Category Archives: Saint John NB

911 and Fall

Exactly a week ago, it was the 10th anniversary of 9-11: it looks like the (re)construction at the former Ground Zero has made substantial progress. To be honest, I’ve never followed the progress on the 9/11 memorial (official site) but personally, I like the idea of the water falls. The last week, we had our share of remembrances and that: I wasn’t planning to elaborate on my personal thoughts. Here, have a link to the Archive’s excellent TV News archive (link).

We had our first frost warnings of the years, which means that most likely Fall will be short. One of our maple trees got really hit during the last storm (Irene). Strange enough: I believe we went thru the worst part of hurricane season. That is, the last hurricane I’ve heard of was Maria (CBC news) which only hit Newfoundland earlier this week.

And last but not least, a pet peeve. Now that I’m using a tablet (Android based) I noticed that a lot of companies have mobile variants of their websites: By default it’s these mobile variants that are shown. I find this irritating, particularly knowing that most of the mobile browsers have no problems showing a full website.

Irene

By now you have read about hurricane Irene: For a change it made landfall in the US and it’s expected to hit mainland Canada (via Quebec) later this night. Canada’s Weatheroffice has it’s expected path plotted on this page, where you can also see that they’ve started tracking hurricane Jose. Obviously, it’s tracking a more eastern path.

Irene is full-up mentioned in the news, particularly by US outlets, where the lower parts of several states are under flooding watch: the main gist is that it could have been worse: the current death count stands at 19. The expectation is that the situation here in Canada will be less severe: In NB, NB Power currently reports at or around 10,000.

Around here I’ve only noticed the casual strong/torrential rains. Additionally, the humidity has gone up, which is generally another sign of a tropical storm passing by. I don’t expect the power to go off, but hey, hurricanes are unpredictable: stay inside and most important of all, have a good sleep.

Update: Pretty images from the Space station (link)

Aug 30th, 2011: Aftermath in Canada (CBC)

Hibuscus and other tales

We bought a hibiscus (Wikipedia) the other day at the local Sobeys. They had them in assorted colours, but we opted to go for red. Again. We used to have one before when we were living in Nova Scotia and let me tell you: this is the only houseplant I’ve ever known that is so picky that you want to yell at it. However, for some reason, that makes us more persistent to get the one we bought growing as it is supposed to be. Mind the dead leaves and flowers it dropped on the carpet. Yes, I almost forgot it does that too.

I’ve slowly picked up the ‘Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’ (Wikipedia): I’ve read these before when I was a young kid and just 5 years ago, I bought the first 3 books of the series. However, SF chronicles tire me out. Not as much as George W. Bush’s “Decision Point”, tho.

Now that I got an Android Tablet (earlier), I find I spend my time more using the Tablet than my Windows PC. Interestingly, this has also resulted in me using my Linux laptop more than usual: this laptop now functions as a buffer between the Tablet and my multimedia collection (books, video and audio files). On the Tablet I use ‘ES Explorer’ (marketplace) to copy files forth and back (via SAMBA, no less). I managed to get the Tablet connected to the Linux laptop also, via the direct/USB cable: However, WIFI is so easy.

Flora and fauna

If I eliminated statistical weather data, I would say that this year’s weather is going to beat all records. First we had too much snow. When March came, we slowly went to wet weather. Which is about the same weather we have right now, and it’s the end of June. Not that it’s cold: it just appears that it has been raining now every weekend. Obviously, this is good for the grass and the weeds. As for the birds and other animals: besides the groundhog around the property, I highly doubt they love this weather.

I read that Canadian geese are not welcome in some parts of Canada. The NB town of Nackawic (Google maps) has applied for permits to cull some of these birds. According to CBC, there’s even a Facebook page dedicated to these geese. Apparently.

One of the first things that came to my mind when I came to SJ was that it was an ‘artsy city’. On top of that, I thought there were too many derelict buildings around. Take for example the former Kings Square Cinema theatre: It must have been empty for ages now. Last year, it looked like someone was doing some construction to the front and facade, but, today, the building looks like it needs to be demolished. Hopefully that will be soon.

Predictions

Now that we know the Rapture has been delayed to September (previously at xsamplex), we nw have a couple of months to make sure that things are running as smooth as they used to be. Like make US Politics the laughing stock around the world: to be honest, I laughed when I heard Thatcher snubbed ms. Palin. Reportedly one of her aides said the following:

Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts.

You wouldn’t say so?

Earlier this month, Saint John’s Sea Dogs won the (Junior) Memorial Cup, which is a kinda big deal in Canada. The city organized a parade for the winning team, from Kings Square right down to Market Square. I was there also, shooting pictures (my set). I’m not a fan of hockey or something: I was surprised to see a lot of people lining up to catch a glimp of the hockey team. Only in Canada these kind of events go by without any incident, that is, unless you’re talking about those funny blue guys running down the street before the parade started.

