Randomness (Happy Groundhog Day!)

Saskatchewan Round-Up
Sask Government Insurance, a crown corporation that provides insurance to all drivers in our province, is offering $180 rebates to safe drivers on their automobile insurance and lowering rates by an average of 5% as well (when we already have the lowest auto insurance rates in Canada – why do you think I love public ownership for services like this?) The big question though, with an election looming, is “Calvert Cash” the equivalent of “Ralph Bucks” in Alberta?

The right-wing Fraser Institute think tank has named Saskatchewan as having the third-best investment climate in Canada.  That's so strange-sounding, I'm going to repeat it: the right-wing Fraser Institute think tank has named Saskatchewan as having the third-best investment climate in Canada.  (The Fraser Institute redeems themselves by attacking the Sask government for being too cozy with unions and for excessive spending. Whew – thought I'd dropped into an alternate universe there for a second!)

Nothing is weirder than flipping through the channels and seeing an actor being interviewed in Hollywood and wearing a t-shirt from your small Saskatchewan hometown!   Turns out his name is Dustin Milligan, he's from the Northwest Territories, he recently shot a horror movie called “The Messengers” in Indian Head and he's now moved to Hollywood to make his fame and fortune.  (Reminds me of doing the Saskatchewan thing and going up to somebody wearing a “Moose Jaw” shirt in Ohio last summer.  Turns out “Moose Jaw” isn't just the name of a city in Saskatchewan, it's a clothing company in Michigan.  Oops!)

The last big
celebs to hit IH were Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mischa
Barton when she was still relatively unknown.  So perhaps some similar
good prairie karma will follow this kid?  Those three actors were in IH to shoot a movie called “Skipped Parts
and I'd highly recommend it as well as the original book by Tim Sandlin.  The
subject matter is potentially offensive – young kids experimenting with
sex around the time of the Kennedy assassination – but the book is excellent.  That's actually where the title comes from – both lead characters are bookish and want to find out what happens
in the parts that authors skip in the books that they write.  (“Avery carried Simone into the bedroom, closing the door gently behind him with a sweep of his foot.”  Chapter Two:  “When they awoke the next morning…”)

Internet Round-Up
I finally broke down and subscribed to Carbonite (well, its 14-day free trial anyhow) which is an online backup utility.  For $5 a month, a small program sits on your computer and automatically backs up any files and folders you designate, working in the background.  It technically has no limit to how much you can upload but they suggest not going higher than 50 GB and won't back up audio/video files during the trial period – only if you're a paying customer.  I could easily buy a decent hard drive for the same amount as I'll pay for this service for a year (heck, I think I have a hard drive or two kicking around that would work.)  That's why I held off subscribing to this service when I first heard about it.  But the convenience factor makes it well-worth it – both because it works wherever I am as long as I'm connected to the Net (ie. 100% of the time at home with my laptop and wireless) and not just when I'm at my desk plugged into an external hard drive.  Plus the big problem with back-ups is a) the software usually sucks in one way or another, b) you have to remember to do it and c) if you do it, say weekly, you're still at risk of losing stuff in a crash.  This service provides near-instantaneous, constant back-up.

Foxmarks is a Firefox extension that helps you synchronize your bookmarks between different machines as well as allowing you to access them remotely.  I've played around a lot with Delicious in the past month and although it has many features I like – sharing bookmarks, seeing who else and how many people have bookmarked things, I was just never happy with the interface.  I'm a librarian – I like folders and think that tagging, although useful to a point, has many disadvantages as well.  If Delicious would allow you to view your bookmarks in a tree structure (other than their “tag bundles” which I don't like either), I might use it all the time.  But until that happens, it'll be my secondary bookmark service, mostly for saving articles and unique sites I come across that I don't want to make part of my main bookmarks. 

I'm really liking Reddit as an alternative to Digg – stories seem to be discussed in a more mature manner and be of a higher quality in general. 

I was looking for an iPhoto equivalent (quiet all you Mac people – I know, buying a Mac would give me the real thing!) as Google's Picasa which we use to manage our digital photos (and like very much) doesn't offer much in terms of creating slideshows.  After looking around a bit, it turns out a Microsoft product, Photo Story, is exactly what I was looking for – very easy-to-use, full-featured  and intuitive.   Plus it's a free download if you own Windows XP.  So after playing around with it a bit, I was quite impressed.  But it turned out that Microsoft can't help but disappoint.  For some reason, I can create slideshows from my digital photos but it won't let me save the project files to work on them later.  (If anybody decides to try this program, let me know if you have a similar problem.  One online board suggested it was a memory problem but it doesn't matter if I create a slideshow of one photo with no music – no saving is possible.  So frustrating!)

Anyhow, here's something I banged out tonight while watching the Flames crush the Blue Jackets.  I didn't spend a lot of time synching the images and music (though there are a couple cool points where it does seem to match up) and I've just used random images from the past year.  Apologies in advance if I used a photo of you that you think is non-flattering or if I used too many photos of you (or not enough.)  I can't save the file to work on it later but I'll leave it open on my computer for a few days (barring a crash or something) and if you really feel strongly about not wanting your photo included in this, e-mail me and I'll take it out.  Alternately, if you want the original version of the slideshow which is much better quality,  e-mail me for that (or if you want any of the individual photos.)  Oh, and feel free to put a link or embed the video on your blog too if you want.  The code to do so is on the YouTube page.

“The Big Game”
There is a major sporting event happening on Sunday but out of fear of infringing on its copyright, I will not mention it by name.  Neither will I invite over friends to watch it on a screen larger than 55″ nor charge any fee to those attending, even to cover the cost of their share of the pizza.  Isn't copyright grand? (via Reddit)

The Blog Survey

Thanks to everybody who responded so far.  How I can get so many responses for it and only two responses guessing the name of my future child when that request for input included prizes, I'll never know! 

I'm going to leave the blog survey open for awhile if anybody else wants to respond.  Lots of good feedback so far and I do appreciate all of it.  I should mention that I originally called it a “ten minute survey” but in fact it's a “ten question survey” that will take you about two minutes to complete.  So if that's what held you back, here's a link to the survey.

I didn't put the survey up as an ego-stroke (honest!) but I have to pass along this comment, which is extra meaningful because it's from a former classmate who I didn't know very well but who is now a lurker that reads my blog every few days. 

Keep up the great work…Everyone who has had a class with you and/or knows
of your blog sees big things in your future.”

Comments 4

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey, is that guiness cheese with the buzz beer?
    and I never thought to ask if You knew Becky, thogh she's in your slideshow a couple times!
    And that link to the survey didn't work.

    Posted 04 Feb 2007 at 12:45 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    “That's actually where the title comes from – both lead characters are bookish and want to find out what happens in the parts that authors skip in the books that they write”
    Two thoughts on this:
    1) There is a great, although arguably pornographic, short story about what happens in Casablanca between the time that Ilsa confronts Rick in his office/apartment above the bar and it cuts to Rick smoking a cigarette by the window with his tie loosened.
    Wish I could remember the author, although I'm pretty sure that the title is “A kiss is just a kiss”. I read it in one of Alberto Manguel's anthologies.
    2) I often find it more interesting to contemplate what different readers skip. I think that it was Derrida (or was it Foucault? Correct me please if I am wrong.) who defined a great novel as one where you skip different parts each time you read it.
    But few novels are great. Do people skip the same parts in 2nd rate novels? Do the parts they skip say more about the reader than the writer? It isn't the sort of thing that you would study social-scientifically, but it would still be interesting to read about.
    I wouldn't skip either 1) or 2)

    Posted 04 Feb 2007 at 4:25 am
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Yep, a classmate had a wine & cheese and I'd heard about Guinness cheese but never tried it so took some with me.
    I did know Becky but didn't really get to know her until my last semester. We ended up being on a trivia team together a few times. She's pretty cool (and I say that not just because she told me she reads my site sometimes! )

    Posted 06 Feb 2007 at 4:02 am
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I'd never heard that Derrida/Focault quote – a great novel is one where you skip different parts each time you read it? I must be thick today (today?) as I just don't follow that. I guess it could mean that you can go into it at any point and enjoy it without having to read it cover to cover? But to me, the point of a great novel is that you want to read it cover to cover and *not* skip anything that's boring or sub-par or whatever.

    Posted 06 Feb 2007 at 4:06 am

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