Thursday, July 24, 2008

75 things to do before you die

Esquire has come up with a list of 75 things to do before you die. The website sucks, so here's the list.

1: Play rugby. I haven't done this one, but my brother plays and coaches, and has played in New Zealand, where they do it right. I can take tips from him.

2: Repair an appliance. I am not qualified for this.

3: Fly the red-eye from Vegas. I've flown the red-eye from Vancouver, does that count?

4: Fly a Cessna. Done! My dad used to fly Pipers and Cessnas for years. I've flown them many times.

5: Make a list of seventy-five things you want to do before you die. It's hard. As soon as I can scrape together the time to make such a list, I will.

6: Fast for three days. Drink water. Er, no.

7: Drive the Great Ocean Road in southern Australia. Or the Pacific Coast Highway. I've driven a small portion of the Pacific Coast Highway, and it left me wanting more. I'd love to do the whole thing sometime.

8: Make a perfect omelet. For what value of 'perfect'?

9: Drive by yourself from coast to coast. Wow, that's a long way. I did discover last week that it is possible to canoe from the East coast of Canada to the West with the longest portage being only 19km.

10: Recognize the accomplishments of others. That's an easy one. I'm proud of my wife's recent accomplishments - finishing her degree and doing the Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk last year.

11: Do a flip off a diving board. Nail it. Done. I won a silver medal in diving at the Quebec Games a long time ago.

12: Leave yourself a letter in a library book. Look for it twenty years later. Will there still be libraries twenty years from now?

13: Watch a bad movie so often that when you see it by accident you can recite lines verbatim just before they are spoken. Suggest a bad movie and I might give this one a shot.

14: Toboggan, aggressively. Elmira Golf Course, winter. Meet me there.

15: Scuba dive. I would try this sometime. I dive a lot with mask and snorkel.

16: Drink mescal in Mexico. Are you kidding? People get killed in Mexico all the time.

17: Cultivate a reputation. Ask anyone at SuperMegaCorp about me. I think I have a reputation.

18: Learn three to four chords on the guitar. Well, I just bought a guitar, so I think I can call this one done.

19: Live in a hotel suite for a week. Done. It was for work, though, does that still count?

20: Milk a cow. Drink that. Er, no.

21: Build a fence. Together we stand, divided we fall.

22: Carry a totem in your pocket. Is that a totem pole in your pocket, or are you glad to see me? Oh, not that kind of totem.

23: Help someone dig out. Done! If you mean digging out from under lots of snow.

24: Pick an animal. Something cool like a wolverine. Go see it in the wild. Done! I've seen moose (really close up), deer, coyote, fox...

25: Shoplift. Er, no.

26: Throw a real party. Done! But it was in high school.

27: Live outside the homeland. Why would I leave the best country in the world?

28: Start something that scares you. I started a really old lawnmower once. It made me uncomfortable, but I wouldn't say I was scared.

29: Choose a word or a phrase and actively work to never use it again. It is what it is.

30: Eat mussels in Bruges. I've had shrimp in Bruges, does that count?

31: Break a sheet of plate glass with a ball-peen hammer. Sounds dangerous.

32: Cook the same thing (over and over) until you are known for it. Done! My BBQ rotisserie chicken is a killer.

33: Overspend. Have kids, this is easy.

34: Have a threesome. Sounds dangerous.

35: Quit something you love. That's dumb.

36: Take care of someone else's three-year-old for a day. Done! Great birth control.

37: Get very good at a sport that isn't a sport. Ok, curling attackers, let me hear it.

38: Listen to war stories. I don't know a veteran. At least, not one that will talk about it.

39: Tell war stories. Here are a few.

40: Write someone else's life story without mentioning yourself. Again, if I only had the time.

41: Sing in public. Done! I was in a band in university, The Rump Rangers. Good story behind that name. I should tell you sometime.

42: Sell everything you don't need. Once. Elmira has an annual garage sale, second weekend in May. Usually lands on my anniversary.

43: Play golf at Carnoustie. If I'm going all the way to Scotland, it's to drink a fine single malt, not play golf.

