Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{March 31, 2008}   Fun With Screen Shots

Why does Windows even try to predict how much time is left on your laptop battery? It always fails miserably at it. One minute it will tell you that you have 1 hour of battery life left and 30 seconds later it will tell you have 3 mins. Then it’s 2 hrs and 45 mins. It’s just completely useless.

Case in point, on my recent flight from Edmonton to Vancouver, on my way back from Yellowknife, I was working on my laptop and, because Air Canada sucks as bad as Windows’ ability to predict how much time is left on your laptop battery, the outlet at my so-called Executive Class seat didn’t actually supply any power, so I was working on battery. I get a warning that my battery is low and so I put my cursor over the little battery icon to see how much battery I have left and it shows me this:

Wow! With only 7% of my battery remaining, I can still work for 2 hrs and 58 minutes! Wicked! Best. Battery. Ever.

I also found this amusing:

BlogDesk’s spell check doesn’t recognize “blog” as a word. Awesome.

What could be more Canadian than watching a hockey game while you write a blog post about the Prime Minister who led Canada through the First World War?


Name Sir Robert Laird Borden
Born: June 26, 1854 in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia
Died: June 10, 1937
Party: Conservative, Unionist
Held Office: October 10, 1911 – July 10, 1920
Best known for: – led Canada through WWI, and introduced the War Measures Act1 in 1914-introduced Income Tax as a “temporary measure”2-believing that Canada had earned its stripes as a nation on the battlefields of WWI, he demanded (and got) a seat for Canada at the Paris Peace Conference, the right to sign the Treaty of Versailles and membership in the League of Nations

-his face is on the Canadian $100 bill

Some Things I Didn’t Know About This P.M. -he was the last Canadian P.M. born before Confederation-he was the last Canadian P.M. to be knighted-he was a Freemason

-for the election of 1917, he create the “Unionist” party, which was essentially some Conservatives and some Liberals who supported conscription (i.e., a military draft)

-between 1914 & 1917, 8500+ Eastern Europeans were interned in concentration camps in Canada. So not cool.

-the National Research Council of Canada was created during his first term3

If you are just dying to read more about the last of the Sirs, check out these links:


Image credits: From from the Library and Archives Canada, copyright is expired.

1I remember learning about the War Measures Act in high school history class when we learned about the October Crisis.
2I joke about Income Tax but, honestly, I’m perfectly happy to pay it. In exchange, I get health care, education, and all sorts of other nifty things.
3As a researcher, I’m partial to this kind of thing.
4The Office of the Prime Minister site has very little information on each P.M. Also, I hate going to that site because I have to look at the ugly mug of the current P.M.

{March 29, 2008}  

The other day I Twittered “Why is no one emailing me when I’m desperately wanting a distraction from this work I’m doing?” Well, my friend Dan rose to the challenge, emailing me no fewer than FIVE distractions (thanks Dan!  I knew I could count on you)!  One of the said distractions was this article: “What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2008? (Nov, 1968),” through which I learned that the author, writing in 1968, was able to accurately predict:

  • laptops
  • web conferencing
  • touch screens
  • prefab houses
  • the US population (predicted: 350 million)
  • online shopping

But was a wee bit off the mark on predicting:

  • cars that travel 250 mph on cushions of air and are controlled by a “traffic computer,” a system that has eliminated all traffic accidents
  • rocket travel between continents
  • robots that do the housework
  • despite predicting that computers will control pretty much everything, the author felt that, in 2008:”Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs.”
  • work-life balance: “The average work day is about four hours”
  • vacations in undersea resorts or on satellites (yes, satellites)
  • “steak-like” meals made from seaweed
  • “Heart disease has virtually been eliminated by drugs and diet” – as cardiovascular disease is still the number 1 killer in North America, he really couldn’t be more wrong on this one
  • an “intelligence” pill given to “slow learners” and forgetful
  • and women’s rights:

The housewife simply determines in advance her menus for the week, then slips prepackaged meals into the freezer and lets the automatic food utility do the rest.

Apparently it did not occur to the author that women might have JOBS in 2008. I mean, what with the robots doing all the housework and all. Of course, since the men are only working 4 hours a day, I guess there just isn’t much work to be done.

{March 29, 2008}   Earth Hour

Today at 8 p.m. local time, turn off your lights.

The World Wildlife Fund is encouraging everyone to turn off their lights for one hour on March 29 at 8 p.m. local time as a statement about climate change. They call it Earth Hour and you can join up here to let them know you’ll be taking part. I’m totally down with it and will be turning off my lights. But I have two things I want to say about it.

1. This is just a start. This is one hour and having millions of people turn off their lights for an hour will have a measurable impact on energy usage. But it’s only one hour. We live 87601 hours every year on this planet, and Earth Hour is just one of those. When you join up with Earth Hour this year, make a commitment to make changes in those other 8759 hours. Drive less. Refuse paper cups and plastic shopping bags in favour of travel mugs and reusable tote bags. Wash your clothes in cold water using eco-friendly detergents2. We only have one planet and turning your lights out for 1 hour a year just isn’t going to be enough.

