Friday, November 30, 2007

Rio box score

Rio #1 Point Guard
North Toronto Basketball House League - Suns vs Raptors on Saturday Nov 24th

















A very proud Dad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some shiny bits of online tech

Shiny, as in "ooh, shiny - that's cool", not as in bling.
  • Digg - finding and rating surf content, filters, connection with friends, really nice shiny bits on digg labs.
  • StumbleUpon - another surf content tool, it may require a toolbar, but I already found some great music stuff here.
  • Del-icio-us - smilar to the prev, two, but keeps your bookmarks handy, connection with friends, toolbar may be needed.
  • Musicovery - streaming music site, really groovy visuals, interesting choice behaviour and content.
Let me know if you use any of these services - I haven't signed up for any yet and not a favour of adding toolbars. Musicovery works well for finding new music without a subscription.

A small step for peace in the Middle East ?

Don't worry, I'm not going to try and give you any educated comments about the chances of long term success from the peace conference being hosted by Mr. Bush in Annapolis. Whenever potential milestones make front page news, I try my best to understand the details and also see the big picture. But, man, the politics of The Middle East is almost as complicated as trying to understand how to install Citrix Access Gateway Advanced Edition (don't ask).

So I just thought I'd pick a few items that got my attention in the paper today.
1. In the Post Editorial "From Annapolis, a whiff of hope" I liked the last paragraph:
As unfashionable as it may be for jaded observers to express any optimism about the Middle East, we find ourselves heartened by events in Annapolis. Give Messrs. Bush, Olmert and Abbas this much credit: Thanks to their performance in front of the cameras, the world seems a slightly safer place now than it was 24 hours ago.
2. In Letter of the day "Israel has little to gain at Annapolis", I couldn't help but feel discouraged that this man is just so negative, the last two sentences seem to summarize his views:
There really is no choice but to confront the jihadi evil sooner rather than later. The alternative is a greater war within a decade.
I hope I can safely say that I feel that it's better to at least continue to try and settle this dispute, no matter how painful the compromise. Doesn't some optimism and faith help take us closer to the end goal of peace more than ongoing intolerance.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tough Love

I've been watching top chef, Gordon Ramsey lambaste (nice word choice eh?) failing chefs and restaurateurs in the UK TV show Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares for quite a while now. The appeal of the show is something between watching a train wreck mixed with The Office. Mostly, a painful show of blunt honesty and criticism, but with a pinch of heart felt joy, generous portions of humour, a few tablespoons of oh-my-god-can-you-believe-that and all that vigorously mixed with a genuine passion for food.

The results of his efforts in the show are mostly positive, but on occasion his victims just can't take the heat and abandon their kitchens. Would you be able to take a good dose of harsh criticism ? And I'm not talking just about your efforts in the kitchen, but in all aspects of your life. Come on, Mr.fancy pants, PJMixer, you can do better than that you lazy bastard !

I think I could take it. I'm not very confident in saying that the loved ones around me could take it though. For example, as my son gets older and his attitudes appear to be a little ahead of the other aspects of his adolescent maturity, I'm trying to balance the tough love with the right amount of empathy for a 21st century Dad.

I think it comes down to knowing the right time to apply tough love to the situation. In the TV show, Ramsey steps in when things are at their most dire and the business is about to fail. And most of all, he is allowed to let loose when he has been invited to do so. It is just a little harder to make that call with respect to your own life and the lives of the loved ones around you. And rarely do people really want to get a full strength dose of what, may be in fact, be something that's good for them !

(The nicer side of Mr. Ramsey.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Investing in bad reviews and negativity

Most people don't waste their time reading or listening to bad reviews. But perhaps they are missing something ? What about writing a bad review, don't you owe it to the world to tell them how bad a movie or book really is ? The added benefit of reading or writing a review is the truly the entertainment factor. You have the sheer pleasure of conjuring up whole new ensembles of words and phrases to make your negative points, humour takes on a whole new angle, and cruelty, cynicism and sarcasm are your best friends. And for the reader, well, there seems to be much greater prose found in negative reviews that the positive ones. You also see and hear some of this highly entertaining work with comedians, they just love to rant about people, places and situations. Perhaps we should call it "complaining for fun" and use it ourselves to vent a little without it bringing too much negativity into our lives.

A person close to me recommended The History Boys the other day. I watched it a few nights ago and although it was completely horrid and I found myself drawn more to it's negative online reviews than the typical rave reviews that all sound the same. See and then filter it by "best" or "hated it" (like this) - you be the judge - what's a more entertaining read ? BTW a good review site for all kinds of multi-media is Metacritic.

For what it's worth, my review on Facebook was
"A pretty uncomfortable experience. Decent acting and soundtrack. I was lost in a lot of the dialog - maybe I should have paid more attention in English Lit". I gave it a 2.5 out of 5. Maybe I should watch some really bad ones to practice this new found art form !

The day the leaves fell

On Saturday, Rio and I did a great 8-bag job on the back yard. This was the first big push for the fall leaves. But, of course, this must have just reminded God that, oh, I forgot fall this year, because Sunday was the day the leaves fell. All of them, all at once. It was raining leaves. 8 more bags, by back hurts a little this morning.

