Things, stuff, and other items of interest

December 31, 2009

Behind the pink coloured door.

Recently, during my holiday traveling, I was asked a question about this site that I didn't, and still don't, have a good answer for. I don't recall the precise wording, but I trust you'll indulge me if I paraphrase slightly:
 "Why don't you just post a big naked picture of yourself online? You'd be less exposed."
First, for those of you who know me, let me apologize for the mental picture this question unavoidably conjures up. For those of you who don't know me... please ignore the mess on the floor made by those who do. So skipping the whimsical response of: "This is less likely to get me charged with crimes against humanity", I guess the obvious answer is I get a kick out of it. I'll admit that the 'exposure' is a little disconcerting for one inclined to paranoia and seclusion such as myself, but at the same time it gives me an opportunity to stretch some neural pathways that I don't get to otherwise.

Some other questions have come up over the last couple of months about the site, and now seems as good a time as any to answer some of them.
  • This is the fourth (I think) version of this site. I've always used the same domain though the content has changed considerably. 
  • I've done my own 'graphics' for all of them. A miniscule amount of knowledge and some good software goes a long way. The Title graphic for the last 3 sites were:


  • This is the first site that's lasted more than a week that I haven't hosted on my own server. I use Blogger because it's basically the first one I started playing with. I know Wordpress is more glitzy these days, but for now, blogger is suiting my needs and so this is where we are.
  • I use Google Analytics and Feedburner Analytics to track the site use. I'm pretty sure I'm the smallest 'client' they have. The scope and detail of information about you guys on those sites is flabbergasting. Take a look here. This is only a small portion of the information available in terms of analytics, and I'll admit that I don't fully understand all of the info offered. My numbers are pitiful, but given the nature of this site and the rather limited audience appeal, they could be worse.
  • I use Feedburner to publish my site to an RSS feed as well as by email. A side note on this... I hadn't really taken advantage of RSS feeds until I set up my own site to publish to one. I feel like a luddite for having left it that long to take a serious look at RSS feeds. Greatest thing since sliced bread. RSS feeds rock. 
  • I use a number of spots for link management: Delicious.com, Instapaper.com, Twitter.com to name a few. A vast majority of my web browsing is spent parked at Reddit.com. Probably my favourite site on the entire interwebotron.
  • I also use my iPhone quite a bit for the site. Some handy apps on the iPhone for this stuff: Twittelator Pro, Reeder, BlogPressLite, Yummy, InstaPaper Free, Wikipedia, Dropbox, aNote.
  • "Notes to my Nephew" was signed "Uncle Onion" because my nephew hasn't managed to pronounce my first name accurately yet. Since my nephew is perfect, it is obviously quite embarrassing for me to find out I've been mispronouncing my own name all of these years.
  • Why I hate Puppets - 98.5% accurate. I didn't need to embellish much on that one.
  • Links to the YouTube.com clips about the old naked santa I mentioned in my last post. Please be aware that the first of these two links contain nudity of the 70-year-old-man variety. The clip is entertaining, but for obvious reasons it is not appropriate for all viewing ages. Posted by special request:
  1. Rare Exports Inc - Clip One
  2. Rare Exports Inc - Clip Two.  
I think that about covers it.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts involving: The worst Superbowl ever; The Worlds least likely Biker; and an homage to geek toys.

December 23, 2009

Bah Humbug!

Ah, Christmas holidays. The serenity of the season gently falls upon us as the water main out front of the house explodes and the public utilities back hoe begins to crack the pavement in the -8'C weather. The water's turned off, and the diligent and dedicated workmen begin to play a game of 'hide-and-go-seek' with the gas pipes.

I will be perfectly candid with you dear reader. I am not a fan of the Christmas season. I know, I know,... I'm a monster. An evil, cruel miser who is not fit to participate in decent society. I don't want to leave you with the impression that I hate Christmas, because that's not the case. I'm just not a big fan. I genuinely enjoy hanging out with the family, having a few beers, and enjoying good food with good company. I've even reached the point in life where I think I get more fun out of giving than receiving. I just can't put my thumb on it, it's just ..... something. It makes me anxious, I'm on edge the entire time, and it's only this time of year that it happens.

With this in mind, I offer up some links that I've found over the last week or two that I thought had a festive note about them... with a slight twist.

