Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Rev Up Your Kazaa! Courts Give the Thumbs Up!

HOLY COW! Hope this ruling stands up for longer than five minutes! RIAA is gonna be pissed.


In order to get a passport, you need a guarantor to sign the application, vouching for your identity. The federal government is very specific about what exactly constitutes a legal guarantor. Now, I know that there are probably deeper undercurrents supporting the reasoning for choosing these professions (most of which require professional affiliations, accreditations, or licenses), but I think this may also represent a list of jobs that the Canadian Government thinks are important. The list includes:

- Dentist, medical doctor, or chiropractor;
- Judge, magistrate, police officer;
- Lawyer (member of a provincial bar association);
- Mayor;
- Minister of religion authorized under provincial law to perform marriages;
- Notary public (?);
- Optometrist;
- Pharmacist;
- Postmaster;
- Principal of primary or secondary school;
- Professional accountant;
- Professional engineer;
- Senior administrator in a community college;
- Senior administrator or teacher in a university; or
- Veterinarian.

Is your job on the list? No? Mine neither. Guess the feds don't think we're important enough. I noticed that "Member of Parliament" and "Member of Provincial Parliament" were not included in the list. I wonder if the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is trying to tell us something?

I'd love to know what a "notary public" is, though. Do they mean notable? I guess I'm kind of public. Either way, I'm probably not the best person to bring your passport applications to. Just for future reference.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

An Important Distinction

As you might of guessed, the 4-day trip I was hinting at on Monday will be to Washington DC (one of the destinations chosen for THE LIST). I've been threatening to visit my friend Tara for years now, ever since she first moved there (almost 5 years ago?!), and I haven't had a good opportunity to go until now. Anyway, I've been scurrying around over the last week or so getting ready to go, making sure I know how much carry-on I'm allowed, finding out about the airports I'm visiting, figuring out transportation once I get there, etc. And, of course, if you know me well, you'd know I needed a map.

I love maps. I can't really explain it, but it certainly has an awful lot to do with my choice of Geography as a major in university. Irony is cruel, sometimes; the study of Geography at the university level has very little to do with map reading (that would be cartography), but that's beside the point.

Ever since I was very young, maps fascinated me. My family traveled an awful lot by car, from one side of the country all the way to the other, on various moves and vacations, often covering thousands of miles in a week or two. But no matter where we were going, one thing was certain: no one was getting the roadmap out of my grimy little hands. Unless I was asleep: then you could go nuts. And even after I became a driver myself, I always liked knowing where I was going and what was coming up next, much to the frustration of some people who have tried to navigate me along the way.

So it shouldn't surprise any of you that I wouldn't dream of going to a new place, especially one in another country, without pouring over a few maps first. I found some maps of Washington online and have been familiarizing myself a bit with the layout of the city and its surroundings, but when given the choice between something grainy that I've pulled off the bubble-jet printer to something professionally printed, I'll take the real map every time.

I knew that as a member of the largest auto club in Canada, I could get free maps of almost anywhere in North America by flashing a card, so yesterday, I got off work a little earlier and made a special trip over by bus. I haven't had much experience dealing with their travel personnel, but I figured that since they dealt with traveler's information every day, they're probably fairly knowledgeable. After looking at the travel guide section and not finding very much to work with, I asked the 18 or 19-year-old clerk at the counter for a map of the Washington DC area. She looked at me blankly like I'd just asked her to divide 372895 by 345.7 in her head.

"Did you say you wanted a map of Boston?"

No, I replied, staying patient, I want one for Washington. Another blank stare. I became concerned.

She wandered over to the wall o' maps, and after staring vapidly at them for a few minutes, put her hand on the pile of maps for Washington State and Oregon.

I waved my arms wildly to attract her attention. No, I said, not Washington State, I want Washington DC. I could see that a slight furrow was deepening in her brow as she tried to comprehend the gravity of what I wanted.

She went back to the wall, shuffling a few random maps to appear like she was looking for real. Every once in a while, her hand strayed towards that same pile of Washington State and Oregon maps and she would look back at me for approval. My look of horror was enough to deter her.

Eventually, she turned to me and said "I don't have one for the city. This is all I have!" exasperatedly showing me the map for Washington State and Oregon. I can only assume that this negligent, woefully incompetent travel agent thought Washington DC was the capital of Washington State.

I tried to explain it to her in ways she would understand. I told her they were on opposite sides of the country. I pointed to both places on the big wall map of North America behind her. Using drawings and pantomime, I desperately tried to explain to her that Washington was the capital of the United States and was in a separate district all on its own. The more specific I was getting with the information, the more confused she got.

She went back to the wall. "Is this it?" she asked, holding up a map of Boston.

I was defeated. Later, I realized I should have asked for a map of Baltimore and area in the hopes of getting Washington on the same map. At least there isn't a state named Baltimore.

Monday, March 29, 2004

And They Call it a Scramjet

Speaking of aircraft (see below), something HUGE happened this past weekend. NASA successfully field-tested the first ever "scramjet," a ultra-high-speed air breathing jet technology that has been in development for decades. Check this article out for more information.

For me, this is very exciting news. If you think about it, there really haven't been very many advances in normal flight or space flight in the last 25 years. There have been A LOT of failed projects along the way - American replacements for the space shuttle, the Russian Buran shuttle (which is now rotting in a downtown Moscow park), lots of talk of space tourism - and not very much success. But now NASA has been able to test a whole new engine concept, one which can propel vehicles faster than ever before right up to the edges of space. The scramjet test vehicle, the X-43A, broke the world record for air-breathing engines, traveling at 8,000 km/h for 11 seconds. NASA also says that the engine will eventually be able to reach much higher speeds.

The advantage of this technology is that scramjet-assisted space vehicles can launch payloads at a fraction of the cost of exclusively rocket-powered lift vehicles. Scramjets require only a relatively small amount of hydrogen fuel and air, taken in through intakes, to operate, meaning that the vehicles can be lighter (carrying less fuel) and can carry larger payloads (with less space taken up with engines and fuel). In the future, satellites might be lifted to space by reusable vehicles that use normal jet engines to take off from a runway and reach supersonic speeds, scramjet engines to reach hypersonic speeds and the edge of the atmosphere, and then rocket boosters to achieve orbit.

Now that the concept of the scramjet has been proven in the field, other groups are going to start tinkering with the technology. If all goes well, by the time I'm 50, we'll all be able to fly from Ontario to Australia in well under an hour. Wouldn't that be nice?

Then again, a similar dream was envisioned for the Concorde back when it was first introduced, and look what's happened to it now. Time will tell if industry can make the technology cheap enough for everyone to use.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

How Small is Too Small?

No, I'm not talking about bodily endowments. I'm talking aircraft. I recently bought a ticket to fly away on a short 4-day vacation. When I had a closer look at the details, I realized that this is what I'm going to be flying back in. It's tiny.

But in a way, that's kind of exciting. One of the items on my list is to get a ride in a four-seater prop-driven plane, something that I've always wanted to do. I expect that this will be a good way to work my way up to that. I've always loved flying, maybe because I've never gotten to do very much of it. On my last flight, out to Calgary and back from Vancouver, I think I spent a good half of the 6-hour-long voyages with my face pressed up against the glass, straining my eyes to pick out recognizable landmarks on the surface below.

For me it's a totally magical, humbling experience to see the world from so high above it. I can only imagine what it must feel like to see the Earth from outer space, to see the whole globe and billions upon billions of lives in a matter of mere moments. I only hope that that feeling of wonder will never be dulled the more I travel. I don't ever want to be jaded towards something that I see as a gift, a glorious opportunity to see the world in way that's so different from what I'm accustomed to. It's worth every penny.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Snootch to the Nooch

It begins anew. Once again, Kevin Smith has a new movie in theatres. And once again, I'm being compared to him once or twice a day, at least in appearance. But hey, if I had his skills in writing humour and franchise-making saavy, I'd be a rich, rich man right now. His skills as a movie-maker, however, may leave something to be desired, if the critics are to be believed about his last offering.

