Thursday, May 29, 2008

A is for autofill

I have a neat idea and if it catches on, it may become a full-blown online blog meme or, at least, a decent way to spend ten minutes.

With the proliferation of browsers that use autofill to help complete URLs in the address field - such as Firefox and Safari and probably more - often we have to type only a few letters to get the browser to acknowledge where we want to go. It occurred to me that the autofills suggested by each single letter could provide a sense of one's being.

Here are mine with comments in brackets:

I: (an online game)
J: (surprising - a computer store)
N: (I was sure this was going to be one of my class Web sites at
S: (a game server; see the entry for I)
V: (a Japanese site that no longer exists; I forget what it was)
X: (I forget what that was, too)

Gosh, that's dull.

Never mind.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eleven pages and all's well

My first week of dedicated work on the treatment to script phase produced 11 pages, which is less than I'd have liked. I think they're mostly good pages, though. I'm not revising as I go, but extruding the thing in one long... - er, I'll stop that metaphor now. There are some rough spots and I think it drags because of an extra few scenes, but I can fix that after I finish this draft.

One reason it is going slowly is that I have a book of my hero's personal letters that I like to consult for flavour. What he wrote is not dialogue, obviously, but the letters do let me access the adyts of his mind at any particular moment of his life.

When I wrote earlier that I start teaching today, I was wrong. I start next week, but I still have another full afternoon/evening schedule to get through. Mondays and Wednesdays are T-ball (we're 2-0 and look to be far and away the best team in our league). Tonight, Elvi and I have the first meeting for Child Two's bat mitzvah at the synagogue we're joining. Only I will attend because Elvi is throwing a dinner party at our place for her choir tonight.

Early Friday morning, Elvi leaves to spend eight days at some sort of blacksmithing conference in Pittsburgh. Next week may rattle me. I already have conflicts Sunday and Monday evenings, but my father, who is in town, can help me out, thank goodness. And our carpool partners are very understanding and will happily cover for me when I am in class.

Bonus evidence I am a great man:

Elvi fell in the toilet yesterday because I left the seat up. She was so used to my excellent toilet skills that this lapse caught her by surprise. I never leave the seat up - well, almost never. Hey, I said I was a great man, not a perfect one.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Life v. work

I am cracking down on writing this biopic, but it's tough with this week's interruptions.

Sunday night, I took Child One to her bass lesson.

Monday I got quite a bit done until 3:00 when I had to leave to do carpool. Tuesday was another decent work day, again until afternoon carpool. Once I get home from carpool, I have all three (more or less) kids in the house and I do homework with them or they're on a computer making beeping noises. I can't accomplish anything when they're here. I have to wait for them to sleep.

Wednesday morning was cut short by an interview. I was the subject, not the director as the wife and I met with the rabbi of a synagogue we're joining. One thing I can't do is work for an hour - I need long stretches to be productive - so by the time I got home, Wednesday was shot. Thursday I got some more done, until carpool. Today, I attended an school assembly in which Child Two performed, then went shopping for a Nintendo DS Lite and some games for Children Two and Three. I didn't get much done.

I'm sitting at the end of an alleged five-day workweek with about seven pages written, and six good ones. That's not too bad when you consider how many hours I actually have to work and the research-heavy nature of this story.

I have T-ball to (assistant) coach Monday and Wednesday evenings. Child Three is playing summer hockey Friday evenings. I'm playing hockey Wednesday evenings (yes, a little conflict there) and Friday nights. And somewhere in the remaining space we'll slot a weekly T-ball practice.

Next week, I start teaching my summer course....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The tree

For three days a year, in May, we are lucky enough to possess and appreciate one of the five most beautiful trees on the planet. It's right outside my window.

You could see it, too - at least a photo of it - if Blogger would let me upload the image. I've tried for 12 hours.

Bonus update:

It finally works, a day later.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A good week

There hasn't been much to write about for the last few days so let me elaborate on something I wrote last week. Remember that historical biopic? I finished a new treatment. I'd made a first attempt, but it was crap. My scope grew too large and I got lost in the wilderness. I put it aside for a month without thinking about it, and got back to work on it a couple of weeks ago.

This time, I nailed it. The treatment follows one theme from this man's life and the events in the story all grow from that. It's organic, it's entertaining, and my producer loves it. How much does he love it? Well, we can leave that for a future post.

Tomorrow, I start to work on draft number two.

Bonus hockey talk:

I played hockey Friday night at the DDO Civic Centre. The quality of hockey ranked a notch below that of Wednesday and it took a while to get in sync with my wingers, but I enjoyed it. It took a lot out of me, though. I hope I'm just out of shape after more than a year of essentially no hockey rather than old. Out of shape can be improved upon, old can't.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quick hits

Batman style!

CBS just bought CNet. Nobody can figure out why. Proposed new shows include "How I Met Your Motherboard", "I Love Linux", "Office", "Everybody Loves Redmond", "The Where Do You Want To Go Today Show", and the new Sunday night anchor, "60 Megabytes". Seriously though, CNET owns and operates the domains,, and Start puckering up to kiss the sites you love goodbye.

Elvi has posted some photographs taken last weekend while we entertained our Japanese guests. You can browse her album here. I'm not sure why they all make V signs with their fingers for photos. Maybe they're all in the same triad.

The hockey last night showcased players with a wide range of skills. I fell somewhere in the middle, but the wingers I played with did not. I did a lot of backchecking.... The new LCC rink is very warm inside and the ice is soft and tiring. Granted, the temperature peaked near 30 degrees yesterday, but we will be playing hockey there all summer. It's so nice to play so close to home. If I still had two wheels on my hockey bag, I'd walk to and from games there.

This blog has achieved further Google domination for another odd search. We're number one if you Google for "passover for idiots" (with or without the quotation marks). Next stop: Tu B'Shvat for 'tards.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


We've had two beautiful spring days and I've spent them inside and I don't mind a bit.

I've spent my time inside finishing a treatment for that historical biopic, finally, after several false starts. I also discovered there's a script on the same personality that's been in development for six years. I'm not sure if that's good news or bad.

I attended an ELAN schmoozer last night and talked with some nifty people. It's good to get out of the house once in a while. Tonight is my first game of summer hockey, at the new LCC rink.

Bonus sports updates:

Thanks to sizzling Lance Berkman and a trade of Andy LaRoche to acquire Dave "So far so good" Bush, my Irrational League team is gusting to third place. My Team 990 team is bobbing around 100th place out of 250 or so. My playoff hockey pool is fourth or fifth and will remain there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Does u want job?

The parent company of I Can Has Cheezburger is looking for a human to sift through submishinz for that Web site. The AP reports.

I'd apply but I'd never hear from them again, like pretty much every pitch I've sent out this year. One of my goals for 2008 was to do less research and do more byline. It's not working out. I've started applying for contract jobs and that's not happening either.

As a result, I'm going to do another book with Alex Y., this one on the B-17 in the Israeli Air Force. It should be out by the end of summer.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hamo and Kami come to our castle

Tomorrow through Sunday, our family and home will host two students from a faraway land called Japan - or as the Japanese themselves call it, Jappan.

Our two guests are both teenage males and older than all our non-adopted children. In a way, it will be like having two older brothers for our almost 14-year-old daughter, Child One. It had better be just like that.

The boys are staying with us as part of a student exchange, sort of. Child One, whose all-girl school organized this, is not going to Japan, as far as I know.

The boys sent us letters in which they introduced themselves. I can't find them and everyone else is asleep. All I remember is that one is called something like Kamikaze and the other one sounds like Hamotoru. They sent photos, too. The photo of one shows him smiling widely and mock flexing for the camera. The other photo shows a boy who looks sullen. I'm guessing that one's Kamikaze.

Somebody gave us a check for $270 to take care of these boys, so in order to turn a profit, we need to find cheap ways to entertain them. We do have a lot of laundry to wash and I'm told their people love to wash clothing, but that's really only going to take a day and a half. I could spend another few hours introducing them to some of the marvels of our Western world, like computers and the new DVD player I bought last week.

