Monthly Archives: October 2009

More reasons to hate meatloaf

Seriously. This is meatloaf:

Not only that, but there are detailed instructions on how you can make it! Ugh. See not martha – Meat Hand for more details. Honestly, I never got the entire let’s-make-food-look-disgusting idea. But if you want to make something gross for Hallowe’en, this could be it.


Ed Burtynsky at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington

The great Canadian photographer, Ed Burtynsky, has a new exhibit showing at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. It’s called “Oil”, and it looks at the effects of oil in our lives. Just that alone got me excited about it.
Anyone fortunate enought to be in the vicinity of that gallery in the next while should visit. 

Here’s a video the gallery has:

Stout beer: what it is, and what’s the best out there to drink

If you’re like me, when you think of stout, you think…well, Guinness. I love Guinness, and I enjoy the rich darkness of stout generally. What was surprising to me, though, was after reading this article, Beers of The Times – Call It Stout, Though It Isn’t – Review –, I learned that a) stout generally isn’t as heavy as I thought, and b) there are alot more good stouts out there other than the grand stout from Ireland.

So, what are the best stouts? According to the review:

“…our No. 1 beer, Black Hawk Stout from Mendocino Brewing, which has breweries on both coasts, evoked visions of classic Irish stouts. It was light and dry, yes, but graceful and deliciously refreshing, too. I could see it easily becoming my new midday or ballgame tipple. Would somebody please get Yankee Stadium on the phone?

… the St. Ambroise oatmeal stout, from McAuslan Brewing in Montreal, was No. 2 on our list of North American stouts. It was bigger and richer than the Black Hawk, with the smoothness and slight sweetness that come from adding oatmeal to the malted barley.”

See the article, then get yourself some stout. It’s practically a health food! 🙂

(Photo of a Japanese stout from mdid’s photostream on

Tips on having a very small (250 sq ft) apartment

Anyone looking to live in a small studio apartment like this place featured in Apartment Therapy Los Angeles could steal some tips from how this place is set up:

The apartment nicely takes the space and divides it in two with a floor to ceiling curtain that can be drawn back if need be. This curtain is more to accentuate the divide than to provide privacy or to hide the other room. Although with a darker curtain, you do that if you wanted. Here, the purpose is more to designate the bedroom space as opposed to the living space.  (As well, the bedroom space is painted in a darker tone than the living space, which also emphasizes the division of the rooms. )

The colours in the room are well coordinated. There are blue and green tones throughput, from the walls to the tables to the pillows to the lamps. There is also a nice mixture of bold colors and neutral colours, with the bigger pieces being neutral and the furniture being darker. Overall, though, the room is light, and the mirrors help bring that out.

There are few arms on the furniture, and the bed has no footboard. This helps in a limited space. As well, the coffee tables are stackable, which is also versatile.

A nice little package of an apartment.

Saturday Night Music – Nneka – Heartbeat

Listen to Nneka now. Everyone else will later.

YouTube – Nneka – Heartbeat

19th century England / 21st century China

When I saw this photograph on James Fallows blog by the Chinese photographer, Lu Guang (卢广), I immediately thought of England in the 19th century. (This photo is a power plant in Inner Mongolia.) Like England in the 19th century, China is growing powerfully, with all the good and bad that comes with that. How China deals with will affect everyone.

Why I love my Diana F+ Camera

It’s the opposite of digital cameras with the increasing megapixel ranges. It’s not even 35 mm film. It’s 120. It comes on a spool. After every picture, you have to manually set it to the next picture. I love that!
Almost the entire camera is plastic. Even the lens. That low quality makes for more interesting photos.
There are still lots of places in Toronto to get 120 film developed. Likely for other cities as well. There was a long discussion forum on flickr talking about all the places that develop it in the city. I was afraid it would be hard to get it done, but in fact it’s very easy.
There are a number of flickr groups dedicated to photos taken by Diana owners. Even the most basic picture taken by a Diana camera has a nice look to it.
You can do multiple exposures easily. You can use it as a pinhole camera. It can either be automatic or manual shutter speed.
When people see it, they want to ask you about it and they start talking about photography.
It’s still fun waiting and seeing your photos developed.
It has just enough controls on it to make it interesting and give you things to play with,  but not too many.
It has a great vintage feel to it. This camera is new, but it is based on cameras of the 1960s.
It just looks cool, doesn’t it?
You can find more about it here: Diana F+ camera, but there are lots of sites that talk about the camera.
Thanks to the the Tech Style blog for pointing it out, and for Urban Outfitters for carrying it. You can get them cheaper on eBay, but I liked the package it came in at Urban Outfitters.
If anyone is interested in the camera, let me know. I am also bookmarking interesting links on
Now…say cheese! 🙂

Night Flowers

Taken with my Diana F+ camera.Part of my Flickr  Photostream

Jump Up!