(By the way, saw Jersey Girl last night, and it wasn't good. It had a few laughs, but overall, it was a miss. It's more of a chick-flick than anything else, and that scares me a bit, coming from him. I think Kevin's wife was ghost-writing this one.)

By putting the above comment in parentheses, it doesn't contradict my vow to avoid talking exclusively about movies. Read it again, it's about our resemblance and nothing more. So there.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Method

How does a hockey team win the Stanley Cup?

1. They've got to have solid goaltending. No sleeping on the job. Every save counts and creates plays going in the other direction.

2. They've got to kill penalties. Hell, even better, avoid penalties altogether.

3. They've got to capitalize on powerplay opportunities. You've got an edge, move the puck around and use it.

3. They've got to be patient. On and off the ice. Just because the puck doesn't go in the first time, keep plugging away at it. The more times you shoot, the more times it will go in the net.

4. They've got to have more than one line that can score. Ideally, you should have three lines with enough firepower to tally at least a goal per game.

5. They've got to have chemistry. Sometimes it takes more than just stringing together a few players with talent. Sometimes certain players just click together.

6. They need a leader. The captain, the commandant, his job is to work hard, keep the team focussed on the prize and lead by example.

Last night, I think we saw all of that in the Ottawa Senators. Lalime played the best game I've seen him play since the 2003 playoffs. He was focussed, determined, and held the line against a powerful team. He looked like Brodeur last night. The new line of Alfie, Smolinski, and Bondra clicked, accounting for 3 goals, and I'm sure they'll be together again. Adding Spezza to Neil and Van Allen's line added a scoring punch to Ottawa's weakest line. Splitting up de Vries and Redden was the way to go. Last night, Ottawa looked like the Stanley Cup contender I know that they are.

If they keep playing like that, the Senators are ready for war. Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


"Fear can sometimes be a useful emotion.

"For instance, let's say you're an astronaut on the moon and you fear that your partner has been turned into Dracula. The next time he goes out for the moon pieces, wham!, you just slam the door behind him and blast off. He might call you on the radio and say he's not Dracula, but you just say, 'Think again, Bat man.'"

- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

So true. So true.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

For the Astromologically Inclined

Check this out! It's for any of you with an interest in celestial bodies. Or just bodies in general. You might be disappointed in that case, however.

If you need me, I'll be out trying to break into an observatory.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Four Life Lessons I Learned This Weekend

LESSON 1: To prevent getting Swimmer's Ear after swimming in the body of water of your choice (in my case, my grandmother's swimming pool), you can use a hair dryer to evaporate any water that gets stuck in your ears. Set it to cool or warm and hold it 18 inches away from your ear. Give it a minute and you're good to go. Not recommended: Shooting an industrial-sized super-soaker point blank at your ear canal to test the theory.

LESSON 2: Hot-shot young lawyers in movies ALWAYS drive classic cars. Emphasis here is on classic muscle cars and sports cars. Convertibles are also a good bet. Not recommended: souped-up Chevettes with fully-customized drag-racing kit.

LESSON 3: Announcing to the world that you have had pinkeye immediately begets you the nickname of "Pinky." Not recommended: avenging your honour by holding people down while trying to rub your oozing eye on them. Actually, forget that. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

LESSON 4: Eating KFC has consequences. Use this knowledge wisely. Not recommended: KFC.

Saturday, March 20, 2004


Got a bad case of pinkeye two days ago that's not shaking free. I kinda suspected that something was wrong when my eye started to turn the same shade as Barbie's Magic Corvette.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Notion of a Career

I have always rationalized that flexibility is the most important thing in our modern job market. It's a little odd, considering who my role models were when I was growing up.

My mom and dad reached maturity in a very different world. My dad knew that he wanted to be an architect since he was halfway through high school, and maybe even earlier than that. My mom realized that computers would be big business one day and studied a fledgling program in computer sciences in university.

My dad has buildings all across Canada to show for his career, even though he's had his ups and downs over the years. And my mom is an executive consultant for one of Canada's most successful document management practices. Despite leaving her career to take care of me and my sister through the greater part of our childhood, she was the architect for an electronic library system that is still in use at DFAIT over thirty years later and has participated in some of the biggest rollouts of document management software to the federal government in our nation's history.

They've had a lot of success in their careers and have something to show for it. If people want to know what they do, I can point to my mother's reputation as one of the most knowledgeable people in Ottawa in her field and I can point to one of my dad's hundreds of houses and institutional buildings in this city alone. I can talk proudly about my parents and what they do, and have done, in their careers.

Midway though high school, I started getting the "what are you going to do with your life" speech. My dad was a lot bigger on this than my mom was. My mom has always supported me all the way, no matter what, but I knew she always wanted me to be a lawyer. For my dad, it was a cardinal sin to have no idea of what I wanted to do for a living after I finished school. For years' worth of dinners, I got the inevitable question. I came to dread it. Yet I always responded with a cookie-cutter answer: "C'mon Dad, it's the 90's. Nobody picks a lifelong career anymore."

I suspect my feelings on the matter were driven by a variety of influences. Guidance Counsellors told us that we would probably have four or five careers through our lifetime. Friends (as most people are at that age) were more interested in having a good time in the present than setting plans for the future. There was some pressure for me to concentrate on academics or to follow in others' footsteps. But really, I think what it broke down to was that I had no idea of what I was going to do, and that was kind of scary.

The easiest solution is to not make any decision at all. I ended up at a university that reminded me of my high school, studying concentrations that had low job prospects but that I had shown an aptitude for in the past. In many ways, it was the right decision to make at the time. I had a fantastic time there, I met a lot of interesting, talented people, and I got fairly decent grades.

But at the same time, I never really felt like I fit in. I never really felt like I was giving 100%. Even with pastimes that I enjoyed, I put in a huge amount of time, but never strove to perform to the fullness of my abilities. But most importantly, even after four years at that school, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. I had no idea what to do with my degree, with my knowledge, or my life.

And now, post-university, I still struggle with the same question. I ended up on my current career path because I needed a job. Not because it was what I wanted to do, not because I was especially good at it at the time, but instead because I could do it, I had an opportunity, and because it paid. I suspect that almost everyone has had a job like this at some point in their lives. I suspect that many of you who are reading this are in a job like that right now.

This isn't to say that what I do is without rewards. My current contract, a knowledge transfer of all of the methods I have gained in process mapping over the last few years, is great because of the fantastic attitude of the people I'm working for and the grateful, respectful way that they treat me. I am having a good time. But it isn't great because of what I do and that feeling isn't enough, not for me.

I desperately wish that I could have a job where I could go to sleep each night feeling fulfilled. Fulfilled not just because I have a big fat paycheque, not just because the people I work with are nice to me, and not just because what I am doing is contributing to the success of something bigger. I want to have a job where I am fulfilled because I am doing what makes me happy and makes me feel like I've accomplished something for myself.

I regret some of the decisions I have made, although not in a black-and-white kind of way. I realize that maybe flexibility isn't always the best decision, not for everyone, depending on what kind of a person you are. I realize that shrugging those questions off might not have been the best thing for me to do. But it felt right at the time.

Maybe if I had followed my parents' advice and worked out what I wanted way back then, I wouldn't be faced with this kind of indecision today. Maybe not. Maybe if I had been working towards something really hard, a huge goal, following my dreams, I would be closer to it now, or maybe already there. Maybe not. Maybe if I had, I'd be happier. But maybe not.

