Friday, March 30, 2012

Laurent Sebastian, The New Imogen?

This one is a harder nut to crack.

had a good time reading on

Laurent Sebastian
Hi there,

I frequently visit because I find it really valuable and
simple to understand. You discuss every topic very well, in such a way that
your readers can easily absorb the messages that you are trying to convey.
I look forward to contributing to your site my ideas, which can be
beneficial to you and your readers. We can discuss them in detail if you're

Laurent is no Imogen.  At least Imogen made her boiler plate readable (if not her articles).  This is about as well written as a boot to the head.

Googling Laurent has turned up an Associate Professor of Econometrics at Masstricht University, which is in the Netherlands, and a quick whois search for the domain turns up a service provider in Denmark, but that's about it.

I haven't been able to find anyone else that has taken Sebastian up on an offer, so I'm throwing this one out to the lot of you.  Anyone know of any product from what I can only assume is a blogging grind house, where people who do not write English as a first language are beaten until they do?  Or is it possible that the same person who wrote this was also involved in writing the (I'm sure will be an instant classic if you're in the field) Handbook of Volatility Models and Their Applications, with subjects like:
  • Heterogeneity and Volatility Persistence
  • Multivariate Models for Locally Stationary Volatility
  • Estimators of Integrated Variance and Integrated Covariance
  • Loss Functions and the Latent Variable Problem
I'm not sure what any of these subjects has to do with economics, so instead I am reading them purely in a sexual context (because I've been on the internet, and I've seen the horrible things that people are looking at...sometimes I spend hours and hours, watching it all...).

Sadly, there is the point that this person is Laurent Sebastian, and the good professor is Sebastien Laurent.  But it was interesting, yes?  And think about this, if it hadn't been for this spam, I'd never know that there was a $164, easy to read 500+ page handbook for everything I'd need to know about, um, topics.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spell Check: The Birthday Edition

A long time ago, my brother worked at the local cable station.  It was pretty much his dream job, and I know that because he used to (and still does) volunteer there.  Anyway, one of the things that he used to work on was the Community Channel.  If you lived in St. Stephen, you know the channel I'm talking about.  If you didn't, it was basically text on a screen that would let everyone know what was going on in the neighbourhood.  It was insanely low budget, and the fact that it was done with a computer and not with a guy writing it on a flip chart was amazing unto itself.  

Anyway, whenever the community channel would get updated, my mother would watch it.  The whole thing.  And she would write down all of errors in grammar and spelling and give my brother a full report.  It became kind of a thing that when the Community Channel would get updated, the cable station could expect at least one call.

For everyone that is still reading and hasn't been bored to tears by my description of a long dead channel that nobody watched in the first place, I would like to point out that my mother also reads my blog.

Here is a copy of an email that I received.
    As one of your greatest fans, I really must ask what a "dirth" is?!!!  Is this a new millenium word that only appears in very modern dictionaries? 
    Apparently my computer hasn't heard of it either.  If I try to use it, Spellcheck complains. 
    Yahoo tells me that "dirth" an imaginary word used by ignorant girls...and you are definitely not a girl, notwithstanding the fact that you NEVER got the dollhouse you wanted when you were seven...or was it ten?
    Did you mean "dearth", that wouldn't fit the context...maybe "wealth of amusing stories"?
    I await enlightenment!
Love, Mom

The post that Mom is referring to is this one regarding The 36th Annual Pizza and a Movie Day.  It is in the second paragraph, it is obvious, it is incorrect, and I am ashamed.

Here's what happened.

Do you remember how back in school when they are teaching how to write essays they always made us turn in our rough drafts along with the final version?  I think it was supposed to instil the proper method for writing papers, but it just made me crazzy (notice the two z's?  That's really crazy).  From a very early age, I have never been good with rough drafts.  I've gotten better, but I'm still not that great with editing sometimes, and when it comes to my posts... well, you're reading the rough, first, and final drafts.

Hence this "dirth".

