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Marnie and Murray’s West Coast reception…

I had one of those rare events today when I actually interacted with people up close. My Niece Marnie and her new husband, Murray (well, reasonably new: they got married in February) had a reception out here on the West coast for those of us who couldn’t make the wedding out east.

I’ve set up an album with a few pictures I took, but here’s one of the happy couple…apologies for the grain: the lighting wasn’t great when I took this

I had a great visit with a few family members that I’ve pretty much been out of touch with forever. My aunt Jean and cousin Lisa were there, and I haven’t really chatted with Jean in probably ten years. I have memories of her when I stayed in her home when I was…probably 12 years old or something. I remember “working” at their laundry in Lacombe- that was a long time ago. Lisa I mostly remember from when, if I’m recalling correctly, she was in nursing school. Lisa has always been fun to talk with.

I also had a long talk with my my cousin Johanna (hopefully I’m spelling it right). Now, I’m not sure about this, but I don’t recall *ever* having talked to Johanna as an adult. Maybe I was 15 or something last time I saw her, and I can’t clearly say when that was. It was good talking to her, and meeting her husband Tim and daughter.

The only unfortunate thing for the day was that my brother Ron, his wife Jessie, and their baby Rebecca were delayed and didn’t arrive until about the time Irene and I were leaving. I was happy, regardless, seeing that they made it safe and sound…and I did get to hug them all before we took off.

It was also a beautiful drive to Cultus Lake, and a nice place to have the reception at in general (a golf course restaurant with a view of the mountains). Irene and I both said that we’ll have to come back up that way and explore the highway a bit more some day. […]

Irritating people

Earlier today I was deep in thought trying to get a computer system to cooperate here at the home of the Fur Olympics. The doorbell rang, which always irritates me when I have a computer in pieces and its not behaving properly.

In that frame of mind, I opened the door. A white haired gentleman was there, and he immediately began to berate me. Apparently, he and his wife had been walking by our house, and the lawn clippings on our sidewalk offended his sensibilities. He also informed me that he “knew the man who owned this house before…”, as if this would somehow cause me to quiver in my boots.

I assured the fellow that I had just finished mowing the lawn an hour or so earlier, and planned on sweeping up. He then told me that no one else on my block had such rude grasskeeping habits as I, and that he had seen my despicable behaviour before. He again reminded me that he knew the man who owned my house before.

Well, I swept the sidewalk. But let me tell you, I really wanted to find that old guy again and belt him one. So I had some grass clippings on my sidewalk. Unlike my neighbors, I mulch, which saves nature etcetera. It also saves me from having to bag lawn clippings, but apparently it offends this old fellow.

But what really bugged me about what he said was his “I knew the man who lived here before you…” line. Exactly why should I care? I own the house now, I pay the mortgage, the taxes, and the other sundry bills. If he finds my sidewalk keeping habits unsatisfactory, well whoopdee fricking doo. I’m happy to hear a polite opinion, but this wasn’t an opinion, it wasn’t even remotely polite. I’ve never complained about our neighbor’s howling dog, or the 2:30 AM backyard beer fests their teenagers have. I don’t get go across the street and tell Mr. “I’ve got a leaf blower and I’m going to find something to blow around every blasted weekend” to shut his noisy contraption off. And now he has a gas powered pressure washer…

But right about now, I really figure I should start complaining. Apparently, once you reach a certain age, that becomes your right. Just walk right up, and piss some one off with your useless, self-absorbed, myopic, and basically irritating opinion. And frankly, I’ve about had it up to here (points somewhere above the top of his head) with retired wastes of good oxygen telling me how offensive my grass clippings are.

The moral: if you come to my door, with some complaint about something as earth-shatteringly critical as my lawn keeping habits, then I strongly advise that you approach it with some degree of subtlety, wit, and friendliness. Otherwise, keep your trap shut and find something useful to do with your life. […]

Dog trying to commit suicide?

Irene was brushing our dog Sheena today and discovered that Sheena had a cut on her neck. I took a look, thinking it was a little nick or something…but instead it was a huge, 3″ long slash going quite deep into the flesh.

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Klingon speakers required…

Apparently, a government office in Oregon is seeking fluent speakers of Klingon in order to serve some of their clients.   I’ve admitted elsewhere to being a geek, but even I have to draw the line somewhere.   It seems to me that Klingonese is worthy of some academic interest, in that its one of the most completely formed fictional languages developed. But why does a public agency need staff that can speak the language? That seems pretty silly…   Well, ready the article closely, and it will begin to make sense. The agency treats mental health patients. And, apparently, some of their “clients” (read: crazy people) speak nothing but Klingon.   On the plus side, now there is gainful employment available for all those uber-geeks that learned Klingonese… […]

Its Spring!

