Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Clandestine Meeting

Gail and I started a Christmas tradition a couple of years ago -- on Christmas eve, we have fondue for dinner (bread and cheese fondue first, then beef fondue, and chocolate fondue for dessert), and then everyone puts on brand new pajamas, and we all do a big jigsaw puzzle. I bought some puzzles on eBay the other day just for this reason, and noticed that the seller lives in Hamilton. I asked him if he wouldn't mind me picking the puzzles up to save myself shipping costs, and he said no problem. Once I won the auction, we arranged to meet at a Tim Horton's (how Canadian, eh?) across from Limeridge Mall. I told him I'd wear a red baseball cap so he'd recognize me (Gail thought that the whole "red baseball cap" thing was very funny), and he said to look for an old man with gray hair and a cane.

I was going Christmas shopping anyway, so I showed up a little early and had dinner. Vegetable soup and chicken salad sandwich combo. On whole wheat. With a Coke. I finished that and then went back up for a donut and hazelnut smoothee (mmmmmmmm... hazelnut) and while I was enjoying that, a woman who was the quintessential "little old lady" came up to me and said "Excuse me, but are you the puzzle man?" I told her I was, and she motioned me over to where she and her husband were sitting. Her husband was the man with the cane - there was a large tree in between where they were sitting and where I was sitting, so I hadn't seen them (good thing I wore my red baseball cap!). We chatted for a minute or two, I thanked them for meeting me so I could save the shipping costs, and went our separate ways.

My car still smells like hazelnut smoothee.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Harry the Fourth

Gail and I played hookey flexed some work time this afternoon and went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The movie raised a few questions: How many times can you say that the fourth movie in a series was just as good as the first, if not better? How many movies would Gary Oldman agree to be in if he was offered maybe 3 minutes of screen time, and you could barely even recognize him? How do you make a 2 1/2 hour movie out of a 700 page book without skipping any important stuff?

It had its flaws (Harry, Ron, and Hermione all look older than the 14 they're supposed to be), and some stuff was missing (the Dursley's and Mrs. Weasley weren't there at all, Fleur and Krum said almost nothing, and I missed Krum's trouble with Hermione's name - "Herm-o-ninny") but we really enjoyed it. As usual, the views of the school and surrounding grounds were amazing, Snape was sufficiently slimy (though less negative towards Harry than in the previous movies), Draco was somehow a bully and a chickenshit at the same time, and Ron was scared silly (though this time, it wasn't spiders or other monsters that scared him, it was (gasp) girls). The only person who seemed out of character was Dumbledore - he seemed more angry than usual, and also seemed to have more energy than a man his age should have.

It'll be a two-year wait, but we're already looking forward to the next movie - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!

In other news, I ordered a new home gym yesterday, and it's being delivered tomorrow. Click here, then click on Strength, and look under "Northern Lights Multi Gyms" for a model called Granite. I didn't get the 50 lb extra weight - 150 lbs should do me for the time being (and the forseeable future). I'm not planning on entering any weightlifting or bodybuilding competitions or anything, I'm just hoping to tone a little and hopefully lose the "love handles" around my waist. I started working out shortly after Ryan was born - we bought a treadmill, and I lost 25 pounds in about 4 months. I bought a cheap little weight bench and a few free weights a year or so later, and I've been using them ever since, though the fact that I work out alone and don't have a lot of time to be switching plates and stuff around meant that the number of exercises that I could do was very limited. With this thing, there are tons of things I can do, I can change weights in seconds, and there's no danger of dropping the weights on my chest or neck or anything, so it's safer. I'm really looking forward to this...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Things are more like they are now than they ever used to be

I remember a time, not too long ago, when a 540 MB hard drive cost just over $500 - the rule of thumb for disk storage at the time was roughly a buck a meg. Right now at Factory Direct, you can get a 250 GB hard drive for $119, which is less than 50 cents a gig. Which means that in less than ten years, the price of hard disk storage has come down by a factor of two thousand.

Our first computer (in 1982) was a Commodore VIC-20, with 3.5 kB of usable RAM, and the only storage was tape casettes. It cost something like $400. After a while, we got a 16 kB expansion cartridge, and I didn't know what to do with all the extra memory. Eventually (maybe 1985) we moved up to an XT with an 8 kHz processor, some terribly small amount of RAM (definitely measured in kB, not MB), and two floppy drives (no hard disk) - this machine cost over 2 grand. My dad bought a 10 MB hard disk a little while later, and we were on the leading edge of computing. Now, twenty years later, there's a far more powerful computer embedded in your average vending machine, and I have a little two-inch-long thing that hangs on my key chain that can store 128 MB.

It's almost scary to think what computing will be like 10 or 20 years from now. This post kind of reminds me of the book The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil, which I read a year or two ago (and inspired the album Spiritual Machines by Our Lady Peace). Kurzweil talks about how much more powerful (and cheaper) computers are getting, and eventually, they will be as powerful and fast as the human brain -- and what happens then? Will people start getting microprocessor implants to enhance memory, intelligence, or even things like strength or muscular endurance? How many such implants can one have before the line between human and machine gets blurry? A really interesting read.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ovechkin and Ponikarovsky

I've heard quite a bit about Alexander Ovechkin recently. He was the first pick just before the "season that wasn't", but then seemed to have been forgotten about, what with the lockout and then the end of the lockout and then the whole Sidney Crosby mania. He won't be forgotten about for long though - he's rivalling Crosby for most points by a rookie this year. The way they talk about him on the radio is impressive - he's a scoring machine, who has as good a chance as anybody of scoring 70 goals in the next couple of years. Considering 50-goal scorers have been rather rare in the last couple of years, this would be quite an accomplishment. Anyway, I heard an interview with him the other day, and he said that he wants to play as much as possible - forward, defence, on the PP and PK, anywhere. He just loves to play. His coach said that he's adapting to life in North America quite well - he's working hard on his English, and even turned down an offer to be roommates with one of his Russian teammates, figuring that if he's bunking with a native-English speaker, his English will improve that much faster. Nice to hear about a hard-working athlete who is playing because he loves to play, and doesn't consider himself God's gift to his sport (are you reading this, Terrell Owens?).

Also heard another nice story about the Leaf game yesterday - Carlo Colaiacovo took a shot towards the net that Alexei Ponikarovsky seemed to deflect into the net. Ponikarovsky was given credit for the goal, but immediately went to the ref and told him that he didn't touch it, and that Colaiacovo should be given credit. He also knew that it would have been Colaiacovo's first NHL goal, so he went and grabbed the puck. After talking to the ref the second time, he gave the puck to Colaiacovo, and credit for the goal was changed. He could easily have just taken credit, but went out of his way to make sure the right person got the goal. Attaboy.