Thursday 28 March 2013

Working in Montréal today --Bovine bedlam

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.

In April of 1897 Alexander Hamilton, no not the Alexander Hamilton, founding father of the U.S. and first Secretary of the Treasury but rather Kansas rancher and Liars Club member Alex 'Pants on Fire' Hamilton, told a tale of how he and his son and his hired hand had witnessed a young cow being abducted by a strange cigar shaped flying craft occupied by six of 'the strangest beings I ever saw".

His account of this bovine bedlam was reported in the Kansas newspaper, the Yates Center Farmer's Advocate and was accompanied by affidavits of a dozen well respected members of the community attesting to Hamilton's character and truthfulness.  The calf caper coverage was picked up by newspapers across the U.S. and Europe.  Interesting, the local Liars Club disbanded shortly after the story was published, I guess Hamilton raised the bar so high that none saw the point of even trying.

What wasn't revealed in the story was if the cow ever reappeared or if the other cattle shunned it as that weird cow that keeps telling the others that he was abducted and probed.  Has anyone tried to question such abductees under hypnosis?

Have a good day, if anything strange happens blame the aliens.

Yeah, I know it is kind of thin today, but I was having trouble finding any inspiration.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Working in Ottawa today --Dystopian future

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

Predicting the future for the purposes of making movies is tough to do.

I recently watch Rollerball for the umpteenth time, James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams.  Roller-skates, motorcycles, a steel ball that can crush a man's skull all wrapped up in what looks like roller derby with corporate sponsorship that is part of a larger plan to demonstrate both the futility of individuality and resistance to the will of the corporation.  Has Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D minor as the theme song (why pay a composer when there are some many dead ones to choose from?) 1975.

In the 70's when I first watched it, I thought, hey --cool computers, of course at that time I was rubbing two sticks together with the likes of a Timex Sinclair or a TRS80 Model 1 (I still have one, still works!) and then in the early 80's a VIC20!  These guys had a wall of IBMs and an inner room of what looked like a large Sperry Rand Univac 9400 system, and then yet a more inner room with a liquid core computer named ZERO that looked more like a beer chiller.

Unfortunately, the inner computer could only spit out mindless drivel and reportedly misplaced the entire 13th century.  "Corporate decisions are made by corporate executives, corporate executives make corporate decisions."  Yeah, thanks for that remarkable insight wrapped up in a tautology.

Sidebar here, I don't want to get into a large debate about the relative strength of the positions in the 1971-1973 Honeywell vs Sperry Rand case aka the ENIAC patent dispute and the whole question of derivation from John Atanasoff's Atanasoff-Berry Computer, and yeah, the ABC employed binary adder circuits to compute logically where as the ENIAC employed decimal ring counters to compute enumeratively, but the bottom line is that Sperry Rand filed their patent late.  The ENIAC had already been released to the public. Case closed bitches.

And we are back.. All in all, a modernist view the descent into nihilism with life having no objective meaning, intrinsic value or purpose.  Or a nice conflict of one man against a world hell bent on snuffing his individualism.  Either way, Yay!

The thing about many of these doom and gloom movies of some future dystopian society is that the appliances all seem to work, and work well.  Why is that?  The house that James Caan's character had ..  Jonathan, yeah, that's it .. All the shit worked!  TV, fridge, stuff that rose up out of other furniture and appliances, all cool and working.

This morning I wandered downstairs to get a cup of coffee.  The light was not on.  Friends.. our coffee pot has a magic red light that when on means coffee.

So I figured, Sharlene merely forgot to set the delayed on timer.  So checking if she put in water and coffee, I realize that the machine was hot.  But no red light.  What did this mean?

I lifted the coffee grounds basket, there was hot coffee in the tank, another good sign.  But no red light.  I grabbed a cup and placed under the dispenser nozzle and pressed in.   An eerie silence and delay, but then.. a stream of coffee.  YAY, no red light but we have coffee.  And then I did a bad thing.  I really wanted a red light, so I pushed the 'on' button.  The red light came on.

I settled back into my usual morning routine, but then after perhaps 5 minutes.. the coffee machine from Hell emitted a loud and very high pitched beeeeeep beeeeep beeeeep.  'O'? I asked myself.  (yes, dash dash dash is an O in Morse code).  But why would the CMH issue a plaintive O?

I walked back into the kitchen to investigate this articulating appliance and it merely sat there with its red light on, and although it has a LCD screen to communicate with its nihilist masters, no additional information was available.

Deciding that the was a one off complaint about my out of sequence button pressing I once again resumed my morning routine.  And then it cried out again.  And again. And again.  I saw no option available to me.  I turned it off and dumped out my cup of coffee.

Have a good day, beware the rise of the machines.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Working in Montréal today --Vein up

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.

Pssst, hey buddy, wanna sell me your blood?  Nope, there is not too many ways of dressing up that question so that it doesn't sound unsavoury.

In the 1979 Carl Reiner film, The Jerk, Steve Martin's character Navin explains to his family in a letter that he had been down and out and had been raising money to eat by selling his blood several times a week.  But when he had cut himself shaving and only a hiss of air came out he decided that he should stop the practice.

Yeah, a bit unsavoury.

Yet..  A company, Canadian Plasma Resources, is seeking licence for two pumping stations, I mean clinics, one in Toronto (next door to the Scott Mission) and one in Hamilton.  If licenced, these exsanguination stations (clever eh? how about hypovolemia havens?) will lure in the indigent, the downtrodden, the hungry, the poor and siphon off their blood for a double sawbuck.

Currently in Canada the act of donating blood is a civic duty performed by members of our society that respond to a personal generosity.  The donation is performed freely, without compensation except for perhaps a glass of orange juice or water.

As a result, Canada's blood supply is of very high quality.  This as compared to the U.S. which pays for blood and therefore has established that the act of blood donation is not an act of community responsibility and charity, but a way to earn enough for cardboard box of red wine.

But you know, it's even worse than that.  It sets the poor and downtrodden to a particular low rung of our society, that of resource to be used up, consumed by the rest of us.

If blood is fine to purchased from the less fortunate that hang out at the Scott Mission, what about a kidney or some bone or ligament material?  You know I am having trouble with a ligament in my right wrist, how much ligament could I buy for a Mack King?

Incidentally, well not really Incidentally, since this has everything to do with the inequality of this, is that blood whether as plasma only or with the red blood cells, is fairly easy for a healthy person to make, but as the health and nutritional level of a sample person falls, blood production can be more taxing.

That crumpled green plastic note in the homeless' pocket may not adequately compensate him for the increased fatigue, protein loss, and compromised immune response.

Have a good day, vein up.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Working in Ottawa today --Stompin' Tom

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa today.

On the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia is a small city of 1300 or so Southerners.  Yeah, I know, city?  I agree an overly generous term for such an insignificant place, but what the hell, at least they don't call themselves a Metropolis.

In any event, in the last year they have experienced two burglaries (on Sublime trail no less:), four thefts, four assaults and one vandalism.

As such they have sought the only solution available to them.  Mandatory arming of the citizenry.  Whaaaat?  Oh yes.  Mandatory firearm ownership under the Family Protection Ordinance proses by Councilman Duane 'You're with me or you're with the Terrorists' Cronic each person must be armed unless they are physically or mentally incapable.

This means of course that assaulting and taunting the mentally infirm will still be a relatively safe pastime, but if you plan on assaulting the able-bodied, better bring your guns.

I am eager.. from an academic point of view, to see how many accidental firearm discharge injuries occur over the next year, and how many Fuller Brush men get shot whilst ringing doorbells.


In other news, Canada says good bye to Stompin' Tom Connors.  Stompin' Tom passed away after decades as a true Canadian icon.  From humble beginnings in NB and PEI  he remained a humble and fiercely patriotic Canadian entertainer even after receiving the Order of Canada and put on a postage stamp.  Where he has gone, I hope the beer is cold and hockey is played.

Have a good day.