Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Taking A Twitter Break

It might seem I've been taking a blogging break, given the dearth of posts here lately... but really I just haven't had much to say.  Life has been good of late, as it often is, and that makes for boring updates I think.

But the one little kernel of news I thought I should record for posterity is that I closed my Twitter tab in the browser several days ago and haven't yet felt inclined to re-open it.  I'm not a Twitter-hater in general, but it does certainly seem to skew quite heavily to the noise side of the signal-to-noise scale sometimes, and so I'm taking a break from it.  How long it will last, I can't say.  But so far I've been enjoying not knowing what everyone else is talking about, not reading the same tired, old attempts to be topical and cool, and not wasting even a single moment of my day skimming through the cruft, looking for something to reward my attention.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Pool Season 2015 Now Officially Open

With the sudden arrival of summer today (seems like just last week it was winter!), we bit the bullet this morning and began the chore of opening the pool.  As of right now, the winter cover is off, cleaned and ready to be packed away for 4 or 5 months; a lot (but certainly not all) of the algae and worms have been vacuumed off the bottom of the pool; the water that was oily black 8 hours ago is now light blue in the shallow end and nearly-light green in the deep end, thanks to 2 kg of chlorine having been added; and the water temp is up from 55 F to 60 F, courtesy of our 4-year-old heater that started up perfectly on the first try.  Tomorrow we'll do one more vacuum of the deep end and then unleash the robot on it to do numerous passes without any human guidance (we just have to clean out its filter on a regular basis as it gets clogged quickly this time of year).

Optimistically, if all goes well, I could see taking a dip by the weekend.  Of course, where pools are concerned, things rarely go all well.  But a guy can always dream, can't he?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Poopy Bird Deterrents In Place

After last year's successful foray against the annual poopy bird crapfest, we believe we've found a winning strategy and so of course we're deploying it again this year.  The strings are up, zigzagging across the (still-closed) pool, and hopefully they'll be enough to keep the migrating grackles from dropping the feces of their young onto our deck.  We'll know within the next few weeks, anyway.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Potentially Huge Breakthrough For Alzheimer's Discovered

This news out of Australia seems extremely promising: a team there has discovered a way to use ultrasound waves to break up the material that blocks the neurons in Alzheimer's patients and causes their memory issues.  Tests with lab rats saw improved memory functions in 75% of the treated animals, which is an amazingly good result.  Considering how devastating this disease is to so many elderly men and women and their loved ones, this could prove to be a game-changer, for sure.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Yet Another Study Finds No Link Between Vaccination Rates And Autism

Almost 100,000 children aged 2 thru 5 were included in the latest study, which once again found no link between vaccination rates for MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and the occurrence of autism.  In other words, unvaccinated children are as likely to be diagnosed with autism as vaccinated ones are.  This is the same result that every study on the topic has found, with the exception of the one, discredited bit of 'research' that kicked off this whole anti-vaccination nonsense.  The great thing about science is that it's repeatable, and therefore by definition anything that isn't repeatable ain't science.  It's just too bad there's so many gullible parents out there who apparently didn't learn the first thing about how science works during high school, as they're now endangering everyone else around them with their stupidity. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Long Wait Is Almost Over

On this, the first day of Daredevil being available on Netflix, I  just ordered 2 tickets for Avengers: Age of Ultron for the night of its premiere, Friday, May 1st.  We're going to see it at the VIP theatre, reserved seats, and hopefully avoid having any of its surprises spoiled beforehand.  I'm ridiculously excited about this movie, just as I was for the first Avengers flick, and it didn't disappoint... at all!

Just 21 days to go now...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Still Biking At 52

I got my first bike ride of the year in today, pedaling my 2-year-old Rideau downtown to drop off my income tax return while it was -4 C (-8 C with the wind chill).  I had worried that too much of the way there would still be under ice or snow, but really the only portion like that was the final little park before the King Street bridge (right downtown).  I took a side street off Wharncliffe to bypass that section and made it to the bridge just fine.