44: Play chess until you beat someone you shouldn't, then quit forever. Done! I beat my dad once, but I think he let me win.

45: Give up your seat. Done!

46: Kill, dress, cook, and eat wild game. My dog takes care of that for me.

47: Attend the funeral of someone you didn't know that well. Done!

48: Take a vow. Keep it. Done! Been married 17 years.

49: Eat a six-course meal that you prepared. I would like to do this.

50: Live at a high altitude. At a higher altitude with flag unfurled. We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed-of world. I've visited Whistler and been to the top, does that count?

51: Spend some time working for tips. No thanks, that's why I went to school.

52: Overeat for a week. That's called 'camping', isn't it? Or I guess that's overdrink for a week.

53: Make a movie, even a short one. Done! But it was in high school.

54: Give a panhandler all of your money. I don't carry money.

55: Make beer, wine, or moonshine. Done! I've made beer - it was terrible. And wine - some of it was excellent.

56: Read Lolita. I'd be open to that.

57: Have sex in a body of water. Done! It was a hot tub, does that count? Too much information?

58: Ride a horse. Done! But it was in high school.

59: Eat congee. Eat haggis. Eat tongue. Eat kidneys. Eat brain. Eat testicles. Nope, nope, nope, nope, done!, nope. That reminds me of a good joke.

60: Walk twenty miles. Bring water. That's 32km. I've walked about 15km at a time. My wife, however, walked 60km over two days last fall.

61-63: Go to the desert. Take long-lasting drugs. Drink water. Can't see these happening.

64: Watch television for twenty-four hours uninterrupted. Sounds dangerous.

65: Save something from the dump. Have you seen my basement?

66: Climb something you are afraid of. If that was "someone" instead of "something" I'd say Done! But it was in high school.

67: Get a manicure. Not interested.

68: Eat a two-course meal that you grew. I will be harvesting basil tonight for a nice pesto. I picked some blackberries yesterday, does that count as two courses?

69: Get a deep-tissue massage. Not interested.

70: Sleep outside for a week. Done! Does the trailer count? If so, that was last week, and next week too!

71: Put a hundred bucks on a long shot. To win. No thanks.

72: Go to Paris. Tell no one where you are. Stay there for two weeks. I would do that in a hurry. The kids might wonder where we went though...

73: Raise a dog. Oh man, done, done, done.

74: Peg the speedometer. I don't think my cars can go that fast.

75: Bungee jump. I would do this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Please sir, may I have another?

Funny how the mind works. I was pleased with the bargain I got at the gas pump today - $1.27 a litre. Not bad, I thought, considering I paid $1.42 in Sudbury last week.

I seem to have forgotten that I drove 6,000 kilometres to the East coast and back last summer, and didn't pay over $1.00 a litre once the entire way, even in Middle-of-Nowhereville, New Brunswick.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Elmira storm

That was quite a storm yesterday. I was sitting at my desk in Waterloo, looking out the window at the black sky to the North, thinking, "someone's getting a pounding storm right now."

Turns out it was Elmira. There was no damage on our street, which is good, since the trailer was sitting in front of our house, opened up to dry out!

There are lots of storm photos here (seems to work for me only in Firefox, not IE).

Monday, July 21, 2008


Sometimes, life kicks you in the nuts.
Sometimes, you kick life in the nuts.
Make sure, when it's your turn, you give it a good kick.

Grundy Lake Provincial Park

Just back from a week at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, near Sudbury. The park is a fantastic place for canoeing, swimming, hiking and biking. There are several shallow sandy beaches with warm water and rafts to jump from. The rafts are close enough that the four-year-old had no problem swimming out (with a life jacket, of course), and she spent some time jumping in from the raft.

There are plenty of "jumping rocks" throughout the park, with the best spot having three levels - one about ten feet high, one about fifteen feet high, and for the bravest jumpers the biggest is about twenty-five feet high. There is also a section of rock called "slippery rocks," where a thin layer of moss or something grows on the rocks, and it is impossible to get out of the water without using a rope. Luckily enough, someone's tied a rope to a nearby rock.