There is no such word, as my mother has so gently explained.  I meant to say "dearth".  Which means entirely the opposite of how I used it.  What happened was I changed the tone of my post from one of a barren landscape to something a little more upbeat.  What I didn't do was remove the word that I had misspelled.  So now it's misspelled and incorrectly used, 0 for 2.  It may be that the whole "first draft" thing may have had something to it.

I have decided to leave the post as it is, without editing it, so that my children will learn from my mistakes.

Also, two embarrassing confessions come out of this email:  I did want a doll house when I was a kid (that my sister got for Christmas the year that I didn't ask for it, and that I have never let my family forget about), and my mother uses Yahoo.

You can decide which is the most embarrassing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Have You Ever Wanted To Do This?

I fantasize about this pretty well every time I'm behind the wheel.  And that's sad.

I'm referring to the first half of the video.  The second half also makes me laugh, but isn't necessarily the point of this post.

If you did a random sample of 100 people, asking each of them whether it was okay to throw trash out of a car, I'm willing to bet that you would find that 104% of responses would be "no".  The extra 4% would come from the 4 passers by that overheard the question and decided to jump in on the action after you had already obtained your required 100 interviewees (you can't really include them in the sample size, but it would be rude not to at least acknowledge them).

Out of those 100 people, you would probably find a few that are just paying lip service to it.  These will be the same ones that will shout "It's biodegradable!" when they spit their gum on the ground.  I would be surprised if you encountered anyone that would say "Hell yeah, how else am I gonna get rid of ma trash?"


If you really want to watch people squirm, ask a smoker if it's okay to throw their cigarette butts out of a car window.  OoooOOOooOOH SNAP!  I bet I hit a nerve there with some of you, didn't I?  You know who you are.

"Oh, sure, I smoke when I drive, but I never throw my butts out the window.  That's littering and that's wrong."

Really?  Let me see your ash tray.  When was the last time that you got into a car - any car - driven by a smoker that had anything other than spare change in the ash tray?

When I'm sitting behind a smoker at a red light and I see them toss a butt on the street, I dream about jumping out and taping it to the side of their car with industrial packing tape.  Of course, in that dream I'm also always a lot bigger than the person doing the littering and traffic always stops long enough to accomplish this safely and they learn the error of their ways and turn their life around.  During the time it takes to have my dream, the light has changed to green and it would be suicide to get out of the car.

Before I drive away all my smoking fans (get it? Drive away?  Meh, it was funnier when I made it up), I'm not suggesting that smokers are the worst people in the world.  Some of my best friends are smokers.*  And I'm not saying that all smokers litter.  But my observations are thus: smokers in general are far more likely to litter than non-smokers.

I'm sure they aren't doing it maliciously ("Take that Mother Earth!  That'll teach you for being all nature-y and junk!"), but face it: non-smokers don't find themselves holding a tiny smouldering disgusting smelling bit of trash on a regular basis.  If I did, I know I would be looking for the easiest place to dispose of it safely that I could find.  And the ground is just so darn convenient and (usually) non-flammable.

And, of course, the rain will wash away the evidence, right?

Smokers, you've got a tough life.  Smoking ain't cheap (at least it isn't here from what I understand), and you get all those crazy side effects that come with it.  On the upside, you do tend to take more breaks at work than non-smokers.  Come on, admit it, you do.  There's no shame in that.  In fact, when I see you huddling together for some semblance of warmth and comfort in -35 degree weather, trying to light your cigarette with a lighter that keeps going out because you're standing outside in a hailstorm/blizzard/hurricane, I can't help but admire your sense of community.  Good on you.

All kidding aside, I know smoking is an addiction and there's nothing funny about addiction.  But can you at least not make the world a worse place for it?  I think that you need to take a look at yourself and your behaviour before you start judging me for leaving syringes and crack pipes in playgrounds.

Have a great Monday commute!  I'm watching...

*Until they die horribly painful deaths, at which point they become lessons to our future children.  Cheery, yes?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pizza and a Movie Day: Part 36

Because I really like pie, that's why.

Pizza and a Movie Day fell on a Monday this year, so we decided to celebrate a little early and held it on Saturday.