Is it enough to say "follow your dreams"? Are we ever too old to start following them? I still have faith that anything can happen if you put your mind to it. But I also realize that it can get harder the longer you wait to make a decision and put everything that you are behind it. While you're waiting, things in life have a tendency of piling up around you into a wall so high that eventually you can't see past its sides.

And yet, after all this thought and soul-searching that I've done in the past few years, I STILL have no idea what I want to do. I have too many dreams to follow and I constantly get the feeling that I'm running out of time. Ask me on any given day, and my answer will have changed from what I said last week. Ask me today, and I'll tell you I want to be a part of the movie business. Not necessarily as an actor, but maybe as a sculptor, a concept designer, or a scriptwriter. Ask me today and I'll tell you I NEED that.

I just finished watching the special features disks from the extended cut of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and just after I finished it, I got the same pang in my chest that I got after finishing the disks from The Fellowship of the Ring. It was envy, or regret, or a combination of the two. The behind-the-scenes footage inspired me but made me feel like I had been somehow left out. It made me feel that if I had made a choice a decade ago, that I might have had a chance to be a part of it, through fate or willpower or skill.

Filming the trilogy involved a team of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were completely committed to this colossal project. Many worked seven days a week, twenty hours a day, far away from friends and loved ones, because they loved every minute of what they were doing, because they knew that their friends and family would support them, and because they could feel that they were a part of a masterpiece of art and cinema. And as far as I could see, not one of them had any regrets.

If I could have even a fraction of that feeling, that's what I would want.

I think it's time to make some decisions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Promising News, British Blood

It looks like what I heard is true. Since my mother was born in the UK, it looks like I CAN apply for British citizenship. This is one of the key things I'm going to need if I ever plan to up-root myself and live and work in Europe for any length of time. It's not going to come cheap (current prices put it at 183 pounds, or close to $442 CAD, PLUS the costs of a passport, should I apply for one), but I think it's one of those things that will be worth it in the long run. It feels weird to be contemplating dual citizenship. I suppose it doesn't make me any less of an ardent Canadian patriot - this decision will open doors for me. It will give me opportunities that my Canadian citizenship alone may not have offered.

Anyway, if you're considering it for yourself, check out this British High Commission web site. It will tell you everything you need to know. Maybe I'll meet you at a pub in London one day....

Monday, March 15, 2004

I Will Now Predict a Future Body-Altering Fashion Craze...

Hairy tongues.

Hey, if people are willing to stab a piece of metal through it to enhance certain oral activities, think of what a mouthful of hair will do! And how might this be possible, you ask?

Researchers have recently discovered which cells are the source of follicles and hair growth. In the near future, modified stem cells might be implanted into various parts of the body to replace those that (for whatever reason) no longer produce hair. Among other things, this will mean that middle aged men will be throwing out their Rogaine for good. IF these researchers can apply what they've discovered.

Currently, the research has been done exclusively on mice. But the research has been promising, allowing for the growth of new hair follicles and brand new, growing hair. The trick will be to find out if these same cells work the same way in humans as they do in mice.

But why stop there? Sure, men and women won't go bald anymore, unless they want to. Burn victims and cancer patients will be able to grow their hair back completely. But think about the sheer joy that we might experience with long, flowing blonde locks growing out of our elbows! And members of pre-pubescent boy bands will be able to grow real-looking beards instead of scraggly teenage moustaches years before they could grow them naturally. Think of the possibilities!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Burger: The Sequel

Nope, didn't make a trip back to The Works. Bit I DID manage to accomplish my one and only burger-related item on THE LIST. At McDonald's this past weekend, I gorged myself silly on a double Big Mac (count 'em, four patties) hold the cheese. The 14 year-old pimple-faced burger jockey who served me looked at me a bit strangely as I lectured her about the fat content of cheese. I think it's safe to say that I didn't change her mind about cheese, though.