I expect that every subsequent ride I'll make over the next 7 or 8 months will be warmer than today's, but it's still good to get that first one out of the way.  Or, as I always think to myself, "Not bad for an old guy." 

Friday, March 13, 2015

My All-Canadian Wife

A little less than 2 years ago, Vicki received her Canadian citizenship after living here for nearly 40 years.  Then, last June, her mother Elinor passed away after a year-long battle with failing health.  Not long after that, Vicki made the decision to renounce her U.S. citizenship, in part because Elly had been her strongest tie to the country of her birth, and in part because the time required to file U.S. income tax returns and other U.S. documentation each year was onerous.

It was a bizarre, convoluted process, including a trip to the U.S. consulate in Toronto last August that ended up being entirely wasted, but today we received the documentation in the mail making it official: Vicki is now 100% Canadian, having successfully relinquished her U.S citizenship.  She says she's a little sad about the loss but mostly feels good to be out from under the unique bureaucratic workload that America imposes upon its citizens living abroad. 

I told her that, after test-driving Canada for the past four decades, she shouldn't have anything to worry about.  After all: Canada's awesome, eh?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The New 52

Well, I've made it to another milestone, turning 52 today.  I had a wonderful day, starting with Vicki joining me for my Tuesday yoga class, and ending with the two of us watching one of the last House M.D. episodes together on Netflix (just 3 to go, now).  In between those two thrills, I also got homemade brownies, a new hoodie and T-shirt, take-out fish & chips for dinner, another awesome viewing of The Avengers on Blu-Ray and even a Rangers win over the hated Islanders (which I could've watched on TV but opted for the movie instead).  I don't think the day could've been any better, really, thanks to my lovely wife.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blast From The Past

Vicki was going through some keepsakes today and came across this photo that Aunt Dorothy took of us back in the spring of 2000:

At the time, we were finally answering the question: What would Matt and Vicki look like if he didn't have a beard and she had blonde hair? Now, of course, Vicki is blonde every day, which is a real treat... but for the sake of humanity, I'm not inflicting my hairless chin on anyone at the moment!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yes, Please!

Just 2 months and 5 days to wait now...

OK, here's the full poster, with more of the cast and all of the credits:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alien Sequel Coming From District 9 Director?

This all seems a little out of left field to me, but Variety is reporting that District 9 director Neil Blomkamp is going to start work on a new Alien sequel. I liked District 9 well enough but it was pretty low-budget and I'm not sure that I'd trust its director with one of my favourite movie franchises, personally.  Not that there haven't already been some bad films in the series but... oh, who am I kidding?  Considering how much I adored Prometheus and the recent Alien: Isolation video game, I'll probably be one of the first in line to see this, whenever it comes out.

Another Example Of Bad Science Rears Its Ugly Head

This time it was fairly close to home, geographically-speaking, as it was the Toronto Star mistaking correlation as causation in their ridiculous story about the HPV vaccine.  Like the "MMR vaccine causes autism" bullshit that started with a British doctor's falsified data, this has the potential to cause all kinds of real harm as it drives gullible people away from life-saving vaccinations.

The inability of some members of our species to understand basic science is eventually going to wipe us out courtesy of Climate Change, so I guess 'small stuff' like this doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.  But it's still embarrassing on some level, if you ask me.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

No Brother Of Mine Now Available In Printed Form On Amazon.Com

After a few hours of work by me over the weekend, along with some generous time from Carl Pettypiece to slightly reformat the cover, No Brother of Mine is now available to be printed on demand via It's priced at $9.99 US there, which should make it reasonable even if you're paying to have it shipped to Canada.  And since it's a regular Amazon item, you can always get free shipping if you order enough other stuff with it.

I've wanted to get my novels onto another print distribution channel for a while, and this is my first step in that direction.  I'll be putting at least Old Wounds and Leap of Faith, as well as any future novels, out there for sure.