More Mary J Blige. Why?

…because I think she’s the best.

YouTube – Mary J. Blige – Come To Me (PEACE)

Runners! The Nike Human Race 10K is October 24th. Are you ready?

Anyone who has been running awhile should consider signing up for Nike’s  Human Race. Nike always puts on a good running event, and this is quite an event indeed, with runners all over the world participating. If you are up for a 10K this weekend, see the site for more info.

A brilliantly down to earth idea…

is this: Mud Stencils used to Create Environmentally-Conscious Graffiti. See Inhabitat blog for the details.

Dead fly art. Really!

Ok. This is kinda weird. But very funny. And one of the more novel ways to recycle!


For more of such zaniness, see Greenwala – Green Art. It would likely even be better if you knew German!

The Lion’s Share and other fables from Aesop

I have often heard the expression, the lion’s share, but I didn’t know that it is part of Aesop’s Fables.  Nor did I know what Aesop meant by it. I thought it just meant: the biggest part of what is being shared. But if you read this, The Lion’s Share. Aesop. 1909-14. Fables. The Harvard Classics, you will see there is a bit more to the fable.

Once you check that out, poke around and you can find more of Aesop’s Fables.

Image of Aesop from wikipedia, where you can find out more about him.

Baby, it’s (getting) cold outside…you need a coat or jacket…here’s an easy way to find one

If you want to check out a wide range of styles, prices, makers, colours…you name it, then check out the  Shop-A-Matic part of New York Magazine.

It has a ton of great coats and jackets, from as low as $29 to over a $1000. Surely even someone as smart and particular as yourself could find something to love here.

Get off the Cabot Trail and get on the Fleur-de-lis Trail in Cape Breton

I think the Cabot Trail is beautiful. I understand why people head there and take it in.

There are other parts of Cape Breton to see and drive, and if you like driving, I recommend the Fleur-de-lis Trail. Whenever I am driving from Halifax to Glace Bay, Cape Breton, I make sure I get off the Transcanada Highway and go along that “old highway” instead. The scenery is gorgeous, and the road is fun to drive. You know all those car commercials on TV where people are driving on highways and you think, “yeah, sure, there’s no place like that for real people to drive along”. Well, if you go along the Fleur-de-lis Trail, you can.

(Bonus, it used to be mostly a 2 lane highway, but now it is more and and more a 3 lane highway, meaning you never get stuck for long behind slow drivers if you want to drive faster. Though with all that scenery, why drive too fast?)

(This wonderful autumn photo of Cape Breton is from paellaking’s photostream on flickr. Seriously, this is the way most of the trail is, when you aren’t driving by fantastic lakes).

(Chinese) invisible cities

Have you ever heard of Zibo? I haven’t. Yet, as James Fallows points out, it is bigger than Chicago or Milan. It’s not the only one. Fallows states there are many cities like that in China. Have you heard of Ningbo? As the site Moving Cities points out, “Ningbo, once China’s largest trading port, now sits poised for its resurgence as a business and cultural mecca. In the coming years, Ningbo will connect to Shanghai via a modern expressway and high-speed rail link.” You can bet from there it will again be a major city. If anything, many of these cities (besides Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong) will be move from being invisible to most of the world to prominent.

Fun with webcams

You may have seen this already. And no wonder! It’s funny and smart. See:

YouTube – A Day at the Office

Philippe Starck has lost his mind…

I am a big fan of Philippe Starck’s design, be it an entire hotel, a cafe, a watch, or even a fly swatter! He is innovative and stylish. At least I thought he was until I saw these. Apparently he designed these gnome thingies!

There is really no excuse for that.

Found via the mogg blogg

The Brilliant (Plate)work of Karen Ryan

Karen Ryan takes second hand plates and removes the ordinary patterns to make extraordinary works of art.  Plates like this

Lest you think it is just technique, look again at what has been removed and what remains.

Damien (Hirst) is back

And as Richard Lacayo in Time points out, things are not looking good. At least, so far.

