Friday, April 27, 2007

More Diet Pop Musings.

As a followup to my post on Coke Zero here's a post from the Omni Brain blog on Scienceblogs on why diet soda may taste like crap. I'm not entirely convinced, although I suppose the comments I made could in part reflect a difference in "mouth feel" between Coke Zero and regular Coke. It's also interesting to read the comments about different sugar products being used in Coke in different locations. I knew about the Mexican variation, but it seems Canadian Coke may be different as well from American Coke.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


My latest Mondays With Mike post generated a big pile of hits yesterday, and looks like it will continue to do so today. Whodathunkit? I certainly appreciate those hits more than the several recent ones I received lately for someone trying to find video of Jonesy and Nikki from 6Teen having sex.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Zero For Zero.

This afternoon I did something I had sort of thought about doing for a good while, trying a can of Coke Zero. My verdict? Thumbs down. The can has a line on it about "real Coke taste," and while it's closer than Diet Coke it still doesn't taste the same as a regular Coke. There's too much Aspertame flavour to it still, and overall the taste of the can I had made me think a bit of the taste of Coke that's sat in an opened bottle in the fridge for too long. Of course as I've mentioned elsewhere, although not here I think, regular Coke canned elsewhere tastes different to me than the stuff canned here, so if you live elsewhere you might think Coke Zero tastes a bit closer.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Anything For That 15 Minutes.

It's amazing the crap people will do just to get on TV for a bit. Ashton Kutcher has just helped launch another "reality" series, The Real Wedding Crashers. In it Kutcher and his crew show up at weddings and engage in all sorts of crazy antics. This is with the knowing particpation of the bride and groom. Obviously it would have to be or Kutcher and company would get their butts sued off from here to eternity. But the obvious question is why anyone would want what most people consider one of the most important days of their lives to involve a fake police chase through the wedding site or someone leaping onto the wedding cake. To get on TV is the obvious answer.

One of the decisions made by the wedding couple in all this is whether the pranks are directed at specific persons in the wedding party, which strikes me as a recipe for future marital disaster. After all people have trouble with their inlaws over what to outsiders are trivial things. Imagine the potential for strife when it comes out that you and your new spouse asked the show crew to pick on Uncle Frank or whoever. Someone is not going to end up happy in the long run as a result of all of this, and will live to regret letting their desire to be "famous" overrule their common sense.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mondays With Mike: Live and Tubular.

Tubular Bells made Mike Oldfield famous and well off when he was barely in his twenties. It also has ironically often been a millstone around his neck, with many people no doubt not realising he did anything beyond Tubular Bells. From his Montreux appearance in 1981 here is the opening section, featuring Rick Fenn of 10CC on bass.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm Surprised They Played It.

Before he became famous for charity Bob Geldof was the singer of the group the Boomtown Rats. Their best known song, at least in North America, is "I Don't Like Mondays," written in response to a 1979 shooting by Brenda Ann Spencer. While standing in a store today I was surprised to hear the song playing on Saskatoon's Magic 98.3 FM. I would assume playing it was a deliberate response to Monday's tragedy, but I'm not sure whether it was appropriate or not. While some might see it as a fitting tribute others might not, especially those not familiar with the background of the song. It wouldn't surprise me if some stations pull the song from their playlists for the time being, just as some stations pulled songs like the Tragically Hip's "New Orleans Is Sinking" in the days after the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Don't Do It Backwards.

I'd hate to think any of you are reading this blog, but you never know. If you're a nutbar contemplating going out and shooting a bunch of people, just like today's shooter at Virigina Tech, please make sure you do it in the right order. Shoot yourself in the head FIRST, THEN go out and kill a bunch of people. That's the proper way to do it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Damning With Faint Praise.

Earlier tonight I was watching Space: The Imagination Station whey they had a filler bit between movies for Stargate: Atlantis. The cast member they were talking to said the Wraith, the main baddies on Atlantis, were the alien equivalents of Marilyn Manson. My immediate thought was along the lines of that in effect he's telling us the Wraith's schtick is basically a ripoff of older, more nasty aliens in their galaxy, just as Manson lifted much of his stuff from Alice Cooper. Not quite the effect I think he was going for.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Not Me?

There's been talk in the local press over the last few days about UFOs after a Winnipeg based UFO monitoring group announced that the Saskatchewan town of Maidstone had one of the highest number of UFO sightings in Canada last year. This made me wonder why I've never seen a UFO. Because I've had an interest in aviation since I was little I still frequently look up at the skies, especially if an aircraft passes over. But I've never seen anything I'd call a UFO.

The closest I came was a winter night years ago. Going out to eat I spotted a strange light in the sky. It seemed to be revolving as it came closer. However it soon became obvious that it wasn't something inexplicable, although it was something unusual. It was a light aircraft carrying an animated billboard, advertising something that I unfortunately can't remember. No wonder it looked like it was revolving. I would suspect there are at least a couple of people who saw that plane that night who to this day thought they saw something from "out there."

