Rant averted

I was getting moderately fired up to write a post about the political situation in Canada and why so many people who are talking about it do not in fact know what they’re talking about. Then I discovered that the Yarn Harlot has already written many of the things that I would have written, but more politely and comprehensively. So read her post.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Persona and personality

Via Kevin Drum (who worries that the web is becoming too smart) I’ve found The Typealyzer. You tell it your blog’s URL and it does a Myers-Briggs temperament sorting thing. By its reckoning and based on the Nutshell, I’m an ISTP… which gets three out of four right, but the wrong letter is very, very wrong indeed.

Of course, it’s always been my conceit that this me — the writing voice that I use, the one that you’re reading — isn’t the me of the outside world. As such, perhaps this isn’t an absurdly wrong result so much as a reflection of how I construct this particular version of myself.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On mobile phones

Lance Mannion is one of the many strangers whose blog I read. There’s a connection, sort of — he used to live in the city where I live now — but it’s pretty slight. Mostly I read because he writes well. And today he’s writing about his new cellphone.

Here’s what I’m getting at.

What do families of four and five and more pay for cell phone service every month? What do college students pay for their cell service every month and why do their parents put up with it?

And how come we don’t find this ridiculous?

And so, a momentary reassessment: why do I have a cell phone?

Originally, I got a mobile phone because of my car. My first car was not, shall we say, very good. And after spending a night stranded by the side of the interstate ten miles outside of the Atlanta Bypass, courtesy of a failed alternator, having a mobile phone seemed like a fine precaution to take. And once I got it, there wasn’t any particular need for me to have a land-line; when I moved to a new place a couple of months later, my old phone number didn’t go with me.

But then I moved to the Midwest, and went back to a two-phone solution. At that point, the rationale was that I travel around enough to make a cellphone practical, but I’d conceived by then a certain dislike of the sound quality on most if not all such phones. (It’s better now, but even now there are some people whose voices I just can’t make out on my mobile; it’s worse if they’re on their cellphone at the time.) So I had a land-line for the purposes of having actual conversations, and a mobile for making plans on the fly.

My original Midwestern cellphone fell apart (pretty much literally) after a year of owning it… or more than a year, since it was out of warranty, but less than two because I didn’t qualify for a free upgrade. Which brings me to my current arrangement: landline plus Canadian cellphone. Useful in that people in both Canada and the States can call me domestically (less useful for my peeps in Germany, Ghana, etc. but one can’t have everything); I’ve considered giving up the home phone but between internet service and the necessity of a local number of give local businesses it just doesn’t seem worth it.

So yes, I’m paying a fair amount for my phone services. I can afford it at the moment, and I enjoy the convenience.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have I mentioned how fond I am of Pandora?

Today’s discovery: Books from boxes by Maxïmo Park. Smiths-y poppy goodness.

Oh, internet. You bring me so many good things.

In unrelated news, typing without using one’s left ring finger is difficult.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I couldn’t vote in the Canadian election three weeks ago — I was registered to, but I’ve apparently fallen off the list of voters-abroad and hence my registration card got mailed to my parents’ house (AKA my last official Canadian address). So I could have voted, but I would have had to get up to Eastern Ontario in order to do so… not impossible, but troublesome. (And ultimately irrelevant, since the incumbent MP cruised to victory.)

I did, however, take advantage of my second citizenship to vote today. There was actually a non-trivial line-up, which is a first in my (admittedly brief) experience of voting in my midwestern state. I had a little trouble with the guy checking the lists, because I knew the rules better than he did; my state requires government-issued photo ID, so I showed up with my (American) passport in hand. Dude sort of hems and haws a bit, and asks me if I’ve got anything with my address on it. Despite having no legal requirement to do so, I pull out my driver’s licence, and instantly the guy’s all “you should have just given me that in the first place”. I make some comment about the passport proving I was a citizen, and his response is that the driver’s licence does the same thing: demonstrably false, since I’ve had licences in two states well before I got documentation of my American-ness.

But hey, got it done in the end. No “I voted!” sticker, sadly.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bizarre thought of the day

The presidential election should be treated as a game of Hex, using the map of the lower 48 as the board. The one problem with this is that the player seeking the north/south connection has an advantage over the east/west player.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One way to put it

The caption for a photo in the Toronto Star:

Jim Flaherty got into a political hissing match with Ontario

Isn’t that usually abbreviated as “p’issing match”?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Linguistic curmudgeonly thought of the day

I miss the word “failure”. It was a fixture in the vernacular of my youth, by which I mean the social circles that I moved in as an undergraduate; the full phrase took the form “failure to X”, sometimes followed by “penalty card”. (The formula comes from a particularly aggravating card game that was designed to appeal specifically to geek of a certain stripe. Even today, I can not tell you its name… not because I don’t know it, but because to do so would land me with three penalty cards in quick succession, and who can afford to carry around all those extra cards these days?)

Today, of course, the use of “failure” is becoming deprecated as “FAIL” is taking on extra duties as a noun. While I appreciate the broader punning potential of the shorter word – I’m fond of “failboat”, for instance – I miss the comparative prolixity of the original.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The cabaret was quiet, except for the drilling in the wall

There’s a guy from the phone company in my basement right now, installing the various folderol necessary for my incipient transition to fibre-optics-based service (“FiOS”, to use the brand name). It feels a little weird, because it’s really quite rare for there to be anyone else in my house; I think the last time I had a visitor was six months ago. It’s also weird because of the random drilling and hammering noises that keep phasing in and out, of course.

In other news, I’ve got my new machine; pursuant to my earlier musings, I’m indeed going with the three-box solution of a desktop, a laptop, and an iPod Touch, though the latter has yet to arrive. So far, I’m liking the desktop a lot; I’d forgotten what having adequate amounts of RAM really means.

Oh, and I’ve been experimenting with Twitter, which is more fun than I’d anticipated. The username there’s “doc_hatter” if you feel like following my exploits there. I’ve started working on another couple of web-based projects, but it might be a while before those come to fruition.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My favorite Wikipedia page of the moment

The English football league system. The shrunken font as one descends the levels of the pyramid is a nice touch.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment