Monthly Archives: August 2008

What kind of car can you get with a guitar?

Why the VW (or at least you could). Volkswagen often have innovative ads, and these are no exception. While there is one with Slash and John Meyer, this one with Christopher Guest in full Spinal Tap regalia is my favourite.

What kind of car can you get for $199/month?

According to the Globe, there are six of them (in Canada). The list and the details can be found here

What is also interesting is a rundown on the current state of auto leasing in Canada. While it is diminishing, you can still get a low cost car, even without leasing. As a bonus, these half dozen cars will use alot less gas than an SUV.

Anyone interested in buying a car should consider this article.


The Human Race 10K by Nike and me

Like many many other people, I participated in Nike’s Human Race 10K today. While Toronto isn’t one of the official cities on the list — for Canada, that city is Vancouver — there was still a well run event held at the Nike Lounge on 1219 Yonge Street today. I went down and got a free sports T shirt (not cotton), and I also got to borrow an iPod Nano with a chip to record my time. Bonus: they let me try a pair of Luna Trainers that I really liked: very neutral with tons of cushioning. Nice.

The route itself was a bit tough: the first half was a big steep run up Yonge St and then all the way up the beltline. But after that, it was all downhill through a morning filled with sunshine. And at the end, there was lots of food, drinks, and general festivities at the lounge.

It was a great event, even if my time of 53:42 over 10.6 km was not. 🙂 Kudos to Nike.

It goes on until 8 p.m. in Toronto at that location, so if you are interested, check it out. And check out the site here for more details:

The Human Race 10K – 8.31.2008 Join a million runners worldwide for a 10K like no other.

Computing in the year 1924…

…looked liked this:

(note the sign in the top left). According to the blog, Shorpy where this comes from, this is a photo from ‘November 24, 1924. Washington, D.C. “Bonus Bureau, Computing Division.
Many clerks figure the amount of the bonus each veteran is entitled to.”‘

There are lots of amazing old photos at the site.

(tip from

Estelle on Saturday Night

Nothing could be more perfect for a Saturday night than Estelle and the way she sings “American Boy”.

YouTube – American Boy – Estelle Feat. Kanye West

BTW, that link has some swearing in it that this link,, does not have. Oddly, in this second link, the Michael Jackson button that Kanye is wearing is grayed out. Then again, this second link is associated with WEA music: that may have something to do with it.

I like the reference to Gladys Knight and the Pips in this song: Estelle reminds me of singers of that era.

I like how the shadow dances out of synch with her too. Heck, I like lots about this song/video, from the changing tempos, the guest appear of John Legend, the use of black and white patterns visually, her outfits, even.

Definitely bears repeat watching and listening.

Your Daily 15

If you feel stuck in a rut or needing a push to make “your life happier, healthier, and smarter”, then you want to surf over to
Daily 15. Every day the site posts “a challenge that will take you 15 minutes or less”. It may be just the thing to get you going.

Works of art? Chocolates? Both?

It might look like a work of art

and in some ways it is, but first and foremost, it is a fine chocolate, from Christopher Elbow Chocolates.

If you like the look of this Russian Tea chocolate (a dark chocolate ganache infused with black teas and scents of citrus, bergamot and spices), then head over to the site for more cocoa goodness.

IBM and Data visualization via and

The has a good article on an captivating web site that IBM has produced called

Novelties – Lines and Bubbles and Bars, Oh My! New Ways to Sift Data –

The site has been getting alot of attention not only because of the ability to effectively visualize data, but also because of the community aspect of it. It’s very smart in alot of ways.

Another smart site that is associated with IBM is Jonathan Feinberg is the author, and although he calls it a “toy”, it has been used extensively already in the US presidential election by people/bloggers analyzing the speeches of candidates.

Speaking of speeches, here is a famous one. Can you guess whose it is?

Anyone with a boring spreadsheet of data or a word document in need of analysis should check them out.

George Orwell’s Blog

Much has been written about this already, but in case you have missed it,

“The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, is publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog. From 9th August 2008, Orwell’s domestic and political diaries (from 9th August 1938 until October 1942) will be posted in real-time, exactly 70 years after the entries were written.”

For more on it, see here

P.S. One thing to note is the really good blog roll. There are dozens of great news sources there.

The best part of Lovestoned/I think she knows… here:

You can also try this:

The 100 Best First Lines from Novels

American Book Review has the list, from:

1. Call me Ishmael.


100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.

Some are short, while others slowly unwind. Some are very dramatic, while others are almost plain. In any case, you’ll have fun reading them.

P.S. Ok, they also have Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s “It was a dark and stormy night…”, which, come to think of it, isn’t as bad as I have come to expect.

From furniture to art.

This bench reminds of in some ways of Art Nouveau furniture, but it is really a work of art.

I love how it goes from being a common orderly bench to something wild.

You can see more here

The ikan and other robots we will know

The Ikan is a new way to shop for groceries, it says. You can read about it at the site. I would include some text on it here to promote it, but all the text is trapped in Flash. 😦

While it seems like a neat idea, I actually think it has the potential to be a great idea. I was thinking of this when I read about the listeria outbreak this week. What would be good if I could have something like the ikan and have it scan the food in my fridge (or tell it where I purchased the food). The ikan could then check and tell me whether I should be concerned about it or not.

In fact, it could take it even further. If my grocery bill had good marking on it, I could give it to the ikan when I got home. Then it could do things like periodically remind me about food in my fridge that has gone off, or even advise me of specials that might be occurring.

More and more appliances are morphing into agents and robots. Like the roomba, the ikan might be the beginning of the next wave of things in our home.

There is no Helvetica in Microsoft Word, just Arial

Inspired by my last post, I took this test, How to Spot Arial.

I started Microsoft Word, I typed in the word “Rates”, and I changed the settings from Arial to Helvetica. Guess what? No change occurred. All the telltale signs of Arial are still there.

Perhaps it’s just my version of Word (2002), but it looks like it provides Helvetica in name only.

Death to Arial! (The font, that is.)

Can you spot what is wrong this picture?

If you go over to the blog, panopticist there is a posting talking about it: Mad Men Gets All the Details Right—Except One

I was surprised that I actually found one error myself, but the other is subtler. I was also fascinated by the discussion of a font that we — ok, I — use all the time: Arial.

After you read this posting, the ones below are worth a read, too.


What do you do with all that styrofoam that is shipped to your house? If you are Kevin Kelly, you make this!

No, it doesn’t transform into a car, but the transformation from packing material to awesome robot is cool in itself.
For the whole story, see here

Food to gawk at!

Where can you do that? Why, at foodgawker of course. If you are stuck for cooking inspiration, go there for a visual blitz of wonderfully prepared food. You do NOT want to visit it hungry, though. It will kill you! 🙂

Bon appetit!

Life Magazine is coming online…all 10 millions photos

LIFE is coming online. There’s just a teaser site up now, but there will be more soon. Go see…

On my other blog or why I will have two blogs

Right now I have two blogs. This one that you are reading is one I plan to keep for short blog posts that are mainly about things I find (and I hope you find) interesting.

I am planning to use my other blog for longer posts that are more opinionated. If you are not interested in that, you can just say “meh” and move on.

Over time I may consolidate them, but for now I may just post over there and point to it.

For example, here’s one: On how to focus

Is it cheating if I say: I find this post, which I just happened to write, interesting? 🙂

Black Camel restaurant for superb food (especially the pulled pork sandwiches!)

This is a so-so picture I took of the wonderful Black Camel cafe, just outside of Rosedale subway station in Toronto. As they say:

“The goal of Black Camel is simple: to prepare good tasting, high quality food, to deliver it quickly and to price it fairly”

I had the pulled pork sandwich with chipotle mayo on a kaiser-like roll. At other places, you would get bland mayo, dried bread and stringy pork. At the Black Camel, you get just the opposite. It was a delicious sandwich. I can’t wait to try the others.

It’s a little gem of a restaurant. You should go.

Der Spiegel Online is online and in English

One thing I have loved about the web since the beginning was the ability to access newspapers all over the world. At first there were only a handful, but now I would guess every major newspaper in the world has an online edition, including this one: DER SPIEGEL.

It has everything, from very serious stories to a section on Europe’s Weird Ways (better are the Flour Wars of Galaxidi to the real wars of…well, too many places).

Der Spiegel has news and views you won’t find in North American or English newspapers. It’s worth adding it to your reading list.

More on the Beijing Olympics on DVD

If you enjoyed the coverage of the Olympics NBC and would like to watch it again on DVD, there are two ways you can do that:

1) If you are one of the first two people who comment on this blog post, you will be eligible to get a free copy, courtesy of NBC.
2) And if you aren’t one of the lucky two people, you can still buy your own copy of  the 2008 Beijing General Highlight DVD, the 2008 Beijing Opening Ceremony 2-Volume DVD, or the DVD of “Michael Phelps: Greatest Olympic Champion”. Simply goto to

The DVDs are expected to ship in the middle of September.

The lovely swissmiss

Tina Roth Eisenberg is the brains behind this wonderful blog, swissmiss.

It’s chock full of goodness. I found the PosterList there, and there’s lots of other posts that I liked, like this one:

Yes it is a pebble alphabet from this site

Where to get great posters: The Poster List

Are you or do you know someone going to college this September? If you do, you need posters. Great posters. And you can get them here, at The Poster List.

