Monday, July 31, 2006

Raymi Quote

Remember when I used to mention Raymi and Px on a regular basis, because they have two blogs that are actually worth reading, unlike most of the other boring drivel out there in the blogosphere? Remember that? Yeah, well, I’m not finding them as interesting anymore. I think the pressure of having a popular blog is getting to Raymi, while Px just isn’t posting quite as much anymore. But I still read them.

But I enjoyed a piece of a post by Raymi recently:

a few weeks ago i went [to fresh] to get some hangover medicine and i got the simple rice now MY idea of simple rice is RICE, the end. their idea of simple rice is rice with parsley and shaved carrot and exploded wheat and tofu "steaks" or tempeh. i had to ask what tempeh was and the dude was all it’s this really nice tofu that’s full of flavor and bla bla bla but here is the TRUTH: tempeh is garbage you find in a parking lot with bits of someone’s car tire slammed onto it and then it’s stepped on a lot by a bunch of shoeless homeless guys and birds regurgitate bread onto it and voila, tempeh.
So, um, yeah. That’s all I have to say. Or rather, that’s all Raymi has to say. In my blog. For now.

Friday, July 28, 2006



Wednesday, July 26, 2006

500th Post

Edited post

Welcome to the 500th post to the sernaferna blog. Upon reflection, I’ve decided that I don’t have anything deep or insightful to say in this entry; instead, I’m doing a retrospective post, looking back at some of my favourite posts over the last year and a half.

I’m not saying that the posts listed here are deep, or even interesting. They’re just my personal favourites. However, since—as I like to keep mentioning—this blog is maintained for my own personal enjoyment, and nobody else’s, I feel comfortable doing it this way. Actually, even the word “favourites” might be a bit misleading—I simply started at the beginning (Thursday, March 17, 2005), and started grabbing links for posts that caught my eye.

Blogs about Blogging: Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I blog about blogging a lot. There are various reasons for this: I’m trying to figure out why I do it; I’m trying to figure out why others do it; I’m trying to come to grips with ways I might do it better, or make my blog more useful; I’m wondering why I spend so much time reading other people’s blogs, when so many of them are utter wastes of my time. These entries are all blogs about blogging, and some are probably contradictory, because they’re all moments in time:
  • It’s funny...: This was probably the first post that acknowledged the fact that my blog is a complete and utter waste of time—both for me, and for the reader.
  • Why?: This was the first blog that explicitly mentioned the fact that there is no real reason why you, the reader, should bother coming here. It’s a little out of date now, because it says that I don’t use my wife’s real name (which I started doing), and that I don’t post pictures (which I can now do), however the main points that it’s making are still true: I may use Andrea’s name, now, but I still don’t post any private details about our marriage, and I may be able to post pictures now, but I don’t do it often enough to make the blog interesting.
  • Definition: Another obsessive post about my own blogging.
  • How to blog: The post for this title isn’t really properly descriptive; it’s actually a post saying that you shouldn’t try and tell people how to blog.
  • Blog Advice: Did I say that I don’t give blog advice? Well, apparently I do.
  • Why Blog?: Indeed.
  • ANOTHER post about blogging: I’m very aware of the fact that I post about blogging a lot.
  • I think I’m getting addicted: Another post about blogging, but, just to switch it up about, it’s about other people’s blogs, not mine.
  • Rights: A post that’s partially about blogging, but also just about life in general.
  • Nothing. Me. Everything. Another “I was reading a blog and it inspired me to write about blogging” entry. And same with Pretentious bloggers.
Headlights: This was the first—and last—PSA I posted to the blog. You’re welcome.

Damn this feeble memory!: Possibly the most important blog entry I ever wrote. If you have access to a printer, you should probably print this out, and put it up on the wall next to your computer. Then you can read it, from time to time, when you need inspiration. (You can probably tell, when I go so far with it, that I’m being ironic, can’t you?)

Tandoori shrimp: I take it back. There were more PSA posts to the blog.

Now THAT is what a conference call SHOULD be like!: This post documents the best conference call I ever attended.

I’m so stupid: This post documents the exact day when I learned that the word “literally” can be used in two—completely opposite—ways, both of which are correct. This was a turning-point in my life as an English-speaker.

An intellgent, well-thought-out post covering the state of serna’s life at 11:30 on a Sunday night: ’Nuff said.

Quebec Trip: Chronicles a trip I took to Quebec City, for business.

Etymology of "sernaferna": Explains where the name sernaferna came from. And how it is pronounced.

MSN Conversation: This is the first conversation I ever posted from a conversation I’d had in Messenger. (I posted this before I’d set myself up to show all of the emoticons, so it’s very… textual.)

Book Review: [Hegemony or Survival] This is pretty self-explanatory; it reviews the aforementioned book by Noam Chomsky. I didn’t bother to link to all of the book reviews I did, but this is probably the best analysis of American foreign policy/politics that I’ve ever read.

The flip-flop controversy: Last year, in June, there was a mild controversy on this blog because I claimed—rightly—that flip-flops are ugly. It was mentioned in a number of posts:Email hilarity. Or lack thereof.: This post is simply a testament to my own bizarre sense of humour.

Three Hours Between Chatham and Toronto: I don’t even know what to say about this one. It’s just something I’d written in the past, and forgotten about, and then decided to dredge up and put on the blog.