2. I have a bone to pick with BC Hydro on this whole Earth Hour thing. I noticed something they say in their radio ad promoting Earth Hour and I’ve just checked and it’s on their website too. Here’s a screen shot:

Notice anything off in the text? Take a closer look:

Unnecessary lights? Are you kidding me? The idea behind Earth Hour isn’t that you just turn off lights in rooms where you aren’t. It’s to turn off all your lights. You should always turn off unnecessary lights, every single hour of every single day! Turning off unnecessary lights is not making a statement! And they have this text on their website directly under the Earth Hour & WWF logos, making you really think this is representing the WWF‘s Earth Hour. That’s lame BC Hydro… big time lame!


OK, so turn off your lights at 8 p.m. today for one whole hour… I’m sure you can find something fun to do by candlelight during that time, no?   And make it the first of many many more eco-friendly hours, the whole year through!

1Or, in this case of leap years like this year, 8784 hours.
2Looking for ideas? Check out the blog Green is Sexy for daily tips on living a greener life.3
3Although I do take issue with their willingness to post giant pictures of spiders4
4This post is NSFA (not safe for arachnophobes).

{March 28, 2008}   Welcome Gabriela Luongo

Word on the street is that Roberto Luongo and his wife Gina have had a baby girl, who they have named Gabriella. So congrats to them.

And thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that we will no longer have to hear the jackasses on the sports radio and TV shows saying: “Will Luongo miss a critical game to be with his wife when she gives birth?” and “Should Luongo miss a critical game to be with his wife when she gives birth?” and “Why didn’t they plan to have their kid in the off season so that it wouldn’t interfere with the playoff run?” and, my personal fav, “This is the most important birth since Jesus.”

Update (5:35 p.m.): Apparently young Gabby weighs 7 lbs, 6 oz.  Which just so happens to be what *I* weighed when I was born.  So, clearly, she is destined for greatest.

{March 27, 2008}   Home From Yellowknife!

Home from Yellowknife. Too tired to blog much, beyond saying that Air Canada *sucks* and Canadian North rocks my world!

Here, look at this pretty picture of an Inukshuk, I will tell you more about my trip to Yellowknife tomorrow.

  • “So, down south in Yellowknife…”
  • “… and no one asked him why he stole the skidoo.”
  • “I have an ice fishing sunburn.”

{March 26, 2008}   Yes, it really was.

{March 26, 2008}   I have bad hair dryer karma

I’m not making this up. I turned on the hair dryer in my hotel room and was thinking “Hotel hair dryers *always* break when I use them.” And then the hair dryer stopped working. Seriously.

At 11:30 p.m. last night, I got ALL the text messages that were sent to me during the day yesterday. Apparently those texts couldn’t get through to me when I was sitting around Vancouver airport… or Edmonton airport. Or for the first 2.5 hrs I was in Yellowknife. Despite the fact that I was sending texts all that time and they went through just fine.

I hate you Telus.



  • Why, oh, why didn’t my travel agent tell me there would be a free meal on my flight? Because “chicken or pork” really doesn’t work for a vegetarian. It didn’t even occur to me to request a veggie meal, because it’s only a 1.5 hr flight and in the south, you don’t even get meals on a 5 hr flight anymore. I guess I’ll have to make due with my salad and yogurt/fruit parfait that the flight attendant got me from one of the meaty meal trays. And the peanut butter cups I bought in the airport ‘cuz I assumed there would be no meal. And which I made the mistake of reading the label of. 280 Calories, 15 g of fat. And don’t get me started on the ingredients. But, you know, you can really taste the TBHQ.
  • I really should fly north more often. You get a free meal, a hot towel and I have three seats to myself, so I can spread my books and papers and laptop all over the place.
  • Why don’t we give tips to flight attendants? My flight attendant is super friendly and helpful! Although it was strange that when she saw my boarding card she said, “Uh oh, Air Canada”1. But she’s been totally friendly and helpful, so I guess she’s not holding it against me that I’m from the south2
  • {Break for dinner}
  • OMG. What I mistook for a yogurt/fruit parfait was actually a dish filled with about 7/8ths whipped cream, and 1/8th tiny cubes of fruit and cake. O. M. G. – delicious!!
  • A bubble just popped up on my screen “Wireless network unavailable.” Thanks, Windows!
  • My toes are froze4. I suppose [snicker] I could put my boots back on, but I just can’t stand wearing shoes on a plane.
  • I just heard the flight attendant say that we are going to land soon. I must go to the bathroom! I always go to the bathroom on flights, even if I don’t have to go.

