Kath! Bad! ;)

Did I mention the ice cubes? I have to get some video of him with ice cubes. He chased one around the entire yard, rolling around and growling at it like it was vermine in need of execution.

...and now he's chasing Sammy, who leapt onto the counter to avoid him. Never a dull moment!

Right, enough for today. From Walter, Hannah, Kath and I:

Good night.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Entertainment: the Mootrix

Wulffmorgenthaler are a couple of whackjob comic writers with a freakish, bizarre and rude sense of humour. NOT for everyone. This one - I call it the Mootrix - is VERY tame compared to their others. You have been warned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Questions: Why can't I see magnetic fields?

The question is a bit disingenuous. I know that magnetic force and electrical force are the same force (electromagnetism) and that the wavicle (has wave and particle properties) that transmits this force is the photon.

We can sense photons, but in a narrow energy band, and frankly, our sensitivity is poopy (for examples, most of what we call colour is illusory (or reconstructed, depending on your point of view) ) and the resolution is terrible.

Wrong rant.

My real question is: How powerful would a magnetic field need to be to emit photons that fall in the visible spectrum - if that even makes sense.

P.S. I'm not worried about the damage such a field might cause to a person (for the purposes of the question, at least).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Libationary Pursuits: Whisky

Today I was asked "What's your poison?" I answered 'whisky', which was easy, and then got curious, which lead to shame and humiliation.

Okay, not that bad, but still.

I learned that (for years) I have been using the word "libidinous" when I meant "libationary". Related? Sure. Same? Not so much. They're esoteric enough that people may have thought I was being clever (but not clever enough to keep that to myself).

Back to whisky. There's a lot of interesting information about the drink, so I thought I'd look at the word at (one of my favorite sites). They say:
  • whisky and vodka have the same etymological root: water.
  • there's no real difference between 'whiskey' and 'whisky'.
  • usquebaugh is the Gaelic word for the drink, and means water of life.
I happen to prefer scotch from Islay, if you're buying.

Next week: In libationary pursuit of Guinness.