Lacayo notes examples of how critics are lambasting Hirst for his new works, dismissing them as derivative, to say the least. Given that Francis Bacon is one of his inspirations, the “derivative” comment is right on the money. What remains to be seen is whether or not Hirst has the ability to grow any further. If so, these recent works may just be a weigh station on the road to newer and better work. If not, then he is done and he will be remembered as much if not more for his ability to rake in the dough than for his ability to produce inspiring and influencial works of art.

For more on this, see: Damien Hirst: Dead on Arrival – Looking Around –

The wonderful sweetness of Au Revoir Simone’s Through the Backyards

Soon Au Revoir Simone will be bigger and they will have fancy official videos on YouTube. In the meantime, there is this lovely fan video:

Which gives you a nice way for you to get to know Au Revoir Simone and “Through the Backyards”

A great blog you must read: Letters of Note

What is Letters of Note? Simply

… an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos.

And fascinating they are! The blog nicely gives the context, reproduces the correspondence, and then transcribes it. That’s all good. However, it is the selection of correspondence that makes it great. If you have any time at all, go see it. It’s noteworthy indeed.

(thanks to for this)

Working hard for the money

This is going out the Goldman Sachs and their mind bogglingly stupid bonuses, who no doubt feel they work hard for the money! 😉
(Goldman Sachs can give out huge bonuses because of people who do work hard for the little money they do get. )

But enough about greedy bankers.

I always felt Donna Summer never got enough credit for her talent. She had great range, both vocally and in what she sang about.  True, she did Love to Love You Baby, but you miss out on alot of good music if you only focus on that.

I also know that some people think: 80s music/video…lame! Yet lots of people give credit to the look and music of the 70s, and having lived through both the 70s and the 80s, I’d take the 80s any day. And mark my words: big hair and big shoulderpads WILL come back soon. 🙂

Enough soap box rantings from me. Here’s the very good, very 80s, Donna Summer:

YouTube – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money

P.S. Ok, just to drive home my point, here is You to Love You Baby from the 70s. (The other video is ’83). Not only is this NSFW, it is Not Suitable Anywhere! I cannot watch the “interpretive dance dude” without bursting out laughing. Not to pick on him in particular: there was ALOT of this going on in the 70s. He just manages to capture it so well, combining the best of Snoopy and Christopher Guest.

Just try watching it with a straight face.

80s 1, 70s 0.

Post bank meltdown: Goldman Sachs

Unlike B of A, Goldman Sachs appears to never have been in serious trouble as a result of the financial meltdown. If anything, they took a bit of a hit and roared back bigger and stronger. But as this article illustrates, they are at risk of being the poster child of tone deaf / stupid American corporations. How so?

“Goldman Sachs is on pace to pay annual bonuses that will rival the record payouts that it made in 2007, at the height of the bubble. In the last nine months, the bank set aside about $16.7 billion for compensation — on track to pay each of its 31,700 employees close to $700,000 this year. Top producers are expecting multimillion-dollar paydays.”

How big is that? Apparently

“Goldman set aside nearly half of its revenue to reward its employees, a common practice on Wall Street, even in this post-bailout era.”

And I love this comment:

“Goldman executives know they have a public opinion problem, and they are trying to figure out what to do about it — as long as it does not involve actually cutting pay.

Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive, finds himself in the unusual position of defending a successful company in a nation that normally celebrates success.”

Of course, they would not be celebrating their success if the taxpayers of the United States had coughed up significant money to prevent Goldman and their counterparts from going under (even though some of them still have in the form of mergers and acquisitions).

So what is Goldman Sachs proposing? Well,

“”Goldman said Thursday that it would donate $200 million to its charitable foundation (that figure represents 6 percent of its third-quarter profit, or about six days of earnings).”

Now they are putting almost 50% of their annual revenue aside for bonuses, and 1.5% of their profit for charity. See something wrong here?

Then again, this canard comes up:

“But he said Goldman had a duty to its employees and to retain staff. By paying big bonuses, he said, the bank was trying to make a difficult trade-off between “being fair to our people who have done a remarkable job” and “what’s going on in the world.”

As always, my question is: where are the staff going to go? No where, that’s where. There is no where to go.

And then I love this:

“Goldman, Mr. Viniar said, was being unfairly singled out over its bonus culture. “Yes, I think that is too big a focus,” he said. “I would prefer people to be focused on the success of our business, how well we’re doing, and how well our people are performing.”

People! We should be happy for Goldman! Geez. Seriously, is this the best they can do? I thought the folks from Goldman were smart.

