Archive for April, 2010

Stephen Hawking agrees that aliens won’t be friendly

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , , on April 26, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Remember Simon Conway Morris?  He was the guy who warned of the potential threat that extra-terrestrials could pose to our planet.  Well apparently he’s been backed up by British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. The CBC is reporting today that Hawking warns about the dangers of communicating with aliens in an up-coming Discovery Channel documentary.  This is essentially the same warning that Morris gave at a conference of the Royal Society in London back in January.

It must be quite an ego boost for Morris – it’s not every day that a legendary genius agrees with your theories.

I, on the other hand, still think that even the arrival of peaceful aliens would be devastating for the human race. We don’t take well to outsiders.

Our fair city

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I really like Ottawa. For all the complaining I do about city leadership decisions, and as much as I miss the overwhelming power of ‘real‘ big cities, I’m still glad that I ended up here.

I spent some time sitting by, and wandering around, Dow’s Lake today. My plan was to just relax with some music, a book, and enjoy the distraction of runners, walkers and rollers.  As it turned out, I didn’t get any reading done at all.  As soon as I found a bench and sat down, I noticed the gently rolling water, the immaculate shoreline, the birds, the trees, the sun giving the lake an electric sparkle, and all the people enjoying one last day in the sun before returning to five days of office life. I forgot all about my book and spent my time taking wholly inadequate pictures with my phone. (You can see the rest on my Facebook profile.)

Other cities have other rivers, other canals, other lakes – but none of them are like ours. Ottawa’s outdoor life is distinctly Ottawa; it’s conservative, subdued, and definitely understated. It doesn’t have extremes of height, flatness, or vastness. But if you stop for a moment and really let it surround you, it can be as beautiful as any part of Canada.

Oh, and just as buggy too.

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Kick her for a dollar?

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , on April 25, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

It was so nice out yesterday and I didn’t have anything to do, so I walked around the Market for a while. It’s an interesting place if you go at the right time.  Walking around most of downtown Ottawa is pretty dull – especially if you go outside of core business hours.  But if you stick to places with food, booze, or both (ie. the Market) you usually come across at least a few strange things.

Among the sights this weekend was a girl holding a sign inviting people to pay $1 for the privilege of kicking her. Ya. Generally, I am against random or unnecessary violence (and are there really any other kinds?), but I really wanted to kick this girl. My feeling is that anyone willing to make such an invitation definitely deserves to get kicked – at least once. You know, as a learning tool.

Sadly, I had no cash. The universe is so cruel.

Another strange sight: a busker covering Billy Joel. Now, normally a busker performing someone else’s song isn’t that notable.  But this particular busker was playing Piano Man … wait for it… on a guitar! And I don’t think he was aware of the irony at all.

To cap off my stroll, I passed through that really scuzzy section of Rideau St. where people waiting for buses mingle with the homeless.  The city has been piping annoying music into this area for as long as I have lived in Ottawa.  I guess the thought is that the music will stop “undesirables” from loitering. Did I mention that this area has a major bus stop – where people wait for perpetually late buses? Anyway, this part of the rant isn’t about the location – it’s about the music that was playing when I walked through.  I’ll admit that he isn’t exactly my style, but when did Tom Waits start being used to deter loitering? The guy is a legend. Apparently his work is now right up there with classical music in its ability to make people want to leave.

Oh Byward Market, you boggle my mind. Next time, I’m sticking to Elgin St.

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Posted in Finds, Movies, sex, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I don’t usually care much for the so-called “erotic thriller”.  I find that most attempts to combine these two very different types  of imagery tend to be slow and disjointed. Even when the “thrilling” scenes are done right they seem so far removed from the eroticism, and the two themes end up being noticeably separated by dull, though certainly artful, pauses.

That being said, I saw Chloe today.

ChloeI’d like to say that I was drawn to the film simply because of the mixed reviews. In fact, I do tend to seek out films that cause noticeable critical disagreement – there’s just something uninspiring about seeing a movie that everyone agrees is good.

But in this case, truly, I was just curious about the love scene between Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore. There, I said it. Let’s move on.

Over all, the film was enjoyable. Yes, of course the eroticism was definitely effective, but it was actually the tension between Seyfried and Moore that really won me over. Their characters spend quite a bit of the film in awkward conversation, and that awkwardness is palpable.

My only real complaint is that you see the “big twist” coming a mile away. But in the end, being able to predict the tragic mistake doesn’t  detract from its impact at all.

Bottom line: this one is definitely worth seeing.

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This one’s fluff, but I was in the mood

Posted in Random, Thoughts with tags , , , on April 19, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I had a great day today. I know, it’s Monday – you’re not supposed to like Monday. But I really did have a great day. Of course, it probably had a lot to do with not having to work.