Attending were our good friends Jason and Angela (who did not bring along the children, but did bring a dirth of amusing stories - and I'm looking at YOU Katie) as well as Scott and Mel (who did bring their child along, but it since said child is barely a vertebrate yet we were still able to watch a PG-13 movie).  

It turns out that after 36 years of doing this, we have gotten pizza ordering down to a science.  There was one slice and three sad little garlic fingers remaining after all was said and done.  Although, come to think of it, we may have estimated too well and forgot about having enough for blessed blessed leftovers.  

The movie was Edgar Wrights stunning presentation of post-post-modernism-early-hipster-pre-galactic-invasion-by-our-alien-overlords-(ALLHAILOURALIENOVERLORDS) and commentary on love, death, life and after-life in a technological age in which everything means something and nothing means anything, the spine tingling comedic opus "Scott Pilgrim Vs The World".  It should be noted that "The World" in this situation was more metaphorical than literal, which makes it different from his previous works "Shaun of the Dead" (in which Shaun was of the dead, but not dead himself) and "Hot Fuzz" (in which the fuzz was hot).

A good laugh was had by all.  I myself enjoyed a hearty chuckle during several moments during the film, which I am sure comes as a surprise to none of you.  Ha ha.

This wasn't the first time that I've seen SPvTW, but it was the first time that I've watched it on Blu Ray.  I bought it over a year ago, but I just never sat down to watch it.  It looked fantastic - way better than it did on DVD on our old TV (rest its soul).  5 stars, two thumbs and a dingo.  Why on earth did I wait so long to watch it again?  I must be getting old or something.

And so on the actual date of Pizza and a Movie Day, we had no pizza.  Instead, My Lovely Wife and I shared a delightful meal at Relish (it was my first time, it was good, I would recommend it for once in a while treats).  I had earlier decided that we would then go to the movies, but then we made the mistake of coming home after the meal.  

So here we are.  We've rented a movie on the PS3 and are just waiting for it to buffer enough to watch.  Then we're going to stuff ourselves with more popcorn and some nacho and go to bed.  All in all, a good time.

Thanks to everyone wishing me a Happy PaaMD!

And yes, I do see the irony in someone that dislikes the colour yellow so much about to devour a lemon meringue pie in a kitchen painted yellow.
I also have gigantic hands.
PS - the movie was the new Three Musketeers that came out last year.  It was not terrible.   Paul W S Anderson, please stick to zombies and aliens in the future.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Following Will Amaze and Delight

Okay, I've been gone for a while.  Guess what?  I'm going to be gone for a while longer.  I have a day job that has been making me a little bit tense at the moment.  No idea how long I'll be disappeared for this time... hopefully not long because I have Pizza and  Movie Day coming up!

This week, the following happened.

March 10, 2012 6:33 AM
It was a morning like any other morning in our home.  The CBC news gave me an idea of how bleak a place the world really is (due to the fact it meant I had to get up, more than the news itself). There were hungry cats that demanded food.  I checked for snow, found that it was still there where we had left it the previous night.  The hungry cats continued to demand food, so I poured them a scoop each of their favourite/only cat food.  They were satisfied, more or less.

I grabbed the industrial sized box of Mini-Wheats (we will probably pay off the Costco membership in Mini-Wheats alone) and poured myself a bowl.  I grabbed the milk from the fridge and was just about to pour it in when this happened.

What is that?!
I could hardly believe my eyes, so I took a closer look.

I zoomed in a little so it's kind of like you were there when I leaned in for a closer look.
I've gotten doubles before, and I'd heard rumours about them, but I had never experienced the QUADRUPLE MINI-WHEAT for myself!!!

Actual size.
I immediately showed it to My Lovely Wife who said "Ooo! You should take a picture!"  So I did, because I love my wife.  And also because I needed to make sure that our grandchildren will know about the awesome Mini-Wheat I once got.

It was delicious...SQUARED.

That was a few days ago.  I had (if you can believe it) almost forgotten about the events of that morning.  And then this evening at around 8:00, something else entirely happened!