I had a hard time picking one to highlight here, but I particularly liked this one:

So don’t waste time: get over there and get some. And don’t forget to follow them on twitter, too.

Why I love twitpic

I love it because I can capture moments with my digital camera phone and share them with others. Moments like this:

Watching pink roses while waiting for the kids to descend for… on TwitPic

More than that, I can look back over the week or month and recall events and moments that otherwise would be even more fleeting than they already are.

I encourage everyone to use twitpic. If twitter didn’t exist, it would have to be invented just to support twitpic. 🙂

On why Star Wars: The Clone Wars is great…if you are six years old

I’ve been coming across alot of very negative reviews of the new Star Wars film, but of the reviews I’ve come across, this one hits the mark for me: Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Kids Will Love It, Geeks will Shudder | Geekdad from

When the lights went up at the end, all of these men — like me — trooped out with the 5 and 6 year old son, no doubt many of them to Toys R Us to load up on new Star Wars toys or McDonald’s for a Star Wars meal. And the kids (well at least my son) loved it. It was perfect for him.

As for me, I thought it was going to be painful. But I tried to see it from his perspective, and I thought it had alot in it for him. I also thought it moved along at a pretty good pace, too.

As for George Lucas, he now has a whole new fan base to work from, and a more accepting one at that. (Plus he has all those Dad’s to buy all that follow-on merchandise! 🙂 )

New opera from David Cronenberg and Placido Domingo: The Fly. Really!

This should be interesting. According to Yahoo News — ok, Reuters — we will have:

“Daniel Okulitch (as) Seth Brundle and Ruxandra Donose (as) Veronica Quaife in the opera ‘The Fly’. David Cronenberg’s sci-fi (sic…I would use SF) terror movie ‘The Fly’ has taken on a new life in the Canadian director’s first foray into the world of opera. ‘The Fly’, described as a classical re-imagining of the 1986 movie about an eccentric scientist who turns into a massive fly, will open the new season at Los Angeles Opera in September with LA Opera director Placido Domingo conducting the orchestra.

I think Cronenberg is a significant artist, and if Domingo is on-board, it could be a great opera. In some ways, “The Fly” has similar themes to “La Boheme”. Cross your fingers/wings. 🙂

The Incredible Photographs and Cameras of Miroslav Tichy

Miroslav Tichy took this:

with this:

Yes, I was fascinated, too, especially these days, where digital cameras are everywhere. Go to Jason Kottke’s post to get the details.

NationMaster: jam packed with statistics

Which nations are the most corrupt? Most generous? Healthiest? If you want to know any of these things, you want to head over to There is so much information there, including this result, Probability of not reaching 40 (most recent) by country, which starkly highlights the North-South divide of the world.

I was somewhat surprised to see that in many categories, Canada ranks high but not in the top, including health. But see for yourself.

Now you too can paint like Picasso …

if you use the site Mr. Picassohead! It’s easy: anyone who can drag ‘n’ drop can make Picasso-like portraits. Here’s mine!

You won’t be able to produce “Guernica” with it, but you can have some fun.

Good Architecture and Design blogs: CubeMe

There are so many good architecture and design blogs I have stumbled upon, it is difficult to know which one to follow. (And it also makes me wonder why I would subscribe to magazines covering the same topics.)

One I recently liked is CubeMe. It had alot of good posts, including one of this incredible museum planned for Qatar.

For more on the Museum of Modern Arab Art and other interesting design/architecture, see CubeMe.

On Streetcars

The has an article on what I consider a precious addition to any city: the streetcar. While subways and buses can move masses of people, streetcars add a quality to the urban landscape that the others cannot (save London’s doubledecker buses). I believe that any city that can get streetcars should get them. And unlike other modes of transportation, age adds to their appeal (as I can attest to, having travelled on some old streetcars in places like San Francisco).

See the slideshow here, Desirable Streetcars.

There’s also an article.

How to make a delicious minestrone soup in the summer time

The has a classic recipe for minestrone today: Recipes for Health – Summer Minestrone With Fresh Basil.