Let's start off with Stoner Santa. I'll admit freely that I grabbed a copy of this pic from the TeaMakers blog:


Creepy eh? Huh? A little right? You ain't seen nothing yet. If you're up for some serious creepiness, I'd suggest you take a gander at "The Winter Stalker" by Stephen Reedy and Alex Pardee. I've embedded a clip below if you think it won't keep you up at night. Fair warning... it is seriously messed up.



That's probably the creepiest I've found so far. There was another one about some Santa hunters up north, but it's got full frontal nudity from a dude that's pushing seventy. It was a very cool clip, well put together and very entertaining. However I didn't give this blog the appropriate parental rating for nude-old-guy-running-in-the-snow, so you'll have make due without.

As a counter point to the uber-creepy Winter Stalker, allow me to offer up what is easily my favourite clip from the 2009 holiday season so far:



I freaking love that clip.

A few extra links thrown in for good measure. How is it that the yanks manage to pull this off in the busiest city in the world, and I've never seen this happen, or even heard of anything nearing such flat-out coolness taking place in the Great White North? Bravo neighbours, bravo. Nicely done. Well,... except for you

Last but not least, I thought I'd pay my respects to the folks that host this site free of charge. A little self serving perhaps, but all the same their gesture was impressive. Best of the season to you.

December 12, 2009

Notes to my Nephew #001

Dear future Jack:

Hey there pal. I hope you don't mind me blatantly exploiting you to come up with some content for my site, but it was an idea that I played around with for a while, and thought you might get a kick out of it when you were older. Or maybe you'll hate it, and think your uncle is a complete tool. It's kind of 50:50 either way. Okay, maybe it's closer to 40:60, but I'm willing to risk it.

Where to begin? I'm going to assume by the time you stumble across this, you're going to be old enough to read by yourself, and have some idea of what's going on in the larger world around you. Currently, you're still what is technically referred to by pediatric medical practitioners as a "rug rat". I wanted to give you an idea of what was going on in the world while you were still old enough to bake a loaf in your shorts and burn out your parent's olfactory senses.

Before I go any further I want to make it crystal clear that you are one lucky little bugger. There's an old saying that goes something along the lines of: "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family." Well, that's true. However, in your case, you got the parental equivalent of the golden ticket from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You may not agree with this next statement 100% of the time, but take my word for it, on the whole, your parents are freaking awesome. I'm not going to get side tracked into a bunch of sappy sentimental nonsense, suffice it to say, out of all the people on earth you won world-wide parental lottery my friend.

Now, with that said, I will come clean with you. I have an agenda that I seek to accomplish by writing you this letter and what I expect will be more in the days to come. Trust your parents. They love you. They are wise, and they have you're best interests at heart, sort of. Well, your Mom does for sure, all of the time. Your Dad also does,... most of the time. I'm not telling you not to listen to your Pop little buddy, far from it. It's just that your old man is a talented dude, primarily in the art of "bullshit". He is a veritable "Bullshit Master". No really, he is. Seriously. He is gifted with a silver tongue, and to be historically accurate... has not always used that gift with the gold-standard of applied ethics. No doubt, he would take umbrage with this statement, despite it being completely true, and so I fear that you may not receive a totally unbiased accounting of our family history. My goal is to offer you another perspective for your consideration, nothing more. For starters:
  • If your Dad asks you to help him test the security system, DON'T!
  • If your Dad buys you a BB gun, and then wants to play with it himself, DON'T LET HIM!
  • DO NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES expect your father to play fairly when it comes to:
  1. Darts
  2. Mario Kart
  3. Risk / Axis vs. Allies / Settlers of Catan
  4. Ping Pong (Probably best to wear a cup while playing)
While we're at it, I may toss in the occasional comment on world events and what not, some observations on the flotsam & jetsam of what passes for our news media.  We are in the final days of the first decade of the twenty first century, and you're about to turn two years old very soon. The current political climate is somewhat depressing to be honest. In the news this week:

The current war-related scandal has to do with how much our current Minister of Defense knew about just what was going on with the treatment of some of the prisoners after they had been transferred to Afghan authorities. Canada currently has approximately 2830 military troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of a NATO lead joint task force. All of that basically boils down to Canada is currently at war with a bunch of guys in Afghanistan that have some funny ideas about how they can treat their neighbours. We've been there since 2002 (I think) and during that time, 133 (so far) brave Canadian men and women have lost their lives trying improve the situation over there.