We hiked around Swan Lake, and picked enough wild blueberries to make pancakes the next morning, with some left over to top the Kawartha Dairy ice cream we tossed in the freezer on the way home.

We didn't see much wildlife in the park, but there is evidence of beavers everywhere - lots of dams and lodges. There was a bear sighting near our campsite the morning we left, but we didn't get close enough to see it.

On two separate days we did get close to a loon and her loonlet (loonie? loonling?) We drifted on the wind within ten feet of the loons, and managed to get some great photos.

At the end of the week we made it up to Sudbury to see Science North and the mining exhibit Dynamic Earth. My seven-year-old says she wants to be a scientist when she grows up, so she had a blast. We built and programmed a robot together, and she enjoyed searching for fossils and checking out the human body exhibits. I tried to stay away from the diagnostic imaging exhibit, but I couldn't do it. At least I aced the quiz.

Lots more Grundy Lake photos here:

Friday, July 11, 2008

What's the news? Where've you been?

I guess in the new media convergence world, this shouldn't surprise me.

The top story on the Rogers-owned radio station I listen to in the morning is that the new iPhone goes on sale today at Rogers stores.

It's bad enough I have to listen to an endless stream of ads for the Blue Jays and Macleans (more Rogers properties), but now they're pretending it's a big news story?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Memory is a stranger

Carrying on a series of posts in which I try to fix a problem before it drives me mad...

More DibGraphics crashes. The current thinking has it that when we run out of memory, then attempt a memory-intensive operation such as a double-buffered paint, we crash.

This one is totally reproducible.

Step 1: Turn off your pagefile. Set this to "No paging file".

Step 2: Eat memory like a fat man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Step 3: Paint a double-buffered dialog.

And bang! You get a crash. Probably a System.ComponentModel.Win32Exception, either "The operation completed successfully" or "Not enough storage is available to process this command".

Obviously there are two ways around this. Don't run out of memory, or don't double buffer. Although, if you're out of memory you're gonna go down hard at some point, whether it's the double buffer that kills you or something else. The question I have is, can we fail more gracefully?

MacGregor Point Provincial Park - 2nd visit

My wife has a good friend that she's known since they were preschoolers. Her friend has a daughter who is around the same age as our two girls. Last week they all went on a "no boys allowed!" camping trip, to MacGregor Point Provincial Park. I was permitted to drive the trailer to the park and set it up, but then I was sent home for the week, with instructions to return on Sunday to pick them up.

Everyone had a blast. They did lots of biking on the Deer Run trail, which is level and fairly smooth, except for a few tree roots. Spent some time at the beach and at the playground, getting dizzy on the tire swing.

Last year when we were at MacGregor we saw a few critters, and the girls had a racoon visitor one morning, and they saw deer on the bike trail. The visitor centre has turtles and snakes that the kids were eager to touch. Not so much the adults.

When I got to the park on Sunday to pick them up, there were some tears - nobody wanted to come home. I finally talked them into leaving by reminding them that we're off on another trip this Saturday. This time, boys allowed.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Full of sound and fury

I left this as a comment here, but thought I would throw it out here too.

Canadians blind to Liberal 'green shift,' poll shows
Juliet O'Neill, Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, July 07, 2008

OTTAWA - The federal Liberals have a big sales job ahead of them on their proposed national carbon tax.

A new poll Monday said only one in three Canadians has heard about the "green shift" plan and 60 per cent, who can recall anything about it, say it's "a bad idea."

Sad, isn't it, when this is what we've come to?

I don't care which side of which issue you're on, this isn't how democracy is supposed to work.

If party A has a great idea for how to govern the country, let them sell it to me. If it's a good idea, I might vote for them. If party B has a better idea, bring it on.

Instead, we get attack ads and lies and blame and distractions and diversions. Nobody ever hears the plans, and the media is too busy reporting on how clueless the public is, or what one MP said about the other, and what they were wearing at the time.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Happiness is...

Happiness is... deleting a sandbox when you finally ship a version of software.

Ok, I'm easily satisfied.

One more thing - this is pure gold. The personality traits of the best software developers.