Coffee and environmentalism: A post about coffee. Oh, and also about environmentalism. In fact, it’s really more related to environmentalism than it is to coffee.

another Monday, another post about the weekend: Nothing particularly interesting about this one, actually. It’s just a post about the previous weekend.

Downtown Toronto (long): A post about downtown Toronto, because I miss living there.

Tim’s: A love letter to the coffee company I like best.

I’m such a nerd...: A recap of some of the electronic devices that have brought me so much joy, over the years.

Art? Art.: Some pictures Andrea took, that I thought looked good enough to blog.

Recommended Reading: Books that I recommend.

My spine: This post contains a medical hypothesis that I don’t think gets enough credence.

My HTML Editor: A post about HTML-Kit, the HTML editor I use for creating these blog entries—and pretty much anything else that’s HTML-related. What I didn’t mention, though, which I should have, is that HTML-Kit is much more appropriate for people who want to work with the HTML tags, and not for people who want a FrontPage-like interface.

Good Article on Hip-Hop and Sexism: References a comment made by bell hooks on a blog somewhere, on hip-hop and sexism. Andrea’s been bugging me to start reading bell hooks, but I haven’t gotten around to picking up any of her books, yet.

Puttin’ on the Pounds: I’m not saying this post is when I started to realize I was gaining weight. But it was definitely a blow to the ol’ self esteem.

Descriptive Writing: Something I don’t do.

Bored at work: Just a typical afternoon for serna.

An Interview With Serna: This is the first time the editors of sernaferna got together with the writers of sernaferna, for a quick chat on the state of blogging. It didn’t go as well as either were hoping. They didn’t even spell serna’s name proplerly, in the title.

My Wife: The first post in which I used Andrea’s real name.

Formatting Change: Another complaint about the way some people format their blogs. Especially the ones who use Spaces from MSN.

Update: A strange post, if ever there was one. And not named very well, either.

Chatting: Fond remembrances of the way chatting used to be.

Venezuela Pictures: Don’t get your hopes up, when you read that title. There are no pictures in the post. There is, however, a link to my photos site, where all of my pictures from Venezuela (and Barbados, and Guyana) are.

The Conservative Party: Everyone else who has a blog complains about the minor inconveniences in their life; why can’t I? And, while I’m at it, I should also mention the Conservative Party Update, and the Conservative Party AGAIN.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and Everything: This is what you get when serna posts right before Christmas.

Insert Title Here: The best blog entry I ever wrote. Honest. Go and read it now, if you don’t believe me.

My Sense of Humour: Self-explanatory.

Swiss Chalet has sold me out!: This is the chilling post where I learned Swiss Chalet had switched from Coke products to Pepsi products.

People are strange: Why put graffiti on plants?!?

Strategic Voting: Should I vote Liberal, or NDP? Hmm…

Apparently, I have nothing to say...: I should use this title for all of my blog posts.

300th Post to this Blog!: The 500th post isn’t the only milestone, you know.

An Interview With serna: Another one? Yes. Another one.

Shout Out: I get mentioned on others’ blogs so rarely that it usually gets mentioned in mine when it happens.

Simpsons Trivia: Who Shot Mr. Burns?: I thought I would end up posting a lot more trivia to the blog, after this post, but I didn’t.

Swiss Chalet--Again!: I complain, but I still love them.

Just a Conversation About Nuthin: Yet another brilliantly titled post.

A Grey Drive Home: Some pictures from a… well, from a grey drive home.

Writing: The real reason I want to be a writer.

Email - and lots of it!: Ever got bombarded with emails at work? Here’s how it works.

Simpsons Trivia: Grampa: I didn’t put up much Simpsons trivia, but I did do it from time to time.

Roll up the Rim: I had a number of posts about my winning RUTR cups in 2006:Keeping in Touch: Why do I even bother, sometimes?

Open Mindedness?: A post on what open-mindedness means to me, and whether or not there are limits. Which was followed by Open Mindedness and Religion, which was then followed by Do Unto Others...

The Bathroom: Because I don’t think I post enough bathroom-related material to my blog.

Project Management: Not a post, so much as simply passing on a funny cartoon. Which was followed by Rich, which also had a cartoon in it.

My Bank: I don’t often post my phone conversations, but sometimes I have a conversation that just needs to be posted.

SNL Videos: No content, but some links to some very funny videos.

V for Vendetta: Every once in a while, I get a bee in my bonnet about something, and end up posting about it ad nauseum. The movie V for Vendetta—or, more specifically, my desire to see said movie—was one of those topics:sernafernaman: Another conversation from MSN Messenger.

Random thoughts during a conference call: Another well-titled, but badly written, post.

"And You": Strange.

Final Spam Tally for March: I had decided, in the month of March, to keep track of how many spam emails I got each day. In this post, I shared the results.

Photos and Cheese: An MSN Messenger conversation which is completely unrelated to anything going on in your life. Followed by The Stupidity of serna.

Bond. James Bond.: A post about a CD I bought. Like you care.

The Wedding: A long, long post about a wedding I went to. With very few details about the wedding.

Camera Phone: A post about the fact that my camera phone takes lousy pictures. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “rant”, but it is a bit of a complaint. Followed by a series of many, many comments.

DEATH!: I’d been telling people for years—probably since my 30th birthday—that I was middle-aged. I knew that the stats say the people live longer than 60, on average, but I thought that they were probably skewed. So, in this post, I did some investigation, and found out that what people call “middle-aged” really is middle-aged. I was pleasantly surprised. And, as mentioned in Death Revisited, Andrea was surprised, too.

I can’t think of a title for this Messenger conversation: I might not post all of my Messenger conversations, but I’ll post a bunch of ’em. If it was interesting enough for me to copy ’n paste into Blogger, it’s interesting enough to link to…

Seasons: A post that nobody enjoyed nearly as much as I did. Like most other posts on my blog. Bastiges.

Yes, you CAN recover from insanity. Surprisingly quickly.: Meaningless office fun.

10 Things I Hate About Commandments: No content, but a fun video from YouTube.

Chickenshit Conformist Like Your Parents: A post about the Dead Kennedys. Along with Dead Kennedys, Cont.

My Pictures: This post is funny to me because most people won’t know what I’m talking about, for the last picture I mention. But Jer does, and James probably does, and I definitely do.

Random Thoughts on a Thursday Morning: Sometimes my blog titles are just spot on.

Blood: serna tries to donate blood, and fails. In honour of the subject matter, this post is colour-coded.

Tim Hortons “Camp Day”: Haha, aren’t corporations funny when they’re stupid?

Stickman Funnies: If you’re tired of reading my endless dronings, you can go to this post for a break. It’s just stickman comics that were sent to me, that I posted online.

Learning about life without Grandpa: I posted this to commemorate the passing of my grandfather. In my humble opinion, it combines poignancy with unnecessary detail.

Mr. Show: The Audition and Kids in the Hall: The Chase: No content from me, but two great clips from great shows.

Why Cartoons Always Wear The Same Clothes: Finally, finally, I put up my cartoon, so I can stop posting about it so much now.

Not Ready to Make Nice: A post about this song by the Dixie Chicks, as well as about the controversy they stirred up in 2003.

A Typical MSN Messenger Conversation: I keep posting these. I don’t know why.

U.S.-Backed Israeli Policies Pursuing “End of Palestine”: Another Chomsky-inspired post.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Letter

I found this letter, from Chomsky and a bunch of others, on his website.

The latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press. The following day the Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner—and proposed a negotiated exchange against prisoners taken by the Israelis—there are approximately 10,000 in Israeli jails.

That this “kidnapping” was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources—most particularly that of water—by the Israeli Defence (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land alloted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.

Today outrage follows outrage; makeshift missiles cross sophisticated ones. The latter usually find their target situated where the disinherited and crowded poor live, waiting for what was once called Justice. Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly—who but field commanders can forget this for a moment?

Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.

This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognised for what it is and resisted.

Tariq Ali

John Berger

Noam Chomsky

Eduardo Galeano

Naomi Klein

Harold Pinter

Arundhati Roy

Jose Saramago

Giuliana Sgrena

Howard Zinn


Blogger has been acting up again, lately. It seems to be constantly “down”. I put “down” in quotes because often the posting functionality is unavailable, but people are still able to view the blog itself, which is good. I don’t think they’re able to post comments, when it happens, though. Who knows? Maybe my blog is more popular than I’d thought, but people just aren’t able to comment to let me know that they’re reading. On the other hand, since I’m not a fan of comments unless they’re absolutely necessary, I’m not mourning the loss either. Heh.

In any event, once it finally came up, I had a few posts saved up, so they all went up at once.

I’ve also been getting a lot more spam lately, than in recent weeks. I think when August rolls around I might start keeping track of how many spams I get every day, again, but this time I’ll keep track of all of my email accounts. (I have a few, but most of them aren’t “public”, so you don’t know them.)

Monday already? Time for a “how my weekend went” post!

Although I took Friday off work, meaning I had a long weekend, I don’t actually have much to post about.

After I posted my Chuck post, I had a rare [for me] moment of “blogger’s remorse”. Would Chuck smile when he saw it, or get offended? I hope the former, and not the latter. But for all I know, he’s got me blocked on MSN Messenger, now…

We went back to Blenheim, to stay with my parents, and brought James with us for the ride, meaning that he had to put up with our taste(s) in music for 6 hours. (3 hours there Thursday night, and 3 hours back Saturday night.)

We went to a family reunion on Saturday afternoon, which was fun, except that there weren’t as many people there as usual, and it was cold and raining. It was good to see Grandma, though. She had a great time. Mom brought a bag of cherries, and I think I ate more than half the bag by myself. And took the rest with me, when we came back to Toronto. I didn’t realize I like cherries so much, but apparently I do.

We also stopped in to see Jer and T while we were in Blenheim/Chatham. Alexis was crying a lot—colic?—which was different from the previous time I’d visited her, when she didn’t make a sound the whole time. Parenting seems to be treating Jer and T well; they seem very happy, if a little tired. Or a lot tired. Or maybe they’re not happy at all, maybe they’re just delirious from lack of sleep?

Since I was away on Friday, I didn’t update the serna Bible Blog, but hopefully I’ll get back on track starting today. (I won’t bother trying to post twice, though. It’s not like I have an actual schedule I’m trying to follow.) On Thursday I made a minor change to that blog’s template, which seems to fix the way images work in Firefox. I don’t know how many of my readers use Firefox, and everything was working fine in Internet Explorer, so it might not have been affecting anyone but me, but still, it bugged me.

And that’s assuming that anyone reads it in the first place, which isn’t necessarily a valid assumption. I know of one person who was reading it, but I don’t know if s/he continues to do so.

