Friday, August 31, 2007

I Wouldn't Have Used That Title.

Looking through the book isle at London Drugs today I noticed a book in the Science Fiction section with a slightly surprising title. It was Vaders by R. Patrick Gates. The publisher considers it horror, but even given that I was surprised to see someone using that name for a book given everyone's favourite Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. You'd think Gates and the book's publisher, Pinnacle, would be worried about running afoul of George Lucas's lawyers, even though the book itself has nothing in it that could be considered a Star Wars ripoff. People have gotten into legal trouble over such things, such as Saskatchewan restaurant chain Tomas the Cook, which was originally Tomas Cook until the travel firm Thomas Cook took umbrage, even though the two are in different businesses.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou Gor?

It's a sad commentary on how much my output via this blog has decreased that my July post about Dark Horse Comics resurrecting John Norman's Gor books is still visible on the main page. Be that as it may it's time for a brief update. Seeing Norman mentioned in the comments section of a Pharyngula post made me head over to Dark Horse's site to see when the first Gor omnibus would be released. But when I used the search engine to find the page for Gor I got no results. The press release I linked to in my previous blog post has vanished. Very interesting. still has a pre-order page up for the book, with a release date of November 15th. So does this mean the book is still coming out? Or has Dark Horse quietly shelved the project after getting a bunch of "Geez, how could you?" letters? I have no idea about the actual printing cycle of a modern paperback but it seems likely to me that Dark Horse has already had the books printed. Even if they don't I would assume cancelling a 10 thousand book order or whatever it is with their printers would be a major hit on their bankroll, as presumably there is some sort of financial penalty for cancelling an order pre-printing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh Those Scammers!

Wow, I just got an e-mail from the IRS. It seems they owe me $109.30. Pretty neat for someone who has never filed any sort of US tax return. Of course a look at the message header shows it didn't come from the IRS, a fact I'm sure surprises no one. I would assume they're trying to get ahold of my Social Security number and that kind of thing for ID theft purposes.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Poor Jimmy.

I had assumed we'd heard the last of Jim Pankiw, former MP for my riding. Wrong! He had a letter in today's Saskatoon Star Phoenix. As per much of his political career it was about those horrible nasty Indians out to get everyone. Pankiw describes as "chilling" a statement by Doug Cuthand in his regular SP column that "All Saskatchewan politicians know that they can't ignore the First Nations vote and expect to get elected." Sounds like common sense to me. Would Pankiw find it "chilling" if Cuthand had said "the agricultural vote?" He's also upset that the current birthrate among Saskatchewan's Indians means we could eventually be "overrun" in the future by people with a "race based agenda." Paranoid much?

Pankiw was first a Reform Party MP, and then a Canadian Alliance MP. But its telling that while other members of the Democratic Representative Caucus, a short lived splinter movement from the CA of which he was a member, were eventually brought back into the party he wasn't. Nor was he accepted when the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives became the Conservative Party of Canada. And this is the party that accepted as members such perceived loose canons as MP Myron Thompson. Pankiw was obviously too much of a risk, and a letter like this is a good example why.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mighty Fallen

Today I saw a concert poster for Def Leppard's October concert here in Saskatoon. But what surprised me was the opening act: Styx. The idea of Styx being someone's opening act at this late date is something I'm sure no one imagined they'd ever do again in their late '70s-early '80s heyday, when they had four consecutive albums go multiplatinum, a first at the time. But that was a long time ago, and the material they've released in recent years hasn't exactly set the world on fire. So going back to being an opening act at least keeps them in the public eye. Foreigner will also be opening for Def Leppard on some dates, another example of a band that was a huge hitmaker years ago having to play warmup for a band they were on an equal footing with in the rock world 20 some years ago. Of course it can also be argued that Def Leppard are largely touring on their past success, as their recent albums haven't been smash hits either.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thoughts On A Storm.

A major storm cell began to pass through the Saskatoon area about midnight, eventually bringing a thunderstorm and heavy rain that was almost monsoon like at times. Too bad we couldn't have had this kind of storm last month, when the humidex number was bigger than my belt size and the farmers could have done with the moisture. Now it's largely a nuisance to them as harvest time approaches. In fact I was surprised that we didn't get a major storm last month given the high temperatures and humidity.

There was some spectacular lightning, which I liked. Unlike some other interests of mine I have no real idea why I like lightning, I just do. This may be the last chance to see this stuff this year, so I was glad to see it. I wonder though if it might have looked even more spectacular without the light pollution in the area. The clouds were orangely yellow from the street lights used in the city, and there are other sources.

The heavy rain was not welcome by some Saskatoon residents. Rain Friday caused problems for some, and no doubt this latest batch of heavy rain has aggrevated things, and caused troubles for a new batch of homeowners.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"I won't go and you can't make me!"

NASA has decided that they won't repair damage to the space shuttle Endeavour's heat shielding tiles before it returns to Earth next week. Hearing that made me wonder what NASA might do if one of the crew were to decide that they won't come back to Earth on the shuttle because of that damage. After all the shuttle is docked to the International Space Station. Would they attempt to force the person onto the shuttle? Let them stay on the ISS until its next scheduled crew change, which would no doubt have to be moved up because of the extra supplies another resident on the ISS would use up? Certainly they hope that such a scenario never happens given the kind of troubles they've been having of late, troubles that have brought a lot of negative attention to the agency.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Max Roach, RIP.

