All his kids recovering from the blackout of 2003 blackouts.  Only grandkids 1500 km to his west.  Behind my mother’s voice on the phone, Dad can be heard shouting out his only real concern: “Who are they playing?”

Stenhousemuir, as it turns out, where they, the mighty Greenock Morton, won 2-0 away from home. Arsenal won, too, over an outclassed Everton – despite Arsenal being down a player after the reappearance of Sol Campbell’s boot’s desire to practice proctology. Sol is the best defender in England but has had a bad run of involuntary arse kicking lately. Caught the game on Rogers Sports Net. Oddly, here in Canada we can get more soccer than most anywhere: four live or nearish English league on two channels, German live, French live, Argentine, Spanish, Brazilian and Dutch on tape delay. I may spend another $2.99 a month this winter to get TeleLatino to pick up the Italian league.

Not just a slave to the tube, the August When Saturday Comes showed up yesterday and I am working through a small stack of fitba books from One, Out of His Skin, is about John Barnes – one of my favorite players from the days of TSN’s Soccer Saturday – and the crap he had to put up with from his own Liverpool fans for having the gall to be both black and good at soccer. Even just 15 years after he entered the top level of the English game, it is amazing to this that this was the case watching the diversity of players on Arsenal. The implicit racism of the game is now seen more in the lily white composition of the fans in the stands. If you get ESPN Classics Canada, you can see Barnes play on certain Friday evenings in a few of the late 80’s early 90’s English FA Cup Finals they show from time to time. He taught me everything I know about crossing from the outside – everything I know…not what I can do.

Blackout Day 2

Highlights so far:

  • Woke up at 7:57 am. Alarm messed up.
  • Called at 8:01 am. Do not come to work but stand by in case needed by my boss the City to man a phone or something.
  • Watched private golf course across street water fairways 8:01 am to present.
  • Watched Howie Mandel on Regis and Kelly for 2 minutes. Considered why blackout such a bad thing.
  • Co-worker calls to say he is heading out to the cottage and planned supper off. Noticed lack of invite. Then again I can’t stand me for three days.
  • 11:00 am listened to Mel Lastman, Mayor of Toronto, talk of difficulties Toronto had faced. Noticed similarity to recent interview of Keith Richards discussing difficulties Toronto had faced.
  • Following good Toronto coverage from The Flea.

My plan for the afternoon is a search for a box of chilly clinky ales, conserving energy – not just the grid’s… my own, switch back and forth between local Canadian and US radio stations to follow the game of “blame the other’s electrical infrastructure” ping-pong.

Later:  No power from 3:30 to about 8:00 pm.  Molson Stock Ale plus wedge of lemon = Molrona.  Clear night so heat should clear down here by the lake.   Had a picnic supper in the park.  Big waves crashing in from the heart of the big pond to the south  west.   Stick some dulse up my nose and it could be Lunenburg.

Gee…another new word

Just when you thought it was safe to go out on the information super highway, we are now going to hear about “fisking” – a new word for a usenet-old practice of interweaving replying within the text of what is being discussed, used often in flaming. For the first round of response it is slightly useful as it directly relates a paragraph of response to a paragraph of original statement. It is useless for the next level of response and beyond as it creates a mess.

I hope “to fisk” gains some new meanings – to pointlessly create new words, to confuse a discussion through unnecessary structures…suggestions?


Back. Nice to see the typo twins chimed in over the weekend. I don’t know why I don’t care too much about spelling but I don’t I think it was all the teachers who made so much about it but didn’t seem to have anything to say with their perfect grammer. Couldn’t have been. That being said, I am sure it is on my “permanent record” so I should start feeling bad any day now.

