Sunday, June 27, 2010

Professor Nicky teaches Fluid Dynamics 101

We bought a rain barrel about a month ago, and my father-in-law installed it for us. There's a short hose that comes out of the bottom of the barrel so that you can use it to water the garden, but I was never able to get the hose to work. I'd take the nozzle end out of the clamp and open it, but no water came out. I've done this at least four or five times over the last month before I told Gail the other day that there was something wrong with the barrel.

This morning I was talking to my father-in-law on the phone, and mentioned this hose problem to him. He suggested that maybe there was some kind of cap that should have been removed before the hose was attached, so I might have to remove the hose and see what's there. Nicky happened to be playing Wii in the next room while I was on the phone, and heard the conversation (well, my end of it, anyway). Once I was off the phone, he told me that he's been able to get the hose to work, but he had to hold the nozzle end of the hose lower than the level of the water in the barrel, otherwise the water would have to travel upwards.

I quite literally smacked myself in the head. Of course the water won't go upwards unless something's pushing it, and there's no pump inside the barrel to push it. Thank goodness I had an eight-year-old around to help me with this, or I'd have been out there pulling the barrel apart.

Spammers is so stupid


Pictures from Toronto

I don't usually make a post that's just a link to another article, but here is a collection of fantastic photographs taken in downtown Toronto yesterday during the protests. There are some pictures of the peaceful protestors, and then there are some of the idiots in black with masks from an "anarchist group" (a contradiction in terms) who were just there to smash and burn stuff. If you really believe in something so strongly that you think violence and vandalism (arguably terrorism) is the way to solve it, at least have the balls to show your face while you do it. Otherwise you're just another coward.

As seen on twitter: "Nothing says "courage of your convictions" like wearing a mask and changing your clothes after committing acts of arson & vandalism."

I especially like the one in front of Foot Locker, with the anarchist guy doing the Safety Dance.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Define "fun"

We took the boys to see Toy Story 3 tonight (mini review: lots of fun! Shrek people take notice: this is how you make a really good sequel), and on the way to the theatre, for no particular reason, Gail and I decided to keep our destination secret. Nicky kept asking where we were going and when we wouldn't tell him, he finally asked "are we going somewhere fun?" In my best "I-can't-believe-you-asked-that" voice, I said "Fun? Of course it's somewhere fun! We always go to fun places! When have we ever taken you anywhere that wasn't fun?" With almost no hesitation, he said "The hospital?"

I had to give him that one. Nicky 1, Daddy 0.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Top Ten Musical Ironies

  1. U2, "Pop" – Pop is, of course, short for "popular", yet this was U2's worst-selling and most critically disappointing album ever.
  2. The Beatles, With A Little Help From My Friends. The song is sung by Ringo Starr, who is a fine drummer but a crappy singer. (Actually, he's not even that great a drummer – John Lennon was once asked if he thought Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world. John replied "He's not even the best drummer in the band", referring to Paul McCartney. But I digress.) He would never have been famous without a lot of help from his friends John, Paul, and George. The real irony is the first line of the song: Ringo sings "What would you think if I sang out of tune?".
  3. Alanis Morrisette – Ironic – A song called Ironic containing no irony is itself ironic.
  4. Nirvana, Come As You Are – Kurt Cobain singing "I swear that I don't have a gun" was the inspiration for this list.
  5. Various, Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. They use the word "Rock" in the title, but they are not rock. Not even close. As I've said once before, if Rrrrrandy Travis can sing Jingle Bell Rock without changing either his style or the song's style, it's not rock.
  6. Five for Fighting. The band name implies strength and toughness (dare I say truculence?), but all of their songs (that I've heard) can only be described as "soft rock" – in other words, wimpy and lame. More like two for unsportsmanlike diving.
  7. Yoko Ono. She doesn't play any instrument – I've seen video of her pretending to play the keyboard (finger-syncing?) at a John Lennon concert as well as playing an electric keyboard that was not plugged in. Her singing makes Ringo Starr sound like Freddie Mercury. Yet she was married to one of the most talented musicians and songwriters of the rock era. And he thought she was supremely talented. <head shake>
  8. John Mellencamp, Pop Singer. Apparently John "never wanted to be no pop singer, never wanted to write no pop song" but he is and he has. Several of them. Incidentally, if you ever get the chance to see Mellencamp live, do it. I've seen him a few times (and missed another concert a couple of years ago), and he always puts on a great show.
  9. Extreme, More Than Words. Sounds like a slow romantic ballad about true love (performed by a hair metal band, although that's not the ironic part). This was even a popular wedding song in the early-mid 90's. The irony is that is you listen to the lyrics, the idea of the song is not "I love you so much that I don't have to say the words", but "If you love me, you'd show me by having sex with me instead of saying the words." Songwriters Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone (aside: as soon as this article, containing that name, is posted to the internet, long-time Van Halen fans around the world will shudder and not know why) have admitted that the song is about sex. Likely not the kind of message you'd want to give at your wedding.
  10. Linda Ronstadt. She has certainly been successful for a long time, with Grammys and gold records and such, but at one point in the early 70's, her backing band consisted of four guys named Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon. They went on to form The Eagles, who became far more popular than Ronstadt ever was.