The Web
Post Categories
Buy my book!
Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for 2007

Misfired rants

Rant-fuel has been replaced by non-combustible, good old fashioned work….

I was going to rant about organizational arrogance. The highlight was Microsoft, which did not graciously accept that a Nigerian educational organization opted to buy 17,000 PCs with a Linux operating system for the country’s elementary schools. Microsoft bribed one of the agencies funding that purchase with a payment of $400,000 (all figures in US dollars) for marketing, payable upon conversion of those PCs to Windows XP.

Each copy of Linux would have cost the Nigerians $10, for a total of $170,000. The Windows licenses would have cost some amount, almost certainly more than that.

It’s disgusting. I’m sure there are worse actions, corporate or individual, out there and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but this really churns my stomach.

Not quite as disgusting or broad, but equally arrogant was the flyer that someone stuck in our mailbox.

Montreal offers stickers with a pictogram that tells the folks who hand out non-mailed flyers and whatnot that you wish not to receive them. They work well – too well at times, because they also ward off free community newspapers (which is why we had so much trouble getting a copy of the issue of the Chronicle with Child Three in it).

They say all publicity is good publicity, but allow me the attempt to buck that trend. Real-estate agents Michel Duguay and Colette Birks of Royal LePage don’t respect those stickers and dropped an advertising flyer in our mailbox and probably hundreds others. Don’t hire them.

And don’t bother attending Knox Crescent Kensington and First Presbyterian Church. No, not because of the silly name, but because they also ignore the “no circulars” stickers. They don’t get a pass for being close to God, no more than would a nun who steals cars.

Sorry for the fizzling post. I should have brought the hammer down while still primed.

“Push-up” Daisies

From this point on, it’s mostly moot pending a resolution of the writers’ strike, but the only new show to make my list of shows I try to watch or make an effort to download later is “Pushing Daisies”. “Chuck” tried, but despite my admiration for Zach Levy’s work, I stopped watching after four episodes – did it get better?

“Pushing Daisies” has a whimsical quirkiness that I’ve not grown tired of, although I can see how someone might stop appreciating it. The stories in each episode are fresh, the character arcs across the season have managed to avoid predictable expectations, and the boobs are in your face.

Yes, the boobs are in your face.

The show is almost as bad as soft porn, in a good way. Hence the title of this post, which is how the wife and I refer to the show. I haven’t seen so much cleavage on network TV since… – hmmm. “Married with Children”?

The last episode, guest-starring the son of 101 Squadron pilot Milton Rubenfeld, to us appeared to slyly nod (or should that be jiggle?) at its own approach to decolletage, particularly with Olive (good sport Kristen Chenoweth, pictured above). At one point, her zipper was so low and her actions so vigorous she looked like she was making lemonade at Hot Dog on a Stick.

Another feature of the show is the singing. The aforementioned Ms. Chenoweth and Ellen Green (Audrey in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors”) are occasionally let loose with their veteran pipes, the ones above their clavicles.

By the way, Anna Friel (who plays Chuck in “Pushing Daisies”, not in “Chuck”) is one of three British leads on prime time American TV season to put on a mock American accent for a role. Can you name the other two? (One is really easy.)


A few posts ago, I mentioned that I’d signed up to coach hockey. I’m the head coach of Child Three’s team, with four assistants and a part-time manager. That’s a staff of 1.5 more people than usual, but we’re meshing well thanks to my celebrated people skills. (You can see my skills in action in the photo at left.)

Those readers who remember my previous grumbles about coaching T-ball might wonder why I signed up for hockey. I asked myself the same question once in a while. But this is a lot more fun. The two other NDG coaches in my division are both pleasant gents – one was my T-ball assistant this summer – and, as I say, the assistants on my team make me look forward to games. They each have a particular function they like to take charge of and there’s no overlap, and thus no conflict.

Let me not forget the kids. They’re focused, they work hard, and they’re a pleasure to work with. I’m not sure if that’s a function of the sport or not. In baseball and its relatives, there’s a lot of time to daydream. In hockey, if you’re on the ice, you pay attention. As well, in T-ball, we’re on the field with the kids. In hockey, it’s up to them alone, and perhaps they appreciate the responsibility. Or maybe I just have better kids than I did in summer.

In our first game, Saturday, Child Three played goalie. We won 3-2, but the most notable moment of the game was when an opposing player had a breakaway. As the attention of everyone in the building turned from centre ice to Child Three, we all saw that his trapper (the goalie catching glove) was lying on the ice – and he was standing in the crease completely oblivious. Fortunately, the breakaway ended with a loose puck slowly sliding toward Child Three and he grabbed it with his bare hand.

No one knew how or why the glove was off, least of all Child Three. He says it fell off and he didn’t notice.

The team impressed me mightily. The close score was no indication of how much we outplayed the other team. Their goals both came from passes into the slot that resulted in good shots. Child Three probably should have saved at least one of them, but he made other good saves, so I call it even.