Another item that will have some impact on your world is a two week conference called: "COP15" that's taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark currently. It would seem that the news concerning Canada's participation isn't very encouraging, and frankly, seems out of character for our nation, if not perhaps our current government.

There were some other items in the news this week as well, some of it quite interesting, some of it not, and some of it just down right embarassing. Obviously there was a lot more news stories than I can go into here, and I suspect there were plenty of stories that should have received better coverage but didn't for various reasons.

I think that's probably enough of the news for now, lest we become overwhelmed by the never ending march of current affairs. Christmas is just around the corner for us, and I'll be seeing you in a few weeks. I have yet to start my shopping, and I have no clue what to get you. Something loud I'm thinking. Battery powered, buttons and sirens need to be involved. That or a drum kit possibly. Maybe some sort of trumpet or penny whistle perhaps. I know I've got a kazoo around here somewhere.

I hope all is well with you little buddy, eat your veggies (except the brussel sprouts), listen to your folks, be good. I'll see you soon.

Uncle Onion

December 6, 2009

In search of a topic....

Well, that backfired a bit. It would seem, the two or three of you that read this thing are fans of stories that star overweight narcoleptics who attend puppet shows that cater to the 'sexual deviant' demographic. Huh,.... well,.... ya, how about that?

Last week's post accomplished a couple of things:
  1. Set a new record for comments! w00t! (Thanks CT & Dave)
  2. Set a new record for unique visits per day as reported by Google Analytics. (Once again, thanks CT & Dave!)
  3. Has established a peak that I'm reasonably sure I won't match again. So thanks for coming out folks, don't forget to tip the waitress.
And there in lies the problem.

I've been trying to come up with something to write about for the last few days. I've been dredging through my very foggy recollections for stories that may entertain if only briefly. Which brings us back to a point that was made fairly soundly a few posts back: I lead an unbelievably dull life. You can see where this starts to turn sour. To add to the problem, I've carefully cultivated a site that lacks any sort of defined theme so as to suggest a topic for a given day.

Politics? I've reformed. I use to wax poetic on the topic at the drop of a hat, but I like to think I've wised up some. What matters the perspective of the ant to the one holding the magnifying glass? A touch melodramatic perhaps? A little too fatalistic? Okay, fair point. Basically what it comes down to is I change my mind too often. How can I possibly comment or offer up even the most minute modicum of wisdom if I can't resolve these issues for myself?

Another topic that lends itself to discussion: techie stuff. I'm at least a sixty watt bulb when it comes to computer matters and there's got to be something worth yakking about in there right? HA! I get emails, phone calls, and knocks on the door from family, neighbours, friends, co-workers, and passers-by-on-the-street as it is. Why for the love of all that is good on this planet would I invite more? This is a topic that will almost certainly be revisited in the future, if only to add my voice to the well-trod ground of geek-whining re: Being the free tech-support guy. It sucks. If you're a geek you already know this. If you're not a geek then you're a perpetrator. Solidarity my geek brothers & sisters! SOLIDARITY! We shall overcome.

And so the list begins to form:

  • Religion? See the entry for "Politics" listed above, only add more zealots.
  • Motorcycles? This topic is really only interesting to other riders, and to be honest, it's not a topic that lends itself easily to the written word. No doubt I'll come back to it in the future, but it's with a sense of the inevitable that I won't do it adequate service. It's like catching a fart with a fish net... it just can't be done. I've read a lot on the topic and if I may be so bold, I'll go so far as to say that few (if any) are able to capture that spirit with words. Fewer still capture it on film.
  • The wild and crazy stories of a bachelor living the good life in the big city? I would direct you to my last entry to quash that suggestion.
  • Video games? Please, I'm a geek... not a nerd. I waste WAY too much time on them. The only people who want to hear my opinions / thoughts about video games are other video game geeks. You know who you are. Yes, you. However, since we're on the topic - Assassin's Creed II is the freaking BOMB yo!
  • Movies? Meh. It's kind of been done to death hasn't it? Does it really matter what I think about a film you aren't going to remember hearing about next week anyhow? 
  • Books? There's really only one thing to be said on this topic: Read as many as you possibly can. Good, bad, Oprah-approved, Government censored, best sellers, obscurity fated single printers, comics, religious texts, lunatic propaganda, self help books. It doesn't matter. Okay, maybe not the self help books, they suck... but everything else is good. Read more. Always read more.
  • Food / Cooking / Restaurant reviews. Already did that. If you are able to find "3 guys from the 'burg" flash back anywhere let me know. I've looked more than once and couldn't find it. Besides, food reviewing is not a venture best accomplished individually, it just seems pathetic and lonely. Besides, if done in the company of others, you can steal stuff off of their plate in the interest of "research".
I could keep going but after the first twenty points or so, it just sounds like whining. So now that I've firmly defined what I'm not going to do on this site (and have been for the last 3 months now) I should probably get started on what I am going to do. Did I mention navel gazing? I think I did. Lots and lots of navel gazing.