As you’ve noticed, I’ve not been writing much the last couple of weeks: this is mainly due to the obligations around the house (yes, it’s fairly sunny these days). Additionally, I found out that I prefer to browse around on my tablet, which is unfortunately less keyboard-inclined than the laptops that are laying around. On the good side, soon it will be time to write a review of this tablet. Soon-ish.

SJ, Internet

I think we just survived the worst two weeks of May, ever: it had been raining for so long, that everybody and their cats were either longing for sun or snow. It’s bad when you get hit with a lot of snow, but rain? Come… on. It may then also not surprise you that the NOAA is suggesting that this year is going to be a busy hurricane season:

It said that three to six of the forecast hurricanes are expected to be major, meaning a minimum Category 3 hurricane with wind speeds of at least 178 kilometres an hour.

The actual link to NOAA is right here. Thanks to the CBC for providing actual external links in a side column.

This Saturday (the 21st), it’s going to be Judgement Day. According to Family Radio, the Rapture will start at 6PM ET (NYT link). I don’t know what to think of that. Actually, I know what to think of this: It’s amazing that it takes a lot more scientists to formulate a Theory (peer-reviewed at that) and it only takes one guy, Harold Camping, to accurately pinpoint the day and time of the apocalypse. Since nothing will happen, Saturday, I’m curious what the excuse will be. Tip: blame 64-bit computing.

Last but not least, I found this on Metafilter (link): “Arc of Life and Love”, about love, life and cancer. The video is, well, heart-rendering. Keep your Kleenex handy.

March. Break.

Today, we finally hit +7 degrees Celsius temperatures and, with that, obviously, rain. I happened to look outside a couple of times and I noticed that the ground is finally getting bare, that is at spots were we shoveled. This was a pretty bad Winter, actually one of the worst I’ve seen in my Canadian life: 2 storms in December (total of 54 cms), 3 in January (total of 64 cms), 4 in February (total of 97cms) (the stats, starting with January, are here).

Four or five weeks, I bet with someone that Winter was over: I lost of course and I got beaten up because of that. Today, I believe that this is the end of this dreaded Winter. I guess, the only part to be done is break up the snow and restore the damage that was done to our pretty gravel driveway.

On the other hand, someone said that the Almanac claimed that Winter was going to keep going on until April: if that’s the case, I plan to dig out my weather altering machine. Really. I got one in my shed.

Old. Very old.

A couple of years ago, we were staying right in town for a couple of months: For our groceries we drove to the Sobey’s at McAllister’s. We always took our dog with us, which meant that one of us went inside the store and the other hung around with our 17 year old dog.

On one Saturday morning it was my turn to stay behind and I decided to sit down on the sidewalk. Suddenly, we were approached by a young fellow, who carefully and gently approached the dog, let her sniff his hand. He looked at me and then said that ‘he loved dogs’ and that he could tell right off the bat that this dog was extremely old. I told him he was close and that she was almost 17 or so, as we were never really sure if she was 16 or 18. Upon my question, how he could tell she was old, he said of her ‘composure’ (shoulders down) and her lack of interest of anything happening around. After a brief chit-chat, the youngster patted our dog for one last time, waved and walked away.

I only mention this story as the situation was a sort of surreal: me and the dog, relaxing on the sidewalk and an (obvious) dog-loving person paying his respects to our dog. You don’t see that all too often.

SAW

I‘ve played a bunch of on-line games, and while I was impressed with all of them, they always end up tiring out because the maps are too limited, your fellow players are too retarded, the enemies are too predictable or the AI is just outnumbering you. I’ve been picking up on ARMA2 multi-player, once again after a long intermission, and it’s like I’ve never left: the coop missions are still there and the community itself, from newbies to veterans, is always as helpful as ever in getting you through the mission. And as usual, the thrill to make it through after a carefully planned approach at the AO (definition) is… a good feeling: that is without feeling guilty that you hit your targets with an M249 SAW. It’s still a video game after all: a good one at that.

For example, earlier today, I parachuted in, joined up with a sniper team and advanced towards a small town. Everybody wants to be a sniper: for most people this means that they can hang far away from combat and get their ‘kill-list’ up. This works for most FPS, but not for ARMA2: if the AI gets hammered it will try to flank you or hit you back with superior suppressing fire. As I by experience knew what was going to happen, I positioned myself on the left flank and ended up with multiple run-ins with AI. Eventually someone hollered “What the hell is going on there”, I could only answer “Left flank uh clear, now”.

I do find that playing with more than 20 people online causes more confusion: that is, there are more friendly fires than normal because everybody is jittery and nervous when it’s time to do mop-ups or patrols. The only way to get around that is to team up with somebody or have someone team up with you: this happens fairly automatic though. You’ll thank your buddy for dragging you out of the line of fire and bandaging you if you get hit.

1 Youtube COOP Domination Multi-player.
2 Sample video how hectic it can be at times (foul language ahead)

Data.

I woke up early with the thought of cleaning up and organizing this bunch of backup-CDs I’ve never touched since years. While I was tagging them one by one, I remembered this tool someone wrote for the MSX computer to archive and inventorize (that’s not a legitimate word) 3.5 inch disks (or ‘diskettes’ as we called them then). That would be a fun hobby project, if it wasn’t for time.

The net-result was that I didn’t find the data I was looking for: a huge archive of all my mails pre-2004, which I’m 100% certain were in some kind of Eudora archive. So, funny enough, I’ve got all my pre- and post 2003 sources (well, not all of them) but e-mails? Nope: it’s like that all my mail of the period between 2000 to 2003 disappeared in a black hole.

What I did find was interesting no-less: copies of Debian Sid, Woody and Sarge (god, I loved Sarge), old family photos from the time my mother-in-law was still alive, dad’s photos when he was over here, photos of a bunch of KDE hackers (apparently not mine), sources to a Delphi library to write and read BIFF files and recipes. Oh, and that copy of Wing Commander (the movie) that somehow made it onto one of my harddrives.

Mission not so accomplished. I think.

From bridge to evolution

A bunch of links, collected from the Internet:

The prime-minister was in Saint John last Friday and gave away a freebie for the people of Saint John: The toll booths on the Saint John Harbour bridge will disappear. I’m not sure how much traffic hits that bridge (and the Harbour bridge authority’s website doesn’t really reveal a lot either), but apparently it has never been self-sustaining. I believe the fare is 50 cents, which when I heard the first time of this toll, I thought was really low.

You’ve probably heard that the TSA (the American organization that is responsible for the safety at airports) has changed safety rules, by enforcing pat-downs and using backspatter X-Ray machines (wikipedia). The use of those X-Ray machines is (still) controversial because of privacy concerns (MSNBC article with a proud ms. Hallowell showing off, well, her gun so to say. The lady’s photo is also used in ACLU’s campaign against this device). Anyway, Metafilter had a posting about the TSA apparently going amuck out of revenge against a traveller who dared to ask for an alternative screening of her breast milk because she’s afraid that X-rays might be harmful. Regardless if it’s harmful or not, what is exactly the point of X-Raying breast milk? And, yeah, what does the president think of this?

With Winter right around the corner and the snow already on the ground, please take a moment to read the drawbacks of our species’ evolution (link to Smithsonian) into standing hominids: backaches, hernias (that is a wikipedia link) and yeah, a 50-50 chance of choking because:

Simultaneously, our upright posture put the trachea and esophagus in a near-vertical orientation. Together these changes leave falling food or water about a 50-50 chance of falling in the “wrong tube.” As a consequence, in those moments in which the epiglottis does not have time to cover the trachea, we choke. We might be said to choke on our success. Monkeys suffer the same fate only rarely, but then again they can’t sing or dance.

So if you were watching Bristol Palin on ‘Dancing with the stars’ and you enjoy watching hominids dance: the combination of dancing and eating can be fairly dangerous.

Fall. This.

We’ve finally had a 2 day nice weather stretch: Last week, we had so much rain (and for 5 days straight) that it didn’t surprise me that roads downtown flooded. I have no idea if this was a tropical storm or a combination of depressions swinging by the Maritimes. Not fun, particularly if you have to walk through it.

Three or four years ago, I bought the game Stalker (briefly mentioned here when I reviewed FarCry2): For some reason, I stopped playing the game. I recently re-acquired it and started it just a couple of days ago. I still stand by the opinion about the game (review coming up, some day, I think), however, I’m surprised how everything in the game looked so familiar. I got fairly far, so to say. This time, I’ll be taking my time.

I hate to bring TV commercials up on this blog, but SportChek’s latest commercials are hilarious, particularly the one with the lady, the son and the Chinese guy with the grease barrel can: a variant of that commercial can be found here. This is not the ‘crazy awesome’ version but it’s still absurd and funny.

Dec 4th, 2010: The “Crazy Awesome” commercial that I mentioned above is right on YouTube. Thanks SportChek.

It’s a plane…

It’s a plane, it’s a bird, no, it’s a new Canadian citizen.

So on October 20th of 2010 (20-10-2010, which is a highly remarkable set of numbers if I might say so), I became a Canadian citizen after having been living here now for 10 years. To celebrate that, I was featured on the CBC as well, a story you’ll find around here. Pay attention fooks because now you’ll finally discover what real Dutch people look like. Oh, wait, I already revealed that on the right here…

The event in Saint John was officially hosted by the CBC and despite the fact that it was a fairly underexposed event, it was attended by heavy-weights like the mayor of Saint John, Ivan Court (who had an excellent straight-forward speech about the economical value of immigrants), NB’s own Harry Forestell and an RCMP constable in full ceremonial dress. There were a host of other media people present, I saw the people from the regional newspaper around (I missed an opportunity to make a photo of one of the photographers). But mostly, this was about the immigrants who became Canadians: there were 62 of us from the different continents and countries.

As a new Canadian to fellow Canadians, stop drinking that Molson and drink real beer like, uh, Moosehead or something. Additionally, from now on, I won’t call your favourite sport ‘ice-hockey’ but just ‘hockey’.