After the game, he went home with a teammate and I drove home alone. I was happy – no, joyous. I had tunes pumping in the minivan and felt as great as I do after I myself play a great game. What a weird feeling, but worth every minute of the afternoon.

We played Sunday and won 3-0 with another solid game. These kids are picking up our lessons quickly. They have had no exposure to hockey theory – positional play, plays, etc. – but have only practiced skills, yet they are soaking up my lessons like tiny, eager sponges.

Child Three played forward the second game and our other goalie went between the pipes. Other than two highlight-reel goals we scored, the play of the game was Child Three’s penalty as he took down an opposing player with all of his 35 pounds and got two for tripping. He also got an assist on our first goal, somehow. It looks like a beautiful pass on the score sheet, but it was invisible to me on the ice.

Elvi posted some photos of the second game with her Picasa account, but I’ve posted some of the better ones here, with Child Three in the white helmet on the non-pinnied team:

Wow, it looks like he has a shot! (He doesn’t, yet.)

Anybody get the number of that truck? Yes, it’s 4. (Child Three weighs about a quarter what Webs does, and Webs is always number 16, so that makes a certain amount of sense.)

He go to da penalty box and he feel shame.

Bonus ayiieee:

Check out the comments to my recent post on commercials, where I’ve had short but enlightening conversation with the man who drives the Kia Sportage through the bayou in that commercial that annoys me.

Thing a thong

This is old news, but I just found it. reports on LA-area ob-gyn Dr. Lisa Masterson’s research on the dangers of G-strings. They are not all fun and games.

(The article states that the good doctor’s name is Liza Masterson, but I think she’s Lisa Masterson, ob-gyn to the stars and sometime guest of Oprah.)

The article claims that Masterson “released the results of her study a while ago”. I did a literature search and I can’t find any evidence of the study, but who am I to stand in the way of medical science?

Some of the health dangers of G-strings and thongs are understandable. The fabric can stay moist and breed bacteria, and the rear fabric can become a bridge for bacteria to go from one orifice to another. Skin abrasions from tight underwear might be not seem to be a serious health risk, but OK, I’ll grant that.

That’s not all, though: “…Statistics suggest that women wearing g-strings run a greater risk of injuring their genitals during a fall or traffic accident.” Great googly moogly! Ladies, make sure you don’t wear thongs for anything more dangerous than watching TV.

How can you minimize the danger otherwise? Dr. Masterson provides a few tips, including this gem: “Do not wear g-strings when the weather is hot and wet.”

Let’s be careful down there.

Bonus patent:

Dr. Masterson is not only a source of health care advice, but she’s an inventor. She owns a patent for underwear that can make you look like you have tattoos.

Go, science!

Rant I, first of a series

Here’s the first rant

In the summer of 1997, Netsurfer Digest (issue 3.26) published this article, written by yours truly:


If you’re like the average American, you have but dim knowledge of the language debate in Canada’s province of Quebec. While the ruling separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) shuts hospitals and passes tax burdens on to municipalities, it has a spare $5 million to feed their Office de la Langue Francaise (OLF), an agency that fines citizens who display signs not merely in English only, but also bilingual signs with English lettering more than half as tall as the French lettering. Why mention this? Another brilliant PQ idea is mandatory French on commercial Web pages. This charter was toned down severely after criticism, but even in its present state, we’ll let it speak for itself. May the Net recognize all censorship as damage and route around it. One cute OLF page provides French translations of standard Net terms. See you in a bavardoir and beware les bidouilleurs.
Net terms:

That article brought in more reader mail than any article we ever published – probably because of this open letter. I loved reading and answering the letters to the editor (who was me), and the e-mail this article generated was no exception. You can read it here (thanks to the Internet Archive). The main thrust of the responses was that the Charter was meant to apply to commercial speech only – although by law there is no difference between commercial and citizen speech as far as I know. (I’m not getting paid to look that up anymore.)

A few weeks ago, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Saku Koivu, introduced his team before a home game at the Bell Centre. Koivu speaks little if any French and spoke only English for the announcement. Well, the anti-English faction in our province went to town.

The Finnish-born Koivu has possibly contributed more to Montreal than any athlete, ever, but the anti-English fringe, led by members of the press, perversely continue to assail him.

What the heck?

This city is a great place to live, but it does have its problems. Streets and overpasses fall apart. And people have the temerity to shout from the rooftops over three seconds of English?

What. The. Heck?

Keep at it, my pure-wool friends. How much lower can you sink the Parti Quebecois in the polls?

(Note: This rant is in no way addressed to the sensible vast majority of Quebec – but, I must admit, it’s a good idea to keep me away from poking sticks.)

Bonus Montreal stuff for “Heroes” watchers:

The address in the show, 121 St. Jacques, does not exist and if it did, it would probably be a bank, not a warehouse. The old headquarters of the Bank of Montreal at 119 St. Jacques is a classical building nearly 200 years old. The next highest address is 129 St. Jacques, which is the new(er) headquarters of the same bank.