March 15, 2012 around 8:00 PM-ish
My Lovely Wife had to get in a few hours of study for the course she's taking, so I retreated to the basement for a few hours of removing the tension of a long day at the office (by playing video games, geez, not EVERYTHING is about sex).  I played a little Batman Arkham Asylum (which, as it turns out, is still a great game), but after an hour of beating thugs up I felt it was time for the television to pander to me without my having to use the controller.  Because I'm that lazy, that's why.

The only thing better than watching an episode of Leverage on Netflix is watching Leverage on Netflix with a snack.  Off I went to the kitchen to fetch some fine potato chips and some dip.  Chips and dip securely in hand, I gave My Lovely Wife a kiss and returned to the couch for some brain numbing.

Like many people, I look at my potato chips before I eat them.  I check to see what sort of general shape it's in.  Is one side coated slightly more with salt and/or artificial flavouring than the other, and thus should be placed on the tongue to ensure maximum taste exposure?  Is it curled up on itself, and thus will grant a wish to whomever consumes it by stuffing the entire thing in their mouth all at once?  Does it have a shape that resembles the silhouette of a fair maiden or maybe naughty bits?  Is there a bug on it?  These are things that we all watch for.

And that's when this happened:

And to think that this little guy could have met his fate smeared in jalapeno dip.
Yes, I found a little guy in my chip.  He kind of looks heroic, so I have decided to call him Potato Chip Hero.

Actually, on second thought, he looks a little familiar.

I think I'm going to sell him on eBay.  There are totally people that would buy that on eBay.  I'd sell it on Kijiji, but I don't think I'd actually want to meet the person that feels they need to own this.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Windows Microsoft Support Calling

This story begins with the phone ringing.

I checked the caller ID and saw it was a New York area code.  There were three missed calls on the phone from earlier, all with unknown numbers.  The chances of someone calling us from New York are quite slim, but I answered it anyway.  It was ringing after all, and when I answer the phone when it isn't ringing My Lovely Wife gives me a look.

"Hello?"  It was a terrible connection, there was a huge amount of static.  "Hello?"  I said again.

"Hello, this is from Windows Microsoft Support..."

I immediately begin doing a little dance.  The caller has a very distinct accent.  Unfortunately, I can't place it other than to say it's an Asian accent, possibly Indian or Pakistani.

"Hi there!"  I can't contain my excitement.

"Yes, hello.  I am calling to let you know-"

"Does my computer have a virus?"  I jump in.  "Is it causing problems to the Internet?"

"Yes, sir, we need to make sure that-"

"Oh no!  I can't have problems with the Internet!"

"Yes, sir, so you have to-"

"Please, tell me, how do I give you control of my computer?!"

"Yes, this is very good.  You need to give me control so that I can-"

"How much will it cost me to get control of my computer back?"

"Well, that is the good news.  It is just $79.95 to-"

"That IS a GREAT DEAL!  I can't wait to pay it!"

"Yes sir-"

"But wait!  Do you accept credit cards?  Cheques?  Should I send you cash in the mail?"

"Fortunately, sir, we only accept credit cards-"

"Oh that is good news, good news indeed."


"Yes, I'm SO glad that you accept credit cards so I can pay you to get control of my own computer back from you!"

"So, sir... you are familiar with this?"

"Yes, I'm very familiar with this scam."

"Oh.  Are you in the same business?"

I can't help it, I laugh.

"No, I'm not in the same business, but I do know what you're doing.  I have to ask, how long have you been doing this?"

"How long I have done this?"

"Yes, I'm honestly really curious how long you've been at this."

"I have been doing this for two years."

"TWO YEARS?!  Wow!  Wow.  I can't believe that.  You've been doing this for two years.  I couldn't do that."

"Yes, I have been doing it for a long time."

"Have you caught anyone with this today?"

"You're the first today, sir."

I laugh again.

"So what are you doing now, sir?"

"We're just about to have something to eat."

"Oh, you have a family?"

"Yes, I have a family and we're about to have supper."

"Okay, sir, I will you go eat with your family.  Have a good day."

"You too!"