We've needed to plan meals around their own culture and diet. Did you know that they eat rice? Isn't Wikipedia amazing?

These boys may not eat beef if, like most Japanese, they treat cows as sacred animals. They have a name for them: Kobe beef, after the NBA star they also treat with utmost respect. It's not too different from us here in North America. If we see a really big black guy walking toward us, we will cross the street to allow him to pass by as far from us as possible. So, beef is out, but tomorrow night, we will serve the boys the classic Japanese dish of suishi: raw pork on squished rice patties. I hope they like leftovers, because that's our plan through the weekend.

As you can see, we need to gently assess and compromise for differences in culture. These relatively young Japanese boys don't want to talk about Pearl Harbor and I'm not going to discuss it with them; here in Canada, the fall of Singapore and the treatment of its prisoners plays more fundamentally in our national consciousness. If they finish the laundry by Sunday, we can sit down and watch "Bridge over the River Kwai" together. I understand the Japanese also like Godzilla. Who knew they were so into Matthew Broderick?

While the boys stay home and wash Saturday morning, I'll be taking Child Three to T-ball evaluations. Child Two is spending this weekend on stage, in her first role in a non-school play. The play is called "Esther" and it is indeed about the Purim story. We would take Hamotoru and Kamikaze with us Saturday to see it, but I'm sure by now they're tired of learning about Purim over and over in their international school in Tokyo.

I'll end this post with a video of the mayor of Japan. Unlike our mayors, he has time to go out into the streets and perform good deeds for his people. Good for him.

Bonus thought:

I wonder if I should be handing out my blog URL on job resumes.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sporting news

The NHL playoffs have taken a little break and therefore so has our pool. As Will Dixon posts, I'm tied in third place, eight points back of leader John Callaghan, but there's no way I can gain ground, since we have the same players now. In fact, my team is not even to going to maintain my third-place tie.

My Team 990 baseball pool entry is mired in 113th place out of 256, primarily due to injuries. I have no investment, emotional or financial, in that contest, so don't expect me to follow up on that unless my team cracks the top 50 or something.

The Irrational League is a horsehide of a different colour. Last you heard, I was in second place, but injuries and plain old crappy pitching have dropped me to fifth, as follows.

.286 batting average (2nd)
42 HR (5th)
191 RBI (6th)
34 SB (3rd)
4.20 ERA (6th)
1.35 WHIP (5th)
14 wins (tied 8th, in last)
11 saves (6th)

My picks are not hitting homers at the rate I thought they would. I'm looking at you, Carlos Beltran and JJ Hardy. On the other hand, Kemp's and Berkman's stolen bases are a pleasant surprise.

The pitching is in turmoil. Smoltz is out. Corpas lost his closing job and is now useless. Orlando Hernandez still hasn't come back, and Justin Germano and Chris Young are both pitching much more porrly than they should be. Germano seems to have lost his job, too, for now.

On the bright side, I picked up Jamie Moyer in our monthly free-agent draft. I had to hold my nose to do it, but he'll get some ugly wins. Jon Rauch looks like an astute draft pick now, as does Jon Lieber. Smoltz may come back as a closer. I still need more decent starting pitching, but no one wants to trade it.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Flipping the bird

I don't have much to write about. I got a haircut Friday morning. I had a dream about Youppi on the beach that night.

Yesterday, the wife sent me a link to this BBC article.

Which punch line do you like best?
  1. That's why Antarctic scientists don't wear tuxedoes.

  2. Not surprising, and explains why whole chickens are banned in Antarctic research stations.

  3. Obviously, the seal couldn't find a vacuum cleaner.

  4. Thank God we have thumbs.

I like this bit from the article:

Chinstrap penguins occasionally indulge in homosexual behaviour, and adelie penguins sometimes "prostitute" themselves to get stones for nest-building; while one in seven emperor penguins will change partners from one year to the next.

But generally, king penguins lead straightforward sex lives: males and females pair up for years on end.

Like Elvi observed, it's not as if the penguin had any say in the matter.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I'd love to have this, but $2,900 is a bit steep. Do watch the video.