Kudos to the production crew for getting the neighbourhood somewhat correct. In the external shots before Peter entered the building, you could see the Notre Dame Basilica in a shot that strongly resembles this perspective. St. Jacques, though, is the cross street at the top of the crest – turn right at the light (not on red!) to get to the banks. You can see a Google Maps rendition of the area here. The domed bank, the church, and Place d’Armes between them are easy to pick out.

FQ test

The original “Psyche Rock” (Pierre Henry, 1967):

The cover (Fatboy Slim, 1997):

So, metaphorical and literal children of mine, what’s next in this series?

(Naila, you may not answer….)

(Hint 1: What does the F in FQ stand for?)

(Hint 2: Christopher Tyng, 1999)


I thought the whole idea behind skunk spray was that victims would learn to avoid the skunk.

Stupid dog. This is his third time. And right in the ear, too.

OxiClean to the rescue. Again.

Party all the time

Whew! I have a moment, and wireless access, so why not greet you, my adoring public and those of you who arrive as a result of fetish Web searches.

I’m playing the role of stage dad at the moment. Child Two was plucked from acting-class obscurity to spend a day as a supporting character in a Web video project bound for equal obscurity. Still, this skeleton crew did get Telefilm funding, so that’s a solid single up the middle.

I read synopses and pitches and wiggled my fingers and produced notes, for Alex and for Robert the director. I had planned to do that earlier in the week – I had Wednesday afternoon blocked off for this. Something, however brought down a utility pole two streets over. I’m not exactly sure what – I’ve told some people a car hit it, other people that a tree took it down. Regardless, it snapped in half. We lost power for three hours in the afternoon, starting literally as I wrote the first sentence of my notes.

We got power back in time to make supper and for me to meet with the two other head coaches of NDG Novice B hockey – more on that later – to sort the kids into teams.

That done, the power went out again so I went to bed.

The next day, I drove by the fallen pole, which you can’t see here. The pole was between the middle two trees on the northeast (or plain east in Montrealese) side of the little park.

The repair crew installed a new pole, but instead of transferring the wires and insulators and whatnot to the new pole, stapled/strapped/glued the top half of the old pole to the new one.

And people wonder why our streets crumble and our overpasses collapse. I’ll try to get a photo.

Thursday, our friend the Laird Easson came for a visit on his way to his United Kingdom estates. He stopped off chez nous to go to Elvi’s convocation Friday. She received her Master’s of Engineering degree. I couldn’t attend as I taught Friday afternoon, but I went to the party that night.

My Metallurgically Inclined Lady Friend (no one has commented on the abbreviation of that, my recently oft-used phrase) celebrated a wee bit too much and spent most of Saturday in bed. Like a trooper, however, she climbed from the brink of the grave and went with me to Dave’s house. Dave is an old friend who has pretty much nothing in common with me, with the exception of my late uncle and the Hoodoo Gurus – remind me to tell you of our road trip – so we greet each other warmly when we meet and then we don’t speak for years.

We had fun at Dave’s, and I met many faces from the past.

Tonight, I play hockey (yes!). Tomorrow night, I attend a meeting of coaches. Tuesday night, I go out with journalism students. Wednesday I pick up hockey uniforms. Thursday I go out with screenwriters. Friday is a hockey practice and we have our first games Saturday and Sunday.

Party all the time.

Bonus simmering rage:

Yeah, it’s still there. No, it’s not directed at any individual. Yes, it’s going to come out in a rant, but not today.

The power of journalism

Maybe it’s not that much power, but still….

K.G. Schneider wrote an article on Wikipedia culture for It appeared Sept. 26.

As I wrote at the time, she mentioned my particular battle with one self-appointed tyrant named Downwards over the addition of sourced info to the Pace Mannion article. I’m on page two.

On October 3, the Wikipedia contributor Peregrine Fisher restored my info with my sources, and Downwards seems to have accepted it.

Bonus bubbling rage:

No time to rant yet. While some irritants have by now faded into the background, others pop up every day.

Not divorced

For those who don’t know how it works, Facebook allows your contacts to establish how they are connected to you, and it updates all your contacts with any change of status. Any status you approve of is henceforth displayed on your profile page.

A few days ago, Elvi submitted the fact that she and I are married. I approved it, but then it started showing up on my page. There are some things I think should remain private, like personal details, addresses, etc., and which I prefer not to broadcast to the world at large – and besides, advertising my marriage cramps my style with the ladies.

I reset my preferences to hide my relationship status. Facebook interprets that as eliminating the relationship, so when I did that, all my contacts received the status report that Elvi and I no longer had a relationship.

My friend Bram is not on Facebook, but his wife is. Last night, he called me to see how things are going. “Good,” I told him.

“You said ‘good'”?, he asked. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, why?”

“You’re not getting divorced or anything?”

I laughed, understanding the confusion immediately, and explained what happened.

My little brother asked Elvi pretty much the same thing for the same reason.

So, sorry, ladies. I’m not divorced (yet).

Every click…
...contributes to world domination.