Monday, March 23, 2009

What were you doing 20 years ago, 1989

After reading Squid's great post on what he was doing 20 years ago, I thought I'd do the same! Here is the heavily abridged version.

Hmm. In March 1989 I was 19 years old. I was doing a grade 13/14 thing at high school and contemplating college after the summer. I played in a local Ottawa band called AFTER THE FACT that wrote and recorded original music, which at the time, was my primary focus and attempt at a career(that's me with the red guitar, I still have it!!!). Until I woke up to the harsh reality of musical life and discovered that I did not live in Toronto or Vancouver, I did not play french music and wasn't into being a starving artist(sigh). Which was too bad because it was an awesome amount of fun to do while it lasted and enabled me to meet and work with a ton of great and talented folks, some of whom I still talk to today.

I was still living with my parental units and for extra money I worked at the Vanier Cineplex Movie Theater combining another love of my life - Movies! More importantly FREE MOVIES! (check out this memorial website for a sister theatre of the time). There I met a ton of weirdos and all kinds of weird stuff happened (see "the poop crayon") which should and will be detailed in another blog entry. Suffice it to say I became an expert on how to handle mentally ill street folk and other types of disgruntled patrons.
One funny thing about the theatre was you got constant updates on the local dating scene. Like the girl who would come to 4 movies in the space of a week on a different night each with a different guy (sometimes to the same movie). Hmm. Then the same guy she bring twice in a row after that was the winner I guess. Vanier could be a tad violent and we sometimes hired cops to stand in theatre on Tuesday's, Fridays and Saturday nights (all nights I worked) to deter the more rambunctious patrons.

I also worked at Consumers Distributing, that catalog place where you'd write something down and give the paper slip to someone and they would go and bring it out for you. I was that guy. They called us "Pickers". We had no computerized inventory so we were a bit screwed up. We'd only know when we were out of stock of something when we went to get it and it was not there. Then we'd take this little inventory magnet the shelves used to have and put it on the main board in front. That was the out of stock list. There were several weirdos there. On my first day my co-worker asked me to punch him as hard as I could in the arm and then he'd do the same to me to see who could hit harder(I tend not to play games with people who suggest things like that. I figure they know something I don't). My first week someone got fired for answering the telephone with "Welcome to Dr Morgentallers, you rape em we scrape em". (Ack!). I was surprised to find out that Consumers sold women's vibrators. 3 or 4 a week! Sometimes the guys would put batteries in them and leave them on the metal shelves turned on and they'd make a hell of a racket until our boss would go and shut them off. That summer we sold these Battery powered squirt guns and we unpacked a bunch of them and had water fights in the aisles when the boss was on vacation. It seemed we could do whatever we wanted with the stock as long as it stayed inside the store. One day our radio in the back died, so one of the guys took a ghetto blaster off the shelf, dropped kicked it and said "Oops, damaged item, return to stock!" and we opened it and used it as the warehouse radio for the rest of the summer.

It was here that I first found out about that mysterious organization called "The government". Some people had left to work there "on contract" and I heard it was a money pit compared to the $5 an hour I was probably making back then. I vowed to explore this option in the near future. I was let go from Consumers when I told them I was going to college that September and would not be able to work days. SO they replaced me with a skinhead kid from Cornwall who had come up to go to college. Guess the boss just didn't like me. I saw the old boss a few years later when I got in full time with the Feds. He was still there, Consumers was in it's death throes and he congratulated me on my career path like you would congratulate someone for coming down with Cancer.

It was around this time (or the year before) that we got our first household computer, an IBM XT. I think it was my dad's attempt at getting me to look at other career possibilities other than Music, which wasn't really going anywhere. We had a 4 color monitor! Then we had EGA which was 16 colors and VGA which was 256 colors at some thing like 320x240 or 640x480 resolution (as I write this today on a dual monitor 24 inch LG Flatron @1600x1200 with 32 bit color). It didn't take long to get some proficiency with DOS. PROMPT=$P$G anyone? Who writes this stuff? I remember my Dad getting into the PC as well, it was his after all. He'd bring it into work at the fire station sometimes to learn how to work it on his downtime so I'd only get to mess with it when he'd leave it at home. I remember visiting some guy's house and seeing a cool menu and getting a copy of that and discovering...

YOU CAN MAKE EXACT COPIES OF STUFF! Ones and Zeros! Intellectual property be damned! WOOHOO! This coming from a kid who used to hook up 3 VCR's in series with RCA cables to copy movies he rented from the store 2 at a time. Dos commands like TREE being a pain in the ass I remember using a utility called XTREE all the time. I loved that proggy. Making directories all over the place (we called folders that back then).

We had a gigantic 10MB hard disk. A few short years later I remember paying $500 for a second-hand 100MB hard drive which meant I could have all the Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, and Space Quest games on the same hard disk! SIERRA games were the start of a huge gaming habit back then.

