Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Are What We Do

I was pointed in the direction of a great site today: We Are What We Do. It is a simple way of reminding people that all of the little things that we can do every day will make the world a better place. (Here's my public action list if you're interested.)

The key thing here is the word 'better'. Far too many people find themselves paralyzed by the enormity of the task of making the world 'perfect'...lower your standards, and things actually get done!

And that is the lovely, simple premise of the book The Better World Handbook (already in its second edition!). I had the great honour of being involved in a wacky one-day festival in Vancouver a few years ago that was celebrating this book.

Now the word is getting around, and people are happily lowering their expectations to better the world.

What did you do today?


Thursday, July 24, 2008

What defines Canada?

According to an enormous poll of Canadians (conducted by Ipsos-Reid), the top five things that define Canada are:

  1. Maple Leaf
  2. Vimy Ridge
  3. Canadian Flag
  4. Queen Elizabeth
  5. Hockey

And the list goes on to outline the 101 things that we thought encapsulated our fair country.

What do you think?


Saturday, July 19, 2008

How the Music Turns

Well, my Zune arrived. Cute little thing. And they sent along some extras -- the adaptor (to be able to charge it up when not near a computer) and ultra-snazzy headphones. I will play it with the headphones that com mit, to be able to comment on them.

Disclaimer: If you're just stopping by for the first time, you may want to read this post. It's some background of why I have this cute little Zune to play with.)

I am not having the problems that Raincoaster is having. She's trapped by technological issues, poor thing. The Zune needs at least Windows XP, with a minimum of Service Pack 2 installed. That second point took me a while to get myself.

So, besides it being cute, what are my first impressions?

I like the interface. Big, clear, intuitive. (Take a look at's review with video showing the interface.)

It annoyed me that I had to get all the updates for my Windows XP. Okay, yes, maybe I should have been on top of that, but still...

I was worried about the implications of the file sharing capabilities this thing supposedly has. You and your friend could be hanging out in a coffee shop, and using the wireless connection, you could throw a song at your friend: "Here, try this one!" Neat...and no, not stealing files. You can listen to a song received that way 3 times before it deletes itself (or something), but it will remind you to look that song up later (when hooked up to the Internet where you can buy it, of course.).

I also like that when you're playing one song, you can navigate all over the thing, browsing your songs, videos, podcasts...but it won't interrupt the song, until you hit play on something else.

More later.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Goodbye Oliver...I barely knew you!

I just got an email today from Metro's sister...linking me to an article in the Toronto Star about the sudden death of Oliver Schroer -- Canadian composer and violinist.

I first experienced his music on an Easter Sunday CBC special called "Churchgoing" (no where near as religious as it sounded...included readings and a Monty Python sketch!). Metro and I were driving and suddenly this song came on:

Schroer had actually done the Camino de Santiago through France and Spain:
He had just released his CD, Camino, to critical and audience raves. Camino was recorded over two months in 2004 as he and two friends walked the Camino de Santiago, an ancient trail that wanders across France and Spain. Schroer stopped in churches along the way to play his violin.

(Hmm...the Camino is a pilgrimage, not merely a trail. Silly newspaper!)

The music recorded along the way, with rudimentary equipment that he and his friends carried for 1,000 kilometers, was soaring -- violin pieces played in old cathedrals along the way. It appealed to me also as an architecture buff, as you can almost hear the expanse of vaulted ceilings in this music. I immediately went out and bought the CD, and it is now one of my favourites, that I force friends to listen to all the time.

But in the end, succumbing to leukemia at 52, it will be his attitude that stands out:

His acceptance of his imminent death comes from how he has lived.

"As an artist, I found my own unique voice and have been able to publicly express that voice. I've gotten to collaborate with different wonderful musicians. What more does an artist want?

"I'm one of the burning-bright guys who fire it all up and then go down in flames."

May we all have this acceptance when our time comes.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

LOL + Graphs + Geekdom

I can't believe that I've not run into this before...LOLGraphs at GraphJam. I guess I was too wrapped up in the feline version...

So, thanks to the Nag for expanding my horizons.

Here's one for all you geeks out there:

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How many can you name?

So, how many countries can you name in 5 minutes?

I got 52 out of 195...27%

5 minutes passes fast when you're trying to type, and remember how to spell Uzbekistan.

How 'bout you? (No cheating now...tell us the results from your first try!)


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Saga Continues...

The Search for the Perfect Digital Music Player takes a new step today...

Last week, Raincoaster posted "The Swag Report", and sent me an email pointing out how I should give this a shot: fill out a brief online survey at then wait to see if you fit their profile. If so, they'll send you a Zune mp3 player to try out. I guess I fit their profile...

Since I got the call today, so soon after Canada Day, I feel I should mention that this is a promotion for the Canadian launch, so only Canadians need apply (not USians).

"What's the catch?" I can hear my loyal readers saying...Ah yes, there's always a catch. The idea is that when I receive this thing, try it out, and (hopefully, on their part) like it, I will chat it up with friends and acquaintances. And, as I clarified with the man I spoke to today, if I have problems with it, that I give them honest feedback.

It's always a danger giving stuff to bloggers -- you've got to be mighty confident of your product, and ready to stand back and let them review or not review as they see fit, as the audience will always know a sell-out. But I have absolutely no problem being honest in my praise or criticism.

I've had quite a time in my quest for the perfect digital audio player...
  • I started off with a something-or-other provided by when I signed up (about 3 years ago now?)
  • I bought Metro a Samsung Yepp, which at the time was pretty high-end. He still has it and uses it happily, even though it's got the memory for 1 album's worth of music. Long lasting thing. I don't know what their new products are like, but I'll link to the site -- his has lasted since the spring of '03!)
  • I then bought the ill-fated piece of junk, the Rio Forge (Here's Metro's blog post about our trials and tribulations with that one!)
  • Then we received a video iPod (no link, too much press for that damned company already!), which had awful battery life, so I returned it for store credit. I then did my research and came up with the Archos Gmini -- a thing of beauty, albeit a little bulky. That full story is on my blog, here and here.
So now, the quest continues. I'll keep you all posted as to what I find. And in the meantime, check out the survey, maybe you'll qualify as well. Then we can try out the wi-fi file sharing between units.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A bit of re-organization

Well, I tried out Blogger's new Blog List, with updates...And Mad, I'm sorry, but it wouldn't accept your URL. I'm not sure why that is, but please don't take it as a slight! (Probably 'cause you're using neither Blogger nor Wordpress.).

So, I added another link list, "More Great Blogs". Plus I've updated my Fave Links with some nice, random stuff. I'll keep adding to it. Oh, and there's a slide show of my Flikr photos.



"If Men...."

Remember the quote "if men bled, tampons would be free?" (variously attributed to Erica Jong, Jello Biafra (WTF?), among others...)

How 'bout a variation: If men wore bras, they'd come with little repair kits.

Yesterday, I picked up one of my bras and almost put it on...stopped, because I knew this one had a broken underwire. (Girls, we've all been there, haven't we?) I said, "Oh, I can't wear this one, it's broken."

Metro reaches out for it, saying "What's the warranty like on these things?"

You know, he may have something there.