Also, since I mentioned it, if you haven’t yet tried Firefox, download it and give it a shot. If you’re like me, you won’t really notice much difference from Internet Explorer at first—except for the tabbed browsing, which is immediately useful—but it won’t take long before you’ll be using it as your primary browser. I had previously promised that I’d post a review of Firefox, but I never got around to it, and probably won’t bother now, so you can consider this paragraph to be my review.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hi Chuck!

I ran into a colleague today, at work, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. There were two things which greatly surprised me about our quick chat:

  1. His new bohemian look. I didn’t recognize him when I first saw him; the clothes looked nice and casual, and he had a great set of curly locks flowing down from his head. I tried and tried to figure out what was wrong with the sight of him, until I realized that the problem was that he wasn’t holding a surf board. To carry off that look properly, you really should be holding a surf board.
  2. He mentioned—get this—that he’s been reading my blog!
So, his new look, and the fact that he’s been reading my blog, when put together, can only mean one thing: He’s been promoted! Only upper management can get away with dressing however they want, and only upper management have so much time to waste that they can spend it reading a blog like this.

So congratulations, Chuck! I hope you enjoy your new role.

Hmm. If Chuck reads this blog, I wonder if that means Dano and Amby do too? If so, at some point I’m sure I’ll run into you again, as well, and then probably write a tongue in cheek blog entry about it. I bet you can’t wait, eh? Oh, the suspense, the suspense…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


If you’re going to work in computers—as I do—you are going to encounter a lot of TLAs, ETLAs, EETLAs, etc. You will also be creating a lot of acronyms; project names, product names, and anything else you’re working on will probably become “acronymed” at some point.

This is why you should always be careful when naming a new project, so that the acronym it ends up with doesn’t cause embarrassment. For example, don’t name your project a “Product Inquiry Tool”, because it will be abbreviated to “PIT”. Don’t call your product a “Java Enterprise Remote Kiosk”, because that will be abbreviated “JERK”.

These aren’t real examples—although one of them is similar to a project I saw. Which is what kicked off this post.

U.S.-Backed Israeli Policies Pursuing “End of Palestine”

The Middle East has been dominating the news lately, and it’s a very sad state of affairs. There is a personal element to it, for Andrea and I, because a friend of Andrea’s was working in the area, at a refugee camp, and had to be evacuated when the violence started. Andrea’s friend made it out, but she was the lucky one—the refugee camp was demolished, and the orphanage where she worked has been destroyed.

If you live in North America, you have probably been overwhelmed with media coverage in which Israel is “defending itself” against the “terrorist states”. As reported in the Globe and Mail, Canada and the U.S. seem to be alone in championing Israel; most other countries around the world condemn both sides in the conflict, but also single out Israel as being excessive in its actions. Unfortunately, the way the media is controlled by the conservatives—both in the States and in Canada, although probably to a greater extent in America—it’s difficult to have a proper discussion about Israel’s role in all of this.

I read a very good interview, between Democracy Now, Noam Chomsky, and Mouin Rabbani. I also read a good editorial on The Nation, on a resolution the U.S. House of Representatives is drafting.

In any event, I’m trying not to vent my spleen with this post. I’m just urging you to read the interview—and the editorial—and maybe get a more full perspective of what’s happening “over there”.

Where real people are dying, and the U.S. and Canada are supporting Israel in its actions, regardless of their cost. (Yes, that was a bit of a venting of the spleen.)

Who was that, in the pool?

I had a dream last night. I guess you could call it a nightmare, actually.

I was in a swimming pool, talking to someone, and suddenly I was propelled across to the other side of the pool, but I didn’t know how, or by who. So I went back to look at the security tapes—because apparently, in this pool, they have underwater security cameras—and watched it happen in slow motion. I saw myself going across the screen, in slow motion, and then I saw an arm coming after me, which was apparently pushing me. “Aha!” I thought. “I was pushed!”

I kept watching the tape, to see who it was that had done it. The person’s body slowly came into view, and then, for some inexplicable reason, the person started to turn toward the camera. I was going to see the person’s face! At this point, the dream was very horror-movie-like; remember the scene in The Ring, where she’s watching the video, and she pauses it, and then it turns out that holy crap! The fly is on the screen!!! No? You haven’t seen that movie? Oh. Whoops! I should have said “spoiler alert”, eh?

Anyway, I was very much expecting, when the person turned around, that they wouldn’t have a face, and it would all be blood and gore. Or, they’d finish turning around… and it would be me!!! Dun dun DUNNNN!

So as the person is turning, my anticipation is building. If it had been a horror movie, the music would be going crazy at this point, setting the mood. And finally, the person turns all the way to the camera, and it’s… it’s…

It’s just a guy. Nothing scary, nothing special, no strange twist; it’s just a guy.

Now, here’s the funny part: Because, in the dream, I had been so strongly anticipating who (or what) this person might have been, I was already primed to be scared when I saw him. So when he turned around, and turned out to be just a guy, I was already so ready to be scared that I was.

And I actually yelled out in fear, and woke myself up. (Andrea tells me that I yelled out more than once.) Not only that, but as I lay there awake, I was actually panting for a few minutes, waiting for my fear to reside… even though I knew that it was just a guy in the dream, and nothing to be afraid of.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Self-Perceived Cleverness

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
hope you dont mind (in fact, Im pretty sure you won't) I washed the sheets in the spare room

sernaferna says:
No, it's okay.

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
are you sure? I don't want to put you out

sernaferna says:
No no, it's okay.

