Monthly Archives: October 2010

Obama and his “to go” approach to food

One of the comments made about President Obama during the 2008 campaign was that he ordered food at local restaurants, but instead of eating it there, he always had it to “to go”. The implication was that he didn’t actually eat it.

Case in point, this story: Obama stops at Hyde Park cafeteria – Chicago Breaking News. At this stop, the politicians ordered a number of things, including scrambled eggs to go. There are some foods that are perfectly fine to go, but scrambled eggs aren’t one of them. Indeed, breakfast as a whole is tough to take out: it gets cold fast and is hard to reheat.

Watch the next time Obama orders food from a local place: chances are it will be to go. That’s why he stays slim. 🙂


BlogTO on the best Donuts in Toronto


Donuts (doughnuts) get a bad rap. Yes, eating them all of the time is a bad thing, but that can be said for any pastry. From time to time, however, a good doughnut with your favourite beverage can be a great thing. Now that we’ve agreed on that :), you need to know where to go to get the best one this city has to offer. For that information, you need to go here: The Best Donuts in Toronto from BlogTo.

Just check out out those beauties (photo courtesy of BlogTo).

Back to theFuture: Art Deco travel posters + Star Wars

This is brilliant:

For 7 other great posters like this, go to Steve Thomas’s site and check out these Vintage Star Wars travel posters

(via The Daily What)

The ultimate Saturday Night Music: Billy Strayhorn plays “Take the A Train” with the Duke Ellington Orchestra

If I am judged good and I get to go to heaven, when I get there, Billy Strayhorn will be playing “Take the A Train” with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Meanwhile, we have this:

Heaven on Earth.

Saturday Night Music: Atomic Tom, Live in NYC

This has gotten lots of coverage elsewhere, but it is still remarkable. And great music for a late night weekend night.

Not the Last Supper

But still good

When Social Media Gets Out of Control

Great parody here:

via The Daily What

Some thoughts on the Glee GQ Photo shoot with Terry Richardson

So this has been getting alot of buzz in the news, but I don’t see much in the way of background, so I thought I would add some:

I stopped reading GQ decades ago, but fashion shots of men well dressed accompanied by women barely dressed is something they’ve been doing since the 80s.  You may not agree with it — I think it feeds into the “Axe” dream that young men have — but it is not something new. And young men are the audience of GQ magazine. Indeed, with the advent of “lad” magazines like Maxim and the like, there are more of these photos, not less.

Terry Richardson, the photographer, has been shooting photos like this for along time. I think he is a great photographer technically, and he is at his best when his subjects manage to combine glamour and trash (e.g., Lindsay Lohan). These photographs don’t work for me because I think of the Glee actors as neither glamourous nor trashy. And they echo the American Apparel ads, and that is tired in so many ways. I found the shoot disappointing. (You might say: there are women standing around in their underwear?! But I see women standing around that way in the La Senza shop next to the grocery store in the mall every day. I understand the general problem: I just don’t think GQ is exceptional.)

For the Glee cast, as actors, especially TV actors, I think this could be a good career move for them, because it allows them to potentially break out of the typecasting box that TV actors get put into. Hollywood actors making moves like this is nothing new, either.

All that said, I can see why people would be upset, both because of the imagery of the photographs and the messing around with the associations that people have of these actors. But there is nothing new or exceptional here, unless you’ve been living under a rock. Maybe if I was a big Glee fan, which I am decidedly not, I would feel different.

If you want to be outraged and / or see more of the photos, you can see alot of them at the Mail Online (which is comprehensively trashy), or you can make Conde Nast happy and buy a copy of GQ.

Life is too short not to be enjoyed

If you don’t believe that, Sean Stephenson should be able to convince you otherwise. Great video. Great spirit. Watch. Better still, dance. 🙂

(Found via The Daily What)

Why did Angela Merkel declare the death of German multiculturalism?

Politicians don’t operate in vacuums. Certainly good ones don’t. They operate in a world of cause and effect. The things they do and more importantly say are based to a large part of things that have happened before. And it is true that sometimes politicians make sweeping statements for a variety of reasons. But my first inclination whenever I hear a politician state something is to ask: what recent event could have driven that?

So when I read things like this: Angela Merkel declares death of German multiculturalism in The Guardian, I headed over to Der Speigel and did a search on recent events concerning Der Spiegel.  And what I see is this: Could State Election Spell End for Merkel? – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

As it turns out:

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are facing abysmal poll numbers and could even lose control of one of their strongholds in a key state election next March. One conservative newspaper is speculating that, if that happens, Merkel could soon be on the way out.

And given that she made her speech in front of young, German conservatives, my first inclination here is that Merkel is making sweeping statements to shore up her vote and a) help win this key state election and b) stay in power herself.

Read the article in Der Spiegel, where the fire is. Ignore the smoke of failed multiculturalism.

Angelo Mozilo – good riddance

This is Angelo R Mozilo. If you were to read this article, Public Bravado, Private Doubts at Countrywide –, you might get the impression that he was a fair to good CEO whose company got away from him. Indeed, if you were to read this article, Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide Settles Fraud Case for $67.5 Million in the, you might feel bad from him. However, if you start with the Wikipedia article about him and work your way out onto Google, you can see he is anything but a half decent CEO you should feel sorry for. Indeed, he has been listed as one of the worst American CEOs of all time. The $67.5 million fine is partially being paid by Countrywide and is only a fraction of his overall worth. The currently closing part of the Wikipedia article sums it up this way: he was “widely regarded as one of the chief malefactors in the home mortgage
fiasco that nearly collapsed the US financial system, (and he) has been allowed
to keep most of his fortune, deny responsibility for his harmful
actions, and avoid prison.”

In a way, it is too bad he paid the fine. It would have been better for him to suffer a lengthy trail. Mozilo was responsible for weapons of mass financial destruction. He should have to undergo a greater ordeal than he has.

There’s lots of people to have sympathy for in the meltdown of the U.S. financial system. This guy is not one of them.

That said, such a fine could be alot less, or the case could have even collapsed. A trial would have been more educational and reminded people of what has just occurred, as much as people would like to forget it.

What are the tools you need to maintain your home?

The has a great list here. It comes across as 5 items, but it is more, once you start adding the tape measure, etc.

One thing they left off the list is a level. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, and if you are only doing small projects, it can be small, but when it comes to doing things like putting up shelves, a level is essential. I’d also add a hacksaw. Those can be cheap as well, since you may not use them that often, but there will come a time when you are dealing with a difficult piece of metal and if you have a hacksaw, you’ll be glad you have it.

I agree with the choice of a jigsaw over a circular saw. The latter is great for doing lots of cuts, but a jigsaw is safer and more versatile. If you are getting a jigsaw, get good blades. Ask the people in the store. It will save you alot of time when it comes to actually cutting the wood.

I am sure the $220 drill is a great tool, but again, you might find the cheaper one does the job. Like the jigsaw, get good bits. It will make the job alot easier. And if it isn’t cordless, get a thick extension cord: you will likely need it.

Finally, get yourself a good set of safety glasses. That’s the first thing that should be on the list. Having once had a hammer head snap off and almost take out my eye — it was stopped by my real glasses — I cannot recommend it enough.  Make sure they fit and don’t slide off. If they are uncomfortable or loose, you will be tempted to take them off. You never want to do that.

The Commonwealth Games of India

After alot of complaints before the games, the reports that Indian Officials Declare Success After Games.
It’s good to hear. It’s also one of a string of successes by the nations that are rising up in the 21st century, nations like China, Brazil and South Africa. I would not be surprised to see Russia going for an Olympic bid again sometime in the next 20 years.

One thing the article points out though, which I think is true: the events themselves don’t change the countries as much as highlight the new wealth and influence and character of the countries hosting the games. Organizers of the Games like to say the events will transform the countries hosting them. But I think the countries are already harnessing the transformations underway in those places. Those transformations would be going on with or without the event. It’s just not as visible. I especially don’t think these events change the culture of the host countries. It’s the underlying transformations that are occurring that are doing that. For example, China will change, not because it hosted the Olympic games, but because of the increasing wealth of the country and the significant urbanization that is underway.

