Sunday, November 28
I don't buy into omens -- bad or otherwise. However, I think it's a bad sign that my fortune cookie recently didn't include a fortune. Does that mean that I don't have any luck at all? I hope not -- although the black cat that walked in front of my car the other day probably isn't a good sign.
So despite signs to the contrary, I think things are starting to look up. I've got a couple of meetings coming up and I hope that those will be productive. And despite nothing solid coming out of an earlier meeting, the guy said I did "reasonably well" and "above average" on a very long test. Woo-hoo!
Friday, November 26
Apparently, having a film made in France with a French cast and production crew doesn't count as a French film, according to a CBC News story. A French court ruled that the film isn't French because the new movie was funded by a company backed by American studio Warner Bros.
Well, even if some of the French are rejecting this movie, I'm looking forward to seeing the latest work from director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and actress Audrey Tautou. They were both involved in the whimsical Amélie in 2001.
Wednesday, November 24
HANCOCK -- Back here in Hancock after another jaunt downstate. Hopefully, I'll have a quiet Thanksgiving.
Just to follow up on Monday's trip to the Soo, here's more information on Algontario -- the ship I saw pass through the locks Monday night. It's so impressive seeing how the 730-foot-long vessel slowly and carefully threaded its way through the relatively narrow MacArthur Lock. I definitely gained an appreciation of how these ships and crew do their jobs.
Thanks to BoatNerd.com for the link to the Algoma central Corp.'s Web site. BoatNerd is a valuable Web site featuring "tonnes" of information about shipping on the Great Lakes.
Speaking of appreciation, I really enjoyed walking through the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Ontario. All those planes and the pilots who flew them did a bang-up job helping to keep the remote parts of Canada connected and safe from fires. I really enjoyed reading the history of the planes and the close access that I got to many of the historic workhorses of the north.
I wasn't excited about losing CDN$20 playing blackjack at the "charity" casino, but them's the breaks I suppose. I was happy about having poutine for the first time and finding a Remembrance Day quarter with the red poppy on it (or the "The Poppy Coin" as the Royal Canadian Mint calls it). It's the first colored coin in circulation and it's a neat way of honoring vets.
Monday, November 22
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- Just wrapping up a day of exploring the city so nice, there's two of them -- Sault Ste. Marie. They're the twin cities in Ontario and Michigan separated by St. Mary's River.
After I got to see the freighter Argontario pass through the MacArthur Lock with its cargo of grain, I walked over to the restaurant at the local Ramada. My eye passed over a portion of the CBS Evening News. CBS presented the news in a way that was an interesting juxtaposition. First, they had a report on the dreadful hunting incident in Wisconsin where a trespassing hunter decided to gun down five people dead and injuring several others. Then, the next story was about the brawl that broke out between the players and the fans at Saturday's Pistons-Pacers game in Auburn Hills.
The other three customers in the bar and I were disgusted and disturbed by both of those incidents -- they transcend the boundaries of the law and ethics and breach the traditions that many of us hold dear. These traditions include professional sports and hunting -- which is a tradition to many if a somewhat dubious endeavor to others.
For many years, I was quite proud of how many Americans conduct themselves during sporting events. I could hold America up on a pedestal while the football-mad Europe tore themselves up into a riotous frenzy over a match.
No longer. I never thought that American fans were genteel when it came to rooting for the home team or razzing the opposition, but I thought that we were generally well-mannered when it came to playing by the rules on and off the field. The NBA incident and the several other acts of violence in recent years gives me pause. I think that we need to question who we are as fans of the sport and take the necessary steps toward maintaining the dignity that most professional sports deserve.
Tuesday, November 16
Just looked at the Free Press, I can't believe there's only 10 days until Thanksgiving. Where has the time gone?
Monday, November 15
Actually, the title should read "bland." In my ever-ongoing quest to eat healthier, I recently purchased some turkey bacon. I like crumble up the bacon and add it to grits. I think it makes for some decent eating. I had hoped for the turkey bacon to be a pleasant substitute for my favorite hickory-smoked pork bacon. I was sadly disappointed.
First off, I probably shouldn't have used wax paper in the oven. It started smoking and set off the fire alarm. Not cool. I quickly pulled the battery out of the alarm and opened the door to vent the apartment.
When I pulled the bacon out of the oven, it looked pretty much the same as it went in -- like enlongated turkey balogna. It was slightly darkened and perhaps firmer than before. There was very little shrinkage.
The true test is the one of taste. The taste was like crunchy bacon-flavored cardboard. It was alright on my grits once I had added a pat of butter and some ground pepper. It shouldn't have been this way -- the bacon should've been great all by itself.