I'll have to run it by Andrea, of course. Maybe I shouldn't tell her until you leave, in case she gets mad...

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
"HE DID WHAT???????" *breaths fire*

sernaferna says:
hehe BTW, do you mind if I post this to my blog?

sernaferna says:
(And is it wrong that we enjoy our own self-percieved(sp

sernaferna says:
) cleverness so much?)

sernaferna says:
Damn. Now that accidental Enter is going to make it into the blog.

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
yes to the former, no to the latter

sernaferna says:

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
frankly, I dont see anyone else enjoying our self-perceived cleverness

sernaferna says:
True dat. If they're not going to, we HAVE to.

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
are we still being recorded for posterity?

James Mack: OMG! You killed Beth's computer! You bastards! says:
is this episode going on the air live?

sernaferna says:
It is. Until...


There. This is the last message I'll post. You can talk more freely, if you wish.

Pretentious bloggers

I haven’t written much here, lately, because I’ve been busy, and I haven’t had much to write. I’ve done pretty good on the serna Bible Blog, though. Not perfect—I haven’t written there every weekday—but pretty good.

I was reading an entry in someone else’s blog, today, and it was dripping with self importance. “We bloggers are documenting the 21st century” kind of crap. (That’s not an actual quote, but it might as well be, for what she was writing.)

Looking back, and reading Anne Frank’s diary, we get a sense of history, and we learn what it was like for the Frank family, hiding from the Nazis. In a hundred years, if my blog were still online and someone were to read it, they would learn nothing about the 21st century. All they would know is that sernaferna was an idiot, and had diarrhea of the keyboard. And same with most bloggers out there.

To be clear, I have absolutely nothing against the explosion of self expression that’s happening on the internet, especially over the last few years; through blogging, and podcasting, and putting up videos on services like YouTube, people are having more of a voice, and I think it’s great. There are some great blogs out there, written by non-professionals, and I hope that will continue. Even the not-so-great blogs serve a purpose; friends can keep up with each other by reading each other’s blogs.

But let’s not pretend that we’re some kind of internet pioneers, blazing a trail into uncharted territory. We’re just a bunch of people typing out random crap, most of which will be—and should be—forgotten by history. If we let our own self-importance grow too large, it will get in the way of us noticing the truly great blogs out there, or the truly great podcasters, or the people making truly great videos on YouTube.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The serna Bible Blog

The serna Bible Blog is having template problems; I don’t know if it’s the server that’s hosting the images and stylesheets, or what. It’s still showing up fine in Internet Explorer, but for some reason the images aren’t loading in Firefox.

Internet Explorer:


I hope I don’t have to change the template; I really like this one, and I hadn’t had to put any work into it, other than the links at the side. When I first created the blog, and went looking for templates I could steal, I was surprised at how few there were, that I could just copy ’n paste into Blogger. I have the skills to customize a template myself, but for this one, I just wanted to use one that someone else had done for me.

Random thoughts from a trip downtown

Andrea and James and I had dinner on Friday. On my trip downtown, on the subway, the following things occurred to me:

  • Whenever I buy tokens from the people in the booths, it always seems like I could just sneak through, without dropping one of the newly purchased tokens into the bin. Once I’ve bought the tokens, it never seems like the person is paying attention, to see if I drop one of them in, when I continue in to the subway. Luckily I’m honest, so I haven’t put this to the test.
  • I had earlier been thinking of getting a RAZR, as a replacement for my cell phone. I’m glad I didn’t, because they’re now everywhere.
  • When taking the subway, some people instantly annoy me, while others instantly intrigue me. Of course, if I were to get to know any of these people, I’m sure the annoying people wouldn’t be as annoying as I thought, and the intriguing people wouldn’t be as intriguing as I thought. (Please note that when I say “intriguing”, I really mean “intriguing”, not “attractive”. They’re not the same thing.)
  • I hate ads for Yorkdale.
  • There is a very eclectic clientele at H&M. When I walk into most clothing stores, all of the people shopping there are dressed similarly, but not at H&M.
  • One of the people shopping at H&M on Friday was wearing very strong perfume.
  • I saw a t-shirt that said “You can stuff your”. I don’t know what it means; I can stuff my what? Is the shirt an insult, or an invitation? Or is it just intended to make me think?
That is all. It took much longer to type all of these thoughts into my phone, as they came to me, than it did to type them into my blog.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Nothing. Me. Everything.

I found another blog today that might be worth reading on a regular basis. I’ve bookmarked it, so I’ll be checking it as part of my normal daily blog checking routine; if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just un-bookmark it. She’s an artist; lives downtown; calls herself a “feminist”, but I have to put “feminist” in quotes, because I think she’s using the word “feminist” in a very generalized way, meaning that she’s not really a feminist, and doesn’t understand feminism; has an interesting writing style. Meh. The blog might be interesting, it might not. I was bored when I found her site, so anything might have seemed interesting to me at the time.

I’ve noticed that I get tempted to start writing in a more “stream of conscious” style of writing, when I read too many blogs. Stream of conscious can be effective, when used properly, but most bloggers do it because they simply aren’t capable of crafting proper grammar. Then again, it’s probably also a self-perpetuating thing; if most bloggers do it, most others will follow suit, because we’re a race of followers, not leaders. I just finished saying that even I get tempted to do it, when I read too many blogs, so how can I blame others, who live and breathe blogging?