Friday Night Music: ROX – I Don’t Believe

This is good in so many ways.

YouTube – ROX – I Don’t Believe (Official HD Video)

Cool App of the Day: Zen Brush

Over at the blog, CARNET DE DESSINS, Bénédicte is demonstrating what can be done with the very cool iPhone/iPod Touch app, Zen Brush. It has quite alot of features, including the ability to post your results online. Price? A mere $2.99!

If that’s too much for you, check out the Buddha Board app. That’s FREE. I have a Buddha Board. It’s a great way to relax and create. But it’s hardly portable, while the Buddha Board app is free.

It is amazing at the quality and more importantly the value of iPhone apps. It’s truly remarkable.

(Image of bird linked to from Bénédicte’s blog. She has an art blog that I highly recommend you visit.)

More on why McDonald’s hamburgers don’t get moldy and decompose – now with science!

The blog the Burger Lab is tackling this Internet meme of the McDonald’s burgers that don’t go bad by using a much more scientific approach. As they note, they are starting with:

1. A plain McDonald’s hamburger, stored on a plate at room temperature.
2. A homemade burger of the same weight and dimensions as a McDonald’s burger (I was fine using a store-bought bun, because who bakes their own buns?)
3. A McDonald’s hamburger patty on a store-bought bun.
4. A homemade patty on a McDonald’s bun.
5. A McDonald’s hamburger stored in its original packaging.
6. A McDonald’s hamburger stored in a zipper-lock bag.
7. A plain Quarter Pounder.
8. A homemade quarter pounder.

And now they are going to test them. It should be interesting to see their results. Go to their blog to find out more.

(Photo of some of the burgers that they are testing.)

I should add that this reminds me of the experiments that Louis Pasteur did to disprove the theory of spontaneous generation and support the theory of germs. Ok, it’s not nearly as important, but the thinking is similar.

The great Bill Cunningham

Is captured, not surprisingly, at The Sartorialist blog.

I love this photo, perhaps because it reflects my style, all the way to the bike he has! (Mine is blue, and my camera is a Diana F+, and….I am not a fraction of the photographer he is, but never mind. :))

If you don’t know who he is, you can find out more here: Bill Cunningham (photographer) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Why the U.S. Department of Justice appeals rulings you think they wouldn’t/shouldn’t

I see alot of perplexed people asking: why is it that the President is slow on pushing forward certain things he said he would, and yet as soon as some legal development breaks in his favour, the Department of Justice (DoJ) moves very quickly to appeal them. That doesn’t seem to make sense: why isn’t the DoJ working with the President on this?

The reason for this is succinctly explained in this story, Justice Department to appeal same-sex marriage ruling – CNN. Key quote:

“The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged,” said Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler. “As a policy matter, the president has made clear that he believes DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed. The Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending federal statutes when they are challenged in court, including by appealing adverse decisions of lower courts.”

It’s up to Congress to change the laws. It’s up to the President to support, oppose, sign or veto said laws. And it’s up the the Department of Justice to enforce them.

Cool crowdsourcing from Zooniverse: now Old Weather

Zooniverse does some cool crowdsourcing work. You can do amateur astronomomy work — they have alot of projects for this — and now they have Old Weather – Our Weather’s Past, the Climate’s Future as well. (found via Kottke.) Interesting for anyone, I think this would be a great thing for teachers to get students involved in. Also a great hobby for folks that has a great benefit.

Why Happy Meals Don’t Get Moldy and Decompose

There’s a number of web sites, like this one: Happy Meal Project – Artist Sally Davies Photographs McDonald’s Happy Meal For 137 Days and this one: Year-old Happy Meal hasn’t decomposed (photos) – Knoxville healthy food |, where people expose Happy Meals for many many days and despite that, the Happy Meals don’t decompose. Why is that?

The answer you get from alot of people is:  Happy Meals are bad for you! Which is an answer, but not a very scientific one.

