Monthly Archives: December 2009

Communist Christmas

All my Christmas presents have been wrapped up and mailed (and some already opened… now that they’re supported in Canada, I got Caitlin a Kindle, which I’m already a little jealous of, and speaking of gadgets, I also gifted a handheld wikipedia — available here — which is just so cool and I wish had been available when I was a kid), and Nefarious has been put on a plane to visit her mother for Christmas. In a way that’s my gift to them both, because it was “my year” for Christmas in our legal-world agreement, but they get to see each other far too rarely, so I wanted them to have the time together.

That wasn’t totally selfless though — first thing in the morning Caitlin and I are getting on a plane to Cayo Coco, Cuba, having bought a last minute vacation for the resort that had the best reviews we could find. It will be so nice to relax for a week, put my feet up, do a little sailing, and float in the ocean. Especially because earlier in the week I had a nasty fall and perhaps even broke my ankle — even on a mountain of oxy it’s doing very little to control it, so I’m nauseous from the pain and it’s even harder than normal to walk. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m bringing my computer along to do some programming (I’m really enjoying adding more and more to ZenCASH and have made good headway to adding support for — with an increasingly jumbled GUI since it can do so much — Backpage and Daype automated searching as well), and maybe some writing as well.

Anyway, happy holidays everyone, we’ll be back just before the New Year.


Adding on, because I mostly wrote all that “in advance”, when I was driving back from the airport I got pulled over as part of an alcohol check… “Have you been drinking tonight,” the cop asks me, and I tell him no. I mean, why are they even pulling people over for this as they leave the airport parking lot? Do people go to the airport to drink? Anyway, then he gives me a buddy-buddy laugh and says, “just haven’t started for the night yet, right?” I told him that I don’t drink at all and asked him if I could leave. Thanks a lot for that waste of time. It greatly improved my mood for the hour long traffic jam that followed!

Continuing in the complaining, we’re supposed to be at the airport at something like 3 AM. Arrrrrrgh! I think I will fall asleep at the airport as soon as I am permitted to sit. Should I even go to bed? I’m am seriously dying to get off my legs. There’s blood pooled in my heel — bruising along the side — which increases my suspicion that something is at least minimally broken. I have trip insurance, maybe I will get to test the theory that Cuba has a superior health care system. Anyway, complaining done. I have a lot left to do tonight, like, starting packing, and lest my recent two paragraphs mislead you, I really am hugely looking forward to the next week.

Windows into other worlds

I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but so far getting Nefarious, six, her own computer has been a really good decision. It’s been hard on her having parents that live at opposite ends of the continent, but now that both her and her mom have computers with videochat, it’s as if they have a magical window that connects them like a wormhole collapsing the distance to nothing. This is by far her favorite thing about the computer, and it’s interesting to see how second nature using it all is for her… I suppose that’s no surprise since she’s been surrounded by constant computer use since she was born, so she instinctively knows what to click on to make what she wants happen. I was surrounded by computers as a kid as well, but for me, computers were a technological toy and something akin to electronic building blocks, but for Nefarious, and I suspect most of her generation, computers are first and foremost a means to connect people to each other, which I hope will steer the world in the right direction.

In addition to video chat, she seems to quite enjoy typing away in a normal text chat window as well — it’s all new to her, so it’s funny to see her type things like “thank you for sending me a smiley face mommy”. Her account is locked down of course so she talks only to her mother right now, but she seems to also enjoy playing chess online against anonymous human opponents. Speaking of chess, I saw a great car today that was covered in chess bumper stickers like “I’M A CHESS NUT” (get it?) and so on. Our latest chess “inventions” include a new piece called a “bulldozer”. The bulldozer replaces the knight, and moves in the same L-shape. However, as it is a bulldozer, instead of just killing the piece it lands on, it kills everything in its path (friend or foe), making the piece slightly awkward to use, but much more powerful. It’s been a good addition.

