Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kiernan is not old enough for baseball

So an email pops into my gmail inbox, cc'd to a wide range of people, but it's not classified as spam. I'm always curious how some emails get by the spam filter, so I take a look. It's "Hey Team, it's time for boys spring baseball" email from Peter... but it's actually talking about baseball... and how no peanuts should be brought to the game since some of the kids have allergies... and contact phone numbers are provided for Timothy...

Is it spam? Or mistaken emailing? The site referred to in the email has no registrant details when I do a whois lookup... and there's a PDF attachment with a contact list (addresses and phone numbers for everyone), including my email as the contact for a child named Joseph... I don't want to reply, lest that causes my email address to go on the "suckers to send more spam to" list. So I ignore it.

The next day an email reply comes from Melissa saying that Amby can't make it to the first practice but is looking forward to the season. Okay, really? Is this trickery? Melissa does indeed match up in the Team Roster as the mom of David Amby... This way too elaborate for spam. I feel confident that the link referred to in the initial email may in fact be junior boys baseball, and if it is, then I'll let these people know they have the wrong email address for Joseph's dad.

The link - - it goes to a Spanish website selling electrical hardware. DAMN YOU SPAMMERS!

Fast forward to today, when Kelli emails me with the email subject "The future Red Sox" saying "Sorry to miss your call. What goes on in Vegas.... sure you had a great time... blah blah baseball talk..." and a forwarded message from some Mike guy talking about Victor's dad Eric offering to volunteering to help coach. Okay, you people are back? But there's no link, no ads, no tracking images, no anything connecting to Spanish spam, so what is your purpose, Kelli (who, I might add, is not on the team roster, nor is Mike)... And I thought I was Joseph's dad, not Victor's. They go to the trouble of generating PDFs but don't have a database set up to keep things consistent?

The ironic statement at the end of Kelli's email: "P.S I passed along your correct email."

ha. ha. ha.

But hold on, I'm curious about something, since this is all still way to complex for a spam scam... a googling of "cybsa" brings up the Cohasset Youth Baseball and Softball Association... things then start clicking into place: Everyone on the team roster is in Cohasset, MA... a 411 search for my last name in Cohasset brings up a person with my name whose phone number and address match those mentioned in the third email...


I guess I'll have to mass email them all now, making sure to link to my blog.

Weekly Wednesday #7

... Too bad it's not a Weekend Wednesday...

Weekly Link:
Logo Mishap -- "...we concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters 'OGC' - and is not inappropriate to an organisation that's looking to have a firm grip on government spend!" -- I hope that pun was unintentional.

Weekly Images:
Violence in comic books! Gasp!
Mickey Mouse attempts suicide
Also, Donald Duck kills Goofy

Weekly Inadvertent Mind Warping:
"Wow, is that a new horsey hat?"
"Horsey hat!"
"Oh, wait, that's not a horse outline - that's an elephant hat!"
... and since then, it's a horsey hat.

Weekly Email Spam:
Why do my Weekly Wednesday snippets tend to grow in length until I feel they deserve a post of their own? See upcoming post.

Weekly WTF:
Why is blogger inserting random line breaks in my posts?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ah yes, a nose-ache.

I wonder how long it will take before I can ask "Why have you woken crying and refusing to calm down for forty-five minutes?" and get a response.

Hopefully before the 45 minutes have passed, of course.

Instead I had to transport him from his room, the change of scenery to another equally darkened room somehow temporarily silencing the sobs.

"Does your tummy hurt?"
"Does your mouth hurt?"
I don't know what's wrong, and he was still sniffly from crying, so I asked "Does your nose hurt?"
"YES. *giggle*"

Okay, he's going back to bed just fine, and it only took about ten minutes. I managed to get him lying down, and thinking maybe he was hot I decided to leave his door open, so the cross breeze from the bathroom window to the office would cool him. I got halfway down the stairs before I hear a sudden wailing.

"DOOR?!?!" and he's crying again. Hurray to us for incorporating the sound of the door shutting into his sleep training, so that he was inconsolable for another half hour...

Friday, April 25, 2008

How to Spam Bulk Mailers

I know my wife hates hates hates the junk mail showing up in our mailbox. It could have something to do with the period of time in which she signed up to all those Web sites to get coupons and great deals mailed to our home, but really, that's probably completely unrelated.

