Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yeah, what ever, ok...

I just couldn't help posting this, but hey when research about sex and socks hits the Tornoto Star, the editors here at must comment.

Fear my might!

Ah yes, nothing scarier then a wet cat stretched out like a lazy butt. He took a shower this morning, and it was completely voluntary, weird weird cat.

Tough day at school

Look at the size of this beast!

Az on high

Camera Ghosts

Well here are some terrible pictures of the basement. The camera has ghost spots that didn't show up in any other picures I took, and the colour is way way way way off. So until Gabe comes by to take some good pictures you will have to just envision how awesome it looks from these.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Jeeze, my number one reason I haven't been blogging, is probably the number one thing I should be blogging about. Thats the freaking basement!!! Erin and I have been up to are eyeballs in work down there. Since I got back from San Fran I made a commitment to finish before Christmas, and I am making that deadline, come hell, high water, or lack of sleep and a sore back.

So the first thing we did, was admit we were in trouble. My leet spackling skills were in fact not leet. The walls remained an unfinished mess of mud, tape and looming effort. So I cracked, I dialed around, and spun threads out on the 'internets' seeking experts and mad skillz. I ended up hiring someone from the Hawthorne Villager Forums, where I loiter regularly. He did a great job, for a great price, in no time and my basement problems went from insurmountable to achievable.

Soldiering on from the mildly emasculating hiring of a contractor we moved into the safe territory of paint. We started with the realitivly non-controversial white flat ceiling, warm white baseboard trim, and wall primer, shocking rebeleous I know. Moving to the walls now that was a different story.

Shirking the time honoured myths of painting, we brought in our interior decorator, who thankfully works for the low low price of good company, and some fresh berries for her cute daughter. I'm speaking of my friend Rod, his colour co-ordinated wife Sara, and the now one year old Gabriella. So with Sara's help we had the courage to go with a COLOUR, which I different like this because its a tint with some chutzpa.

Painting is in full force, and my goal is actually to finish the second coat of paint tonight. I may only get halfway there, but we shall see. I will get some pictures up, because so much has changed since the last pictured post.

Post wall completion I have some trim and door work to do, but it is really second to cleanup, because we are flooring Sunday morning. I'm looking forward to that, because the place will look done at that point, although trim will need to be nailed up, but thats just icing on a 6 month to bake cake.

Lots of thanks to everyone who helped us get here.


Hijacked Content

I stole this idea from Jenn, I was hoping for something more eclectic then "dedicated reader" but I will take what I can get.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
Book Snob
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Loki and I are having comunication issues

Well I have some deep linking guilt, but this is all too familiar situation with Loki and I of late, all he wants to do is chase mice with me, but Erin he will sit and be patted by.

Going to a movie, eh?

Well my days of sleeping at theaters are limited (and you can ask around I've done it a few times) by todays joyous news! No longer must we endure the endless bag of salty death at 5000% markup! With the coming of Tim Horton's to a Cineplex near you, with prices matching those of their regular stores I rejoice. I for one welcome our new coffee overlords to this new venue.

Monday, November 27, 2006

More Pumpkins.... Nearly a month late :)

Since coming back from San Fran, my blogging skills have been far from their usual quality, being completely absent. So to get back on the blogging horse, I thought I would finish off some loose ends first. So here are the rest of this years pumpkin's from Halloween.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More to Come, but first a word from our sponser

Sorry for the publishing delay since returning, I will get the rest of the photo's up soon. But first I had to share this. It is mostly for Colin, who may get some use out of it, but I think we can all appreciate Season Shot, which not only loads in your standard birding gun, but deliciously seasons birds on impact.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Imelda for the masses

If diva's and self appointed celebutaunts can have their own fashion lines, then why can't the original Dictatress of Design? Imelda is back from exile, and looking to his the world by storm with her own line of fashion accessories, and of course... shoes!

Reuters has the details.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One more for the road

So I'm up bright and early, and before I hit the highway i thought I would post a little bit more.

So when you arrive on Alcatraz you have to climb roughly 13 stories, fortunately there is a long winding ramp, but there was a tour about escapes that was led by a guide starting in 7 minutes, so I tried to hustle.

Now I don't want to sound cruel or rude, but the tour guide emotionless, and lacked any dramatic flare. So she was trying to "make you think" about the meaning of escape, and if those who died in the attempts, or who took their own lives "escaped." I appreciate the sentiment, but her delivery could use work.

Of all the escapes the funniest was probably the one that took the most work to implement. At the time Alcatraz used to do the laundry for the Presidio and Angel Island (both are military facilities.) So over the course of 10 years, this one inmate who handled the laundry at the dock picked pieces of laundry out one at a time until he had a complete sergeants uniform, and hid it under the dock. Then after all these years of preparation, he saw his chance. A group of military engineers were on the island doing repairs, so he suited up under his prison issue jump suit, and waited. When the engineers left at the end of the day, he just stripped off the coveralls and slid in with them. Unfortunately for him, someone noticed the extra passenger, and they had the captain contact Alcatraz. Before their boat landed the associate warden had hopped in the prison boat and sailed to meet them. As he stepped off the boat the warden was waiting to greet him. He had about 15 minutes of freedom. As a final kick in the teeth, the group of engineers were stationed at Angel Island, making his escape essentially futile.

So after the person tour, I took the audio tour, it was about 45 minutes, and it was fantastic. It was narrated by ex-prisoners and guards. It wound is way through the cell block and administration facilities, and was spliced with sounds of the prison that we so well timed, and balanced that I could swear cells were being opened and shut beside me.

So here is a cozy standard issue cell, I think they are 5'x7'x9'. I think the master bathroom in our house is bigger.

Here is one of the main cell blocks, there are three in total.

This is D block, these are the isolation cells, if you are in here your in here for good. 24 hours a day 7 days a week you are in these cells, except for one brief exercise break/shower per week.

Also in D block where these solitary confinement cells. When the outer door shuts, they go pitch black, and fell very very claustrophobic.

Here is the exercise yard, its kind of run down, but I don't think it was ever "cozy."
Here is one of the famed fake heads used to trick the guards during one of the more successful escapes. Their bodies were never found, but some debris was found on the mainland that lends credence to their escape. I would hope that after their escape they might have left it in there will or something so the world would know.

I considered picking up these tacky kitsch magnets, but I figured a picture would do, they are replica fridge magnets of all three men who escaped that night. There escape took years of preparation as the tunneled through the back of their cells into a utility corridor, and then up on to the roof. To his chagrin they made there escape while the warden was on vacation, and the associate warden was on duty.

This is a city side view of the cell block.

This is the lighthouse, it is actually the second light house built, as the first became ineffective when the cell block was built. The lighthouse is actually still operational. The first light house also has the distinction of being the first light house built on the West coast of North America.

The old warden's house. It has seen better days, actually much of the island is falling into a ruinous state as the salt in the air accelerates deterioration.

Well thats all for now, I have some more shots looking back on the Bay bridge and the city, as well as some of the island ecology, but my car is ready, so I'm off.

See you all soon.

All she wrote

I have a lot more images from today, but I walked all over creation, and am pooped, I will put them up later.

Night all.

Farry to "The Rock"

So here is my boat, its no Wolfe Island Farry, but it got the job done.

So here are some shots from the approach, as you can tel it was pretty foggy. It never did clear enough to see the Golden Gate bridge, but it did add a certain air of mystery to the island.

Here is the island dock, the building in rough repair was the old guard apartments. It is currently sealed, but there was some indication that they are working to repair the inside for future use, but I was under the impression when I got there that the coast of maintaining Alcatraz is pretty high, and cash may be in short supply.

waiting in line

So pier 33 is the where the ferry to Alcatraz leaves from, but I had some time to kill waiting for my boat. When what should happen but a military vessel should come sailing by. At first I thought that it was cool, but then I saw the flag on the aft, and I thought it was even cooler. Unfortunately the fog started to roll in at this point, so my images are even worse then normal, but they are what they are.


So here I am at the top of this really really winding street, and what madness do I participate in? I walk down (I suppose that is better then up?)

Now as it would happen, it is actually really hard to take a picture of this street and capture the true nature of it, because it doubles back on its self so quickly and all the high shrubberies. So trying to look back up the hill you actually rarely see more then one curve at a time, but here is a look up the stairs to try and get an idea of how steep the hill is.

After Lombard I made my way down the rest of the way to the wharf and onto pier 33.

Cable Cars

So I started this morning like many mornings this week, breakfast and sessions, but the sessions were not getting into my thick skull, and breakfast was the same thing I have had for 5 days. I was exhausted, and my brain was drained. So I bailed on the last session, as there wasn't anything in that time slot that was remotely interesting. So I headed out on my excellent adventures.

First stop, the Hyde Street cable car. This is actually something I would say everyone in San Fran should do at least once, its just like the canals of Venice, you just have to, and its fun. So the stop was just around the corner from my hotel, and thankfully it was one of the terminus's. If you don't get on at a terminus of the route, you don't get on. Even then there was a pretty big line up. While I waited I shot a bunch of picks:

What is neat about these things, is that the system has been in place (and largely unchanged) for about 130 years. So when the cable cars come to the either end, they actually have to be manually rotated on the turn table.

Now I didn't ride the cars all the way to the end, instead I hoped off on Lombard, Lombard being the most twisted road in the world. So here I said good bye to the cable car, and hello to the rest of my journey.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Quick Update

Hey all, I have had a busy busy busy day, but I got to see a LOT of San Fran. I will post everything in more when I get back from dinner, but here is a taste of things to come :)

So tune in around 1:00 Am Toronto time, or first thing in the morning.

Night on the town

Once more we ventured out into San Francisco for dinner as a big group, and in spite of going to a well known restaurant, at a well known location, and handing the driver a piece of paper with both the name and address clearly printed (I didn't write it.) The driver dropped us off at the wrong address, fortunately, he got the street right, and it was only a few blocks away. I just wish I had realized before I had tipped him.

