Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tech: FaceBook is Sloooo....


I just posted to FB, saying that it hasn't updated my notes since a week ago. This note will give me a time-delay on the blog-scrape.

I told you this would include random sillies.

I told you.

...Didn't I?

Monday, July 30, 2007

NSA: Nuclear Turtles Are Surprisingly Invasive

Just to be clear, "NSA" means "non-sequitur alert" and this message is condition tope. Deal with it. You didn't expect my blog to be sensible, did you? Readable, sure. Not the other one.


When I was fifteen, living in Trinidad, and every bit as odd as I am today (if less honed), Mark and I decided, with my sister and Pam, to arrange a gala variety show with my cousins.

It was specterrible, but the adults appauded and the 8mm tapes are lost, so that's okay. It's just that on occassion, for no reason I can identify, something triggers an amygdala-response and the sickening thud of an iron fry-pan impacting my skull to the refrain, "Duck, and Cover" from the classic 1950's paranoia piece, "Bert the Turtle" is ejaculated into my conscious mind.

I didn't say it was pleasant. I choose my words to share the feeling. "Yucky" is the word you're looking for.

Right. You read it, so you're stuck with it too.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Am Walter's Father: Crates and Stares and Stairs, Oh My!

Today, Walter got a bigger crate (right).

He's become fairly substantial now, and he's quite a suck - has something to do with his parents, I believe. He's feeling the heat - I know what it's like to have long hair! - so he spends a lot of time on the cold tile, under the stairs of the deck (below), or panting furiously (everywhere). The deck stairs are going to become a problem very soon; he can fit under them - for now. I have visions of taking a skillsaw* to the deck to try to free my dog, who seems to grow an inch every time he takes a nap. "But Dad," he'll wimper, "I got in here just fine!"

He isn't sure about his change of accomodation - not that he spends much time in his crate, between Kath and I working from home, Karen coming twice a day, and Fran visiting frequently.

He's been getting tremendous attention on the morning walks to Starbucks, despite Hannah's jealousy. I'm used to the stares that Kath and I get; this is new.


*No, I don't like that idea much either.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Life: Amazing How Time Flies

...and how painful Jeff's Asskickert c can be.

Domn. It's so hot I can't even type [rpoer;ly;/.

[editorial="Should have read:"] Damn. It's so hot I can't even type propoerly. [/editorial]

I'm spending a rare dinner at Mulligans, before going to clean my house.

Yes, you read it right. Shush!

I'm preparing to rent or sell - not sure which just yet - and need to take care of some outstanding maintenance, etc. Since I've only been at my house once a month (or so) since November last year, there's a lot to do.

Back to the sauce.

[guiness=0] [wings=1] [wimper=continuous]
Jeff is the chief cook at Mulligans, and he's a right bastard.
[wings++] [guiness++]
Yes, Jeff, you're welcome.
He makes a fearsome hot-sauce.
[wings++] [guiness++]
It's very tasty.
It's very (very!) hot (with serious hang time) and a terrible tendancy to make strong humans wimper.
To top it off, he just gave me a bottle of his latest Cerberus Slobber, and Damn.

Have I mentioned the anti-freakishheat properties of Guiness? Guiness is a wondrous balm.

I haven't posted in a bit because life's been a bit ...brisk. Yesterday I kicked a beehive at work (metaphor, people, metaphor). Wednesday I recovered from Monday and Tuesday - a very interesting and useful course called "Problem Solving and Decision Making". I've been bopping between my house and my home (see next post).

Even though I miss my honey and my daughter and my son and my sister in law and her daughter and her son and my home and the beach and Sammy, my life is awesome.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Travel: Remember Your Luggage

Unlike last time, this time I actually forgot my luggage.

Idiot. I left it in the classroom at the institute for learning (IFL), BMO's training and conference centre.

I'm back there early tomorrow, and it's not like I'm travelling far this time - just from my house in Mississauga to Scarborough and back. Still means I'm an idiot though.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Travel: Chicago House of Blues - Walking

The answer: Nope.

I walked back to the Drake and went to bed. Chicago is a pretty active city at night, and the walk was just right.

Travel: A Saturday Walking in Chicago

I spent a lot of time walking in Chicago today. It was fun. I took a few pics, too, starting with the Hancock Center. It's a pretty impressive building (left). This one (right) was taken from the top of the Hancock tower, while looking at the same scene from Google Maps on my BlackBerry.

What? You know I'm a geek, right?
After that, I spent several hours walking up the Navy Pier - missed it last time I was here. I can't remember the name of the building at the end of the pier, but it's pretty impressive. It stands alone, in more than one sense.

Until next time.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Travel: Chicago House of Blues - Music

The curtains just closed on the opening act, and I have the time to contemplate my presence here, as opposed, for example, to my hotel room bed.

The openers were a really good reggae / ska band with the flair to toss in some nice hardcore blues rifs and refs - classy. I heard some synth'd BB in there, and some Ella in the background. Fun!

So, one question remains: do I have the energy to wait an hour for the bro's to show? I'm tired, but I won't have another chance.

Travel: Chicago House Of Blues - Dinner

After lunch I asked the people I am here to meet about a good venue - and HoB caught my ear. I decided that I would buy a ticket for whomsoever should be on the bill. So, $48.50 later, here I at the bar, sipping a Sam Adam's, listening to a man play. Later, I'll get to hear Steel Pulse (no idea) and the Neville Brothers.

Yep, those Neville Brothers.

I think I'm in for a treat, really; I get to munch on an Elwood (blackened chicken) sammich, listen to great music, and go back to my hotel deaf and satisfied.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Travel: I look 19

...Or the waiter was trying to pick me up. I just got carded when I asked for a Sam Adams. The COQ d'OR has a very cheesy lounge singer/pianist playing. Hilarious, and just the right tone for the night.

Travel: Just Remember You're Luggage

I just landed in Chicago, several hours later than scheduled. Such is life.

Check in at YYZ was a breeze, if a lengthy one; getting through US c is tedious when you're alone. I had the good fortune to pull perhaps the only customs agent in the history of the universe with a sense of humour. He asked, in that inevitable monotone, "Purpose of travel?" to which I replied "Business."

"Type of business?"

Crap, I thought. He's a thinker. "Meetings about requirements processes for BMO and Harris Bank." If you have not travelled with me, my next statement will surprise you: I kept talking. In a quiet, deeply sarcastic tone I said, "Very exciting."

He shot me a hard look - which I noticed for just long enough for the sound of a rubber glove to snap in my mind - when he said, "It's your job to make it interesting."

I broke out in a huge grin, said, "I'll do my best", collected my papers, and carried merrily on.

Despite extensive time driving to our runway, we were in the air only 20 minutes late.

The flight was uneventful (best kind) but our approach to O'Hare was a bit wild. Lots of exciting steep turns, throttle changes and altitude adjustments. I began to wonder if CNN would report a pilot wrestling control of his plane from a Gameboy-wielding maniac playing WWI Dogfight Simulator in the toilet while smoking a Cuban.*

Now I'm in the Drake, and about to go downstairs for a quiet drink and to read some IIBA documents.

By the way, the title is not a typo. I find wisdom in my sister's advice: "When you travel, " she says, "remember that you are just another piece of luggage. Keeps you calm."

Wise words, Sisbo. Wise words.

*Cigar, you freak.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Future: What is the Singularity? A look at the Law of Accelerating Returns

I was thinking about the future of my profession, and thought 'accelerating returns' was a great descriptor for the power of the Business Analyst; one Google later I found kurzweilAI - a fascinating colletion of thought provoking articles. I haven't had time to dig into the whole site, but this article is a nice starting point for considering the ramifications of our exponential development.

The short answer to my title query is:

1. Pick a point on the calendar of human history.

Any time from the beginings of homo sapiens to today will do. You may want to pick a milestone instead - my off-the-top-of-the-head list includes:
  • fire,
  • tame fire,
  • language,
  • flint,
  • writing,
  • copper,
  • numbers,
  • iron,
  • better numbers,
  • steel,
  • complex maths,
  • complex tools,
  • medicine,
  • scientific methods,
  • machines,
  • printing press,
  • complex machines,
  • complex materials,
  • scientific medicine,
  • computers,
  • augmented humans,
  • networked computers,
  • intelligent machines (Okay, that one hasn't happened just yet, but I think you'll agree it's around the corner one way or another.)
2. From the perspective of that time or milestone, the pace of technological development was increasing.
I know we've had many setbacks, collapsed civilizations, etc; think of this from a global, long term perspective. In general, the time to go from each development to the next is less than the time it took to get there. I suggest that it's about half the time, every time, but the exact multiplier is not critical.

3. From the perspective of that time or milestone, there was some point in the future that was unimaginable.
I don't mean that people were stupid in the past; I mean that there is no way to extrapolate more than a few advances ahead. For example, someone in the iron age might be able to imagine a substance even stronger than iron, and the things that could be done with it - but I doubt that they would envision the the Trans-Canada highway, or the Apollo missions.