So there you have it. #57 is in the record books. I can't help but notice that I'm doing all the easy ones right up front, however. Might be making it harder on myself after I enter Year Two of this sucker.

Friday, March 12, 2004

It's Like I'm Five-Years Old All Over Again!

Scratched yet another item off my list this morning. Almost by accident, I taught myself how to tie my shoes without using bunny ears. It's a proud, proud day for me! Consider #43 on THE LIST history!

Now I just need to make sure I don't forget it again. I've already re-tied my shoes about 20 times in my cubicle this morning. The people here must think I'm totally insane.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Almost forgot. I chickened out and went conservative with my Works burger last night. Topped it off with a fried egg and bacon, the Homemade Mary burger, and it was delicious. But I did consider a burger with avocado and gouda for a long time, as well as one with pears, brie, and caramelized onions.

Art Imititating Life

Ever wanted to re-live the magical 2004 Superbowl Halftime Show without all that annoying digital censoring?

Now you CAN, thanks to your very own NIPPLE SHIELD JANET with LEATHER CUP-HOLDING JUSTIN dolls! Order now, this offer is available for a LIMITED TIME ONLY! Certificate vouching for costume malfunction sold separately. Some disassembly required.

Although this story is the proverbial dead horse to beat for the new year, I still applaud the work of this enterprising Canadian artist. As of this posting, the asking price has reached over $300 already. Lets just hope her work doesn't get turned into a mass market commercial model overnight.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Watch Out for the Shards of Wood in Your Tongue

I had sushi for lunch. It was tasty. I almost got a mouth splinter from cheap-ass chopsticks, though.

Things with the contract are still going swimmingly. I still can't get over how refreshing it is to be treated like an expert instead of being treated like a tool. And you can take that how ever you want to. Either way, it was bad before, now it's good! I feel like I'm being useful and that people here really appreciate what I'm doing for them. I suppose this is what it feels like to have one of them "good" jobs everyone keeps talking about.

I bumped into an old, old friend of mine, Maritia Gully, at a club this past weekend. Maritia was a classmate of mine from grade 7 to 8 and appeared again out of the ether at Queen's, only to disappear again. Well, she's back, and it was great seeing her again. I have now added her to my list of people that I know who have seen much, much more of the world than I have, since she was recently living in Central America (I think that's what she said) and in England. Anyway, now she's thinking about going back to school after recently getting her Masters in Epidemiology (just like Mike Chaiton! What a crazy coincidence). She said she wants to be an MD one day. Anyway, hello to Maritia, hope you found my blog okay!

I also went to a party to see yet another friend off on her world-wide travels. Emma is probably halfway around the globe today. I want to wish her lots of luck in Thailand. Me and Mr. Mike Blue Jeans had a great time at your party, Emma, even though Mike doesn't remember very much of it. I think it's the first drink-fest party of its kind that I've been to in the past ten-years where there were parents present. Spooky. I even had to try and convince her dad that Carlsberg was the closest thing to a good-tasting beer that was still left in the fridge. I don't think I did a very good job of it, though.

Anyway, I'm off for dinner with my dad. Gonna check out the new gourmet burger joint in Westbro, The Works. I've been to the one on Beechwood and had one of the most delicious (and most eclectic) burgers I've ever had. I'll update you tomorrow on what kinds of fruits/vegetables/fish/cream sauces I ordered on my burger.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

One More Time, Loud and Proud....

Stacey, it's your birthday! Happy Birthday, Stacey! Hope you had - a wonderful day today - and enjoyed all the things we had planned for you!

Monday, March 08, 2004

It's a Funny Feeling

I just started a new contract today at a new government department. And for the first time in almost a year, I had a good day at work. I always find it surprising when the people I work with are nice.