The restaurant was McCormick & Kuleto's down by the fisherman's wharf, and it was in no uncertain terms a Sea Food restaurant. We once more went through a plethora of appatizers:

For my main course I was split between trying something new (and scary) or going with shellfish which I generally like. In the end I chose new, but it was only sort of new, and that is cedar plank salmon. It was pretty good, I find the cedar gives it an almost buttery taste. It was served in a "northern berry sauce" which I think was raspberry and blueberries.

We followed on dinner with cappuccino and liqueurs, then some farewells and back to the hotel to rest. Most people are flying out today, but I was in it for the long haul. I'm off now for "the rock" so many more pictures later today.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Well Wednesday was an interesting day for sessions, I finally got my hands on the Datapower appliance, and the thing is certainly powerful. Unfortunately it may not be the device for the job I had in mind, but I think I may yet make use of it.

I don't have any bizarre dinner images today because we went to the Exploratorium for finger food, and while it was pretty good, it wasn't plentiful, nor photogenic. Actually in general I had some serious camera failure, most of my images came out blurry (blurrier then even I am willing to post :) ) So here is one or two from the Exploratorium that are barely presentable.

The first one is a large scale version of the old women/young girl shadow and shape illusion, of course in this case it is pillar/man but still neat.

This was a cool model of everyones favorite nucleic acid.

The last I snapped because the statement seemed rather flippant, "If something isn't made of cells, it's not alive." Well first of bacteria, and other single cell organisms are not made of cells, they are made of a cell. That may be seen as semantic, but what about virus's? I realize they are often a hotly discussed in the alive/not-alive scientist wars, but to dismiss the whole issue with a sub-title just made me go grrrrrr.

Otherwise the place was a lot like our science center, but built in an old hanger. Lots of cool hands on explorations of optics, acoustics and waves, electricity, biology (including about a half a dozen microscopes with live cell cultures like beating embryonic(not human) heart cells,) perception and all the other cool physics like demonstrations.

I got back to my room fairly early (for this week) and crashed with my book. Any ways here are the images, and maybe I will dig up some more interesting stuff today. Tomorrow I will go to Alcatraz for real!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Adopt a microbe is bloggers blog of the day, and I say its microbliscious (ps don't lick bacterial cultures, unless they are made up of Streptoccus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.)

Dinner Cam Strikes Again

Well another day, and another set of images, I will start with the view from the room, its not great as it looks in on the court yard and pool (note the pool is on the 16th floor, and I'm on 17.)

In the lobby today they also had some hotel staff pumpkins, and since pumpkin's are the theme of the day I thought I might share a few of my favorites.

We had a break in the sessions today (and by break I mean there was a time slot right after lunch that didn't have educational sessions, but vendor sales pitches, which in my vocabulary is the same as a break.) So I headed down to visit a building that was assume in its magnitude and architecture; the Westfield San Fransisco Center, aka the mall.

After the mall it was on to the Apple store,

With the glass stairs,

And Glass Bridge,
Both exceptionally cooler in person (I was really rushing with the camera today sorry.)

Finally it was on to the main event you have all been waiting for, what did I eat for dinner :)

We set out to a local restaurant named Kuleto's Italian Restaurant, thanks to our IBM rep Alok we enjoyed a gourmet meal. We started with an sampling of 5 different appetizers, that I'm sad I didn't get on the camera, and I can't really do justice to them in text, suffice it to say they were all delicious combinations of interesting tastes in balance and opposition.

As for my dinner, well I had a fillet mignon beautifully grilled with Gorgonzola tortellini and some greens in a vinaigrette

Dessert, mmm dessert was a blueberry creme brule to die for, it wasn't that photogenic, but here it is,

Well that's todays wacky news, as for the conference, I learned a lot about the capabilities of WESB and WPS, for those not in the know WESB is WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, and WPS is the WebSphere processes servers. Both are different application runtimes in the WebSphere stack that enable SOA. At the rate these products, and the tooling are developing, developers are soon going to be obsolete. Interestingly, IBM for years has said that ESB is an architectural concept, not a product, in spite of products from other vendors which would beg to differ:
Which either for fun, or maybe because it is a popular beer IBM has had stocked at all the meet'n'greets.

After IBMs years on the architectural fence, they finally decided to up the anti and add a middle ware product to support an ESB architecture. So, so long ESB, and long live ESB.

The other product of note is the DataPower/IBM SOA Appliance. Sounds like an awesome product for off loading XML work to a piece of hardware, like one might off load routing from a server to a router, or load balancing etc. My only problem is I can't get the techies and sales men pitching the product to shut the hell up about the magical things it can do for security, and tell me how I'm going to save CPU cycles from XML parsing, but maintain the flexibility of an SOA interface.

Well, I'm beat, and still digesting, so bed for me. I will have lots of great stuff tomorrow since we are going to the Exploration.

Night from the West Side, Yo!