4. The point at which imagination fails: this is the Singularity.

Beyond this event horizon, we can barely speculate about what it means to be human. This is a standard attribute of human existance; we don't know what we don't know about the future. For example:
  • Pasteur could not have imagined genetically engineered chimera-pigs grown to supply heart valves to humans.
  • da Vinci was arguably the most inventive person ever, but he could not conceive of Google.

5. The event horizon of the Singularity gets closer all the time.

Because our of change is accelerating, our horizon gets closer every day. We now live in a time where every person alive is likely to feel the effects of progress in their lifetime.
  • Ten years ago, we couldn't conceive of Google.
  • Five years ago, MySpace and Facebook were inconceivable.
  • Three years ago, it was podcasts.
6. What is just beyond the horizon today?
We don't - we can't - know. As our tools become more powerful, we can penetrate the mists a little. Writers like Vernor Vinge have used papers and stories to explore what might come.

7. Enjoy the future.
It's coming, we don't know what it is, and we don't know what we will make ourselves into.

See you tomorrow.

Science: Bigger = Better...right?

These stories talk about animals with a fascinating mutation of the gene that codes for myostatin, a protein that counteracts muscle growth and promotes fat deposition. If you get one bad copy, you will be muscular. If you get two, you'll be the hulk.

Big Bitch.
Big Bull.
Big Baa.
Big Boy.
And, of course, Mighty Mouse.

This has caused a lot of buzz; a myostatin blocker could cause weight loss and massive muscle growth - but who knows at what cost?

I Am Walter's Father, Day 4 and 5 - I wonder if he ate a gyroscope?

First things first:

This is Walter being rambuntious:

This is Walter being quiet:

I am working from home today, to keep my son comfortable. I felt the separation anxiety when I went to work yesterday, and it's a powerful motivator. He was troublesome last night - knocking things over, a few accidents, everywhere all at once and hard to follow - but he went to sleep in his crate as soon as I put him in it, and did very well over night. I'm a bit knackered still, but we're starting to get into a routine, and that helps.

More (trivial, useless information that is of no interest to anyone else) to come!


Monday, July 16, 2007

I Am Walter's Father, Day 3: First visit to the vet

I can't give a good description of the visit yet - I am on the streetcar, on my way home. Kath has Walter at the vet as of 5 minutes ago. I'm sure he's horrified.

One of the less charming, common events on the Queen streetcar is the "short turn", where the car that says Neville Park is cut off before then, and you have to wait and transfer to the next car. Today, when I am in a rush to reach my boy and my honey and my girl...


On a different note, the US judge who lost his lawsuit for $54 million against his dry cleaner (they lost his pants), has appealed the decision.

I might have to reconsider my career choice.

P.S.The visit was fine. Walter was as placid as Bou's tend to be, while Hannah wiggled and wimpered. All in all, a good visit. He's rambuntious now (21:30), and I'm to bed.

I Am Walter's Father, Day 3 - Asleep in his crate

Sooooooooooooo cute. I couldn't help it. I had to post this picture.


Libationary Pursuits: Spicing up your red wine

I was spicing up some beef stew with fresh-ground black pepper when it happened. For no reason at all, looked at my red wine and cranked the mill into it. I don't know what sort of brain-dysfunction provoked this, but I was laughing so hard at myself that I decided to try it anyway. It transformed that mediocre red wine; all kinds of armoas and flavours appeared, all because of a dash of pepper. Try it.

I Am Walter's Father, Day 3: I'm up before my awake time

Sort of the opposite side of 'up past my bedtime'. This little tyke is snoozing at my feet while I sit at the kitchen table. He was full of vinegar when Kath brought him home from his first dark-morning walk (sunrise is not until 5:50, according to the Canadian Government - unless I've screwed up DST again).

Last night John and Christine (dad and mom to) Katie came over with Sasha, their 100lb Bouvier. Sasha is pretty old now, and has a placid demenor; Walter growled and barked at her for a minute - he learned to bark at other dogs from Hannah in just a day, I think - but Sasha didn't care, and that was that. They got along fine after that. Sasha is very maternal.

John and Katie and I ended up outside with Walter and Sasha; Kath and Christine sipped wine inside with Hannah. It was a pleasant evening.

We took Walter out twice in the night - no accidents! We have to work out our new morning routine though - Kath didn''t get him outside quite fast enough this morning. I tried to take him back to bed after his short morning walk, but he was too excited.

He's in his crate right now - not his favorite place to be. He's wimpering, which is heart rending, but we're getting him used to longer times in his crate. Getting us used to it too.

