Just my stuff

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Image via Tumblr

Animation created automatically by Google Drive without my directly asking it to! GD seems to take liberties in that sense. I back up my pics there and it sends notifications about different kinds of filters and animations it has created. Maybe there’s an opt in / opt out button somewhere. But at least one can screen before saving, making public, etc.

This is Cherry Beach, Toronto. It is one of the scungier downtown beaches. I don’t like any of the Toronto beaches too much. Dogs are permitted and, even though people “poop and scoop,” does one really want to sit in sand that has been pooped and scooped? Yuck. Also, the Lake is a toxic nightmare. I’m amazed people go in that water!

By way of contrast, Georgian Bay is a huge freshwater reserve. It used to be that we would drink directly out of the Bay (also called the 6th Great Lake) back in the 60s, early 70s.

It might be hard for some people outside of Canada to imagine such a thing. (Oceans are great but they are salt water). And the American lakes I’ve seen were just gross little mud ponds (not surprising considering the sheer density in the USA).

Sadly, mankind is doing a good job of fouling up Georgian Bay too. I don’t go there any more. But I have pristine memories.


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My ‘Frankenstein’ Computer

Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster

Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you may know that I like messing around with old computers, trying to squeeze every overpaid penny out of them that I can.

In Canada we pay more than in the US because of our devalued dollar. But there are also more taxes. And on top of this, an amorphous “environmental handling fee,” which to me looks questionable (I’m skeptical that tax dollars and ‘fees’ always go where they are supposed to go, but that’s another issue).

Some years ago I paid almost a thousand dollars for an Athlon processor computer. Because it is an older Athlon it cannot run Chrome extensions, no matter how much RAM I inject. And I like extensions.

The other day this old computer died. There was a brief blackout and when the power returned the computer wouldn’t light up. The fact that I wasn’t using a surge/spike protector probably didn’t help.

Luckily I had another old computer lying around in the basement. It was not completely dead but in a deep coma—that is, inoperable.

Because I know next to nothing about hardware, I was apprehensive about trying to mix and match the two into one working machine. But since I really had nothing to lose, yesterday I spent the better part of the day doing just that.

It all went fairly smoothly, figuring stuff out by trial and error. And I now have one working desktop that is better than each of the two previous!

Because this hybrid was born just before Halloween, I think I’ll call it my ‘Frankenstein Computer.’ 🙂

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Rolling thru the years

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Just discovered that I’d backed up this old pic of me at our piano on 222 Rose Park Drive in Toronto. I loved that piano, even though some of the keys were broken.

I once told my parents that if I inherited one thing, I would want the piano. Sadly, when they moved to a smaller place, there was no room for the old beast. I still hanker for real pianos. I have lots of VST stuff but it’s not the same.

There are two pianos at a downtown Church that I go to. But I’m not formally registered there, and it seems like a bit of a club (to be able to actually play it). I suppose there’s the library, which has five piano rooms. But something tells me I’d be worried about picking up germs there. Turning into a clean freak in my old age… maybe the spirit of Glenn Gould is influencing me. Apparently he covered his face with a handkerchief to keep out germs.

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Only in Toronto…

assbackwards-01.jpg licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Click image for source.

Toronto sports fans are rejoicing that the Leafs finished dead last in the NHL season this year.


Because this dismal season made them eligible for a lottery to get the first draft pick for the upcoming season. And they won the lottery. So theoretically, Leafs get to choose the best new player. I say theoretically because there’s no guarantee their pick will actually turn out best.

Many fans actually wanted the Leafs to lose their final games so they could get this pick.

To me this is the same kind of ass backwards philosophy that runs through much of Canada: Keep the dollar low so we can attract foreign business and, especially, customers for exports like good ol’ Texas Tea (Alberta blend). Meanwhile, tax more so we can (supposedly) get better services.

It’s a loser’s game… in sports and life. Far better, I think, to always do your best rather than skulk around in the mud.



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Christmas in April


Funny story behind this one. I take my Mom up to Richmond Hill to get her hair done. It’s a small, quaint old town just north of Toronto—almost part of Toronto, with the incredible urban sprawl that’s going on.

Anyhow, as she was getting her hair done, I walked across Yonge Street (a busy street) to a Tim Horton’s. But the service was pretty slow at Tim’s, and I only had about 10 minutes before I had to pick her up. So I waltzed into a nearby variety store, feeling expansive and relaxed, having gotten out of the city core for a while. Deciding I needed a Coke, I grabbed this one. I laughed. Nice and fresh.

This can was sitting on the store shelf last Saturday. But I bought it anyway. Just had to. Love the Xmas design.!

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Exploring my French Canadian subtle body…

Growing up in Toronto you couldn’t really get away from French class, even if you wanted to. I suppose it’s the same for some Americans and Spanish class.

Although I was never that adept at second languages — mind you, my French teacher once said I had a great ear — I liked the exposure to French Canada and, as a kid, imagining Montreal as some huge city (it used to be bigger than Toronto, I think).

One day, however, I fell from grace with my elementary school French teacher, who must have been good at French but not basic physics.

What happened?

Well, we had an assembly in the gym and I was doing my best to belt out a French song that we’d learned. The French teacher was at the front end of the gym while I and a childhood pal were at the back end. And I guess because it takes a while for sound to travel across distances, there was a slight delay. So while my pal and I thought we were right on time and being good, enthusiastic boys, my French teacher heard us just behind herself and the kids singing close to her.

C’était terrible! And was she ever ticked off! “Michel, I know you are better dan dat…” she said disapprovingly.

And me?

Utterly perplexed and quite innocent.

Ceci a fini mon statut comme étoile lumineuse dans la classe française !

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Opinion – Olympic opening speaks volumes

Vancouver 2010 Inukshuk: janusz l / Janusz Leszczynski

This commentary also appears at Earthpages.org

Last night’s Olympic opening ceremony wasn’t my top priority. I wasn’t going to bother watching it but realized I should see what my country was up to.

After all, I graduated in sociology and should know how the Canadian Olympic officials chose to represent this country to the world.

I suppose considering the budget they did a pretty good job. But what I found sort of bush-league was how the emphasis fell on Canada’s greatness instead of the greatness of Olympic Sport.

When doing graduate work in India in the late 1980s I saw a similar phenomenon. Anything of merit in India was pumped up to emphasize how “world class” that country was.

Canada is much the same.

This might be a sign of some kind of grand national insecurity. I mean, if you’re really the best you don’t have to talk about it. You just do it… and most everyone gets that you’re number one.

Having said that, I am proud of some of the claims made about my country last night. I believe we are miles (oops kilometers) ahead of many other lands in terms of forging a working and peaceful cultural mosaic.

It’s easy to talk about the wonders of multiculturalism when you’re banning religious groups from your country or beating up on minorities. It’s quite another thing to actually live peacefully with many different kinds of peoples (and their divergent beliefs) in close proximity.

That’s probably what I’m most proud of. And it’s probably the future of not only Canada but hopefully the world.

So why the lingering social insecurity? Is it because the US media tends to ignore and sometimes mock us? And if so, who cares?

From my experience the Americans worth interacting with see past all that, just as the Canadians worth interacting with don’t construct an identity by saying “we’re not the US.”

How boring!

Defining oneself as Canadian by saying “we’re not America” is also a bit thin and hypocritical. Canadian media anchors, for example, often jump at the chance to appear ‘cool and hip’ by being on Twitter and Facebook.

Uh… what country developed those social media? Or WordPress, for that matter?

So let’s get real. Canada does get a lot of things right but also depends on the USA and many other countries to stay afloat.

It’s an international world. So why don’t we all start thinking that way?