The other chess addition that we’ve made, that I quite recommend trying, is a “double move” variation of the game. On a player’s turn, instead of moving one piece, they get to move two. The restriction is that the two moves can not be interrelated. That is, they can’t bump into each other, you can’t move one piece twice, or you can’t move one piece out of the way to allow the other to move. Or, to put it in another way, you have to be able to do the two moves in either order. Give it a try — it’s surprising the subtle ways this changes the game.


We’re working away at Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book in the Harry Potter series right now. It’s a bit slow to get started, and since we’ve read them so quickly, the beginning is always repetitive as Rowling makes the story accessible to those who have not read the first two, but it’s starting to get good. One of my better childhood memories is having long books read to me, and I hope Nefarious will enter adulthood with the same feelings.

Other than that, I think I’ve got to watch Craigslist (which reminds me, I’m just putting the final touches on and support to my search tool, and will post it before I leave on Christmas vacation) for some gym mats… I sometimes walk out into the big room to see Nefarious and Cassie performing stunts that could easily lead to a skull more cracked than I like!


Caitlin has gone out with a friend tonight, but I can’t wait for her to get back. Tonight is the night that we’ll hopefully confirm our Christmas vacation, so we’ll spend some time browsing through the discount sites and see what strikes our fancy! I can’t wait! Oh and next door band stress got worked out… They’re playing a show this weekend at the Big Bop, so there are a couple practises this week to make sure Saturday’s show goes well. It’s not the sort of music I’m into, but they actually sounded really tight tonight as they did their set, so I think their fans will get one of their better shows.

Blah blah blah.

Judge a book by its cover

Edit: I’ve updated this post with some extra info on the alleged crimes.

Speaking of arrests (re: the comments in the previous entry), I was looking at the constantly updated “Mugs in the News” feature in the Chicago Tribune that posts arrest/booking photos of various people (way better than most of the mugshot galleries because they have the often kooky stories). I have mixed feelings about these because I am sure that a percentage of these people are innocent and are having a life-long stigma attached to them, especially as search engines improve and become able to do visual searches with face matching and so on. However, it’s always “fun” to work on improving my stereotyping skills by looking at what different sorts of criminals look like.

For example, all of the following people are sex offenders (of the child-abuse and kiddie porn sort — big surprise, one is a priest). Are you surprised? They all seem to have that “look” that one imagines sex offenders having. Perhaps there are genetic markers, a la the “gay face” (and speaking of search engines, it may be possible to program computers with gaydar) — not that I’m suggesting in any way that these people are gay (I’d assumed they’re straight, actually, although the middle one is a “boy lover“).


Who hires the creepy old man on the right to babysit? I gotta say, those parents should have known better… There are so many disgusting sex abuse stories in the set, like the guy I just linked who was a nurse at a hospital raping old ladies… How low can you go?

The middle guy’s “I’m Popeye” shirt is pretty funny, but it can’t compare to the sadly mistaken “how to out run a cop” shirt that this guy, who was busted for “felony criminal damage to government supported property” (graffiti on a police car or something like that I am guessing taking an axe to a playground… wtf?). Inappropriate shirts are always one of my favorite sections of sites like The Smoking Gun.


The people below were all charged with murder, each of them looking as if they just stepped out of a horror movie. The middle guy, who was charged with two counts of first degree murder? Holy hell, I’m sure he’s going to be chasing me around in my next nightmare. He burned his two kids to a crisp in what he claims was a botched suicide attempt. Ack! The first guy is scary in an altogether different way (he is “mildly retarded” and killed his dad), and the woman on the right appears to have been stabbed in the head by a cross, probably by someone who mistook her for some sort of demonic creature (she beat her child to death).


I don’t know exactly what this next woman did, but The arrest below was for a “hate crime”, specifically, trying to yank the headscarf off of a Muslim. Does her expression ooze hate or what? Can you imagine if she was your mother? Worst childhood ever.


Now for someone more cheerful. He actually looks happy to be there, so I’m guessing he’s guilty of a “love crime”, in a good way. In reality, he was busted for selling drugs outside a church. I’m not sure why, but it’s actually more illegal to sell dope (cocaine actually) when you’re within 1,000 feet of a church.