I've uploaded a bunch of pictures I took yesterday to
Flickr !

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Supporting Houston and Israel

It was the MLS cup final this afternoon. After watching a good junk of TFC's games and beginning to appreciate having a professional football league here in North America, I thought I'd watch the last few games of the season. I watched the western semi-final last weekend and chose to cheer on Houston because of their two Canadian stars - goalie Pat Onstad and striker, and local lad Dwayne De Resario. De Resario had a great goal to clinch the semi and then he won it in the final this afternoon with a fantastic header. Meanwhile, Onstad had a game saving point plank block late in the game. Let's hope these guys can help Canada make some moves in the World cup qualifiers.

Yesterday, I was cheering on Israel as they pulled out a miracle and beat Russia in Euro qualifying to give England a chance to advance when they play Croatia on Wednesday.

It goes to prove how excitement in sport can be created by crafting some meaning in a game where you don't immediately have a local team to cheer for. I love it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yeah, I just came up with that #3

You know when you have a brilliant, spontaneous and deep comment about life and your spouse says "did you just come up with that ?", and you say "yeah", well I had one a few nights ago.

We're watching Grey's Anatomy (well, Suzanne is watching, I'm searching for any signs of humour, good acting or an actress I can fantasize about). At the end, there is of course, the obligatory sad scene, either: family member dies; ex-lover doesn't return sentiment; best friends realize they're special, etc. So I observe and comment - "
why do you think women enjoy being sad ? Is it similar to the reason that men like being scared watching a horror movie ?" Yes, I know I'm being stereotypical and I'm big enough a man to say I enjoy a good cry now and again and I know a few great ladies who'll watch a horror movie with the lads (thanks Caro). I believe adrenalin is released in times of fright and that gives you a good high. Is there similar chemicals for tears of sadness. Is the attraction more in line with thinking that you life is just so beautiful (with your great bloke), but you have to be reminded now and again what hardship other women have to go through.

Now, the kicker and a big difference between these emotions we artificially subject 0urselves to is...wait for it...we have a better chance of getting lucky when we go up to bed after a good cry. Forget that after being scared out of our pants - it's dark and a little chilly in the bedroom when you go up, a hand reaches over a softly touches your leg - "argh, get away from me, you scared the bejesus out of me !".

No, you didn't miss #1 and #2, I just forget to the write them down. Don't worry I'll have more, I'm sure.

Re: adrenalin, (from Wikipedia),
epinephrine (adrenalin) is used as a drug to treat cardiac arrest. This is kind of funny, since we usually feel like we're having a heart attack when we watch a good horror flick. It's saving your life !

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thoughts from Michelangelo

Life is like sculpture: a matter of seeing what others can't, then chiseling away the rest.

This is not an exact quote but a paraphrase of what I just read in The Rule of Four this morning. I thought it is a great analogy, one that perhaps I'm aspiring to.

Re: the book, from the reviews in metacritic I hope there are a few more gems to reference. (And yes, the pace of the book is far from The Da Vinci Code - this is the 3rd time I've started the book.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Being gullible isn't so bad is it ?

I think I hate to say it, but I'm gullible.

Most people, including me (until recently) think this is a negative trait. However, I'm starting to think otherwise, or at least reduce it's negative scoring a little on the personal assessment meter.

But I've been giving this some more thought. I've looked up some antonyms for gullible -
smart, sophisticated (which I like to think I am) and wary (which I don't like being). I've also found some interesting thesaurus entries including trusting (ok) and tolerant (good).

I (perhaps,
naively) believe that trusting something someone says to you isn't so bad, you honestly believe people are good at heart. Of course, you're surprised and sometimes hurt when you find out they are not genuine.

On the flip side, there are many people I know that are very cynical and untrusting about anything anyone says. Most of these people are also pretty pessimistic. I often feel on guard with these kinds of people and rarely can I be myself - not the greatest company.

I think I can say that most of my very good friends have a good dose of gullibility about them (no offense guys), but that's why I can be myself with them.

This unfortunately became evident in the movie Borat which I watched last night. My facebook review: "Better than I expected...great ability to mix crude humour with matter-o-fact exposé of the American culture, politics and society". The gullible targets in the movie were just being honest, they had no clue that Borat was "having them on". But unfortunately for them, they had some pretty serious ugly characteristics or beliefs that they probably didn't want to be exposed so colourfully. I don't really think I have anything that Borat could really pick on that is that ugly or entertaining, perhaps how serious I am about electronic music or that I'm not as funny as I think I am [flash to the scene in the move where Borat is taking comedy lessons - great stuff, that guy wasn't funny at all]. Interestingly, Borat himself is very naive !

I don't mind being honest, trusting people and wearing my rose coloured glasses. I just have to remind myself about those other people sometimes. Maybe I'll just picture Borat in his underwear as a visual cue to engage my smart guy persona when I see Johnny-I've- got-one-for-you next !