It’s more likely the case, as one of the commentators noted, that:

The reason the Happy Meal appears not to change during the extended time on the table is the fact that the bread, beef and fried potatoes have VERY LITTLE MOISTURE in them. Dried meat keeps for years. The fries were basket fried in hot oil causing most of the moisture to evaporate as steam while they cooled. The Beef patty is fried on a flat grill causing much the same condition. The bread is stable and dry but would (and does) mold in less dessicated climates. Anyone familiar with food dehydration will find nothing odd or disquieting about that fact that dry food tends to stay decomposition free in dry climates. In fact, organic meats and potatoes prepared the way McDonald’s prepares its food would have stayed just as changeless for the same period of time. 

The photographer obviously knows this as she clearly asked for the burger without ketchup, mustard, pickles or diced onions – something McDonald’s only does on request – to keep the burger dry. This is a mean spirited trick perpetrated on a public who should know better.

Now I don’t know if this is a mean spirited trick or not, but it is a fact that Happy Meals are very dry, and dryness is a key condition as to whether or not something gets moldy.

There are other things besides dryness, too. The burgers and french fries are high in fat and salt which can add to the preservative nature of the food. As well as.. well, McDonald’s use preservatives in their food! And McDonald’s strives to keep their establishments clean, which decreases the chance of mold landing on your food. (Indeed, in one of these experiments, some mold did appear on a Happy Meal hamburger next to a very moldy hamburger that was not McDonald’s but likely contaminated the other.)

If you want more nutritional information on McDonald’s Happy Meals, you can go here. If your child is eating Happy Meals, try to aim for combos lower on the list. According to this site, children 1 to 3 years old should only have 800 mg of sodium a day, yet some Happy Meals exceed that. Not to mention that they have alot of fat and saturated fat. A hamburger, apple slices and either milk or apple juice will reduce the amount of salt and fat and boost the number of other vitamins and minerals in the meal.

Happy Meals are not the most nutritional meal you can put together for your child. If you can offer them a more nutritional meal that they will like and eat, then by all means, that’s your best choice. But make your choice based on facts, not on sensational photos and articles.

(Photo from the first article. I’ve included it to illustrate the comment that the burger is obviously very dry. McDonald’s food is dry generally, but you may not notice this because they also give you large drinks.)

Green meets good design with the Plumen low energy light bulb

Normally I am not a big fan on the light or the look of low energy light bulbs, but I like this one from Plumen and I hope it is a sign of things to come.  I found these at the blog  Apartment Therapy New York and I think you should check it out for some great examples of how they make space brighter and more attractive. Smart!

What’s it like to rent an apartment in New York City?

Well, it’s not easy,that’s for sure. And it’s not cheap, either. But it makes for a great story, and based on stories I can remember from reading 10 and 20 years ago, it is getting better. See History Eraser Button for a great run down of how one blogger managed to find a great place after puttin in alot of leg work and following a really good plan.

The great Solomon Burke has died

Solomon Burke died today. One of the great soul singers of the 60s, his music is everywhere, even if you aren’t aware of it. Here’s just a sample of how it lives on in songs such as “Cry to Me”, first performed by him:

And here’s Duffy from 2008

There’s lots more. Not surprising.


Rick Mercer’s Rant on Bullying

Rick Mercer Rants are always good. This one is especially good, given the focus on the It Gets Better campaign. I’m proud to post this here, and as someone who fell into the geek camp and was on the receiving end of alot of bullying, I’d like to add that I agree with Rick and others, that it gets better and it will get better for you is without a doubt. That must seem impossibly hard to imagine as a kid, but it’s true. I know the focus is on gay kids and others belonging to the GLBTQ community, and I think that is especially important. For all those kids out there who are not a member of that group, but are still the subject of abuse, you still need to hear that it will get better. And it will. But Rick says it better than me. Here he is:

Never let them get you down.

YouTube – RMR: Rick’s Rant – Bullying – It Gets Better

Taking it up a notch with your spaghetti and meatballs

I love spaghetti and meatballs (with tomato sauce, of course), but I am really looking forward to making this version. They’ve done a nice job of adding new ingredients (ground lamb to the pork and beef is one thing, lots of garlic and some balsamic vinegar to the tomato sauce). And it looks like this:

Nice! Check out this recipe: Totally Tender Meatballs in Tomato Sauce from the Apartment Therapy / The Kitchn blog.