A quick note a little off (non-existent) topic: I found an article on Macleans this week that I thought was an interesting read. I'd encourage you to check it out. I'd give you some hint about what to expect for the next entry, but I wouldn't be fooling anyone by suggesting I had some clue what it would be.

December 1, 2009

"Why I hate puppet shows" - or - "Puppets, public humiliation, and the morbidly obese"

As the URL of this site already makes the implication, it should come as no surprise to anyone that I am accurately described as "portly plus". A large lad if you will, a gentleman of considerable substance, an enthusiastic epicurean, a walking-talking-cookie-apocalypse, a disproportionately proportioned person, a voluminous bon-vivant. But I digress....

I don't raise this point in order to draw unwanted attention to my chiseled pear shaped physique, but rather to establish some credibility with you the reader. I need you to understand that I have some level of expertise in the area of recognizing, identifying and describing those of us on the "prep-the-defibrillator" end of the BMI spectrum. It is necessary for me to establish this credibility, in order for you to gain a full appreciation of the facts and details in the story that follows.

Some years ago, I was invited to participate in a social outing by a buddy of mine with whom I worked. We had, on occasion quaffed the occasional brew while lobbing small aerodynamic missiles in the past, and I had already become familiar with his friends and chums that made up his social circle. It's worth mentioning, that my buddy was older than I, as was his circle of friends, by a span not measured in weeks, months or even years, but rather decades. This hadn't been an impediment to establishing what I thought of as a cordial demeanor amongst the group, which it sometimes can be among small groups made up of individuals with a wide range of ages.

To my great surprise, my friend hadn't invited me to the annual dart tourney but rather to an event with a decidedly more cultured air about it. It seemed, that the ladies of the group had convinced my friend to accompany them to one of the local theater productions. For one reason or another, he grudgingly agreed only to discover that he was the sole male attendee for the soirée. In what can only be described as complete panic, he beseeched his male friends to lend a hand and accompany him in what was shaping up to be "ladies night at the theater". All too predictably, they declined. If only I had had the good sense to do the same.

What can I say? He made a convincing argument. The show was to be a comedy. A one man show put on by a performer my friend had previously seen. He went on to describe the performer as an artist of considerable talent, who was known to possess a dry, sarcastic wit. The last time the peformer had brought his show to town, it had sold out in hours and had received great reviews.  I like to think of myself as a man willing to approach new experiences with an open mind. He made the whole event sound intriguing, plus I'd be helping out a pal. Like so many three-card-monte victims have discovered before me, there's a sucker born every minute. I agreed, despite what seemed like an exorbitant ticket price, I was assured the show would be well worth it.

The evening in question arrived, and our motley crew began to assemble outside the theater. I had never been to this particular theater before and to be honest, I felt a little out of my element. This served to create a feeling of mild anxiety that only hindsight can now identify as a physical manifestation of what is referred to in literary terms as foreshadowing. It was then that I found out that a new comer had been added to the familiar faces I had already come to know. It is now good reader, that I need you to wipe your mind free of preconceived notions and images, and let me try to paint a picture for you with my words. What can only be described as a modern day bipedal mastodon began to lumber over to our group with all the alacrity of a on coming glacier. Such was the girth of this person that I was not immediately able to identify it's gender, only once I heard it's shrill "fingernails-on-chalkboard" giggles and tee-hee's did I correctly associate it with the fairer sex. A word I use with the utmost caution, and in it's purest most clinical application.