In any case, if you are tired of bulk mailers letting you know you qualify for a low interest rate credit card, or the impersonal "Dear Homeowner" remortgaging offers, here's a solution that could eventually work towards reduce that bulk mail, as well as potentially reducing the clutter in your homes! This is an amazing idea.

UPDATE: It may not work... at least not in the States...

UPDATE: Or you could do it the boring way.

UPDATE: In the end, I'm not sure if this would work or not. They may just throw the boxes away at the post office. But if you were to mail other pieces of junk mail, or pages of the phone book, it just may work...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I have the tendency to leave keys behind when I lock doors, which is why it is important that my home can only be locked from the outside using the key. Not so for my office door - the day after getting my keys from security I managed to lock myself out of my office. I was informed that it was a rite of passage as I was handed a duplicate key by the receptionist. A coworker pointed out that she kept her keys on her lanyard with her ID, which I thought was a great idea.

Of course, having your keys a foot below your chin is kind of annoying when you need to unlock your door and you're too lazy to remove the lanyard from around your neck. Soon I began to feel a bit silly kowtowing to my doorknob several times a day.

Now, when I worked as a co-op student in the government, our IDs were on round belt clips which extended like a spring-action yoyo. I still had the belt clip, so I clipped my ID to the extending clip, and attached that to the lanyard.

Here's where I get into the probabilities of things. It's been a while since I tutored grade 9 mathematics, but here's how I calculated it:

The flat belt clip hangs in the loop of the lanyard, with only a small hole for it to enter and exit. The belt clip can exit straight out of the small hole only from certain angles. I estimate it to be a range of about 20 degrees, able to exit only from one direction.

In addition to this, there's about a 30 degree range at which the clip can be pulled through the hole with the ring rotating around the clip.

So that's a one in eighteen chance of the clip being able to exit at a single degree of rotation, and that rotation has a one in twelve chance of being lined up as well. To have both of these angles line up exactly aimed out the small gap, there's a one in two hundred sixteen (1:216) chance that the clip will be able to escape from its circular prison.

So why is it that when I'm wearing the lanyard while walking into the office, or sitting down at my chair, or leaning forward ever so slightly, or standing perfectly still while a butterfly flaps its wings in Auckland, that my keys and ID will crash to the floor, two or three times a day? My probability calculations don't even include the chances that my body will move in such a way that the clip will, once lined up, be propelled through the tiny little hole in the loop.

It's obviously a similar to the law of chaos which oversees how earphone cables tangle into knots when left alone on a flat surface.

Weekly Wednesday #6

... Coming soon: all posts will end up being Weekly Wednesdays!

Weekly Link:
I'm a bit of a colour junky when it comes to designing websites. I probably spend WAY too much time picking the perfect palette for a new website. But now Kiernan can help me out: Behold, All 120 Crayola Crayon Names and RGB Hex values!

Weekly Image(s):
I can't decide which pictures are better: The robots inside your child's toys, or what your stuffed bears look like inside-out

Weekly Rebellion of a Body Part:
My right eye keeps twitching, either due to lack of sleep or computer monitor exposure. Today the twitch has lessened, although it is a more frequent. Soon it will be a barely noticeable vibration which will drive me insane.

Weekly Way to Convince Kiernan it is Time to Go Inside:
"Kiernan, wanna watch monkeys in the house?"
(What, I'm not lying to him)

Weekly WTF:
Email spam is actually rare at work, but this one made it through... Ah yes, threatening a person in order to sell them your product - this is marketing genius!

Subject: she has already gone to hospital!!

Hello, elpidioimccasland.

Listen to me carefully, i don't know what your name is, but i'll find you and i'll cripple you, because this is you who tempted her!!!
She has already gone to hospital, you're next, this is evidence: [link removed because my mother likes to click on things spam emails tell her to]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blogger versus skunk: DAY 2

Okay, it's been a week of talk radio. So either the skunk is gone or is able to now intelligently debate subjects of a topical nature. After waiting to ensure no rain was on its way, I laid out a layer of flour at the multiple exits yesterday. This morning it was undisturbed. So it's gone.