Tales of the road? Not really many:

  • Vermont’s unoffical state bird is apparently the Crow – gotta love that. The law says the hermit thrush. Who picks a hermit as an emblem?
  • The nicest vista on a highway is the view at the top of the hill on I-83 just west of Barre heading for Montpellier, Vt. – layer upon layer of Green Mountain each one a little more faded than its next nearest neighbour.
  • Tim’s is a welcome site whether in South Portland, Maine or Cornwall, Ontario.
  • I had the best raw oysters ever from the Portland Public Market – each one was about a ten-chew half-cup of living sea animal. Dandy with a Shipyard ale.
  • Burlington’s Church Street is kinda losing it having an Old Navy and a Borders and losing its own independent bookstore – was it Hickson & B****? Heidi will know. That being said, Borders has a heck of a music section. Everyone I know under 30 will think me a fool for buying 145 US bucks worth of art on 1990’s media.
  • The Gulf of Maine at 60F is better swimming at Higgin’s Beach than 70F water farther north or south.


The road back was pretty much off the highway again so I can’t say we broke any speed records. Interesting how the Thousand Islands here seem more than anything a continuum of the Lake Champlain and even New Hampshire’s busy lakes region. Best drive back twisty road – New Hampshire’s 25A west to the beautiful little village of Orford on the Connecticut River, shown here.

The Road Taken

New Hampshire has redeemed itself. For years bad thinks happen everytime I am driving through New Hampshire – people giving me the finger, getting lost out of Dover because the “Live Free or Die” folk don’t like spending on road signs. I only drive through New Hampshire – like New Brunswick. Last evening at 7:00 pm, we blew a tire on highway 4 at the westerly Durham exit and New Hampsire came through big time.

I can change a tire. I cannot change a tire when the tire jack and lugnut wrench was left in PEI in a house I have since sold. We started to walk into town down the highway on ramp. First, a guy about 19 in a pick up driving the other way goes down the ramp into Durham, goes around and up our ramp to meet us as we are walking down. He drives us into town calling on his cell phone to all the VW owners he knew. We make about 5 stops with no luck. 25 minutes minimum.   He leaves us with a happy wave at the cop shop where we call for help (being after hours). This guy has just done this one a Friday eveing coming home from work at the Portsmouth Jiffy lube. Someone raised that kid right.  Didn’t get the name but thanks.

Next, the cops call Smitty’s Towing and in 15 minutes we are back at our car where for 30 bucks on my VISA, the nephew of the owner – about 23 – replaces the tire with our doughnut in about 47 seconds. Tells us all about the town as we are driving back, how the University of NH sucks up property taxes, how they came second in NCAA hockey last year, tells us about being a tow operator in Durham (picked up two DWIs Thursday night) and gives us directions on to Portland via back roads to stay under 50 mph. Again, someone raised this kid right.  Again, didn’t get the name but thanks.

The trip was made by this.  Less than one hour delay.  Before that the highlights were the drive on NY highway 3 through to Saranac Lake; the 10 mile drive up and over the Green Mountains east of Middlesbury where you can pretend you are in a car ad pumping second and third gears through hairpins at a 12% ascent and decent; seeing Middlesbury College founded in 1800 sitting in a landscape of rolling farms with the lake to the west and the mountains to the east.  Also ate beef jerky for the first time.  Ate a whole bunch and then worried for an hour whether a entire pot roast was rehydrating in my gut.   Buy a VW, by the way. Whole drive was less than 30 bucks Canadian for the gas. My car is a ’93. And make sure the jack and lugnut wrench are in the back.

Route: Kingston to Cape Vincent to Watertown to Saranac Lake to Lake Placid (avoid) to Westport to Champlain Bridge to Middlesbury to Concord to Dover to Gorham to South Portland: left house at 7:35 am, got to Ross’s at 10:20 pm.   Off to the tire shop today.

Directions Needed

riding the purple boomerang

Go south, south-east, east, north-east, north-east

I need help. We are going from Kingston, Ontario to Portland, Maine Friday and there are a few things to deal with once we ford the mighty St. Lawrence, crossing on the somewhat less mighty St. Vincent ferry: Adirondack Park, Lake Champlain, Green Mountains, White Mountains. Map Quest sends us within spitting distance of Connecticut on the Mass Turnpike. Is the smart way to go? Is it better to make Lake Placid, nip south of Lake Champlain and find I-89 and cross from southern New Hampshire to Portland.

It is all in a good cause as I am going to pretend to run the Beach to Beacon race in South Portland. The website says:

The elite races for both the men and women are shaping up to be as competitive as ever. Can James Koskei of Kenya overcome a top-heavy field and repeat? Can Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba reclaim her crown after last year’s third place finish?

I note I am not mentioned. As I am not going to run but may take a leisurely stroll, I fully expect my view of nylon covered Kenyan bums to be scant and fleeting. Maybe we’ll meet up with them at Gritty’s after for a couple of pitchers.

Canada resists patenting everything

A few New Yorkers ago there was a very good article on patent creeping in the US which describes the apparent desire of the US court to declare everything existing and being done in the universe as patentable. An interesting thread on MetaFilter was spawned.

As noted at the time in a neighbouring blog, fortunately Canada has resisted the urge and still is confident in other forms of legal protection. The “Harvard mouse” was rejected by Canada as a patentable thing as, amazing as this fact might be, its a higher life form and not an invention. The Supreme Court of Canada in its ruling in Harvard College v. Canada (Commissioner of Patents), 2002 SCC 76 makes some great statements about the limits of our patent law, including:

The fact that animal life forms have numerous unique qualities that transcend the particular matter of which they are composed makes it difficult to conceptualize higher life forms as mere “composition[s] of matter”. It is a phrase that seems inadequate as a description of a higher life form.

Another example of exclusions from patenting comes in the location of our intellectual property law protections for software programming. It falls under our copyright law not the Patents Act. One of the great things about this is that the expression of an idea in is protected, not the unique useful functional capabilities of the code as must be shown in a patent case. Software code, being textual instructions which also function, benefit from this as the means to perform tasks are subject to intellectual property protection without going through the expensive, public and time-consuming process of applying for a patent. As a democratizer, it is pretty snazzy, too.

The prospect of a world tied up by US patent claims can be less frightening to Canadians who, for now, can rely upon the good sense of both Parliament and the Supreme Court to keep the stuff that shouldn’t be patentable out of our Patents Act – good news for both higher life forms and software programmers.

The Zoo

There are a few words, like “pie”, that evoke the pure pleasure of being a kid. If it weren’t for the pictures we have seen of bears in 5 x 5 x 5 cages somewhere in the world, “zoo” would be one of them. The Metro Toronto Zoo does its part to give those three letters a good polish and shine, however, as we saw on our trip there yesterday…ummm…except for the apparent but unsigned fear of any medium of exchange other than cash, a short-lived irritation made worse by the concurrent efficiency lecture given by the booth teens.

Sitting in one of Toronto’s surprising urban ravine forests, this zoo gives you a feeling that for the most part it is not a menagerie but a biological refuge and place of study. While the obligatory lions are not actually endangered as it turns out and, really, have Canadian become so isolated from reality that you need a beaver in its own mimicry of Algonquin Park 4 km north of the 401 in Scarborough, when you hear that certain species, like an Asian bison, simply do not exist in the wild anywhere anymore, the job a good zoo can do makes sense. Walking through a room of Malaysian plants sustaining a colony of native butterflies indifferent to your presence is pretty neat. Standing in a circular crowd of a couple hundred quiet gawkers watching three oragutans lope over a set of ropes and bars bigger than a basketball court is neat, then not neat, then neat again: you know they are very endangered, the Indonesian rainforest is being destroyed and you can see they can choose to come and go from the open area where you watch them…but those hands and expressions. Some doors on the inside of the cage have locks and keys to keep them challenged. Other doors and locks, of course, have that other purpose.

So...why don't they write folk songs about the 401?The trip is a little over two hours one-way. The nearest 150 km of the 401 to Kingston go through some of the nicest rolling pastoral countryside in Ontario – in some valleys you could be approaching Burlington, Vt, from the east. The eastern 3/4’s of Northumberland County still lacks the burbs which now reach to Bowmanville, 100 km east of the zoo, which itself sits in the east of the City. But when it hits, it sure is like the ugly stick got there first. Hit the gas on the way out heading home and look forward to Cobourg where you can loosen the grip on the steering wheel.