I just found out that legendary jazz drummer Max Roach has died at age 83. Roach was one of the key drummers in the development of bebop in the 1940s and played with a who's who of jazz musicians including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie. Roach recorded numerous albums under his own name ranging from hard bop dates in the '50s and '60s to solo percussion recordings. With Roach's death the circle of jazz greats of the '40s shrinks a little bit more.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I decided to make a few changes to things here tonight. The new Blogger format editor is easier to use than the old HTML template system so I've switched over. I did lose the old comments, so thank you to everyone who commented under the old system over the years.

Time To Stock Up?

For the past year or so I've been hearing talk of the death of the CD, whether because of digital downloads or because some new "hard copy" audio format will replace them. The thought came to mind that if these predictions come to pass perhaps that means I should consider stocking up on CD players. After all if the CD is doomed that means sooner or later the prices for them will plummet as demand falls. Therefore eventually there should be tonnes of new CDs dirt cheap, just like you could find oodles of cassettes of various things dirt cheap in the late '90s and early '00s. And despite the horror stories that popped up in the past I've had no problems with my older CDs rotting away. New CD players themselves can be had for pretty damn cheap. So I could buy 5 or 10 portables, stick 'em in a closet someplace, and just crack out a new one as they wear out. If you keep them in the package they should remain usable indefinitely until you actually begin to use them. By the time I run out of players either the CDs will have gone kaput or I'll have gone kaput. Hmmm, we'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Boy, I'm Getting Old.

I really didn't realise just how old I'm getting until I took a look at my Blogger profile today. According to it I'm 250! And here I thought I didn't look a day over 225. There are a couple of places where in the past I entered my age as -63, but as the years have gone by I've found few where that works anymore, no doubt for fear of some kid giving an inaccurate age so they can look at teh pornzez.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Time To Mellow.

Barry Bonds did it last night. He passsed Hank Aaron for all time home runs hit in the majors. So now everyone can calm down and concentrate on who will make it to the playoffs instead of the ongoing hand wringing over whether Bonds has a legitimate claim to the title.

Perhaps now that he's taken the record Bonds will retire at the end of the season. He is 43, and there probably isn't much more he can do to break records with his career.

Of course baseball keeps on going. Former Toronto Blue Jay and frequent Blue Jays broadcast analyst Rance Mulliniks has speculated that Bonds will eventually be overtaken by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees for the career home run crown. A Rod just hit his 500th home run, so all he has to do is hit 260 home runs before he retires to pass Bonds, and given that he may be playing for another 8 or 10 years there's a good chance this will happen.

Whatever happens they all still have a ways to go to catch Japanese great Sadaharu Oh, who is credited with the most home runs for a professional baseball play with 868.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Attack Of The All In Man.

Play online poker for any length of time and you're likely to face the menace of the All In Man(who of course can also be a woman). The All In Man does what his name implies, he goes all in, that is bets all his chips in games where it is allowed, hand after hand, usually before you see the flop. And unfortunately All In Man tends to get paid off for it. Players who don't get premium hands will fold to him, allowing him to steal the blinds and whatever anyone has bet in front of him. Those that don't fold those less than premium hands frequently end up on the short end of the stick against him. If he doesn't get knocked out one or two hands into the game he'll soon have a good enough stack that there's nothing to discourage him, as even if he looses a hand he'll have enough chips to survive all in moves against smaller stacks.

What's even worse is when you get a good hand and he still beats you. I had this happen to me tonight. I was playing in a freeroll on Pokerstars and had built up an alright stack. I ended up on a table with All In Man and folded several hands as a result. Then I got QQ and decided I'd call his all in. After all someone who all ins every hand can't have great cards every time. With only two of us in the hand his hole cards were revealed as 4-5 suited. But as too often seems to be the case with these guys he ended up catching an A to 5 straight and it was byebye for me. Frankly I really should have known better. A better strategy would have been to fold that hand and wait for either someone else to take him out or for the server running the tournament to move one or the other of us to a different table. It was early enough in the tournament, and I had a big enough stack, that I could sit out the blinds for a while. But those ladies were just too tempting.

One On Every Corner?

It sometimes seems like a Tim Hortons outlet is a license to print money. Of course it costs a lot of money to acquire one, a potential franchisee needing to shell out close to half a million before opening the doors. The latest Saskatoon Hortons opened today on 8th Street and Moss Avenue. Yet surprisingly just a couple of blocks away the existing Hortons at 8th and Acadia Drive is still in operation. You'd think they'd be too close together to both continue, and I can't help but speculate that the Acadia outlet only remains open because they still have a lease on the space, and that they will close when said lease expires.

In any case it's not hard to see why a new Hortons is needed in this area. The old outlet does not have a drive through lane and there is no way to install one given its location at one end of a small strip mall adjacent to another strip mall. Go into the Acadia store for much of the day and you'll stand in line for a good while, something having a drive through would reduce, although not entirely. The Hortons at 8th and Cumberland has a drive through, yet you can still end up waiting in line for a good while inside. The drive through is popular enough to cause traffic problems at that corner, which is something that hopefully won't happen at the Moss location.