The question now remains: Do I turn off the radio and risk the skunk coming back, or do I wait until I locate some sort of earthy fill to toss under the shed... plus we were thinking of burying chicken wire to prevent future digging, so I'd need to buy that, too... too bad I couldn't bury balloons full of jalapeno-and-onion skunk juice around the shed... any digging and POP! Skunk gets sprayed...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Weekly Wednesday #5

... Pah! Weekly Wednesdays do not conform to your primitive "linear timelines"

Weekly News Story Indicating I Will Live Forever:

Weekly Image:
So, very very true:

Weekly Workplace:
When working in a Children's Hospital, everyone you pass in the halls seems so happy. You get a cheery feeling when you walk to the cafe to get a cup of Starbucks. So when you walk by the kid by the MRI desk weeping inconsolably, it kinda deflates you for the rest of the day. That and the fact that Starbucks coffee sucks, but you can only get Timothy's coffee until 2pm. What's up with that?

Weekly Way to get Kiernan to eat goats-milk yogurt:

Tell him every spoonful is a different berry. "Do you want blue berry?" "Boobeyry!" "Another blueberry?" "No." "Okay, you want strawberry?" "Yess!" "Okay, now you want... dairy-berry?"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Inadvertant mindwarping

Kiernan has the KORALL mobile above his change table (yes, more IKEA - he's got the stuffed fish named Sushi and the stuffed rat named Mr. Wilkinson too, now that I realize I left stuff off the list a few weeks ago...).

Last week he said "Fishies!" and I said "No, cows!" - haha, funny me.

This morning I said "Look, the fishies are spinning!" and he went "No, cows!"... the kids memory is getting good; I've just decided "Elephino" is not that great a name for the giraffe-horse-cow-hybrid stuffed toy of his.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Blogger versus skunk DAY 1

With the almost-doorframe-sized KULLEN closet slid carefully into the basement rec room, I found myself in need of some sort of challenge.... what to do...

Last year we had a skunk move in under the garbage shed. Searching online provided a solution that seemed like it could work... So off to Farm Boy I went, and came back home to chop up one yellow onion and one jalapeno pepper, and boil them in a water/cayenne pepper solution for 20 minutes. After straining the liquid into a spray bottle, I was all set.

I excessively coated the ground around the hole leading under the shed, then sprinkled a layer of flour on the wet dirt. The next morning, pawprints led out of the hole but did not return. I sprinkled more flour, waited a few days, but the skunk was gone. The hole was filled, stones were laid atop it, and the skunks never returned to the undersides of that shed.

Our other shed on the other hand.... sometime during the winter a skunk (or two?) has gone beneath our bigger shed. You know, the weatherproofed nice one that we keep all our excess stuff in. Our now skunk-scented stuff. Like stuff we were going to sell at a garage sale. Or our patio furniture. Or our strollers.

Since I have only a quarter of the anti-skunk juice left, and the amount of escape areas from beneath that shed are numerous, a new plan must be set in place.

My initial thought process went something like:
1. Get one of those loud air horns.
2. Shut myself into the shed
3. Plug ears and honk (the horn) like mad.

That plan was abandoned when I realized "Since the skunk scent is lingering simply from it living under there, what would happen should it wake, suddenly startled, and spray... with me in a non-ventilated shed directly above?"

So, Plan B was put into action: yesterday, a small radio was placed in the shed playing talk radio loud enough that the skunk could hear, but not so loud as to violate noise bylaws... and if the skunk isn't scared away by the sound of talking upstairs by this time tomorrow, well...

This time tomorrow the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean is on.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blogger versus IKEA cabinet: CONCLUSION

Yep, that's the spot we thought it would fit PERFECTLY in...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Weekly Wednesday #4

... located easily on the calendar between monthly Tuesday and daily Thursday...

Weekly Realization:
When my wife said "You should do a weekly thing like Rude Cactus!" I said "Sure!" and didn't really go to all the bother of checking into how consistent he is... and he's not... which is good, because scrambling at the last minute for a link, or a picture if nothing actually stood out the past week is kinda lame.

Weekly Déja Vu while Spring Cleaning:
"Man that fridge is hard to clean... I think I'll wait until another night to clean the freezer..."

Weekly Link:
Octopi only live 2 years? This is sad.