Now, you could follow this, but I have a better suggestion. Use the recipe as a guide, and instead of slavishly following it, take advantage of all the great vegetables available at this time of year to make the soup of the day. Let’s run down the list:

  • olive oil? Sure, but if you have another oil like walnut of peanut or even corn, go with that
  • onion? I would keep that, unless you want to go with an onion substitute, like a shallot or even a red onion (nice colour)
  • Carrots? Keep. Get some nice fresh ones (not those ones in the bag)
  • Celery? Sure, although I sometimes pass on celery, since I end up throwing most of it away. But it gives a nice flavour.
  • Salt and garlic? Got to keep those, though try and experiment with more garlic
  • Tomatoes? Must have those. But get fresh ones. Try yellow ones, if you have them.
  • Turnip? A good choice, but if you see another root vegetable of comparable size, try that. A big yam or a fistful of potatoes will also work. Beets may work, but that might be a bit trickier. But it could be delicious, too.
  • Zucchini? I like zucchini, especially yellow zucchini. But mushrooms would also work well here.
  • As for the cheese and herbs, use whatever you like for the herbs. Have a bunch of basil or tarragon, then go with that. If you have some romano or other hard cheese, try it out. Asiago would be great.
  • Can of beans? Really, anything will work here. I love beans in minestrone, but don’t get hung up on a certain type. Heck, even lentils will work fine. Or if you are fresh out, add more pasta and vegetables.
  • Green beans? What about yellow? Is there a deal on asparagus? Then try that.
  • Soup pasta? Really, any kind will do. You could even use orzo.
  • Basil or pesto? What about sundried tomato pesto, or tapanade? Or any thick spread you might like.
  • Finally, consider using a stock in place of 2 quarts of water. Use chicken, beef or vegetable stock.

Minestrone gives you an opportunity to use up and highlight vegetables you have. When you think of minestrone, think “leftover soup”, and you will end up with something useful and delicious!

The future of work at American Express and everywhere else is talking about an a new program American Express has launched. In a nutshell:

“Rather than retiring and leaving the company at once, participants gradually give up their day-to-day responsibilities, while replacing some of their free time with activities like mentoring and teaching master classes to their successors. In addition, they get more time out of the office doing whatever they want—be it planning for life in retirement or doing charity work. The phased retiree continues to receive a portion of his previous salary, benefits as usual, and the company in turn gets to hold on to some of its most valuable employees a year or more past traditional retirement age.”

The history of modern sculpture in a few paragraphs

In the “1960s and ’70s public sculpture was contemporary art’s foremost fatality — deader than painting actually. The corpse generally took the form of corporate, pseudo-Minimalist plop art.” Amen to that. But sculpture has been changing, as this article, Public Art, Eyesore to Eye Candy in the neatly explains and illustrates with a great slide show. And what is it about the new sculpture that makes it “So Different, So Appealing“? 🙂 Well, by…

“Freely mixing elements of Pop, Minimalism, conceptual art and realism, these pieces also often benefit from new technologies and materials that make them dynamic and provocative.”

I highly recommend the article. A good overview of what is happening in sculpture, with a bit of a review of two of the more signifigant artists in sculpture today, Jeff Koons and Richard Serra, and a little shot taken at Damien Hirst, too. 🙂

More good tumblelogs from tumblr

make it (freshly sliced) has a selection of these superb illustrations of lyrics. (Can you tell which one this is? 🙂 )

I found this from another good tumblelog,

Lots of good stuff from tumblr. You should get your own.

The pace of women marathoners and other world records

Over at the is a feast for folks like me who like to look at sports statistics. It’s a History of World Records – Interactive Graphic. For many sports, it appears that the improvements have made a gradual progression over many decades. But not all. One that stuck for me was the women’s marathon.

In May of 1967, just over 40 years ago, Maureen Wilton of Canada set the record time for the women’s marathon with a time of 3:15:22. In just a few months, Anni Pede-Erdkamp of West Germany beat that with a time of 3:07:27. Ten years later, Grete Waitz of Norway is bringing it down to 2:32:30. That’s seems incredible. But that’s has been the way it has been for the women’s marathon. In April of 2003, Paul Radcliffe ran a time of 2:15:25.

Who knows what women will do in this sport? From the looks of things, two words: greatly improve.

Go here for your all the stats.

(flickr photo from Conor Lawless’ photostream)

Really practical advice on visiting NYC

You can easily find lots of articles on what to do when you go to New York City. Having visited many times myself, I think this article, Gridskipper: 18 Steps to Having a Good First Trip to New York, is one of the better ones.

Rules like “Fear Not the Subway” and “Get the Hell out of Midtown” and “Identify and Avoid Freaks” are excellent pieces of advice, and just three of eighteen good tips. Go read the article, then go to NYC.

(flickr photo from aturkus’ photostream)

So, what is that Starbucks barista thinking about…

If you have worked at Starbucks, wanted to work there, or (much more likely) ordered a coffee at one of the many stores they have, you now have a chance to hear what the people behind the counter think by going to this tumblelog at tumblr: 147xxxx

It’s a fun expose of life at Starbucks. So get yourself a grande <insert your favourite Starbucks beverage> and go read it.

P.S. this marks another great use of tumblr.

The seven deadly sins…as wine glasses

This is pride, naturally

See the other six here: yatzer | designistoshare