I live in a part of Canada that defies most of the conventions regarding what it is to be Canadian. For example, I was mowing the lawn in November and again in February.

That said, there is still a distinct “difference” for me when it starts to feel like spring. Today was the day […]

Hackers are like painters…

I’m a hacker…not a security hacker, not a script kiddy, but an old school, widget-writing code developer. I write code, I don’t theorize about it.

But I’ve always felt guilty. My brief stint in University (I dropped out of Honours Comp. Sci after about six months) made me feel like real computing science was all about mathematics and set theory. Then I found this article by Paul Graham, which really hit a chord with me.

Basically, Paul’s suggestion is that Computing Science is, for many people, not a science. Instead, it is more akin to an art form. Coders like myself don’t write out some mathematical theory for a program, then transcribe it. Instead, we work with materials and theories to create. Some of what we do is sketching, some of it transcends mere sketching and becomes “beautiful”. But it is a far cry from a formal science for many (most?) programmers.

Just like a good artist or architect, good hackers don’t program randomly: we start with a theme or a context (the requirements for an application, a problem that needs to be solved), and create something “organically” that fulfills or perhaps transcends our original intent.

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life feeling guilty, or sometimes angry, regarding the way I code versus the way I had been taught I was *supposed* to code. Paul’s article helped me see this in a different light. In fact, its encouraged me to dig a bit more into theory: not because I feel I have to, but because it might help me be a better coder. […]

Okay, so I was fooled

You may recall my story about the amazing stock trader, Andrew Carlssin, who claimed to be from the future.

Well, I was fooled. I didn’t read the fine print regarding where that story came from. It originated on Weekly World News, and was reprinted all over the net. Apparently, the SEC and FBI were […]

HTML rendering crashes Internet Explorer…

Everyone knows that Microsoft products are the subject of a great deal of hacker attention. Sure, Microsoft hasn’t in the past been very good about securing their products, but with all the script kiddies and coders making them their #1 target, it isn’t too surprising that problems keep cropping up.

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New car…

I’ve had the same car (a 1994 Intrepid) for nearly ten years. It served me well, but with over two hundred thousand kilometres on the odometer it was starting to show its age. A little breakdown earlier this month started me thinking, and then Irene began to talk about going car shopping.

Meet my new car…

I’ve been looking at lots of different cars the past two or three years, all sort of focused around the “entry luxury-sport sedan” genre. I poked at 3-series BMW’s, but found their much-vaunted “fit and finish” over-rated: every new model year I looked at seemed less solid than the last. I also looked at Infinity’s models (G35, I believe): nice, but the styling didn’t quite work for me. Lexus was a bit over-priced. I had sort of settled on the Cadillac CTS based on curb appeal: the style was attractive to me.

When Irene started talking about car shopping, I put up a brief fight. I had planned on waiting another couple years, saving up some more, and paying down some bills. But Irene is the practical member of our relationship: when she started talking about buying a new car, I caved like a soggy cardboard box under the wheels of a Humvee. I thought we’d look at the CTS, and maybe a couple of others, and then I’d think about it. I’d seen the Acura TSX advertised and had no clue what it was: Acura’s good reputation for solid quality suggested I should take a look, so it placed on our list.

The TSX was the first car we looked at. I was pretty much sold after driving it around the block. I put up a brave fight…I must have spent thirty minutes looking at the Cadillac CTS at the dealer up the road. But the CTS was very “plasticky”, to say nothing of the fact that it cost $15k more…and up close, those appealing lines looked kind of cheap. The TSX was calling me back. I booked an appointment to put together a deal for the next day.

What is the Acura TSX? Well, its basically a European Honda Accord platform. That means smaller than a North American Accord. Add a 200 hp 2.4 litre four cyllinder engine, a drive by wire throttle, your choice of either six speed manual or 5 speed auto with “tiptronic” style gated “manual” shift, and single “fully loaded” trim package (leather, sunroof, dual zone climate control, 17″ wheels, 6 CD 380 watt 8 speaker stereo…), and thats the TSX.

This is only the second “brand new” car I’ve ever owned. The last was when I was about 23 years old…16 years ago now. The TSX is a ton of fun to drive, and yet is still practical enough that Irene didn’t have too much of a fit.

Now I just have to get used to having a car that is small enough for me to walk around when its parked in the garage…

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