So I lift my glass to this new contract: may all the days I am working with them be as encouraging as my day today!

Friday, March 05, 2004

Share, and Share Alike

I've never been very good with shares. I don't know how they work exactly, although I understand that their value depends on how many are bought and sold.

The more that are purchased, the greater their value, and the more that are sold, the quicker you'll be kissing your children's college fund away. So logically, if the company is proffitable or steadfast, inspiring feelings of trust and confidence in its shareholders, more people will be riding its coat-tails all the way to the bank. Then you can get that big sack with dollar signs on it that you've always wanted. I suspect there's other fancy stuff going on. But you have to be careful, because shares can be tricky: depending on how you play them, you can end up broke, or worse, in jail. Just like that moneybags guy on the Monopoly board.

I'm sure I'll look into it at some point, as I own some, thanks to the nice people who give me my paycheque every two weeks. And at some point I suppose I should sell them or something and buy me a trip overseas. After putting it briefly in a sack, of course.

But as little as I know, I also know that if you own any stock in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, you're screwed. Sorry.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

New Word!


Main Entry: del·i·quesce
Pronunciation: "de-li-'kwes
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -quesced; -quesc·ing
Etymology: Latin deliquescere, from de- + liquescere, inchoative of liquEre to be fluid -- more at LIQUID
1 : to dissolve or melt away
2 : to become soft or liquid with age -- used of plant structures (as mushrooms)

In a sentence, now: Thanks to all the warm, spring-like weather we've been having in the last week, the snowbanks and icy pathways are all deliquescing.

Natch! That's one thing I can scratch off THE LIST (#52). And it's topical, too. But thanks to all this deliquescing that's going on, I might not be able to get to my roll of winter shots this season. Oh well, there's always next year.

As for continued progress, I've already started reading The Iliad and I have gotten a fresh new perscription for phisiotherapy (an important first baby step towards actually getting the therapy). Plans for the trip to Washington are progressing and there's lots of other stuff in the works, too. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

And in the lead in the's the Philiottorampa Senflyeafning!

I'm pretty sure that what's going on in this year's race for the President's Trophy (awarded to the team with the best standings in the NHL after the regular season is over) has never been this close this late in the season. In the eastern conference alone, there's a four-way tie for first place today, between my beloved Ottawa Senators, the deplorable Toronto Maple Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the biggest surprise (and most recent addition to the close race), the Tampa Bay Lightning! They all have 84 points apiece. Nor are these four currently in the lead overall. The Detroit Red Wings are one point up on them, best in the NHL, so it's still anyone's race. And the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, and San Jose Sharks are all nipping at their heels, no more that four points out of the lead. Insane!

So let's recap. Nine teams are all in serious contention for the President's Trophy. Sixteen teams will be vying for the Stanley Cup in the playoffs. Superstar players are trading hands faster than the trading cards their picture is printed on (just heard that Alexei Kovalev is a Montreal Canadien now! Crazy!). Let's face it. This season is a bookie's wet dream.

Update! Sergei Gonchar, superstar defenceman with the Washington Capitals, has been traded to Boston! And the race heats up further.....

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Water on Mars!

Caught this late-breaking story just as I was winding down my workday. Looks like all that money spent on "cameras to take pictures of rocks," as critics have called Opportunity and Spirit, those plucky little Mars rovers, may have paid off. The Mars rovers have found a pile of supporting evidence for Mars being a surfer's paradise at one point in time. But before we get into our spaceships packed with swimming trunks and snorkeling gear, it's still going to be some time before we know if any of it is left on the surface of the planet.

Joking aside, this could be huge for a manned mission to Mars happening within my life time (read: sooooo cool). Water in frozen form at the red planet's poles or locked away in soil could mean that a human voyage there would be a lot cheaper. Once the astronauts set up a camp near a reserve of water, they could start to process it and live on the surface for much longer and much cheaper than if they had to ferry all the water they'd need in themselves. And they would ultimately be able to turn the water into breathable oxygen, reducing the required reserves of that, too. Landers would become mini processing plants for extracting the building blocks of life from the Martian soil.