There’s something about having a single weekday off – without any specific plans – that just feels great. Maybe it is as simple as seeing everyone else hurrying to or from work?

It’s almost like Saturday and Sunday are nothing special, taken for granted, because I always have those off. But a free weekday is different, even if I have to pay for it with a Sunday.

All I know is: I had a great day.

Does OC Transpo hate people who work on Sundays?

Posted in Aggravations, Thoughts with tags , , , , on April 18, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Oh OC Transpo, you got me again…

And really it’s my own fault for not checking the schedule before I left this morning.  But who would have thought that the first O-Train trip of the morning would be more than an hour later on Sunday than it is on Saturday?

Not me.

© S.E. Amesse 2009

You know what difference that hour makes?  It means that there’s no point in even waiting for the train at all, because I can walk the distance in about 40 minutes.

So I walked today.  Which would have been fine if I had known ahead of time that I was going to be walking – but I didn’t.

If only I had one of those fabled downtown-Monday-to-Friday-9-to-5 jobs that our city’s transit system was designed for.

This post is super-awesome

Posted in Finds, Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner
This post is super-awesome

"This post is super-awesome" option.

There seems to be a new option under the Publish section of’s Add New Post screen. The check box says, “This post is super-awesome”.

It’s possible that the option has been there for some time – I’m really not that observant.  But I think that it actually has to do with the new “Surprise me (Fun mode)” option that I found in my Personal Settings this morning.

I still have no idea what checking this box does – but I’m checking it anyway!

People are so clever! And vicious!

Posted in Finds, Thoughts with tags , , , on April 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

I learned a new word today: Ransomware.

Apparently there is a new scam going around in Japan. A file that is supposed to contain a pornographic video game is in fact a program that scans a victim’s computer, collects personal details, and then send the victim an email demanding cash. The threat is that if the victim doesn’t come up with the payment, the makers of the program will tell everyone that the victim had purchased the porn game in the first place.

This is only the latest tactic that ransomware creators have employed.  Others include mining filesharing services with a virus that changes the user’s background to the FBI logo and then requests that the victim use a credit card to pay a fine – a fine that clearly does not go back to the FBI, but does give the attacker all of the victim’s credit card information.

An even simpler form of ransomware visibly infects a computer and then prompts the victim to purchase “anti-virus software” to remove it – and of course the antivirus software is bogus.

People really are so clever.  I bet that if we could get people to take even a quarter of the effort they put into scamming each other and put it towards helping each other instead, we probably wouldn’t have anyone homeless or hungry.

Culinary rules

Posted in Rules, Thoughts with tags , , on April 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Never eat Cheetos before 9am.  Not even the crunchy kind.

Addendum: If ever in China, do not eat the turkey flavoured Cheetos, regardless of time of day.

Will they fit?

Posted in Random, Thoughts with tags , , , , on April 17, 2010 by Mitch Leuraner

Last week I had the opportunity to use a Clearly Contacts discount code that essentially gave me a full set of glasses for “free”. (I had to pay taxes and shipping.)  While this was my first attempt at purchasing glasses online, I actually began buying contact lenses online some time ago.

With contact lenses, I realized that in addition to the fact that there is a significant cost savings, buying online also meant that I could continue to use a prescription that’s more than a few years old. My prescription hasn’t changed in years, but normally the sales people at places like LensCrafters and Hakim Optical will refuse to accept an outdated prescription. They insist that you get your eyes examined, and conveniently there is always an optometrist office right next door.  It doesn’t matter that your current prescription works great.

But online retailers are apparently less picky. I always stick to Canadian companies, mostly for the assurance that the quality of the product will be decent, but also because I know they are legitimate.

The trouble is, this doesn’t really work for glasses.  If you are anything like me, you will spend literally hours going in and out of glasses stores looking for the right pair.  It’s hard picking glasses – they need to be the right shape, the right colour, the right size. And just because a pair looks good in your hand, doesn’t mean it will look good on your face.

So how do you choose a new pair of glasses when all you can do is read the description on a website?  I don’t really have an answer, but the Clearly Contacts discount code gave me a chance to try anyway.

Joseph Marc 4007 In the end, I decided on the Joseph Marc 4007.  They’re really not my usual style, which is generally limited to dark metal frames, but I figured that since I was only buying them because they were “free” I might as well try something new. Besides, even if I look silly in them I can always use a “sittin’ ’round the house” pair – so long as they physically fit on my face.

How did I decide on these? Well, I looked at the picture… I have no idea what they will look like on my face, or even if my choice of size “medium” was appropriate.

But what I do know is that for $12 – that’s what the taxes and shipping came to –  it was worth taking the chance. Now I’m just waiting for them to arrive in the mail.  I’ll give an update once I’ve had the chance to try them out.

Update: They came, and they are awesome.  Officially my favourite pair of glasses!