I had met the future Mrs Zartimus around this time and she was the ex-girlfriend of a friend and co-worker of mine at Cineplex. He was trying to get back together with her and I was helping. Really and truly I was (no sarcasm here although it's hard to tell in print). Since this involved spending a lot of time with her, telling how great my Friend was and how they should get back together, one thing led to another and the focus soon shifted to "Hey, she's really cool, perhaps I should re-think this whole helping her get back together with her old boyfriend thing." My friendship with my old co-worker did not fare so well for a time, but I got married to Mrs Zartimus 6 years later in 1995 (two kids and still going strong).

I liked the times back then, not as many responsibilities but I have way better toys and gadgets today than I did back then. Thanks to facebook I'm back to hanging around with some of the same weirdos I hung around with back then. And the money's better!

I'd say there here is now. What were you all doing 20 years ago?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This app saved my bacon again today. I keep forgetting to blog it as I've been using it for a few years now ever since Lenzpot told me about it. I swear I blog these cool little apps for myself sometimes so I can keep track of these little gems as I format my PC on a yearly basis to clean out the junk one accumulates over a year.

It's KeePass . It's a real lightweight password manager. It stores all your various site passwords in a single text which is opened up by a single master password file all encrypted up the wazoo with AES and Twofish and it's free and open source. In my opinion, all encryption proggies should be open source, just for transparency so you can see what they are doing. We wouldn't trust the government or some third party company would refuse to publish their encryption source code so we can see all the back doors they threw in would we? (Shhh, we do every day. Scary...)

So you start up a KeePass database, put in a website, or portal, or whatever and jot down your password for that site to store, or it can think one up for you. Heck, you don't even have to see what it is as it has the ability to do the login for you if it is open. The master file is portable, just as the keepass application is. You can chuck it on a memory stick, no install needed.

I accessed an old website that I hadn't used in a year today. What was the password again? Off to keepass - there it is. The only thing you have to do is remember the master one - and keep that one a secret.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tehrankari convicted of murder in sister-in-law's death

Well, Duh!!!

What a waste of time this was. How come this trial wasn't over in about 2 days?

This guy is a f*&king idiot. A murdering idiot as it turns out. No wait, a murderous bank robbing hostage taking idiot from another country. I used to buy gas from this guy around the corner from my place. At the time I didn't know he was the same guy who robbed some banks in the in 1992 and took some people hostage. It happened in the west end when I was going to college and I remembered seeing it on the news that day. The guy in the white trenchcoat and rifle wearing the backpack running all over the place as the police chased him. They should have deported his ass to Iran right then and there but Noooooo. After his early release from prison his soon to be wife and sister in law went to bat for him to fight his deportation. I know hindsight is 20 20 but geez. How ironic that he is convicted of murdering one of the women that got our stupid government to let him stay here in Canada

The guy represented himself, insisted that the jury be made aware of his 1992 robberies and hostage takings and pretty much accused anyone who ever had a disagreement with him as a criminal and a liar. I loved his quotes. Having recently become fluent in a 2nd language I can appreciate the difficulty speaking in your 2nd tongue, still.. He was a dramatic ass on the stand and cross examining people. When was the last time you heard of someone representing themselves in a murder trial and winning?

And that cockamamie story about the guys breaking into his place and poking his prostrate to extract semen to plant on the dead body. This guy obviously saw the Hannibal movie and ran with it. IDIOT! Gee they found my sister in law dead in the bush and there's a big circle cut out of my bedroom carpet and my semen in her body and her blood in my car.

All a big co inky dink, the police are trying to frame me!

"No power on this Earth can shackle my tongue!"

"That juror was dismissed because she knew some woman I took hostage in 1992,”

"And he was milking -- please excuse me -- my penis to get something out of it,"

“This is a life-and-death situation and I don’t appreciate you smiling there!

"No mister policeman, you were very wrong."

"This is what I'm forbidden to tell you," Tehrankari shouted as he was pulled past jurors. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is not justice!"

“I admire his psychic ability.”

“There is a person they found, a very good scapegoat with a record,”

“If I was there, then I am the scumbag who has done this crime. But I am not.”

“I led police to my own semen-loaded underwear. That’s a smart thing to do.”

“You had to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “You failed beyond a shadow of doubt.”

You lying Satan,”

“Why are your officers using my head as a punching bag?”

“It is unfair, unjust, I cannot do this,” he yelled at the judge. “Why don’t you just kill me, that is better.”

“I cannot go on!”

“You broke the law sir. You disgraced the law,” Tehrankari said. “You call yourself a judge.”

