15 November 2009


Puppy vs. infant

new rain coat for Lucy at Flickr.comI promise not to turn this into a full-on dog blog, but at least indulge me during our first few days in puppydom here.

Puppies, it seems, are easier than infants, at least if my ten-years-removed newborn recollections of our kids remain accurate. A puppy needs lots of attention, yes, but it can eat independently, move around by itself, and learn to go to the bathroom outside.

However, I've discovered the sleep deprivation can be similar. Until we've figured out Lucy's nighttime patterns, we're all a little on edge, sleeping with one eye open to make sure she's okay and not doing anything untoward.

And we're housetraining her, of course. So while we don't have to get up nearly as often as you do with a baby, at least with a baby you can stay in the nice warm house. Training a puppy means trekking into the rainy yard at 4:30 in the morning. That can take a toll on your state of mind the next day.

But, just like a newborn, Lucy makes up for it by being almost painfully cute. In fact, my wife Air figured out that our dog looks disturbingly like an Ewok.

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24 October 2009


What would you do for a Klondike bear?

A couple of weeks ago, my wife Air pointed out to me that the sidewalks in front of convenience stores throughout Greater Vancouver have recently sprouted large, inflatable polar bears promoting Klondike ice cream bars:

What Would You Do For a Klondike Bear?

The Klondike promotions rep was obviously very busy around Vancouver in October. Both Air and I like the inflatable bears—they're cute, and large, and strange. Most effectively, they point out how many independent mom-and-pop style corner stores there still are in this city. I'm often tempted to assume that most have been put out of business by 7-Eleven and gas station shops, but that appears not to be the case.

My set of nine photos above resulted from my simply keeping an eye out for the bears during a couple of car trips on a single day this past week. Most of the pictures are from just one street, the main inter-city artery Kingsway. There must be dozens or hundreds of the beasts throughout the region.

One I didn't manage to snap is probably breaking the rules. On Canada Way, there's an independent Buffalo gas station that has covered the Klondike logo with a sign reading "HAND CAR WASH." That promo rep might be angry if he or she spots it.

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19 October 2009


Links of interest (2009-10-19):

From my Twitter stream:

  • My dad had cataract surgery, and now that eye has perfect vision—he no longer needs a corrective lens for it for distance (which, as an amateur astronomer, he likes a lot).
  • Darren's Happy Jellyfish (bigger version) is my new desktop picture.
  • Ten minutes of mesmerizing super-slo-mo footage of bullets slamming into various substances, with groovy bongo-laden soundtrack.
  • SOLD! Sorry if you missed out. I have a couple of 4th-generation iPod nanos for sale, if you're interested.
  • Great backgrounder on the 2009 H1N1 flu virus—if you're at all confused about it, give this a read.
  • The new Nikon D3s professional digital SLR camera has a high-gain maximum light sensitivity of ISO—102,400. By contrast, when I started taking photos seriously in the 1980s, ISO—1000 film was considered high-speed. The D3s can get the same exposure with 100 times less light, while producing perfectly acceptable, if grainy, results.
  • Nice summary of how content-industry paranoia about technology has been wrong for 100 years.
  • The Obama Nobel Prize makes perfect sense now.
  • I like these funky fabric camera straps (via Ken Rockwell).
  • I briefly appear on CBC's "Spark" radio show again this week.
  • Here's a gorilla being examined in the same type of CT scan machine I use every couple of months. More amazing, though, is the mummified baby woolly mammoth. Wow.
  • As I discovered a few months ago, in Canada you can use iTunes gift cards to buy music, but not iPhone apps. Apple originally claimed that was comply with Canadian regulations, but it seems that's not so—it's just a weird and inexplicable Apple policy. (Gift cards work fine for app purchases in the U.S.A.)
  • We've released the 75th episode of Inside Home Recording.
  • These signs from The Simpsons are indeed clever, #1 in particular.
  • Since I so rarely post cute animal videos, you'd better believe that this one is a doozy (via Douglas Coupland, who I wouldn't expect to post it either).
  • If you're a link spammer, Danny Sullivan is quite right to say that you have no manners or morals, and you suck.
  • "Lock the Taskbar" reminds me of Joe Cocker, translated.
  • A nice long interview with Scott Buckwald, propmaster for Mad Men.

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10 September 2009


A few short movies by me

I made three short videos a little while ago, but forgot to link them up here. Silly me. Here they are:

Whistler lifts (with bears)

Gnomedex 9 welcome party

The Norwegian Pearl departs Seattle

All three were taken with my Nikon D90 SLR, which has a video mode.