Weekly Moment of Self Pride:
Yesterday I told Kiernan that the new fruit and vegetable juice (with lettuce!) was Monkey Juice. Tonight he asked for Monkey Juice with no prompting. This in addition to my contributions to his animal sound repertoire ("What does a zombie say?" - "Aaaaaugh"; "What does a skunk say?" - "P.U!") makes me realize how fun molding tiny minds really is.

Weekly Workplace:
I'm glad I wasn't able to locate the lady in charge of the baby pool yesterday. I would have walked in there and said "Give me 2 dollars on April 17th!" (no, Lindsay, not because that's your birthday and it's such a lucky day - it's because it's 9 days past her due date)... The baby was born on the 6th, so if the pool-runner (the workplace bookie? hmm... wonder what odds she has on Holy Mackerel in the sixth...) hadn't been aware of this I would've been out a toonie...

Weekly WTF:
I was invited out to see a free preview of the movie The Ruins on Thursday, (no spoilers ahead) and it was a moment of "Wow, a horror movie that doesn't rely on cheap tricks to make you jump in your seat" - okay, they did it twice, but it was usually just gory visuals. Then the movie ended. It just... stopped. Um, no crazy twist? How did this get past test audiences without a Hollywood-esque twist? It probably ends exactly the same as the book, and what movie these days does that? Borrrring. I myself have come up with the perfect ending for the movie which would actually work, and which also ties up one of the glaring plot holes they casually glanced at, referenced, and then threw away. I bet it was in the original movie script.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who steals a garbage can?

I opened our shed to find the big wheeled garbage can missing. Last week I was in a rush, so bypassed the shed completely, leaving just the garbage bag on the curb, so it's likely that the thing's been gone for two weeks. Did I forget to bring it in? Did they think that because it was on the curb that it WAS garbage? Did someone happen to be walking by thinking "Man, $17 is pretty steep for a garba-waheyyyyyy look at THAT slick beauty!" Did our neighbours always have the same bin as us?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Three stories


Yesterday we were all in the LCBO when Lara noticed an interesting bottle of Beau's All-Natural Lug Tread Lagered Ale an organic beer made in nearby Vankleek Hill. As we discussed what exactly "Lagered Ale" would taste like, a random guy came up and politely interrupted in order to go into a semi-long description of India Pale Ales, bitterness comparisons, etc... and he didn't even work in the store. He was really helpful, so I hope he wasn't offended when Kiernan piped in about halfway through his description with the most sarcastic "Wwwwow!" I've ever heard.


Last night, after bath, we attempted to squeeze a squirming child into his pyjamas, with him expressing intently that it was vital that he immediately be in the bathroom brushing his teeth. Twisting out of our grasp, he headed across his bedroom with two feet sticking out of a single pant-leg. The funniest part was that he didn't seem to notice, but was very annoyed he wasn't moving as fast as he would like.


Kiernan was happily drinking his bottle in his mini-POÄNG, when suddenly, right in the middle of one of his favourite They Might Be Giants videos, he stood up, walked out of the room, and returned almost immediately, empty-handed. I was concerned as to what mischief he could have gotten into, even in such a short period of time, as he is quite creative. I investigated, and he had neatly placed the bottle in front of the dishwasher... which makes you think we're very diligent in putting dishes away, doesn't it?


Coming back into the house from the Little Turkish Village with a pile of takeout boxes, I was greeted by the sight of a dining room table covered not in papers, sewing machines and baby-dinner debris, but with two plates plus cutlery and glasses. A tablecloth (!) even rested beneath it all.

"Wow, fancy!" I exclaimed, before realizing we need to stop eating in the livingroom.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blogger versus IKEA cabinet: DAY 4

Okay, so upon looking at the next step, the nailing of the back boards.

Eighty six nails? Really? My first instinct was to determine mathematically the proper distribution of nails.

"Haha, that would make a funny blog post!" I thought, "Or... a really lame one."

You know, now that I think about it, it would be something like, right off the top of my head 2x + 4y = 86. Counting the number of nails used along the bottom in the diagram would mean x was 10, therefore y would be 16 and a half nails.

Which explains why, since I just started hammering away, I ran out of nails and had to dig into my personal stash.