Monday, March 09, 2009

Project Plasma

Two weeks ago I bought a Plasma TV. I had been waiting a few years to do this and the prices have come down considerably since I was looking a few years ago. I have a fairly good looking rear projection Hitachi (with the Pegasus guns!) that isn't going anywhere anytime soon so I wasn't in a big rush but when my ancient tube TV that I've had since I was 20 blew the week before it became the perfect time to put Project Plasma into place.

Where to buy? I bought my last TV at Stereo plus in Orleans from Carlos, and he gave me a great deal. I popped by and saw row upon row of big TV's and thought a 50" would do the trick. I was pretty much leaning towards Plasma the whole time, what with recent improvements to image retention (if you happen to play a game on it with a stationary HUD) and the anti-glare screens. Plasmas are prone to glare with the glass top screen and mine was going in a bright room. Also viewing angle. Plasmas are viewable from 180 degrees while LCD's and RPTV's (rear projection TV's) crap off in picture when viewed from the side. The LCD's are not prone to screen burn in or retention but they don't have a true black so the movie experience is always better on a Plasma. Heck, I could pick out the Plasmas from the LCD's on the wall just by looking at the ones I thought were richer, so Plasma it was. Turns out there was a sale in a few weeks so I planned to come back then.

So Friday came, TV day! So I broke out the flyers. Turns out that almost everyone, Sears, Stereo Plus, futureshop, had them on sale this week for $1799. But Audiotronics had them on for $1788. $12 cheaper! I had bought stuff there a few years before so for $12 (and the name of an in-store contact from a Friend of mine who works in the same mall) off I went, bing bang boom Bob's yer uncle, paid for it, in and out in 10 minutes (I came back 2 hours later with my truck to bring it home). They gave me a good price on a Blue ray player and some HDMI cabling ($$$$$ ouch) as well as a wall mounting kit.

I started the install at 10:00pm and by 2:00am I was watching TV. I spent most of the time surfing YouTube watching DIY mounting videos ans sticking a huge 50 inch by 30-something inch piece of cardboard I cut from the shipping box on the wall and running back to sit on the couch pretending it was the screen. I settled on 4 feet from the ground to center as the sweet spot. No Blue Ray test though! I had neglected to buy any movies and I didn't think any stores would be open at 2:00am otherwise I would have gone out right then and there. That had to wait until Saturday (Dark Night, Iron Man and Indy4 - Woohoo!).

A few things..

1. They are heavy as shite. I was stupid to mount it alone by myself at 1:30 am but I pushed an ottoman underneath that I could rest it on in case some body part gave out while lifting (something popped in my leg but watching the Plasma afterwards made it better).
2. 1080p, Blue Ray and High definition TV are worth every cent. I swear the picture looks better than what I see with my own eyes.
3. The type of Plasma I got, the Panasonic Viera 50" 1080p Plasma HDTV TH50PZ80 can go in a bright room with no worries.
4. My HDMI-connected Xbox 360 looks GREAT! No image retention or burn-in issues. There's a game-mode on the TV that helps combat that, if it is a problem at all.
5. End of Feb, early March is a great time to buy a Plasma TV. All the new stuff comes out in April and they want to get rid of last year's models.


The week after I was reading the newspaper Saturday morning and saw a new audiotronics flyer. It showed a picture of the Plasma TV I had just bought, and it was on sale for $1688! One hundred dollars less! The Bastards! I phoned them up and they said, no problem, we have price protection for one month, no worries we'll give it to you at that adjusted price. So I went down and they paid me the $100 odd bucks. Woohoo!

And this past weekend I was reading my Saturday paper and I purposely looked at the ubiquitous Audotronics flyer and saw, AGAIN! On sale for $1588! $100 off. I drove down that afternoon with my two bills and came back with a third one stapled to them and another $100 in my pocket.

The sales guy said:
"This is the lowest I've even seen them" and I said.
"See you next week (I hope).. "

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Beavers in the backyard

There are some neighbors we haven't met at the new place yet, because their front door is still under the ice. We have Beavers in the creek in back of our house. That should be neat, as long as they don't chew down the big trees in back of our property and try to take out the house or the pool.

A few weeks ago when the ice thawed they came out and chewed down more branches and brought them inside their lodge for a snack. The rodents don't hibernate and actually swim around under the ice (they can hold their breath for like 15 minutes apparently).

It looks like a small lodge in the side of the creek bank. It must get pretty boring in there. After cruising through a Wikipedia article they appear to make two chambers in there, sometimes on different levels. One for drying off and the other chamber for living.

We found the dam upstream and during the thaw they also took the opportunity to fire more branches in there. If they do become a nuisance they say you're not doing yourself any favors by destroying the dam, they will just build it back up again and cut more trees in the process. One thing that I read about that can piss them off or psyche them out is a beaver dam drain tube. It's a long perforated tube you sink and drive through the dam underwater so that is allows water to drain. The beavers can't find it, they are unable to raise the water level while it is in place and they get pissed off and leave.