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05 July 2009


Links of interest 2006-06-28 to 2006-07-04

Once again, while I'm on my blog break, my edited Twitter posts from the past week, newest first:

  • Photo of Obama picking up his infamous housefly victim.
  • Guess that U2 iPod is never coming back.
  • And now: "Ant and Buttercup," my debut HD macro closeup movie from our summer garden:

  • My first experiments with off-camera flash during close-up photography:
    Veins 1 Veins 2 Veins 3 Veins 4 Veins 5
    Veins 6 Veins 7 Veins 8 Veins 10 Veins 9

  • If I'm passed at high speed by someone with a Washington plate BOKEH, I now know who it is. He says he'll wave.
  • Mammals will play, even between species, even when you'd never expect it—wild polar bear and huskies (slide show via Dave Winer).
  • A couple of crows are nesting nearby; they keep landing in our birdbath and on the house and lamp stands, looking ominous. Too smart, crows.
  • Sitting in a B.C. garden
    No waiting for the sun
  • CompuServe finally shuts down.
  • Just in case you're looking for a $2.1 million convertible.
  • Congratulations to Buzz Bishop, Jen, and Zacharie.
  • I presume this tiny USB-driven monitor screen is Windows-only, because of drivers? Looks pretty swell. (Via Neal Campbell.)
  • Definitive proof I'm not afraid of heights: I love this idea.
  • Via John Biehler, I found that as well as MythBuster Adam Savage, his co-workers Grant Imahara and narrator Robert Lee are also on Twitter.
  • When I had my first Nikon 25 years ago, I wouldn't have believed I'd ever own one (a D90) with 66 pages of the manual (out of a couple hundred total, in a 16 MB PDF file) just for menu options. Then again, 25 years ago, a friend showed me a shoulder-mounted Betamax camera from Hong Kong, and it was the latest in high tech video too.
  • That's the funkiest beat I've ever heard a marching band play (via Jared Spool). Maybe some James Brown next?
  • Has anyone pinpointed the exact day that Victoria Beckham stopped being able to smile? Angus Wilson speculates, "whatever day she began to look less like a hot English babe and more like a velociraptor."
  • Meg Fowler: "Sarah Palin's quitting politics like Ann Coulter's quitting evil."
  • As the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing approaches, some fabulous photos from the missions, via Bad Astronomy.
  • From Ben Englert: "Thank you, gdgt, for institutionalizing the arduous task of dick-measuring by figuring out who has more toys."
  • Ten best uses of classical music in classic cartoons.
  • Our fridge magnet: "I love not camping."
    Our favourite fridge magnet

  • How did I manage to bite the inside of my upper lip while eating a peach? If this were high school, the guys would say, "Each much?"
  • Back to short hair for summer. And now I realize that it's Colbert hair.
  • I think my guts have calmed down now. Time for bed. In the meantime, enjoy a naked Air New Zealand flight crew.
  • In case you'd like to watch Jeff Goldblum reporting on his own "death," on Colbert Monday: links for Canada and the U.S.A. (sorry if you're elsewhere!).
  • Didn't attend various Canada Day parties because of tired family and my usual intestinal side effects. Hope you had fun in my stead. Managed to avoid intestinal chemo side effects for a few days, but they're back with a vengeance. Could be a looooong night. (And it was. At 2 a.m., my chemo side effects were "over" and I went to bed. Bzzt! Wrong! Finally got to sleep at 9 a.m., woke up at 1 the next afternoon. As Alfred E. Neuman says, Yecch.)
  • Whatever you think of the 2010 Olympics here in Vancouver, VANOC is doing a good job with graphic design.
  • I, too, welcome our new ant overlords.
  • I had no alcohol on my birthday yesterday, but still had a Canada Day headache on July 1. Here's my new free instrumental.
  • Inside Home Recording #72 is out: Winners, Studio Move, Synth 101, Suckage! AAC enhanced and MP3 audio-only versions.
  • Normally I really like our car dealer's service dept, but today the steering wheel came back oh-so-slightly to the left. They had to re-fix it.
  • World's geekiest pillows (via Chris Pirillo). My guess: they didn't license the Apple icons. Get the pillows while you can.
  • Officially made it to 40. Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes. Most people are bit melancholy to reach 40, but I am extremely glad to have made it.
  • Just returned from a Deluxe Chuck Wagon burger (with cheese) at the resurrected Wally's Burgers in Cates Park, North Vancouver:
    Derek Wally's burger 2

  • From Rob Cottingham: "The hell with putting a ring on it. If you liked it, you shoulda made a secure offsite backup."
  • Info about recording old vinyl records into a computer: You need a proper grounded phono preamp, with good hot signals into an audio interface or other analog-to-digital converter. A new needle might be wise if yours is old, but the real phono preamp (w/RIAA curve) is the most necessary bit after that. Route it thru an old stereo tuner if needed! See my old post from 2006 at Inside Home Recording.
  • Myth confirmed: Baby girl evidence (named Stella) shows MythBusters' Kari Byron actually was pregnant.
  • My new Twitter background image is the view we saw at sunset during my birthday party on Saturday. (I've since replaced it again.)
  • Back from another fun sunny summer BBQ at Paul Garay's new house—it's been a burgers-n-beer weekend.
  • Photos from my 40th birthday party now posted (please use tag "penmachinebirthday" if you post some).

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10 June 2009


Camera Works: pictures that tell a story

Here are three photos I recently uploaded to my Flickr account, each with an accompanying story but otherwise unrelated. The first one shows the practical applications of knowing how your camera works, while the others are just for fun. Click each photo to zoom it:

Two waterfalls:

Two waterfalls

Actually, it's two photos of the same waterfall, taken a few seconds apart using my Nikon D50 digital SLR and a 50 mm lens, showing how you can change an image by controlling the aperture and shutter speed.

  • For blurry water: I snapped the left photo at f/22 (a small aperture) for 1/8 of a second, blurring the water with a long shutter speed. I didn't have a tripod, so I rested the camera against the edge of the fountain for stability.

  • For frozen splashes: The right photo was at f/3.5 (a wider aperture) for 1/800 of a second, freezing the motion of the water with a short shutter speed. The camera was in the same place, but because of the fast shutter I didn't need to be so careful about not moving it.

Depth of field differences: It's not that easy to see, but the right photo with the fast shutter speed also has shallower depth of focus because of the larger aperture. That's particularly noticeable when you compare the concrete edge at the lower left corners of the two frames.

Where is this? The fountain is on Birch Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue in Vancouver, if you want to visit it yourself. It's pretty cool: two streams flow down on either side of a set of steps. This is the north side.

Drama at the birdhouse:

Drama at the birdhouse

This isn't quite as dramatic as it looks at first glance. While the photos are in the correct order, the chickadee didn't eat the wasp—it just scared the insect away, with food already in its mouth.

We have chickadees raise babies in this birdhouse on our back porch every year. But this year this one bird (the mom?) looks especially beat-up and scraggly, and has looked that way for weeks. Is is just old, or did something nasty happen to it? Seems to be feeding the kids just fine, though.

I used a long focal length, higher ISO (sensitivity), and fast shutter speed (plus some patience) to get this series.

Exploded Coke Zero:

Exploded Coke Zero 2

I guess our downstairs fridge was set a bit too cold. Good thing sugar acts as an antifreeze, so that it was the sugar-free (and non-sticky) Coke Zero that froze and exploded first. Still a bit of mess to clean up inside the fridge, though.

This photo required a flash, both because the room was a bit dim and because I wanted to highlight the glittery goodness of the unintentional Coke Zero slush.

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19 May 2009


Airliners are modern miracles of science and engineering

ToucanWe've just returned from a whirlwind trip. My daughters had an extra day off school, a professional day following the Victoria Day long weekend, so we made quick plans to stay in a hotel in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, Washington, a couple of hours' drive south of here. But to thread the needle of long weekend border traffic, we crossed our station wagon into the USA on Sunday and returned Tuesday.

I'm not quite sure how we fit all we did into the 54 hours we were away, but it included a number of family firsts. My older daughter is a big fan of shrimp, and has been enticed by endless ads for the Red Lobster chain of restaurants. We have none in Vancouver, so Lynnwood offered the closest location, and despite lingering memories of a 1995 food poisoning incident at a California location on our honeymoon, my wife and I agreed to go. We all enjoyed our meals there Sunday night, without later illness.

That was the least of the newness, though. My wife Air and I have traveled to Greater Seattle many times over the years, separately during our childhoods and together since we started dating, both with our kids and without, for fun and on business, as a destination and on the way elsewhere. Yet somehow neither of us had ever visited the wonderful Woodland Park Zoo, or Lynnwood's famous Olympus Spa, or Boeing's widebody jet factory in Everett. This trip we covered them all: the kids and I hit the zoo, Air visited the spa, and all four of us took the Boeing tour today on the way home.

The zoo impressed me, especially the habitats for the elephants, gorillas, and orangutans, but while it was a much shorter activity, the Boeing tour was something else. If you live in this part of the world (Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and environs), and you're a geek who likes any sort of complicated technology, or air travel, or simply huge-ass stuff, you must go, especially considering there's nowhere else in the world you can easily see something similar. The Airbus factory in France requires pre-registration months in advance, with all sorts of forms filled out and approvals and so forth. We just drove up to Everett, paid a few bucks each, and half an hour later were on our way in.

Boeing 727 - M's preflight checksUnfortunately, you're prohibited from taking cameras, electronics, food, or even any sort of bag or purse beyond the Future of Flight exhibit hall where the tour begins, so I have no photos of the assembly plant itself. Trust me, though, it is an extraordinary place. A tour bus drove our group the short distance to the structure, which is the most voluminous building in the world. (Our guide told us all of Disneyland would fit inside, with room for parking. Since the plant is over 3,000 feet long, I figured out that the Burj Dubai tower, the world's tallest building, could also lay down comfortably on the factory's floor space.)

From two separate third-level vantage points inside, accessed by walking down immensely long underground tunnels, then taking freight elevators up into the factory's rafters, we saw more than a dozen of the world's largest aircraft in various stages of assembly. They included several units of the venerable and massive Boeing 747 (its still-revolutionary design is older than me); a couple of nearly complete 767s; a string of 777s in their slow-crawling, constantly-moving U-shaped assembly line; and finally a trio of 787s—a design so new that they are built mostly of composite materials instead of metal, and not even one has yet entered commercial service.

The end of the tour took us outside again on the bus, past the painting hangars and numerous planes waiting for pickup by airlines, as well as one of Boeing's three Dreamlifter cargo monsters, created by cutting off most of the upper half of an old 747 and installing a huge new fuselage top, purely to bring in assembled parts for the new 787s, to be fitted together inside the factory.

While that facility is one structure, which has been expanded over time, each type of plane built there demonstrates how aircraft construction, and industrial assembly lines in general, have changed in the past 40 years. 747s are still built at numerous discrete stations, as they were when the Everett plant first opened in the 1960s. As I mentioned, 777s come together in a single, steady-moving U-shaped line, apparently inspired by the envied Toyota Production System, each plane edging forward steadily at 1.6 inches per hour.

Finally, the new 787 comes together in a short, simple line across the width of the building. That's because (as with competitor Airbus's planes) sections of each aircraft arrive nearly complete from other factories around the world on the Dreamlifter cargo carriers, and are put together in Everett, rather than built from scratch.

I came away newly inspired by the modern miracle of science and engineering that is a jet airliner. These machines are what enable us to complain about waiting around in airports for a few hours, and about substandard in-flight food as we fly between continents—while forgetting that not many lifetimes ago, and for all of human history beforehand, similar voyages might take have taken us years instead of hours, facing danger and starvation and death, if they were possible at all.

Then, on the way home, we bought a bunch of squeeze cheese, also unavailable here in Canada.

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08 March 2009


A match of wits

Our problem woodpecker has returned, a month later, and seems undeterred by our protective chimney cages. We thought weather or the bird itself might have disturbed them, but no, they are still firmly in place. So the first move is to make the cages bigger—our Northern flicker may be large enough to get its beak right between the mesh to the metal.

Whenever I've heard the hammering (around 7 a.m., or 8 now that we're in Daylight Saving Time), I've made a quick leap into my bathrobe and slippers and tossed some pebbles from our yard onto the roof, which seems to scare it away each time. But, clever as this bird is, it doesn't seem to learn from the experience. As my dad said, "it's a match of wits." So far, the woodpecker is outwitting us.

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07 March 2009


Links of interest (2009-03-07):

  • The first animals that people domesticated were wolves—we call them dogs now. Coincidentally, within an hour last night I read a Slate article and saw an episode of "Martin Clunes: A Man and His Dogs" on that very topic.
  • From Salon: "To this day when I walk into a grocery store and see a mom with her teenage daughters, I have to leave. Every time I just get tearful, I just can't be in the same room, even after all these years. It just kills me that I don't get that time back."
  • The Economist makes a compelling argument that all recreational drugs—yes, even hard drugs like heroin and cocaine—should be legalized (via Dan Savage). That's a pretty radical position, but the magazine posits it as the "least bad" option, after "the war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless."
  • Don't forget to put your clocks forward by an hour tonight for Daylight Saving Time, if you're in a part of the world that invokes it early Sunday morning.
  • Scanwiches are sandwiches, cut in half and imaged on a flatbed scanner—which I presume needs very frequent and thorough cleaning (via J-Walk).
  • New Homestar Runner meta-cartoon: 4 Gregs.

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01 March 2009


Deep bathtubs and the sound of surf

Highway 4I still have some more photos to upload, but early this evening we got back home after seven and a half hours and nearly 300 km by car and ferry returning from Tofino and Parksville. It was a great trip, one that will leave memories. As a nice capper, we managed to meet up with my friend Simon on the ferry in Nanaimo and, once we crossed the water, gave him a ride into West Vancouver to visit his family.

We live in a huge part of the world. I mean huge oceans, huge mountains, huge trees, huge birds, huge beaches, and huge distances. At highway speeds (except for the really twisty parts, and lunch), it took us three hours to drive in the rain about half the way, across one of the narrowest parts of Vancouver Island. It's apparently a faster trip right across Ireland. We passed between snow-blanketed mountains 1400 m high—taller than any in Britain, to make another cross-Atlantic island comparison.

It's common for us British Columbians to take day trips or short vacations over distances that would cross several countries in Europe, as my family did this week. I'm glad to be home, but as I noted on on Twitter, I miss the huge, deep, comfortable hotel bathtubs. And the heated tile floor in Tofino. And the sound of surf, gentle or roaring.

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28 February 2009


Cox Bay, Tofino

This other beach is pretty swell too. Yeah, we were supposed to be home by now, but we decided to take a side-trip before returning to the mainland.

Passing the lighthouse
1431 from Long Beach Lodge
On the ripples
Blue dusk at Cox Bay

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26 February 2009


I like this beach

24 February 2009


Eagles from the window

This morning we looked out the window of our hotel room in Parksville, B.C. to see two bald eagles sitting on the sand as the tide went out. Later, when the family explored the beach, my wife Air found their talon marks, still fresh:

Two bald eagles Eagle talons 2
Eagle talons 1

I assume they were resting, either before or after hunting, since they stayed in essentially one place for at least 45 minutes. Bald eagles aren't uncommon in our neck of the woods—we often see them flying from our front window in Burnaby, usually while they're being harassed by gulls or crows. But they don't often land in our vicinity at home.

However, last time Air and I came to the middle of Vancouver Island, in 1997 before our kids were born, we also saw a bald eagle from our hotel room at the bach. We also nearly ran one over with our car on the way to Port McNeill. Fortunately, we avoided anything like that this time: they are huge birds, and rather intimidating close up.

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15 February 2009


Worldly stuffies

Here's a measure of our world. My daughters chose some new plush toys for themselves today, bought with their own money. Both animals the toys represent (a penguin and a koala) are from the southern hemisphere.

They girls dressed them in a cowboy hat and Irish green clothes in honour of St. Patrick's Day next month (for Sparky the penguin), and stereotypical Canadian getup of plaid winter hat with earflaps, fleece vest, and red "Canada" shorts (for Ringo the koala):

New bears

So we have an Antarctic aquatic bird in Irish and American clothes with a semi-American name, and an Australian marsupial in Canadian gear with an English name. Oh, and if you squeeze Ringo's hand, he roars like a Tyrannosaurus.

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07 February 2009


Return of the pecker

Remember this guy, the crazy Northern flicker woodpecker who used our kitchen stovepipe for a sounding board last March? Who woke us up every morning around 7 until we wrapped the metal chimney in bubble wrap? Who we thought was gone for good?

Well, he's back. Or was. Yesterday morning around 8 a.m., suddenly there was that familiar machine-gun metallic banging in the kitchen again. (The later hour makes sense, since it's over a month earlier in the season, so the sun is rising a bit later too, and I expect these guys time their noisemaking to the light.) I'm not sure if the bubble wrap fell off in the winter winds, or whether my dad, who lives in the other half of the duplex, removed it at some point.

PeckerscreenUPDATE: My dad set up a nice solution to the problem, as shown in the photo. Let's see if it works.