I have the type of personality which puts me in danger of having a mid-life crisis, when I get to the middle of my life. (Soon, soon…) There is a part of me that can easily see me living downtown, in a crappy apartment, making a living as a writer, staying up all night and sleeping all morning, cranking out X # of pages every afternoon, before joining up with my bohemian friends in the evening, to see where the beautiful city of Toronto takes us. I’d probably be older than most of them, but they’d think that means I have wisdom.

To be clear, a part of me thinks this would be a cool life, but it’s a small part of me. Overall, I don’t actually think this would be a great life—I much prefer the one that I have. Luckily, I have Andrea to keep me sane. So as long as I can keep her happy enough that she won’t leave me, I don’t think I’ll fall into any ridiculous fantasies like the one I just described.

So all I have to do is figure out how to keep Andrea happy, and content, and willing to live with me for the rest of her life. How hard could that be?

Oh crap. Anyone know any cheap apartments downtown?


I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I sometimes dress in jeans and a shirt and blazer, on Fridays, because I figure that the blazer balances out the jeans, and it all still counts as “business casual”. I’m so fashion-backwards that my bum is on the front.

Unfortunately, it’s very hot today, so I’ve been taking the blazer off, meaning that it’s just jeans and a dress shirt. Furthermore, my dress shirt, it turns out, is pretty transparent, so the t-shirt I’m wearing underneath it is there for all the world to see. So somebody’s gonna see this shirt, and ask “You use Microsoft .NET?” And I’ll be all “No, .NET’s fine for programmers, but for architects it sucks ass!” And they’ll be like “That’s pretty harsh, dude; can you back that up?” And I’ll be like “No. Not in this short hallway conversation.”

But that conversation hasn’t happened, yet.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Typical MSN Messenger Conversation

James Mack: in Toronto says:
when one of the cast of the Lord of the Rings offers to share an apartment...

sernaferna says:
lol Is there a question coming, or an ending to that statement?

James Mack: in Toronto says:
I don't know HOW to end that

sernaferna says:

James Mack: in Toronto says:
except that will be ended early after poor reviews *rim shot*

sernaferna says:

sernaferna says:
I say dont take it. You'd never be able to sleep; lots of little people with pointy ears running around all the time...

James Mack: in Toronto says:
the Vulcans?

sernaferna says:
I think Vulcans are taller. I was thinking elves...

James Mack: in Toronto says:

James Mack: in Toronto says:
What does the guy from Graceland think about this?

sernaferna says:
I think we just switched into a reference I didn't get.

James Mack: in Toronto says:
Elvers, Elvis

James Mack: in Toronto says:
er, Elves, not Elvers... I dont know how we got into the topic of baby eels

sernaferna says:

James Mack: in Toronto says:
scrabble gives me word power

James Mack: in Toronto says:
no wait, thats Reader's Digest

sernaferna says:
Wasn't this from Scrabble:

sernaferna sends:

James Mack: in Toronto says:

James Mack: in Toronto says:

James Mack: in Toronto says:
made that my acct picture

sernaferna says:

James Mack: in Toronto says:
are chocolate milk cartons recyclable?

sernaferna says:
I'm fairly sure they are.

sernaferna says:
If not, they can definitely go in the green bin.,

James Mack: in Toronto says:

sernaferna says:
BTW, do you mind if I post this conversation?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What a strange day…

Between being horrendously busy at work, and dealing with a bunch of crap, I’m surprised I have to much time to blog. But, there it is, I do.

I found another site on the net, called, which allows you to create various types of images, with your own text in them. For example, this mock book cover that I created.

If I wasn’t so busy, I’d claim I have too much time on my hands…

YouTube Scream

Incidentally, every time I look at the picture that YouTube puts on the Not Ready to Make Nice video, it kind of creeps me out. Something about the way the Play button is right where her mouth should be makes it look like she’s screaming. So when you mix that with the look on the rest of her face, it’s mildly disturbing. It sort of reminds me of the scene in The Matrix when Neo’s mouth melts together.

I just wanted to share that with you. Especially since I’m blogging so much today anyway—might as well keep up the pace.

One Red Paperclip

I’m being sent all kinds of interesting things, today. If only I wasn’t so busy at work, I could blog them all. But this one I had to share:

I was forwarded a link to One Red Paperclip. I’ll let the blogger describe it in his own words:

My name is Kyle MacDonald and I am making a series of up-trades for bigger or better things up to my goal of a house. I started with one red paperclip on July 12th, 2005. You can read stories about each trade by clicking on the pictures to the left. I’d suggest starting here. You can make offers for my current object I will travel ANYWHERE for the right offer - including Yahk, British Columbia, Canada.
To make a long story short, in fourteen trades, he managed to get a house. I’m too busy to read through the whole blog, to find out how long it took him, but I’m amazed nonetheless.

In case you’re too busy to read the blog, too, here are the items he went through:
  • his original red paperclip
  • a pen
  • a doorknob
  • a coleman stove
  • a generator
  • an “instant party”—as I said, I haven’t read through the blog, so I don’t know what an “instant party” is
  • a skidoo
  • a trip to Yahk, British Columbia
  • a cube van
  • a recording contract
  • a year in Phoenix
  • an afternoon with Alice Cooper
  • a Kiss snow globe
  • a movie role
  • a house
Unbelievable. We live in a strange world.

Press the pretty button!

This was forwarded to me today. If you have absolutely nothing to do with your free time, feel free to click the shiny red button.