Hillarious. I can see the female beaver yelling at the male now. "What the hell are you doing, your dam sucks!"

Update. I just saw him for the first time. He's pretty dark brown and hard to see. I snapped this through the window. When I stepped onto my deck he disappeared into his ice hole.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sanyo Xacti SD card video camera duct taped to my guitar headstock

Speaking of guitars, I picked up this nifty little camera a few months ago with this very thing in mind. I've always loved the "fingerboard" perspective shots one gets by attaching the camera to the headstock and moving the guitar around. So with some duct tape and a 240 BMP click track I was able to shoot a pick up scene to insert into existing footage on the Bigfoot 2 movie due out in May.

Check it out! I got mine from Dell on sale for $149, they go for about $250 most places (the SD card is extra, they always get you somewhere).

The Bigfoot Guitar

This is one of the coolest guitars I have seen in awhile. Now why haven't I made one of these? Created by George Marlin for the Miami Beach Guitar Festival.

I want.. No.. I NEED one!

Here's me ordering a body blank from Warmoth guitars sometime next year.

Thanks to Gwiliker and his Bigfoot early warning system for this one.

The new backyard in winter, 2009

Well, It's not really my backyard. It belongs to the farmer who owns the Innes road Golfland driving range I think. There's deer that cross by in the morning because the guy leaves feed out for them. It will be fun to walk back there though (when the snow melts), it's full of paths and trails.

There's coyotes too! My next-door neighbor gets up at dawn to watch them and happened to catch sight of a coyote who had figured out that they crossed in back every day at that time. It waited for them and came out of the tree line and bagged one, and spend the better part of the day ripping chunks of meat off of it and running into the tree line to eat it and coming back for more. The land owner came by in a snowmobile later that day and happened to see the carcass and dragged it off to do who knows what with it.

I was out there a few weeks ago and saw a fresh survey stake marker, which is never a good sign. My house is 10 years old, with my luck, the year we move in they'll decide to put a Wallmart back there just for giggles.

This is the view from the kitchen balcony, and one of the reasons we bought the place. No backyard neighbors! Although there are the furry kind of course. Here's a video I made of me torturing the kids by pulling them out there in the 4 foot snow on a sled.

Monday, March 02, 2009

GAG 13th on Friday the 13th

Managed to go out geocaching for GAG 13. Friday the 13th! Only trouble was, my Jason Mask was packed! I went with Tripper and he brought his, and Kenmore had one. The hockey masks come in handy for when branches spring back and hit you in the face.

I may have to invest in one for geocaching. In one photo here Tripper is all excited because he found a tree saw in a cache. It went well with his outfit. Bone saw is what it is more likely. We only ran into a few geocachers. We did all the deep woods ones for the most part and it was FREEZING. One had a lake we walked across. I was kinda nervous because I've already fallen through shallow ice a few times this year near the new place, but this stuff was thicker. In any event I seemed to have gone first which I don't understand, because gravity likes me best outta our group.

GrizzlyG joined us for a few to start the night but he had to turn in early because he was carrying the foaming monkey virus or some such thing.

We also found this creepy teepee. We should all go out next time in the Jason suits. It would be much creepier and safer while out in the woods in the middle of the night.

I can see the police report now...

Home renos - Ceramic tile

I haven't been doing much of anything fun lately as we rip and gut the interior of our newly purchased home. It's always interesting to speculate on why the previous owners did something a certain way. I'm certain stuff I've decided to do at my old place is now befuddling the current owners (although I left sticky notes everywhere!)

In this case we removed the ceramic tiles in the front entrance - and found another ceramic tile installation underneath. Two demo jobs for the price of one! We should have been alerted to the fact when the flooring guy took a peek in the heating vent and saw three layers of sub floor, but it could have just been a case of ceramic tile prep overkill. What's extra fun about removing ceramic tile is that the boards they sit on are screwed in, and the grout (cement-type stuff they use to stick the tile down and fill the gaps with) covers all the screw heads so you can't see them.

You get to wail on them with a sledge hammer and break apart the hardened grout layer and THEN unscrew the boards the best you can. When we got half-way we used a shovel and pry bar to pop the board off. Have you ever tried to lift your house with a shovel? I thought at one point I was going to go through the floor! Wood screws in 4 inch square bunches are pretty immovable. Then we got to do it again for the second one underneath!

The most fun was at the start of the project, where you use a demo hammer to obliterate the existing tiles. Makes for a lot of dust and crap!

Hours later, with a new sub floor installed.. It looked like the picture above.

Actually. The whole house kinda looks like this now. The kids think "Hardwood floor" is actually that plywood crap that goes underneath. The toilet in the dining room however, is a big hit.