So the backboard went on (only two nails missing the wood underneath, and two other nails causing the birch laminate to buckle at the sides - maybe that's why they included the glue in the bag o parts?), the feet were nailed in, and the cupboard was stood up.

But IKEA had to ruin our plans of a crazy-kitchen setup with this image:

Fine. But when my kid crawls into the cupboard and isn't immediately ejected, I'm calling their support line to complain.

Okay, rewind to IKEA Ottawa, when we first bought the cabinets. I didn't have my cellphone. Lara's was dead. I needed to do some quick math to see if the 145 cm wide cabinet would fit diagonally in the 120x100cm space. Of course, it does, when you draw a triangle and calculate with good old Pythagoras'... but of course, that just measures the triangle made by the back of the cabinet... it's the depth of the cabinet that sticks out and, you know, blocks doorways.

Sooooo it'll be going in the rec room downstairs... and we'll have to figure out what other IKEA fits in the basement hallway - more storage than we wished for... I guess...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Weekly Wednesday #3

... there can never be too many Wednesdays per week

Weekly Link:
Hey, did you know you can put metal in the microwave? Not forks and tin foil, of course... but a spoon in your mug will actually help prevent the liquid from superheating? I know, you're thinking April Fool's - but that was yesterday, which was a mere Tuesday.

Weekly Image:
Now why didn't we just get these Tetris shelves... oh wait, that's because they're over a $1500 for only ten pieces... different varieties at Brave Space Design

Weekly Workplace:
Today was the last day before the person I'm replacing left on her maternity leave. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I didn't have any further questions for her.

Weekly Meme: (random album cover)
source 1 | source 2 | source 3

Weekly WTF:
Seen at a local gas station: "Buy two 'The Works' Car Washes, and get your gas at 5 cents off per litre!!!"

"Hey," I thought. "I have two cars! And on Monday the salt truck sluiced salty slush across my hood and window... so it may be a good deal!" -- Until you calculate that 5 cents per litre into about 55 litres gets you a grand total of $2.75 off... but I guess advertising "Pay full price for your gas and get two car washes for $22 instead of $25" doesn't quite have the same hook...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Blogger versus IKEA cabinet: DAYS 2 and 3

Day 2:

Step 1 of the KULLEN has you assembling the middle, top and bottom boards into an I shape. The diagram is drawn at an angle, so it looks like the vertical board is halfway between what will become the two cupboards. In actuality, one side is narrower than the other. There was also a slight difference in the two boards (the top had two holes, the bottom had four), and it took some lining up and figuring out which OTHER holes were meant for the clothing bar... but in the end, I had an I lying on the floor.

The area in which it will end up is at the bottom of the basement stairs, so that is where it is being assembled. Of course, it turns out that was barely going to be 5 inches of working room around the edges. This meant *thunder crashes* I couldn't use the cordless drill *ominous chord*

Looking back, the first thing that went wrong was that I noticed two of the holes on the middle board weren't drilled all the way through. This happened while assembling the TROFAST toy shelves, so I was able to use the cordless drill to punch all the way through.

The second thing that went wrong was that I attached the shelves according to the diagram, then realized I was assembling the pieces so that the back of the cabinet was against the floor. This would not do, as I would need to nail on the back of the cupboard. So, with great effort, I managed to flip the whole unit over. Now the shelves were on the wrong sides according to the diagram. So that hole I drilled all the way through? Didn't need that. In fact, I had the shelves in the wrong place, and now there will be patching to do when we're through.

At the end of the evening I had assembled the nine pieces of wood into a sturdy frame. Huzzah! All set for the nailing of the back boards, to be done at a later date...

Day 3:


So. The next step showed the biggest back board fitting exactly on the back above where the drawers would be. This back board was as wide as the narrower half of the closet. During the flipping and switching of boards, I'd lost track of the top (two holes) and bottom (four holes) boards in step 1. Plus it seemed that the shelves has been in the right place, the top and bottom just needed to be flipped 180 degrees. Maybe if I unscrew just the parts I need to switch around and...

Well. There we go, 9 boards and 20 screws now lay, separately, on the floor. At least the reconstruction only took a quarter of the time as it did last night, but at the end of the night, I nailed on the big back board and realized if I nailed the other back pieces on as well I would suddenly be without space to walk. Day 4 will involve some careful balancing.