If you have productive ways to spend your time, I’d recommend skipping over this post, and doing the productive things instead.


It never fails. I have a deployment coming up, which will probably mean one or two late nights/early mornings, meaning that I’m not going to get much sleep this week. And I’m starting to catch a cold. I can feel the tickle in the back of my throat.

The worst part is that I’m having to deal with some stuff at work that I hate dealing with, and I’m not going to be in prime condition to do so.

There’s a chance that my blog entries this week—if any—could be very grumpy…

Monday, July 10, 2006

Not Ready to Make Nice

In 2003, President George W. Bush and his administration started an illegal war in Iraq. The Bush Administration has given many reasons for the war, all of which have turned out to be false—most of which turned out to be blatant lies. One of the few public figures who was willing to decry the war from the outset was Natalie Maines, of the Dixie Chicks, who said on the eve of the war that the group was ashamed Bush was from their home state of Texas. (She later said that she regretted the phrasing of the remark, although she kept her stance against the war.)

The Dixie Chicks got a lot of flack for that. Country music stations all over the States boycotted their music, and they even received death threats. In 2003, it was practically the Dixie Chicks against the world; now, in 2006, after it’s been revealed that there were indeed no justifiable reasons go to into Iraq, after it’s been revealed that the Bush Administration is guilty of numerous violations of the Geneva Conventions—torture being the most obvious—and after it’s been revealed that the Bush Administration is even illegally spying on their fellow Americans, the rest of America is starting to come around to the Chicks’ point of view.

As I said in a previous entry, I think a certain country owes a certain band an apology. But I’m not holding my breath: I saw a clip from CNN about the new Chicks album, in which they wondered out loud “if America is ready to forgive the Dixie Chicks”. People like to believe that Fox News is the conservative station, and that CNN is the balanced one, but all of the news networks are conservative, unfortunately.

So now, on their latest album—Taking the Long Way—they’ve put out a new song, Not Ready to Make Nice, in which they respond to the controversy. And, frankly, I like the way they did it. To me, it strikes just the right tone.

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I’m not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I’m still waiting

I’m not ready to make nice,
I’m not ready to back down,
I’m still mad as hell
And I don’t have time
To go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

Words aside, I also happen to like the song. (There’s some great acoustic guitar.) And tonight I saw the video, and liked that too. So, for any other potential Dixie Chicks fans out there, I present the video for Not Ready to Make Nice, from YouTube.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Weekend Almost Over

I accomplished absolutely nothing, this weekend. Andrea was away for the weekend, meaning that I had the house to myself, but my only goal with my temporary freedom was to take some naps. Which I did. I also watched some TV—although not as much as you’d think—and caught up on some back issues of The Nation that had been piling up. (Although I’m still not fully caught up; I think there were three or four months’ worth, and it’s a weekly magazine.)

I also managed to get downtown Saturday afternoon, and catch some of the Toronto Street Festival. Which was fine, I suppose, although I’m not much of a street festival kind of guy. I also managed to get to HMV, and get some CDs, and since I was by the Eaton Centre, I stopped off at Mrs. Fields and got some treats. (When I was living downtown, I used to stop by Mrs. Fields on a regular basis, for goodies.)

I was expecting, being downtown, to get nostalgic for the downtown life, as I usually do. Luckily, the city didn’t seem the same, with the street festival going on, so it didn’t spark the same feelings.

On an unrelated note, I’ve been taking care of a very important issue, recently, that I haven’t been writing about, but things are looking good (knock wood); hopefully I’ll have something to report here soon.

And that’s about all that happened this weekend. This is my 479th post to the blog. The big 5-0-0 is coming soon. However, I don’t imagine I’ll be writing anything too historic, to mark the occasion. Probably just blathering on about blogging again, since that’s a perennial favourite of mine.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Beware the Outdoors!

Since the weather is so nice, I’ve been taking some of my phone calls outside lately, on my cell phone. Especially the personal ones, but even a short conference call here or there.

Unfortunately, I was doing so this afternoon, and I managed to sit in something—which may or may not be tar—that is now stuck to my pants. I tried to sit carefully on my chair, half on and half off, so that the substance wouldn’t come off on it, but I got it on there anyway, so now my chair has three and a half black smudges on it.

Maybe four.

If I had been thinking, I would have sat on a napkin or paper towel or something, so that the chair would stay clean, but I didn’t think of it until after I’d put the three and a half smudges on it.

Cleanin’ House

What do you do on a summer Friday, when you don’t feel like being at work, and many of your coworkers will be taking the day off, to have a long weekend at the cottage? Simple! You start un-installing all of of the programs you’ve installed on your laptop, over the last three years, but which you don’t use anymore.

And what do you do for the next week or so, when you’re supposed to be working? Oh, probably try and deal with the aftermath, when things stop working and you can’t figure out why…

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I wish I had something witty and insightful to write, but 6 minutes before a conference call isn’t really the time to pull up your HTML editor, and try to write something deep.

Whoops. Now it’s 5 minutes before a call. By the time I copy ’n paste this into Blogger, probably 4…

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Online chatting is good for your typing skills

I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a big online chatter. I would have ICQ and MSN Messenger running, and be having 2 or 3 conversations at once, while still maintaining an active presence in a chatroom.

One of the things that chatting did for me was help me to type better. When I was “in my prime”, I could type blazingly fast—which you need to do, if you’re going to maintain that many conversations at once.

And then I did something which, for some strange reason, killed my typing skills: I wrote a book. Typing out that book—or at least, the 50% of it that I wrote—drastically reduced my typing abilities. I have a couple of theories as to why that might be:

First of all, when you write a book, you have to slow yourself down, and think about what you’re writing, instead of just throwing out messages as fast as your fingers can go, like you do when chatting.

Second, it was a technical book, about XML, so I had to keep breaking the flow of my writing, to type out computer gibberish, and then go back to regular typing. So, for example, consider the following:

Because the <name> element has only other elements for children, and not text, it is said to have element content. Conversely, because <first>, <middle>, and <last> have only text as children, they are said to have simple content.

For all of those < and > characters, and the stuff in between, I had to stop typing normally, and do it character by character, and then apply the right formatting (using Word styles—some day I’ll finish my book on Word), and then go back to typing normally.

I was surprised, when I went back to chatting online, to find that it had affected my typing so much, and that I had slowed down so much. I couldn’t maintain as many conversations at once as I once had. But, there are some tricks you can use, to type a bit faster. I was at Jer’s house recently, and I showed him some of these tricks, and I thought I’d share them with you, too.

When typing text in most Windows-based applications—including most chat clients, along with MS Word, or even Notepad—you can use the following keyboard shortcuts to speed things up.

BackspaceEveryone knows this one; this will delete the character to the left of the cursor
DelEveryone knows this one, too; this will delete the character to the right of the cursor
Ctrl+BackspaceThis will delete the word to the left of the cursor. It doesn’t work in every application, so you might have to experiment, to see if it does. For example, it doesn’t work in Notepad, but it does in MSN Messenger.
Ctrl+DelThis will delete the word to the right of the cursor. This one will also take some experimentation; for example, it works in MSN Messenger, but in Notepad it works differently, and deletes the entire rest of the line, to the right of the cursor.
Home and EndMore common ones; position the cursor at the beginning or end of the current line
Ctrl+Home and Ctrl+EndMoves the cursor to the beginning or end of the “document”, whatever that document might be. e.g. in Word, it will move the cursor to the beginning or end of the Word document, and in MSN Messenger, it will move the cursor to the beginning or end of the little box where you type your message.
Ctrl+A“Select All”—selects all of the text in the “document” (or chat window message, or whatever).
left and right arrow keysYou can’t get more common than these keys; they move the cursor one character to the left or right
Ctrl+ left and right arrow keysMove the cursor one word to the right or left.
up and down arrow keysYou can’t get more common than these keys; they move the cursor one line up or down
Ctrl+ up and down arrow keysNot as commonly implemented, but will sometimes move the cursor one paragraph up or down. In fact, it might only work in MS Word, or other major word processing applications.
Shift+ left and right arrow keysAllow you to select text, without having to use the mouse, one character at a time
Ctrl+Shift+ left and right arrow keysAllow you to select text, without having to use the mouse, one word at a time

There are probably others I use on a regular basis, but I do it without thinking about it, so they’re not springing to mind as I type this.

In addition, learning other application-specific keyboard shortcuts will help you speed things up. The more you can use the keyboard, meaning that you don’t have to keep moving your hand to the mouse and back, the better. So, for example, I never click the Send button in MSN Messenger, I just use Enter instead. (Or Ctrl+Enter for ICQ.)

And, of course, for most of the common emoticons I use on a regular basis, I have the keyboard shortcuts memorized, and I find it’s quicker to type them out then to navigate through the visual point-and-click interface to find them. And, for the ones I don’t know, when I have to use the point-and-click interface, I glance at the keyboard shortcuts when I select them; if you use one often enough, you’ll start to remember it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Why Cartoons Always Wear The Same Clothes

I finally took the plunge, and created a profile and uploaded my cartoon to YouTube.

After all of the posts I’ve already put up about it, I’m sure anyone who reads the blog regularly has already seen this. But if not, enjoy!

Kids in the Hall: The Chase

This is probably my favourite Kids in the Hall sketch.


Mr. Show: The Audition

I love this sketch, from Mr. Show. There are few examples of what I would call “meta humour”, but this is a brilliant example of it.

Personally, if I had been a writer for Mr. Show, I probably wouldn’t have written a sketch like this; I would have assumed that it wouldn’t “work”. But seeing it on the screen, I love it. I’m glad the writers took a chance, and it paid off.

Book Review: Our Game

Finally, finally, a review of a book by John le Carré that I don’t bother to recommend. (I’m not posting a book cover, because I couldn’t find a picture that matched my version of the book.) Not that I enjoy having read a le Carré book that wasn’t thoroughly enjoyable—I would have preferred it to have been up to his usual standards. On the other hand, finally posting a review of one of his books that I don’t recommend might lend more weight to the ones that I so rigorously recommended earlier.

In concept, Our Game is another very good idea from a man who knows the spy game: It’s the story of an agent—a “joe”—and his controller, after they enter retirement. (Actually, the plot is much, much more than that; the fact that they’re in retirement is just a part of the setup. However, it’s the part that I find interesting.) As usual, for any book by le Carré, it’s a great insight into a side of the spy game that’s not usually shown in other spy novels.

So it’s not the story that I mind for this book, it’s just the execution. Even the writing is up to le Carré’s standards, to a point, but it seems that he wasn’t really as “in to” this book, as he was “in to” others. The book didn’t capture my attention, the way his other books have, and I didn’t feel as satisfied, at the end, as I usually do.