So, here’s what I think. Other banks, like Morgan Stanley are going to execute on reform, like “introducing three-year clawback provisions”. Whether this is still good is a question, but it is better than Goldman. To make a level playing field — corporations love level playing fields! — Goldman should be legislated to execute on the same reform that Morgan Stanley and others do. Smarter people than me can likely come up with all kinds of ways to rein in Goldman. But they need to be reined in and made an example of.

Otherwise, the next big crisis to occur, the tail (Goldman Sachs) is going to be wagging the dog (the people of the U.S.A.). (Although some would argue that they did that this time. And if they get away with this, I will believe them.)

Post bank meltdown news on Bank of America and its CEO

From what I can see, there has not been enough new governance or accountability following the bank meltdown that precipitated the Great Recession. However, there have been some significant activity here and there, including this from the

Bank of America’s embattled chief executive, Kenneth D. Lewis, agreed Thursday not to take a salary or bonus for 2009, as new information emerged about legal advice the firm received on its ill-fated merger with Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Lewis also agreed to reimburse the bank for paychecks he has received since January, after Kenneth R. Feinberg, the government’s overseer of executive compensation, urged Mr. Lewis to take no compensation this year.

Sadly, I think this is only occurring due to serious legal steps being taken by New York’s Attorney General. Not alot if anything seems to be coming from Washington. While I am faintly hopeful that after the Health Care legislation is finished, this is taken up, I cynically think it is going to require a new short sharp shock before anything of note happens.

The benefit of having physicists for friends

It’s great to have friends in useful occupations, be they doctors, lawyers, plumbers, or cooks.  In my case, I have some smart friends who are physicists. Which is great when I read an article like this on Slashdot about how a group of scientists have created a black hole for light, because I can ask them: should I be concerned? And they can reply:

…it’s an analog of a gravitational black hole rather than the real thing.

If it were a gravitational black hole, my answer to you would be: Yes, Worry! That’s because all matter responds to the gravitational field. In this case, the hole would start absorbing everything that came within its radius, and that radius would expand as a hole grew. The radius could in principle and rapidly grow large enough to absorb the entire earth!

But happily this particular analog affects only light, so all other kinds of matter are unaffected — including the device that is creating the effect.

Moreover, the actual analog “black hole” has a relatively small radius, so the only light it affects will be light that finds itself within the device.

All in all, it’s safe enough then…

On boycotting races that ban the use of iPods

Well, this is a mess. It looks like the winner of a marathon was disqualified for iPod use (according to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel – JSOnline. It doesn’t help matters that the USATF had a draconian rule in before banning it for all runners. Now they are leaving it to the race directors, but even they have a problem with that.

The question I have is: why ban it at all? If you are banning iPods, why not ban heart monitors and stop watches, etc? Heck, why not ban Gatorade and Powerbars. Afterall, they all help runners too.

As for me, I would boycott any race that prevented me from wearing an iPod. I recommend you do the same.

The folks in these ads from Intel are…well…a little different …

…and that’s a great thing! Whoever came up with this ad campaign for Intel has produced a winner. I think they are all very funny (but that could be because I am like the good folks from Intel).

Here’s one of the spots:

If you like that, then go to YouTube and check out the other ads. They’re all good.

The best places to have coffee in Halifax…

…can be found listed at my brother Eddie’s blog, PANG.  If you go to Halifax and you love coffee or coffee shops generally, make sure you take this list of the Top Five Coffee Haunts in Halifax. I’ve been to the Smiling Goat and the coffee is superb. Really, really good.

The next time I am in Halifax, I am going to try and visit the rest. In the meantime, check out PANG.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Souvenir (Moby Remix)

Moby nicely freshens up this classic from OMD

YouTube – O M D ::: Souvenir (Moby Remix)

One of the reasons traditional media is in trouble: laziness and indifference

As James Fallows shows, The Washington Post in its lead editorial promoted the idea of a posthumous Nobel Prize award ito Neda of Iran nstead of it having it go to Obama. The problem is, there are no posthumous nominations for a Nobel Prize, and it says so in the FAQ on their web site.

I mean, how hard is that to fact check? It’s in the Frequently Asked Questions page of their web site! So either the writer of the editorial was too lazy to check this out or too indifferent to care one way or another.


How to Blog More / Blog Well

If you have a blog, you should consider Chris Brogan’s How to Blog Almost Every Day. Even if you never want to blog that much, the recommendations that Chris provides are useful to anyone starting or maintaining a blog.

As for me, I follow ideas 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10. Number 9 is particularly good; the URL you want is this

If you do want to blog everyday and if you blog on like I do, one of the widgets you might want to add is the calendar widget.  For example, looking at my blog for September 2009, I see I blogged most days with the exception of a few.

Good luck! Let me know how your blogging is going.

Great low priced hotels in Europe you should enjoy

No doubt with the Great Recession, travel has not been a priority with most people. But if you can afford to travel, now is still a good time. Even if you are concerned about the cost of things. For the has a great rundown of 100 European hotels under $150/night in this article here: 100 Hotels Under $150 –

You might object, “that’s not so cheap”, and yes, you can likely find cheaper hotels. But why stay in a dump when for a bit more you can stay in some really great hotels and still not spend a ton of money. Hey, smart people like you deserve to live well and not go broke in the process. You now can have the chic without the cher.

See you there!

(Great photo of the Matisse B&B in Rome by Chris Warde-Jones for The New York Times. Doesn’t it make you want to go?)

How the Nobel Peace Prize is Awarded

As people debate the merits of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, they should keep in mind that the Prize is as much about influencing peace as it is about recognizing effort. Sometimes it is more about the latter. But this time it is as much about influence.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I also think that trying to predict and understand the thinking of the members who make the decision is difficult if not impossible.

That all said, congratulations to Obama. Nice way to end the week!

Star Wars like its never been seen before! Because this time, you make it

Yup. The folks at Star Wars: Uncut have come up with a crazy idea. Let me let them explain:

Hello! You and 472 other people have the chance to recreate Star Wars: A New Hope. Below is the entire movie split up into 15 second clips. Click on one of the scenes to claim it, film it, and upload it. You can have up to three scenes! When we’re all done, we’ll stitch it all together and watch the magic happen.

Is it going to be as good as the original? Not even remotely close. Is it going to be interesting? Very! Go look at some of the claimed scenes so far, like this one:

Ok, it might be a bit of a nerd fest. (A bit, Bernie?) Seriously, it’s alot of fun, and I like how Star Wars inspires people to think about film and create, regardless of their skill. This is a great example of that. May the crowdsource be with you!

How to forge your expenses (kidding)

Let’s say you want to eat at a fancy steak place, like Maloney & Porcelli in NYC, but you can’t expense that steak at your work. No problem! Their Expense Report Generator will generate a PDF file of smaller expenses you CAN submit. And it works well. Type in an amount, and it will generate numerous expenses that add up to that amount.

Now obviously I am not condoning you do this. Obviously. Right. 🙂

Seriously, I think this is funny and a great way to get some buzz around their restaurant. Check out their app. Better yet, go buy yourself a nice steak dinner from Maloney & Porcelli. How you expense it…well, I don’t want to know. 🙂

(Found via the always interesting blog, Cup of Jo).

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009 has been announced and the winner is…..

…Herta Müller, a German writer who was born and lived in Romania before moving to Germany. Sadly,
the press release and other details on the Nobel Prize site are vary scant. You will want to go elsewhere for the details, like the (Though I recommend you avoid the commentary: it is the usual carping along the lines of “who is she?”, “why hasn’t DeLillo/Vonnegut/Pynchon/etc. won?”)

No doubt we will hear more about her and see more of her books at the bigger book sellers in near future.

The 2009 Giller Prize Longlist is worth a look

The Giller Prize short list was announced this week. Among other things, the chattering classes were talking about Margaret Atwood being left off said list. Whatever.

What is noteworthy is that on the Giller Prize web site is also the long list. I think this is good, because anything on such a long list (be it for the Giller Prize or the Booker Prize or any other major prize) would be worth paying attention to. I wish more organizations would share their long list. For if you don’t like those works on the short list, there is likely something on the long list that makes you think: that is something I want to read. Something like Atwood’s new book, for instance.

For great Canadian literature, check out The Giller Prize web site.

No, it’s not entries to the Turner prize. It’s (regr)!

While has many wonderful creations on it available for purchase, not everything is all that desirable. (Exhibit A: fish in a squirrel suit…I mean, really, who thinks this is good?) Along comes Regretsy. Regretsy picks out the best of the worst for your viewing pleasure. I like how they titled their blog: Regretsy – Handmade? It looks like you made it with your feet.

Go see. And if you do purchase something they mock…well, I don’t want to know. 🙂

Thanks to giselaj for this