The word for the economic outlook of the United States? Bleak

This man, Jan Hatzius, is the highly respected chief economist at Goldman Sachs, and not likely one to get his predictions wrong. So when he writes a client and states:

We see two main scenarios for the economy over the next 6-9 months — a fairly bad one in which the economy grows at a 1½%-2 percent rate through the middle of next year and the unemployment rate rises moderately to 10 percent, and a very bad one in which the economy returns to an outright recession.

Then I am thinking things are looking bleak for the U.S., which will not be good for Canada or many other nations in the world. Worse, in the U.S., political leaders are planning to assume Hooverite positions when it comes to the economy. And we all know how well that went.

If you can stomach it, you can get the rest of the article here: ‘Fairly Bad’ or ‘Very Bad’ Economic Scenarios – Goldman’s Jan Hatzius Forecasts –

(Photo: Michael Falco for the New York Times)

The Work of Mia Nolting

Can be found here -> OK, Alright. Yes.

I like this in particular. A fine transformation of common objects:

Friday Night Music: THE best song of 2010: Cee-Lo Green – “F— You” (NSFW)

If this song was Frig You, it would get alot less attention. And that would be a shame, for it is a brilliant song, with lots of reworking of classic pop/motown/soul/etc. remixed as only someone as talented as Cee-lo can do. He’s been doing this for some time now, but unlike hip hop, Cee-lo samples music from previous decades and incorporates them flawlessly into his vocals. He’s a great talent, and on this song, he continues to demonstrate that.

While there are a number of versions of this going around the Internet, this version is particularly great. He’s got the Robert Palmer thing going with the backup band, and he’s riffing on David Byrne with the pink suit. It doesn’t get better than this.

Here’s Cee-Lo Green – “Fuck You” from (Later with Jools Holland)

Sesame Street spoofs the Old Spice Commercial

With Grover, no less. Just telling you that should be enough to get you to watch it…

Sesame Street: Smell Like A Monster

More Friday Night Music: Phoenix. 1901. Spin TV

There’s LOTS of great music/live performances on SpinTV. Please do a search. For now, here’s one of my favourites:

Phoenix, “1901”

Friday Night Music: The Noisettes do Wild Young Hearts acoustic

As hip and sexy as anything is the Noisettes doing Wild Young Hearts Acoustic on Nylon TV. Fantastic:

Bonus: here’s their hit, “Never Forget You”. Subdued, but still good.

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs Lucille Ball and Jimmy Stewart

Watching Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt dance to Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?, one of the first things I was reminded of was how she reminds me of Lucille Ball and he reminds me of Jimmy Stewart

and then I thought: these comparisons don’t mean much, other than as a “hook” into getting you to watch them. Still, there is that great quality to these performers, just like there is that great quality to Lucille Ball and Jimmy Stewart, that makes you think: I should pay attention and watch this. Whatever you think, I hope you think it is enjoyable.

A very Internet moment: Keanu Reeves does not know about “Sad Keanu”

And regardless of whether YOU do or not, you will want to read: Vulture Tells Keanu Reeves About ‘Sad Keanu’ — and He Approves!

The brilliance of Malcolm X

Is on display here:

(From You Been Misled. You Been Had. You Been Took. – Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Very expensive Chuck Taylors

I don’t even want to know how much these Damien Hirst x Converse (PRODUCT)RED Chuck Taylor All Star Sneaker cost. There were only 400 of them, and anything associated with him equals big bucks. Still, I am somewhat surprised at people taking Chuck Taylors, originally a low cost shoe, and turning them into something anything but low cost. Besides these, found at

I also found these for with Peanuts cartoons on them for €200+.

Thanks to @solangenoir on twitter for the pointer to the D Hirst’s.

If you want to get organized, head over to for their templates

I have been very impressed by the Free Microsoft Excel Templates and Spreadsheets as well as other documents found there. They have a good blog as well. And they aren’t just for Microsoft Excel: if you don’t have or can’t afford it, you can download Lotus Symphony free here at the IBM Lotus Symphony web page. (Disclosure: I am an IBM employee, but I would promote Lotus Symphony regardless.) Either way, you can use the templates to help record and track your goals and your activities.

