convention coverage


I confess I am an old guy and I remember watching as a youngster almost gavel to gavel coverage of US political conventions not the one hour per night disservice served up by the networks this year. I end up wondering if the punditry ever tire of their wisdom. I am. I read one interesting piece in The New Yorker in which the writer wondered if President Johnson would continue to be treated like a pariah over the Viet Nam War or if his breakthrough civil rights legislation would earn him the mention he deserves as the Democrats nominate Obama.  I guess I will tune in to find out.

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handy man comedy of errors


The back deck, I call it the back deck, the house is a lake front cottage so the back faces the road. Some people call that the front. I am not one of them. Anyway, the back deck needed a new coat of stain. It gets a lot of wear and tear, people, dog paws, snow shovel scrapings. that kind of thing, plus it catches the late afternoon and early evening sunlight and the sun is tough. I checked the garden shed, known locally as the little shack. I had assumed that there was a roller handle, rollers and an extension pole for the roller handle.Wrong. No handle. So off I head to the old hardware store in the local village for a $3.64 roller handle. Back to the back deck. I clear off the two chairs and table and the two recycling bins that live on it. I open the can of new stain and to my amazement I see stain the colour of coffee with cream.  Cedar. Oh my God. Its the wrong colour. The cottage and deck is a reddish stain. The switch in my head where my brain should be suddenly recalls that the shade of Rez stain we have been using for some 30 years is Redwood. Cedar is the colour of the shingles that we had put on the roof last fall. So I now know that I can only hold one colour name in my head at one time. Several words are uttered that young sailors should not hear. I close the lid on the stain and jump in the car and drive to Midland to Canadian Tire to return the wrong stain and to get the right stain. I achieve personal success.

back to computing with ubuntu


I got lazy for several months and ended up relying on my Vista-based PC for all my computing. But I decided to clear some clutter away and revive my number two PC, an old desktop now running ubuntu. It could use a new monitor to be truly effective for photo editing but for everything else, oh yeah, the sound card is dead, so internet radio is out of the question, but for the basics like word processing or reading the newspapers online it works pretty well.

I was thinking about me and newspapers recently. I was trying to remember the last time I bought a newspaper. Not more than four times in the last year. Yet I read parts of the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail eveyday online. I was thrilled when the Globe made itself freely available online again in the past year. I am a fan of Stepehn Brunt of the Globe Sports section. I also read part of the New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post. Years ago when I first started reading newspapers online I went to the Times of London, especially to their obituaries. But for some reason I stopped reading them. Back in the day when I used to buy a daily newspaper, it was either the Star or Globe and on weekends I would often go to the bookstore in my neighbourhood and pick up an airmail copy of the Sunday New York Times and devour the whole thing. Partly for the intellecutal work out as well as the physical training of hefting the massive thing. Some years back I spent two months in Houston, Texas, and never quite got accustomed to being able to buy the Sunday copy of the paper on Saturday afternoon but that was the way they did it down there. That made for some interesting time in the writing and reading of the verbs in the stories: just when was “today” and “yesterday”.  I like online newspaper reading but I still feel sometimes like I am missing out on the browsing possibilities of the old way of turning actual pages. I suspect that I spend less time reading the news and that over all I read less than I used to when I would plough through an entire newspaper.  Nowadasy the only time I read a newspaper in its paper form is at my local fast food restaurant where free complimentary copies are availale. I pick my fast food joint for my cheeseburger and fries based on taste, which newspaper is freely offered and whether iit has self serrve soft drinks so I can refill my soft drink cup on a hot day to keep my fluid level up while I lsowly browse the paper pages of “my” newspaper.

what’s it blog about


I recently stopped blogging on a volunteer basis for a local non-profi organization after 12 months of blog effort.  The organization didn’t seem  to realize the low cost (zero dollars) and net gain (more net exposure to features and events of the organization to prospective paying visitors to the place) but instead continued to give me the impression that my seeking information for the blog was an irritant to them. I kept dropping by every week or so to gathee information and always left feeling frustrated and like a PITA to them. Finally one day as I drove away it dawned on me that it would be much better for them and for me if I stopped. So after some 80 posts and about 12 static pages resulting in over 5,000 visits over 12 months, I have finished my blogging efforts for them. They may let it slowly settle under the web’s dust or may try to keep on posting.  It was a noble experiment, but I have finished my part. I learned how to post text and photos. Linked photos across from flickr. I took a short bit of video, posted that on youtube and linked it across to the blog. Trying to use the easily available new technology and the web capabilities to give them a competive advantage. Maybe one day they will come to realize that the time they “wasted” on feeding information to their volunteer was not wasted.

two movies I watched recently


I went from the sublime to the ridiculous recently when on two consecutive nights I watched Things We Lost in the Fire and then Mr. Woodcock.  First the sublime. Things We Lost in the Fire directed by Susanne Bier (note to self, check out any new movies of hers that come along immediately), with Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in the leads with David Duchovny in support. Duchovny is a good samariatan murdered and his widow in trying to move forward after his death draws close to his best friend, a lawyer fallen into heroin addiction, played brilliantly by Del Toro. Berry is also brilliant. I was reminded of the previous heights of her work such as the memorable Monsters’ Ball.  Duchovny is winsome and strikes just the right notes in support. The real revelation of soul and vulnerability is Del Toro.  It is a sublime movie.  Then like an idiot I ruined the effect by the very next night watching one of the worst movies ever made: Mr. Woodcock. I just hope Billy Bob Thornton is wisely investing his pay cheques. Because if he keeps making this kind of horse crap one note sour note comedy again and again his career in the movies will be over. It is hard to believe that he is the same man who did Swing Blade and Monsters’ Ball.  I even liked the Astronaut Farmer although it borderd on the nearly too simplistic.  BBT is a great artist and Mr. Woodcock is not great art. Its not even that funny.  How many million did it cost? It has Susan Sarandon and in a part too small by miles for her major talent, Melissa Leo.  The one person who made me laugh out loud was Melissa Sagemiller who I think is the actress who played the book tour wrangler. She had about four lines that made me laugh hard and true. I just wish the rest of the script had reached that not terribly dizzying height on the ladder of comedy. Please Billy Bob do something good next. just dont cash the cheque.

Tropic Thunder is terrific


Tropic Thunder is a funny, filthy film. Tom Cruise has begun his second career as a character actor. He is ferocious and ferociously funny. The fake movie trailers at the beginning of this epic are pretty fine. But what really tickled me were the deep heart felt comments about acting unleashed by Robert Downey as Lazarus, the blond Australian pigmentation treated to be an African American sergeant. The cinematic hat is tipped to great films like PLATOON, APOCALYPSE NOW, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (I think I am right about that one), FOREST GUMP, and on and on. My hero Nick Nolte is great in a supporting role. Jack Black made me cry I was laughing so hard. Ben Stiller is almost a genius. I hope this makes him filthy rich.