I think perhaps my favorite of the set though were these two burglars, with what I assume must be the goofiest disguise ever… A mask drawn on with black magic marker? What kind of person actually thinks this is a good idea? Unless of course they just committed the robbery after waking up from a party they passed out at? I have to wonder as well if doing such a thing gives you a “not guilty due to mental illness” type defense as it clearly shows a fairly significant mental deficiency.


Here’s their story by the way.

Finally, another interesting thing about looking at the mugshots is seeing groups of people who get arrested at once (like the two above). The six below were all busted for “mob action”. I don’t exactly understand what “mob action” is — I guess it’s just a way to collectively charge a bunch of people for a single crime (literally: “the use of force or violence which disturbs the public peace by two or more persons acting together and without authority of law.”). In reality, it seems like it’s also a way to up a small charge — I think these guys are the Olympic protesters who tore down a public poster — by turning a misdemeanor (tearing down the poster) into a felony (mob action). Doing some searches on it online, it seems like it’s not unusual for it to be used to intimidate civil rights activists from gathering together.

The first guy is the fun one of the bunch.


I wonder as well if the left two in the bottom row are twins?

Holy cliche of anti-government protesters though!

And wow do I hate my host (dreamhost) more and more every day. If my sites weren’t so massive and difficult to relocate, I would have moved a long time ago. The amount of downtime I have is totally unacceptable.

Toronto Ice Rinks Are All Open

On Saturday Nefarious and I went skating, the first time we’ve gone this year. The temperature was wonderful down at Harborfront, just cold enough to keep the ice frozen, and I could have stayed all day. Being rusty, we had a particularly nasty fall at the beginning in which Nefarious fell right in front of me and to avoid running her over with my freshly sharpened blades I had to force a particularly unpleasant twisting fall. I didn’t feel it at the time, but later in the day it became obvious that I’d sprained my ankle quite badly and I spent the next couple days hobbling around and finding any escape I could to go prone on the couch (much to her delight, as this meant my co-fallee got to watch far more movies on her laptop than I’d normally allow). It’s almost back to normal now thankfully, although I’m still limping just a little.




It didn’t help that the night of my “injury” the band next door played until midnight. Things had been going so well and everyone had been getting along, but now, boom, all out the window. Sleep is important to me for so many reasons, and I can’t sleep with a “concert” blasting songs I’ve heard over and over through the wall, let alone watch TV to wait it out. Very, very uncool, and since the singer is the building superintendent, who does one even complain to?

This is the last week of school before the Christmas vacation. Nefarious is probably going to visit her mother in LA (although because of the need to deal with BME transitioning to the new year and new software, that may not happen or may be cut short), which gives Caitlin and I the opportunity to go on a vacation as well. We’ll just go to one of the last minute sites and choose whatever strikes our fancy — I have to admit that I far prefer going out of the country for the holidays than a traditional Christmas. Of course, I’ll take any opportunity to find a beach to swim at. If the LA plans change, we’ll take Nefarious along, because she loves to travel as well. When I was a kid flying was hell, and I made copious use of the barf bags, as well as finding the duration miserable. I suppose because Nefarious has grown up making so many long flights (often all on her own), she has no problem with it and flys better than any of us, so she’s always a pleasure to have along on trips. The only problem is that not being able to enter the USA, it cuts out a lot of travel options since so many of the cheap flights route through a US hub… So there’s a good chance that we may go with Cuba again — I was really happy with the resort we stayed at and given the opportunity I’d stay there again. I wouldn’t normally be so repetitive, but the Christmas vacation isn’t meant to be exotic travel, it’s just relaxation. Heck, maybe we’ll do a cruise.

Zoology Fail

The commentary in this celebrity tattoos article on NBC was pretty lame to start with, but I think this one was the most ignorant of the bunch.


In my morning reading, I was similarly annoyed at this “10 Technologies We Were Promised But Never Got” article, which includes the videophone. Huh? The videophone totally exists. Lots of people use video chat, and it’s fresh on my mind because I set it up on Nefarious’s computer last night so she could chat with her mother. Almost all laptop computers these days have a webcam built in for just that purpose. Sloppy journalism abounds.