Good luck!

Mondat morning music: Mexican Ska

Honestly, coffee will only get you so far. To go the rest of the way, you need:

YouTube – SANTÍSIMA TRINIDAD: Eso (Video oficial)

Some thoughts on working along time in IT

Punch it. You really had to “punch” the buttons of thes old 2401s if you wanted them to move.

When I first started working in IT, 27 years ago, my first role was mainly to operate things like these 2401s. I only did it for a few months, but I can still feel every aspect of those tape drives. The sound of the door slamming, the way the vacuums sucked the tape down so it could move, the feel of those buttons, the whirring of tape moving back and forth. I got to the point I could tell which type of program was using the tape based on the behavior of the tape (barely moving, spinning like mad, constantly going back and forth). Data made visible.

Those were 2401s. Then there 3330s and 3350 DASD. I can tell someone has been around along time when they refer to DASD instead of hard drives. And there were the mainframes, the 3033s and the 3081s, and the midsize 4300 series that were more like giant freezers. Everything had a four digit number and we got to learn them all and had to if you were going to be taken seriously. It was a lot of fun learning to operate these machines. It wasn’t what I aspired to, but I came to love it, and the ability to control and be responsible for these computers felt like a great privilege. I even got to operate vintage machines like an old 360 (model 145) that was an MVT OS and basically ran a few simple programs. I got to sit in front of the console of flashing lights, and when a job was finished I sat in front of a teletype device and punched in the command to run jobs like DICKEREP and JANEEREP. When I wasn’t doing that, I got to operate a bank of modems, each the size of a small suitcase. A clients modem would call, and I would vary on (“v on”) our modem and connect them via the console so they could sing their modem songs together at 1200 baud.

Months later, I worked as a VM system operator, running a number of Canadian mainframes that were part of a worldwide network of over a thousand mainframes worldwide. We had a list of all the systems, and one night another operator and I wrote a program to say hello to every one of them as a way of reaching out to everyone. To our surprise, hundreds replied back. Not knowing what to do, we furiously tried to chat with them all. This was mostly a failure, but we ended up becoming friends with some of them. There were no Instant Messaging Dummies guides back then.

When I first started, everyone at work was given access to a 3277 or a 3278 console so we could access something called PROFS, an email system. Not long after, 3 part memorandums were permanently shelved. I remember in the 90s people started saying “I have email now, here’s my address”, but I was lucky to have had it all ready for some 10 years. I even got to see one of the first viruses that way, the dreaded Christma exec. And even in the 80s, inbox zero was an unachievable goal.

A lot has changed in all this time, and a lot hasn’t. For people who have been working in IT along time, you will likely have your own memories come to mind as you read this. For people new to IT, I won’t bore you with any more war stories. I would say this, though: be mindful of the technology you use today, for it will have an impact on the world in ways you can’t even imagine yet. And when it does, you will look back and say: I worked on that in it’s infancy! And technology will become a touchstone of your life as you look back.

When I started, access to IT was rare. What has been the most significant change in all these years is not the PC or the Internet or Java or mobile devices or the WorldWideWeb (as it used to be called). The biggest change has been how more and more people have access to IT. It is becoming commonplace, ubiquitous. That to me is the greatest thing that has happened in all this time I have been working in IT. I started working on mainframes in a glasshouse environment writing PL/1 programs to run on MVS systems, and to most people then and now, that means little if anything. But right now I am typing this on a Blackberry and it is going to be crossposted on my blog, twitter and Facebook, and lots of people know what that means and indeed, can do the same thing themselves. That is the main difference, to me, in what has changed in all these years.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. And now off we go, into the future. Punch it. 🙂
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld.

Saturday Night Music – Noisettes do Ever Fallen In Love…

More great music from the Dr. Martens 50 list. This time it is the Noisettes. Super.

YouTube – Dr. Martens 50 – Noisettes cover Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve