Friday, January 13, 2006

Fun videos - time well wasted

WARNING - watching the following videos and getting caught up in the likely hunt for others will likely chew up a good portion of your time. If you've got a new baby crying in the background or about to pick up your kids at school or on a short coffee break at the office, you may think twice at watching them now.


  1. "torn"
  2. A music video showing a new "sport" called Parkour. (Thanks SEH for finding this one and the GPRIME site that lots of other gems).
  3. Honda ad

And for the sports fans (many from YouTube):

A few for the those with a more "unusual" sense of humour:

Music vids:

  • If you're looking to see what the voice looks like, there's a massive collection of free videos at Yahoo's uk music site
  • But you won't find this one...Skinny Puppy - Pro-test (thanks SR for finding this one, BTW - the old link was broken)

Don't blame me, I warned you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Politics - the topic had to come up sooner or later

I don't plan on writing a lot about politics on this blog for a number of reasons:
  • I'm not an expert on (nor even really understand) our political process or system
  • Most of the time, it's boring - old blokes firing argumentative comments based on party lines
  • Most of you probably think it's boring, and I think there are other topics that are much more entertaining for the blog
  • It's depressing, having to accept the fact that you've got a bunch of untrustworthy, immoral men running your country
All that being said, you do find some good comic relief now and again, and often with politics other than your own. In my case - US politics - now that is entertaining ! Especially as reported by Jon Stewart (not sure if your saw the news, but Stewart will be hosting the Oscars this year - should be fun !).

However, it's
election time here in Canada and it's hard to escape political news, so much so, that even my 9 year old son was watching an "informal" interview with Prime Minister Paul Martin this morning on Canada AM.

I was rather disappointed with the interview, for some reason I had thought that we may see a different side to the PM or perhaps more substance. But alas, no. Same old story. But one fundamental thing struck me this morning.

During the build up to a federal election, aren't the party leaders supposed to be in high gear "selling" themselves as the best choice for the new PM ? These guys are fighting for their lives. Well, although I'm not an expert on politics, I do know a thing or two about selling and one big rule is as follows:
Objection handling - when the person asks a question, treat it as an objection. Handle it precisely and quickly. Make sure that after your response, the person has understood you, perhaps by saying "did I answer your question?"
This is one of the things that is really getting to me, most of these candidates never answer the blessed question. It's pointless, you just hear the same ranting and raving every day, sticking to their agenda. I think these guys are quite intelligent, so I'm reasonably sure they hear the question, but in their heads, the question is basically a trigger to a pre-written diatribe . Perhaps it's too risky to actually answer the real question, or perhaps it's just how politics work. I'm pretty sure they know the answer, but are second guessing that the public won't like it. Don't they know that if they don't properly answer a question, it lingers in the minds of all watching - what is he hiding ? Doesn't he care ? Isn't he listening to my needs and concerns ? I don't like it and I think the public deserves better. Wouldn't some genuine sincerity be refreshing, but would the public notice it ? Sometimes, the politician is so left field, that they even forget what the question was. This almost happened this morning, when a lady who had sadly lost her son recently to a gun death was asking the PM about gun control he went on auto-pilot and then (luckily for him) at the very end..."um, ah, blah and blah, I am sorry for your loss".

What we have here in Canada is a common problem. Two parties that are fighting it out and a few other also-rans. In a few weeks time we are basically voting for the
lesser of two evils. Back to this morning's interview, I thought to myself, I'm hearing all this bullsh, what does some other intelligent person think ? So I asked my 9 year old son "what do you think of PM Paul Martin". The first two, auto, non-thinking, replies didn't surprise me, "good" and "he makes good rules", but the third threw me a bit or a curve ball. My son actually said "safe". This was a very quick response after listening quite intently, so I take it as genuine. I think the topic at the time was something about western Canadian alienation, so my son's comment probably wasn't about the content, I can only imagine it came from a deeper, subconscious place. "Safe". I guess he does come across rather fatherly and in command. I don't think I can say that about Mr. Harper.
On US politics during their last election I read something that I found very interesting (unfortunately I can't find a reprint or web source, but it went something like this...).
If you take political parties out of the equation and put the high priority fundamental issues of the day (foreign affairs, social welfare, military spending, same sex marriages) on a voting form, the large majority of Americans would vote the same way. Meaning there perhaps isn't polar opposite opinions dividing the population. What I take away from this is that when it comes down to it, most people want similar things from their government, priorities may be a little different, but one leader isn't going to be that different to another on major topics during the same period of time (pretty bold statement eh?). Would Kerry have gotten the US into Iraq ? Were the majority of the population in favour of this war ?
So, wrapping up, do I simply put my faith in the local MP to represent my views in Ottawa ? After all, that would appear the most effective way for me to have my issues heard and perhaps properly represented. Do I shun the process altogether and blame everyone else on the result the next day ? Or do I try and alter the course of Canada's future be trying to read between the tight lines of the promises being made by the party leaders ?

Happy voting, and don't forget about poor Jack.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Lessons learned

This is perhaps a good topic for the beginning of a new year.

I think a lesson learned could be as "simple" as a golf lesson (keep your head down, bum out, reach back and follow through) or as complex as learning to stay out of "certain" arguments with your wife. All have serious consequences if you forget what you've learnt (2 stroke and silence penalties).

3 of us in the family took golf lessons last year and I think
we'll be continuing with more this year. My son has been taking lessons for quite a few seasons and most would agree, it shows. It was the first time I had taken a golf lesson and I truly think it's going to have a positive impact on my game, however, it'll take a little time. I think I've gone from the typical beginner hook to the hopefully more easily cured, slice. The family have been loyal students of Gary Kent for quite a years now.

Lessons do not have to be of the formal kind, just think of anything where, from experience, you know what the right thing to do is. If it's important enough (usually defined by the cost of a mistake) then learn it. How you learn it ? Well that's another topic. One method a good friend of mine (SEH) used to do was re-write all his study notes when preparing for an exam. He said that he always remembered the material better if he wrote it down, rather than just reading it. Perhaps actually writing this blog is helping me learn some new things !

I truly believe that if you can get that lesson learned (
or is that learnt ?) to become a habit then you have success. You don't have to really think about it anymore, it's a habit, it feels natural, it feels weird if you don't do it. Most people say that good habits take a lot of repetition, which makes sense to me and is definitely one proven way of learning anything. As you used to hear from parents, how many times does it take for you to "learn your lesson" ? I'm wondering if bad habits have a similar connection ?

Here's a few more that came quick to the front of the memory buffer:
  • Call your parents
  • Back up your computer(s)
  • Keep you weight forward (skiing)
  • Fake a throw and go to the disk (ultimate)
  • Always choose the first thing that sounds appetizing on a menu (however, this doesn't usually work for other purchases like clothes, home electronics etc)
  • Do your homework early (kids and techies preparing for a demo)
  • Lock your car
  • You really don't need that last beer
I hope this provides some food for thought (and it is your first choice on the menu) !

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Man, these kids are exciting (and a plethora of other sport links)

A few minutes ago, Team Canada won the World Junior Hockey Championship and last night, the Texas Longhorns won a thriller of over USC in NCAA's Rose Bowl. Two great games played with big hearts by young men.

I'd say Canada's win was a great example of team play, a few standouts (Justin Pogge), but team effort and heart won out. Quote of the game (just as Russia went down 3-0) -
"that's the personification of embellishment".

The football game appeared a little different, with an incredible, standout performance by
Vince Young. I love this guy - a similar non-traditional scrambler like Doug Flutie (ex Argo). BTW if you didn't hear about his drop kick last week or you're having trouble finding the replay, you can find it here.

It's a welcome change from pro-sports to watch younger athletes and amateurs play in big games, like these two examples. An old friend once said that he prefers watching college sports because it's more unpredictable, and I gotta agree.

But there's lots more to come over the next couple of months - the upcoming NCAA basketball
Final Four and of course the Olympics (oh, and of course my son in goal for this Saturday's house league hockey game).

What a great start to a year in sports, if only England could put it all together for the
World Cup.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happier thoughts

I hope those last few posts weren't too much of a mood downer.

On a much brighter note, we just heard that our dear friends S&SH had a new baby boy early this morning. Congrats to the whole family and welcome to the big and beautiful world (yes, even with all the doom and gloom over the last little while, a can still truly say, it's beautiful).

Who would have thought that a nerdy and partygoing bunch of lads and lasses from the University of Waterloo would have such a bounty of children in a relatively short period of time (not to mention we amazingly found attractive and responsible spouses, and except for one couple, we're all still together).

My count is 22 children (ranging from a few hours old to 10 years old) from 11 UW alumni families.

Personally, two is just fine for me. We're in the great age between needy youngsters and horrible teenagers. Please, let me enjoy it for a few more years !

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In the news

So many news stories, perspectives, statistics...

USA Today
The Toronto Sun

Older articles
CTV (on the Amon Beckles shooting)
University of Toronto article mid-year statistics

In memoriam

Yonge Street memorial for Jane Creba (15 years old)
I took this photo this morning, a block from my office

Amon Beckles (18 years old, killed Nov 18, 2005)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Guns. A sobering thought.

This is a new kind of post. A little troubling, but I wanted to make an entry while it's fresh.

Just watched Mr. & Mrs. Smith. If you don't know this movie, follow the link. I like the co-stars (actually, a little stronger than "like" for Ms. Jolie) and the movie's premise was fun. I kept reminding Suzanne throughout that it's a comedy and at the end I said "that was pretty entertaining". However, as this sunk in a little I'm thinking...all this gunplay, all this "fun" can I find this entertaining when we had another tragic gun death downtown Toronto just over a week ago.

I'm not codemning Hollywood or even the US gun thing (which many people are doing here), however I do find it a little disturbing that we are entertained by shows where many people are victims of guns on our TV and movie screens.

Neither do I think this is really anything new (perhaps there's a lot more of it and it's a lot more gratuitous), but the war and cowboys & indians themes have been ever present in our entertainment lives.

Is there a connection ? If so, what is it ? I don't have the answers, but it makes you wonder why we can easily except some poor schmuck being shot by Brad Pitt one minute and horrified at innocent victims of gang violence in our own cities the next !

I apologize if this comes off sounding kind of unemotional and unthoughtful, and I'm sure more thoughts on this topic will come in daylight hours. But I did wonder if this would spark any pjmixer blog heated commentary !