Friday, May 30, 2014

Poopy Birds Defeated?

After nearly a decade of dealing with large quantities of bird crap being deposited around and even into our pool by grackles who nest in the trees of our neighbourhood for about two weeks each May, we seem to have finally found an effective deterrent for this springtime annoyance.

Vicki deserves the credit, as she was the one who read on the Internet that fishing line might keep them away.  Willing to try anything at this point, we set up several garden supports on either side of the pool and then strung lines between them, crisscrossing the entire area.

It's probably hard to see in the photo but if you can click on it to make it bigger that should bring our handiwork to light.  We've received so little bird poop in the time since we put them up that we honestly thought "poopy bird season" might not have even started yet.  However, one of our friends who lives nearby and always has the same problem confirmed for me last week that the filthy spring ritual is in full swing already.  The baby grackles must've been born earlier this month and now the parents are dropping their offspring's crap near a convenient water source (so that it'll be washed away from the nest and not give away their location, a practice that evolution has instilled over countless past generations).

I'll admit to being skeptical of this solution when Vicki suggested it, but not any more!  It definitely seems like a winner, with the only downside being that the pool is less accessible for swimming and skimming while the lines are up.  However, I think we can live with that for a couple weeks every spring if it means not having to clean up hundreds of little piles of shit, as we've had to do for the past eight or nine years now.  Yay for Vicki and the Internet! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

John Oliver's Takedown Of The Climate Change "Debate"

I really miss John Oliver since he left The Daily Show to star in his own weekly comedy program, Last Week Tonight.  He clearly showed just how talented he was during Jon Stewart's summer-long sabbatical last year (to film a movie in Iran) so it's no wonder the British comic was given his own show shortly thereafter.

Anyway, in case you haven't seen it, Oliver did a hilarious bit on climate change and the false equivalency that most media reports give to both sides of the "debate" as to whether it's man-made or not.  If you haven't already seen what he did, you should definitely check it out.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Steve Albini And The Music Industry

Scanning the Boing Boing headlines a few days ago, I stumbled across a strangely familiar name: Steve Albini.  I wasn't immediately sure where I'd seen that name before but I was pretty sure it was in relation to the great Magnolia Electric Company and the late, very lamented Jason Molina.  A quick Google search confirmed my suspicion and made me all the more interested in digging into it.

As I started reading the article entitled Who Cares What Steve Albini Thinks?  You Probably Do, I found myself being quickly drawn in by the historical significance of Albini's career as well as his unique attitude toward the role of "music engineer."  I strongly recommend checking out the article yourself if you're at all interested in music, and especially following the links "Letter to Nirvana" and "The Problem with Music" included in the piece.  It's a fascinating read that I still haven't gotten all the way through, several days later, as I keep stopping to think about whatever I've just absorbed from it.  It's an absolute must-read, if you ask me.   

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lost And The Operational Theme Problem

Here's a really good article by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, one of the people responsible for the much-missed Lost TV show, that sheds a lot of light on why some television programs work while others clearly don't.  I'd never looked at it in quite this way before, but it makes perfect sense to me: the characters on the show all have to be directed along the same "operational theme" axis in order to propel the episodes forward in a consistent and compelling manner.  It's the sort of thing that's obvious once it's pointed out to you, but maybe not before that.  And it's also very much in line with the kind of thinking that I put into each of my novels, though I've now got new insights on the topic to consider.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crazy Physics!

This news of scientists figuring out how to "trick the uncertainty principle" is pretty mind-blowing in its possible implications for the future of quantum science.  If it leads to the ability to extend quantum behaviour to non-quantum (macroscopic) objects, we could be talking teleportation or instantaneous communication over large (really, really large) distances, among other major breakthroughs.  Yikes!

The XBox One Fiasco

I own both an XBox 360 and a PS3, and I'd say I got my money's worth out of each of them, although the Sony device got used about ten times as much as Microsoft's console.  However, when the XBox One and PS4 were announced last year, it was pretty clear to me that I needn't waste any money on the new box coming out of the house Bill Gates built.  Bad decision after bad decision were revealed by Microsoft in the months leading up to November (when both new consoles arrived), and to be honest I never once wavered in my decision to give the XB1 a pass... not even when I found out that Titanfall, the long-awaited first release from the ex-Infinity Ward crew at Respawn Entertainment, would be exclusive to the XBox family of devices.  Hard to believe anything could sour me enough to pass up a highly-touted first person shooter, and yet there it was.

Today I saw an article on the topic that brought back all those memories and reinforced my decision.  My six-month-old PS4, on the other hand, gets used every week and has been a delight to own so far.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

More Comments On Leap Of Faith

It's still rolling in:

"I LOVE IT!! It's honestly one of those books, I can't wait to relax and read, but I also don't want it to end, so I don't want to read it too fast."


"I really liked it! The ending shocked me!"


"I really enjoyed this book..particularly the main character and how she responds to the whirlwind of information coming her way...I like her personality and her history and ultimately very excited about her choices! The book is a fun ride to read... Like potato chips ..hard to stop at one chapter! Enjoyable and well constructed!"

not to mention this enthusiastic assessment:

"Leap of Faith is epic!!!  Your best novel yet!!!  Love it!!!"

Glad to see that most people are getting their money's worth...

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Not That Anyone Asked Me But...

I think the Washington Redskins controversy is easily solved: rename the team to be the Washington Americans, keeping the logo the same.  The proud Native American depicted in the current team logo, decked out in full headdress, is the perfect icon for the new name.  Sure, some folks would continue to refer to the team by its old name for awhile, but fortunately that problem will solve itself as those intractable few inevitably die off.  Problem solved.  You're welcome.