1This flight is Canadian North, but my YVR to Edmonton flight was on Air Canada, which is where I got my boarding card from.
2It probably helps that I’ve been saying things like “Wow! We get dinners and hot towels? I’m going to have to fly north more often!”3
3I’m such a suck up.
4With apologies to Grammar Girl, I couldn’t resist the rhyme.

{March 25, 2008}   Now I’m On The Plane!

I’m flying Air Canada to Edmonton and I have to say that the little individualized TV system they’ve got going on here suuuuuucks! With a capital SUCK.

First, since it’s not a long enough flight to watch a movie, I decided to check the TV channels. But the TV channels are all named “Channel 1”, “Channel 2, “Channel 4,” etc., with no indication what might be on said channel.1. So you have to click on each channel randomly until you find out what it is, and then you can click further to pick individual programs should you find something you might want to watch. No, I don’t want to watch the How to Mediatate Channel, thanks anyway. I finally found that one of the channels has Family Guy on it (yay!) and am forced to sit through no fewer than 7 commercials only to find out that the one and only episode they have is one I’ve already seen. Hmph. So then I give up on their TV channels and decide to watch the CBC In-flight News. Because I actually do like watching the news. So, I click on that, only to get a message saying “We’re sorry, this option is not available at this time. Why don’t you watch this old story from The National?” So I start watching it, and it’s quite interesting, actually. A story about the WUSC, a program that brings refugee students from other countries to Canadian universities. The story follows two Somali youth who are refugees in Kenya and who are awarded these WUSC scholarships. We see them leave their family and friends in Kenya, arrive in Canada and start to learn about the culture and their schools. Then I pause it for a bathroom break and when I come back… it won’t restart. “We’re sorry, this program is not available at this time.” WTF? I was just watching it! Am I seriously supposed to believe that somehow the plane no longer has access to this program? Did it parachute off while I was in the bathroom?

So I decide to get out ye ole laptop to do a bit of work and the flight attendent told me there was an outlet into which I could plug said laptop underneath my seat. Oh yeah, there’s an outlet, but you can’t plug anything resembling a North American plug in it, that’s for sure. Oh well, there’s not much more time left on the flight, so my battery should last…. Except… wait… they are annoucing that we will be 15 minutes early so pack up your laptops, folks, it’s time to stow the luggage.

1Seriously, there’s no Channel 3. Or 6. Or 9.

{March 25, 2008}   YVR

Sitting here at YVR, waiting for a plane to take me to Edmonton. Sure, I *could*1 be working on my lecture for Friday2, but instead I can’t resist writing a quick blog posting, offline, to be posted when I next encounter wifi. Recalling my last trip to Alberta and the lack of anything edible on the other side of security, I picked up a veggie patty sub for my lunch3. A sub on which they put waaaaay too many jalapeno peppers and now my mouth is burning like the seventh level of hell. Oh well, I should be happy that at least this time I get to eat real food, as opposed to jalapeno potato chips for dinner.

That’s really all I have to report. Which is to say, I have nothing to report. I guess I will work on my lecture after all =)

1Where could = should.
2Which I’m actually quite far ahead on compared to most weeks, actually.
3Also may be the last time I see any vegetarian sources of protein for the next couple of days.

{March 25, 2008}   Off To The Great White North!

This afternoon, I’m off to Yellowknife!

In honour of my trip to the great white north, I bought a hat. A hat to replace the one I lost on the subway in Toronto on my trip there over the holidays. I have a matching pair of mittens, but the mittens are on a string… you know, like 3-year-olds have, so they won’t lose their mittens. Seriously, I lost the hat because it wasn’t on a string that was attached to my body.

Anyway. I really, *really* liked that hat. And, fortunately, the place I bought it from still had them, so I was able to get a new one:

Some random facts about Yellowknife:

  • Population: 18,700 (compared to: GM Place holds 18,630 people for a hockey game)
  • Average high temperature in March: -11.2 degrees Celsius
  • Margot Kidder (better known as Lois Lane in the Superman movies) was born there.

I also wanted to share with you this cool animation I found on Wikipedia,showing the evolution of the provinces and territories of Canada:

I was surprised to see that, at one point, much of our country was part of the Northwest Territories!

Image credit: From, republished here under the terms of this copyleft license

{March 24, 2008}   Props to J.K. Rowling

Just read an article about an interview with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling where she talks about suffering from depression.

“I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never,” Rowling was quoted as saying in her interview with Amini. “What’s to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.”

I’m always impressed when people bravely talk about their battles with mental health issues.  There is still so much stigma surrounding mental health and it’s frustrating that so many people still don’t get that mental health is just like any other health issue.  I mean, I’ve had a few people give me funny looks when I mentioned that I see a counsellor, and that’s nothing compared to what people suffering from depression, anxiety disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, addiction or a host of other mental health concerns face every day.  There’s no shame in having diabetes, heart disease or cancer… and there’s no shame in having mental health issues, either.  I think it will really take people talking about mental health out in the open to get rid of the stigma and I applaud brave people like Rowling who do so.

et cetera