I guess my desire to find a substitute for something that is probably irreplaceable is to blame. Like the vegetarian who busts out a tofukey for Thanksgiving dinner, there are substitutes but I don't think these can truly replace what we've removed.
On an upnote, if the creators of this turkey bacon want to make turkey Canadian bacon, all they've got to do is relabel turkey balogna and then they're off to the races.
Thursday, November 11
I saw The Incredibles this week. Like nearly everyone else, I found it to be a kick-butt CGI film that's probably better than most live-action "blockbusters."
Anyway, while I was buying my ticket for the show, I noticed that the marquee outside the theater had a hidden message:
When I asked the staff about it, they were just as amazed as me. Probably just a funny convergence of certain movie titles.
Still, it was fun, just like when I pointed out to the auto shop people that one of the advertisements on the store's door promoted a product that would "pull" for you. Trouble is, it's on a door you push to enter the building.
A gig of Web-based e-mail is all well and good, but lot of other people, including me, want to be able to download messages to our desktops.
According to a MacCentral story (via Y!), Google is planning to give Gmail POP3 support as well as antivirus protection. Kudos to Google for working on this -- I think it definitely adds value to their product because I'm definitely more willing to use their service.
Wednesday, November 10
BBC World seems to have joined the rest of the news channel pack and made their news ticker a permanent addition to their newscast.
Now, BBC World has used the ticker before, but it usually appeared during breaking news events and when they're sharing coverage with BBC News 24. On the other hand, I'm watching BBC World's coverage of Yasser Arafat's death right now and the ticker is absent.
I'm sure I'll get used to it, but it's hard for me to get used to that ticker for now. The design is neat, but it's disconcerting. The fact that the ticker vanishes underneath the BBC World logo before it can move off the screen is off putting to me. It's also weird that the ticker is actually lifted off of the bottom of the screen instead of being anchored down.
Still, the information that's presented in the ticker can be useful to the casual viewer.
Just browsing through RSS feeds recommended by Yahoo! and Taquitos.net's World of Potato Chips and Snacks pops up.
If you've ever paused at the convenience store line wondering if that Key Lime-flavored Kit-Kat bar is worth your 65˘, then this is the site for you. There's so many snacks that get reviewed on this Web site, it's M-Azing (which the reviewer says is "too sweet" and "nothing great.")
Monday, November 8
I know I'm a week late writing this, but I wanted to say it's a shame that SNL did their "Mrs. Dr. Frankenstein" sketch. In that sketch, a female Dr. Frankenstein (Kate Winslet) created the "perfect man" who happens to be gay. It's only a shame because a few months ago, during the federal anti-gay marriage amendment debate, I was thinking how funny it would be to have a gay Dr. Frankenstein make a gay bride. It would be the "Gay Bride of Frankenstein."
Of course, my take on the sketch would've been more political than the SNL version -- the townspeople would wonder if they hate the monster because he's a "monster" or because he's gay. I'm sure there would've been a way to make it funny and still make a point, but I'm not a comedian so what do I know. It's probably for the best that SNL didn't "go there."
I meet the minimum requirement to emigrate to Canada as a "skilled worker" according to the Government of Canada's Skilled Worker Self-Assessment. There's some other requirements that I don't currently meet (like having enough money to make it six months in the True North, Strong and Free), but it's still nice to know -- just in case. ;)
Saturday, November 6
The Michigan Tech University football team was having a dream season -- they were perfect going into today's Bash at the Big House. The MTU Huskies were facing off against Grand Valley State University at the University of Michigan's stadium in Ann Arbor in an effort to smash NCAA Division II attendance records.
The stage was set for a fairy-tale ending for the Huskies -- MTU was stomping on the competition and GVSU had just lost their two last games. Alas, it wasn't meant to be according to the recap on the MTU Athletics Web site. Grand Valley won 24-7 after several Tech players suffered serious injuries in the game's first half.
The quest to break the attendance record fell short by about 10,000 people. It was still the second-largest DII crowd ever. I think it would've been fun to have been there.
Next stop for the Huskies is the playoffs. We'll see where they go from there.
Wednesday, November 3
Tuesday, November 2
2:51 a.m. - There's only one thing I'm going to call - bedtime. It's probably not going to end tonight so I'll try and get some rest. I guess I'm not alone, CBC just wrapped for the night.
I do have to say that this is almost as nervewracking as 2000. I think it's even worse because this election seems to be far more important in my mind than 2000. Never has the choice been clearer and yet we've turned away from what I consider to be the right decision.
On the TV coverage, NBC has a big map of the U.S. in "Democracy Plaza." I thought there would be a high-tech way of coloring in the map. Turns out they have people go out and paint a state red or blue once the campaign desk makes a call.
One last thought on the coverage. The CBS analyst is using a giant touch-screen that slides thumbnails of data around until he enlarges it. Kicks much butt over Russert's touchscreen on NBC.
2:45 a.m. - NBC is standing by its decisions on giving Ohio to Bush. Kudos to ABC, CBS and CBC for not making a decision on Ohio. At this point, I think it's too hasty to make a call on the election until the provisional ballots have been counted (I hope it doesn't take 11 days).
To be fair, Peter Mansbridge is talking to a CBC reporter who basically calls Kerry's route to the White House nearly impossible at this point.
Note: Those are just the stations I'm monitoring. It's interesting how the CBC has called more states than the American broadcast networks. Right now, the CBC is calling the race Bush 249-Kerry 242.
2:30 a.m. - I get back from my break to see John Edwards give the "not going to concede" speech on CBC. Missed it, but it appears things won't be decided tonight.
1:55 a.m. - ABC commentators are citing exit poll data suggesting many independent Ohio voters cited "moral values" over the economy and terrorism as the primary issue in the election.
It's interesting that this would be the election that "character" may be a deciding factor. Considering his disastrous record domestically and abroad, I guess some are ignoring Bush's considerable flaws and clutch to his persona.
What do people see in Bush? A man who is so sure of his faith and confidence that "reality-based" facts and rational objections have no meaning? A man whose "firmness" includes "flip-flopping" on issues like the Department of Homeland Security and the Sept. 11 Commission? Whose strong sense of conviction includes sitting in a classroom doing nothing while our nation falls under attack and abandoning our search for Osama bin Laden to pursue a preemptive war against a sovereign nation that actually had no weapons of mass destruction and very few terrorists?
I guess Bush was wrong when he said "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a second time ... won't get fooled again." For the second time, America has been hoodwinked by Team Bush. I'm very worried about our nation right now. I'm taking a break from the coverage for a minute.
1:35 a.m. - Ohio. The road to the presidency leads through Ohio. Right now, nearly all the newscasts are playing a waiting game to see how things play out. Rather gave a pretty awkward reason why CBS News isn't making a call. So far, CBS, CBC and ABC are still waiting to make calls.
1:03 a.m. - NBC calls Ohio for Bush. Things don't look to plummy.
12:29 a.m. - Watching the CBC now, commentator Rex Murphy was reading viewers' comments from an expat GOP party in Toronto restaurant. The comments were alright, but the thing was Murphy repeatedly joked about the cold beer on tap and possibly indulging in it.
Canada, what an awesome country! Of course, the U.S. election is very important, but can you imagine Tim Russert doing such a thing?
12:21 a.m. - Just got back from the county courthouse. The county went for Bush in a big way -- the president won 56.06 percent of 15,964 votes cast. Sen. Kerry won 42.45 percent.
Voter turnout was extremely high -- 64.36 percent of the county's 24,804 registered voters cast ballots. It's kinda of a bummer, but I'm heartened by the fact that people made their decision. I just wish the outcome was different -- just like the national returns that I'm seeing.
My trip to get the county results is the continuation of a tradition that I've had going since 1998. I loved going down to Golden Hall in San Diego to see the returns. Compared to the frenzy of the San Diego recount, the Houghton County affair was tame in comparison.
There were still some close local races among some blow-outs. In an interesting bit of duality, voters ousted the three incumbent Hancock city councilmembers but chose to keep the three Houghton city councilmen.
8:46 p.m. - It's a little annoying when news announcers say a partisan's guess about an outcome is as good as theirs. Regardless of which party the partisan supports, they're clearly motivated to support their side compared to the hopefully impartial news professionals.
8:21 p.m. - Great, Tim Russert's upgraded his whiteboard to a TabletPC. It looks a little silly.
BTW, speaking of TV, the Vidiots over at Teevee.org are liveblogging the election and returns if you want a slightly different take on things.
8:19 p.m. - I'm about to go to the Houghton County Courthouse to see how the local returns are coming in. My hunch right now is that the county is going to go for Bush, but we'll just have to see.
I get the familiar sense of nervousness mount watching the returns come in on the networks (right now, I'm bouncing between NBC and ABC). Listening to the interviews and commentary on NPR is also vexing. It's a familiar feeling -- it happens with nearly every election and it never gets better.