It's fair to say most people automatically think alien spacecraft when they hear the term UFO. But frankly I think this continued association is due to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of imagination. People still imagine aliens visiting Earth in large crewed spacecraft visible to observers on the ground as they pass by. But given the development of our own technology I expect this is unlikely. On Earth we can already produce small remotely operated vehicles that are designed to be hard to observe from the ground. Such vehicles are predicted to be a major tool for first world militaries over the next few years. Beings who can build interstellar spacecraft will presumably be able to build such vehicles that would be undetectable by current Earth technologies, and if they don't have any interest in contacting us at the moment they would all but certainly use such devices to completely conceal their prescense from us.

There's also the fact that, as far as our current knowledge of physics indicates, interstellar travel will neither be cheap nor quick. It will be much easier for aliens to send the equivalent of our space probes to explore our solar system than building a ship to support a crew for the years(in fact it is more likely to be decades, or centuries) it would take to cross the light years that separate our homes. Even if a cheap and quick way of interstellar travel is found using unmanned vehicles will still be cheaper, while not putting the crew at risk, especially if contact is not desired.

People place great faith in eyewitness testimony, which is part of what drives the belief that alien objects of some sort may be visiting Earth. Unfortunately eye witness testimony is the weakest form of evidence, and to date there is no corroboration of stories of encounters with alien spacecraft or aliens. Until physical evidence shows up all we're left with is interesting stories to make us wonder.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Too Much Room At The Inn?

Does Saskatoon need more downtown hotel rooms? Earlier this year local developer Remai Ventures decided to cancel a proposed mineral spa and hotel because they felt the project wasn't economically viable. Now it's been announced that the recently closed Pacific Cinemas building will be knocked down to make way for a 140 room Holiday Inn. Others in the local hotel industry think such a project is unneeded given a stable hotel market. The backers of the new project are presumably banking on it being across the street from the recently expanded TCU Place, aka the Centennial Auditorium, such proximity resulting in convention goers and other out of town visitors to the site staying in the new hotel.

It seems to me that if I were interested in building a hotel I'd be more likely to consider a location on Saskatoon's east side. There is currently only one hotel on this side of town, the Colonial Square Motel on 8th Street. All the other hotels are located on the west side. There had been some talk about a hotel perhaps going on the current site of the Chrysler dealership on 8th Street, but they seem in no hurry to move at the moment. One would presume an east side hotel would do well given that it would be convenient for those visiting Saskatoon whose reason for visiting is located on the east side, especially given that many hotels are located near the airport.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If It Was That One.

I had to smile yesterday at the intro of an item on CBC Radio One's As It Happens. They were going to talk to the mother of one of the 15 British sailors released by Iran yesterday. His name is Nathan Summers. Having been a Marvel Comics fan I instantly thought of the Nathan Summers to the left, better known as Cable. If he'd been amongst that crew when the Iranians captured them there probably would have been a lot of dead Iranians and a major international crisis. Kind of a scary thought given how volatile the region is even in the comic books.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Mondays With Mike: MR Edition.

Genesis guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford released solo albums in 1980 and 1982. As is often the case with such albums neither album burned up the charts, with the majority of buyers being Genesis fans. But Rutherford would join fellow Genesis member Phil Collins as a chart topper with the formation of Mike and the Mechanics in 1985. Having a band identity worked wonders. The initial release from the group's self titled debut, "Silent Running," reached 21 on the UK singles chart, 6 on the US Hot 100, and 8 in Canada. The highlight of the song is Rutherford's futuristic sounding guitar solo, courtesy of a Steinberger GL2 guitar with Transtrem bridge, which allows for some amazing pitch changes.

The vocalist on "Silent Running" was Paul Carrack, who has had hits with the Mechanics, with Ace, Squeeze, and as a solo artist.

The followup single "All I Need Is a Miracle," the chorus of which is familiar to people in Saskatchewan via its use in ads for the Telemiracle telethon, reached number 5 in the US. But it was "The Living Years," which I've always found rather mawkish, from their second album Living Years that was the high point of their success, reaching number one in Canada and the US, and number 2 in the UK. The group has continued to be active since its chart topping days, which is no doubt a surprise to casual fans, although the death of vocalist Paul Young in 2000 lead to a hiatus.(This is not the same Paul Young who had considerable success in the '80s with Daryl Hall-ish R&B tunes. That Young is still very much alive.)

Juno Where You Were?

I can't help but wonder how much effect the Junos being held in Saskatoon had on the clientle of Saskatoon restaurants during the actual broadcast last night. I went out for supper with my parents, aunt, cousin, and my cousin's husband and daughter to an Avenue H Chinese restaurant. We were pretty much the only ones there. We arrived around 6:15 and things didn't change by the time we left. Was it just a typical Sunday night for that restaurant, or were some of their potential customers sitting at home watching the Junos?

As for me I unfortunately didn't have any celeb sightings over the last few days. I didn't attend any of the Juno related activities around town, which obviously greatly decreased my chances. Of course there is a slight chance I saw someone from one of the newer acts on the scene, and didn't recognise them because I don't follow that act or their scene.