When the pecker started pecking, I was in the kitchen, so I immediately turned on the noisy stove fan again, and the banging stopped. Encouragingly, there was nothing today. But listen, flicker, I have my ear out for you. You'd best mosey along before we take action again.

This is not a purely Vancouver problem by any means, as I found out from the Bad Astronomer in Colorado last year.

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24 March 2008



Northern flicker at Flickr.comAccording to the provincial government, there are 12 species of woodpecker that appear at least occasionally in British Columbia, but only a few are common in the southern coastal areas outside the summer months. The one I've noticed most often is the pileated woodpecker, with its distinctive red swooshy head.

Right now, one of these guys is being a real goddamned pecker around our house.

UPDATE: I think I have unfairly maligned the pileated woodpecker. Although I still haven't spotted it directly, numerous reports from my readers and more careful listening to the infernal tapping tells me that our woodpecker is more likely to be a Northern flicker (I've updated the accompanying photo accordingly). In any case, a suggestion to burn some paper under our stove hood when we hear the tapping, so smoke sends the bird away, may be working. We'll see.

You see, it has decided that the metal chimney above our stove is an ideal target. I don't know why: if I were a woodpecker, I'd probably figure out fairly quickly that there aren't any tasty grubs living inside a kitchen vent. Then again, woodpecker skulls have evolved largely to withstand massive repeated impacts, not for smarts.

Now, imagine what it sounds like at, say 7:18 a.m. on Easter Monday, to have a woodpecker pounding away, Kalashnikov-like, on a highly-reverberant tube of metal that leads directly from the roof of your house into the amplifying stove hood in the middle of your kitchen, which is in the centre of the structure, right across the hall from the bedrooms. This has been going on intermittently for two or three weeks now at our place.

I stumbled out of bed and turned on the stove vent fan (which is very loud, being older than I am). No dice. So I wandered outside in bathrobe and bare feet and hucked a couple of small stones from our yard in the general direction of that part of the roof. I was surprised at my accuracy at such a bleary-eyed time of the morning.

There were some clattering noises, and I think I scared it off for now. It's likely pileated—the largest surviving woodpecker variety in North America, by the way—from the sound of its drumming, but I haven't actually seen it yet. I suppose if it persists in trying to find an insect colony in our kitchen chimney, it will eventually starve to death, but maybe it's clever enough to be working on some nearby trees too. I hope it avoids punching a bunch of holes in the aluminum, anyway, and that it gets the point (ha ha) eventually and moves on. Or I'll have to get better aim.

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30 November 2007


An end of month mishmash

To honour the end of NaBloPoMo (in which I didn't participate officially), this final post of November will contain a mishmash of nothing in particular:

Cory Doctorow is reasonably digitally paranoid, but he has a point about Facebook: "Adding more users to a social network increases the probability that it will put you in an awkward social circumstance."

It's worth listening to what Dave Winer has to say about podcasting, since he helped invent it, so when he writes, "I've heard that podcasting didn't achieve its promise," that's worth reading. His response begins: "First, obviously it depends on what you felt was the promise. Second, it depends whether you think there's more to do." He does.

Evel Knievel was an icon during my childhood, the epitome of cool to elementary school boys in the '70s. He died today.

Finally, here's a video of our pal Dizzy the Podcast Puppy licking my daughter on the face, after some prompting:

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23 November 2007


A whale straight in the eye

Blue whaleBlue whales are so large that, in most oceans in the world, if you were underwater with an adult one, you wouldn't be able to see one end from the other.

If one were swimming in the nutrient-rich waters near Vancouver, for instance, the body of the whale would disappear into the distance because the visibility is too obscured (by plankton and other things in the water itself) to take in the animal's entire 30-metre length—about the same as three typical shipping containers.

But if you want to see what it would be like to examine a blue whale up close, life size, here's a web page (via Mirabilis) where you can do it.

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18 September 2007


New fish

The new fish at Flickr.comLast year we had a sad attempt at raising a single fish in an aquarium. He didn't last long.

This week, my wife and kids took it much more seriously and prepped a nice tank that now has five tetras in it. They seem quite happy, with live plants and colourful gravel, as well as a quiet high-tech filter that is keeping the water beautifully clear.

I'm quite enjoying the burbling sound and spending time watching the little tropical lake fish swimming around. The girls check on them regularly and feed them morning and night. I think we'll get some more fish soon. It's certainly a lot easier than a dog.

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