I do not want to seem rude, boorish, or shallow. I try not make a habit of judging people by their appearance, but in certain cases one is simply overwhelmed. Well what would you do if you were face to face with what appeared to be a creature that defied and seemed to ridicule the principles of natural selection? Had someone tried to convince me that the human skeletal structure was capable of functioning under such duress, I simply wouldn't have believed them. Having the argument forced upon you with such empirical evidence all at once, is positively discombobulating. To be honest, I'm pleased I didn't just wet myself right there and then from pure shock. Ah, this was but the first of many surprises in store for me on this particular eve.

Recovering poorly from my initial surprise, we began to enter the lobby where a pre-show party was under way. This was an unexpected discovery for me, as this entire theatrical adventure was something of a learning experience. Over the next half and hour, I had opportunity to speak with the new arrival. I'll call her "Darwin" for the purposes of this recounting, I don't actually recall her real name. For thirty agonizingly long minutes, Darwin described to me in "Doctor-Patient" detail her variety of medical woes. Ranging from the predictable obesity issues, to more intimate health problems that I had mistakenly considered too private in nature for public discourse. Put simply, the content of these descriptions could have made the inmates on death row blush. I have no doubt that my own complexion was glowing something akin to a search & rescue helicopter spotlight.

They finally began to let the crowd in, and it was then that I truly discovered just what kind of a "buddy" I had. It seemed, through some sort of fluke happenstance, that Darwin and I were to sit next to each other during the show. Now I have already pointed out, that I am not a small fellow. I believe I have sufficiently belaboured the point that Darwin was not what most people would consider 'petite'. Either one of us, individually, would have brought a nervous sweat to the brows of the other theater patrons who had the misfortune to sit next to us. Combining both of us in the same row of seating? Well... I probably wasn't the only one who began to grow concerned for the structural integrity of the seating platforms.

I'm not really sure how I endured the next two hours. (TWO HOURS!) The artist of much renown? He was something of a disappointment when he was revealed as a perverted puppeteer who apparently had given up his comedic roots in order to write, direct and perform his own show. A show based around the sexual assault of a 'straight' youthful puppet by militant homosexual puppets. A plot, that he took great care in depicting as graphically as possible within the confines of the puppeteering art form. Picture a dark demented  mix of Jim Henson caliber puppets, Brokeback Mountain, and a snuff film. Far be it for me to criticize the artistic endeavours of such a deranged, bold "artist", but at the risk of once again appearing to be closed minded & judgmental I would be putting it mildly if I said the show did not appeal to my tastes.

Darwin was a real trooper, she managed to stay awake for ten whole minutes before she (I shit you not) passed out from fatigue at having to climb the twenty or so stairs to our seats. It was a solid ten more minutes before I realized that the noise I was hearing wasn't part of the performance, but rather some odd combination of whale-song and snoring that had been coming from her wide-open maw. I'm a little surprised that I didn't pick up on this earlier, as the rivulets of spittle and drool that were now covering her corpulent jowels, were a dead give away. Naturally, this was only to be expected when one became aware that her head tipped back and was now propped up by only the folds of fat protruding from her neck. Bowing to peer pressure from the variety of looks of both disdain and abject terror from those immediately around us, I applied the only remedy that presented itself to me by elbowing her repeatedly in what passed for her torso. To absolutely no ones surprise, this has no affect what so ever. She continued to enjoy an hour and a half long respite from the demands of social conformity, and woke up near the end of the show only after the volume of her snoring became so fierce that it started to compete with the theaters sound system.

Two hours after it began, the artist was bowing to a standing ovation as I was bolting for the door. I never saw Darwin again, nor have I returned to that theater. I've developed an instinctual, visceral loathing for puppets, and a deep-rooted phobia of recordings of under water whale songs. My "work-buddy" and I no longer speak to each other very often, and I never again accepted any of his invitations to any social events. I wish I could tell you that this story is something I made up, a work of fiction,  but sadly that's not the case. I only just remembered it as I was channel surfing the other day, and happened to notice "The Muppet Show". Later, when I awoke on the floor in the middle of a pool of my own sweat, the story came back to me.