Got to go: time for his next scheduled poop!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The first BlackBerry post

It's happened. Every trivial thought I have for the rest of my life will be immortalized in Google's Blogger.

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Posting from my BlackBerry

On the one hand, life is waaaaay too connected.
On the other hand, I love it when a new connection just makes sense.

I've just set up blog-by-email, so I can whip out my RIM, record a comment, and make it appear in my blog.

...now, to see if it works.

Books: Gödel, Escher, Bach

Gödel, Escher, Bach is a brilliant, wonder-filled exploration of meaning and information and consciousness, by Douglas Hofstadter. It is told through strange narratives and intriguing illustrations most drawn from the works of Gödel, Esher, and Bach. The conceptual level of the text is very complex, so this is not an easy read - but it is a very rewarding one.

I am looking forward to reading his other works - but I might need to set aside a year for each one.

I am Walter's Father, Day Two: I remember sleep

Walter doesn't need to remember sleep - he's snuggled up on my ankles, snoozing away. He crawled under a little pillow cave on the sofa before that, so he could rest on my feet. He likes feet. Two months old, and already he has a fetish.

Definitely my son.

I say "I remember sleep" because I haven't had much in the last 24 hours. Last night Kath, my sister, my parents and I all went to a CD launch party (Simply...Panache, Panache Steel Band). I'm on the CD, recorded before Blake died. Hundreds of the faithful from Naparima Alumni Association of Canada (NAAC) were there to celebrate the CD, and Blake, and the Band.

The party was great, but we left my family there at ten - I could have come home with Joy or my parents, but I was eager to see my boy. I waited up with Walter until my parents rolled in at 02:00, a full two hours after Joy got home. Astounding, really. I don't remember my parents ever staying out that late to party.

In any case, I was up in the night with my boy, and took him for a short walk with Kath at 06:00 in the waterworks park across the road. I took him upstairs with me, dried him off (the dew was substantial) and played with him until he passed out. Seeing the deep and insightful brilliance of Walter's plan, I followed it too.

At 10:30, my sister woke me; she described the experience this way: "Stand back. You're waking a rhino." Apparantly I make a very loud snort when I am awakened. Who knew?

I took some time this morning trying to figure out the right address and structure for a blog for me. Sure, my impetus is Walter, but there are many other things that I would like to record and share. This is the result - for now at least.

I am Walter's Father, Day One: A drive to remember

Today, we brought home a puppy. This is my first puppy since I was a child, and I'm smitten. His name is Walter. The paternity tests are in: I am Walter's Father.

I couldn't be happier.

Karen, the gentle, wonderful woman who walks Hannah, arrived at ten. The three of us collected Hannah, and for two hours of horrible traffic, drove North, then East, then South. At the end of it all, across from Camp Borden, we found ourselves at a run-down, ramshakle barn. There were goats, rotweillers, and a barbeque graveyard (or the best approximation thereof ever to grace this earth with its horror).

Then we went to the barn next door, where the bouvier puppies were. Google maps are great - but they're not so useful when your working from country directions ("...and after you pass the Giant Tiger if you see Bob's house you've gone too far, but I'll tell you another way from there after the Tim's which our eldest, James, he used to take his future wife - ex now - there on dates before..." Okay, you get the picture.)

Kath was going to cuddle with Walter on the way home, letting me drive, but she was in a bit of shock, really, and as we all know, people in shock are the best drivers, so Walter and I bundled into the back (after a short span struggling in the front) and off we were, onto wet grey highway.

He cuddled with me most of the way home. Aside from some spectacular farts, there was barely a peep from him; if he has started as he means to go on, he will have an incredibly wonderful temperment.

After we got home, the neighbourhood descended upon us. Wendy arrived with Zoe, her big rottie mix, then John and his daughter Katie arrived stating, "We're here to be nosy," with huge smiling faces.

Walter is a hit with the humans. Hannah and Zoe are quite miffed with the puppy, but I'm assured that they will adapt soon enough (Zoe, a.k.a. MOose (yes, the vowels should look like that, you should hear her barking) is Hannah's best friend, and we babysit every Tuesday night).

Perhaps I'll go back and describe our deliberations another time, but it' 02:00, I'm tired, Walter's wiped, Hannah's horrified, my sister's sleeping, and my parent's pyjama's pare pbeing put pon.

When an alliteration is going that well you just run with it, you know?

One more outside with the Sir Stinksalot, Walter the Wondrous, and I'm to bed, to cuddle with Kath.

Julian and Son