Sounds like a sci-fi!

Monday, March 01, 2004

ER: The Ottawa Chronicles

So what did you do on your Sunday afternoon? Some cleaning? Some relaxing? Maybe watched a movie? Or nursed a hangover, thanks to Saturday's evening of debauchery? We spent the afternoon at the emergency ward of the Queensway Carleton Hospital. And I'd be sarcastic if I told you that it isn't quite possibly the BEST place to spend three hours of your precious weekend time.

The reason for the visit was at the hands of a fairly inconspicuous agent: A blueberry muffin, baked by my mother. But before you judge, my mom is an AWESOME cook and baker, so it wasn't really her fault. It was the ingredients. More specifically it was whatever mysterious ingredient had a disagreement with Stacey's throat.

Only moments after finishing one of my mother's delicious muffins, Stacey's throat started to close up. Fortunately, it didn't close all the way. She could still breathe and speak, but after a hasty call to TeleHealth Ontario (great service, check it out sometime), we decided that the best thing to do was head to the hospital. So we did. And honestly, a three hour wait on a Sunday afternoon wasn't that bad. They hooked Stace up to an IV and pumped her full of some heavy anti-allergy meds and she started to feel better. We still don't know what caused it, but we're gonna get to the bottom of it soon so we won't have a repeat.

What really got to me, though, was how far medical services in Ontario have slipped. I mean, really slipped. Let's take a look at the cafeteria, for example. Most people would assume that at 6:30 on a Sunday night, the cafeteria would be a pretty busy place. So there I went, stomach grumbling as my only soundtrack, to find that it was closed. And here I thought that cafeterias at hospitals are ALWAYS open. Not that I spend very much time at hospitals, mind you. And then there's parking. Apparently, there's no free parking anymore for anyone, no matter whether you're a patient or a visitor. I had to pay almost $14 to park at a parking lot in the middle of the west end in Ottawa. I have NEVER paid to park in the west end of Ottawa until last night. Seems like gouging a captive audience, if you ask me.

But hey, I guess in the long run, we're very lucky to live in Canada, where medical attention comes without a price tag. It's fantastic to have OHIP paying our doctor's bills and really, paying a couple of bucks to park in the hospital lot doesn't seem like that big a deal. But when they're starving their visitors? Visitors who are quite willing and ready to shell out a few bucks for a greasy Salisbury steak? Sounds like lunacy to me. Anywhere else and any less hungry, and you'd have to pay ME to eat that junk.

The silver lining of it all is that we made it home in time for the Oscars. And MY GOD, the vindication. Rings is the newly-crowned King of Hollywood, and DAMN, it feels nice. Full, heartfelt feelings of joy over Big Petey's win. I wonder if he's at all jealous that his wife Fran got one more Oscar than he did, though? Hmmmm. All in all, it was a very uneventful show, with very few surprises. Most people called the winners with some confidence a month before the envelopes were opened. There were some that made up for past snubbery (Renee and Mr. Penn) and some that were carefully-crafted Oscar-shoe-ins (Charlize, I'm lookin' at you honey), but really, the show was all Hobbit.

Highlights! Bill Murray doing his very best Michael Caine "boo hoo hoo" impression (TM) after seeing his best chance at the gold slip through his fingers. Liv Tyler and her "I'm wearing I'm not wearing glasses....I'm wearing glasses...." routine and a hairdo that looked like it was sculpted by a hurricane. Adrian Brody obviously has bad-smelling breath. Jim Carrey in his biggest comedic bellyflop since Batman Forever. And guest presenters that made no sense whatsoever.

Anyway, treading on the movies/TV thing (wow! It's both) a bit much here, so I'll leave it at that. Oh, and of course,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mom! Love you tons!