Monday, January 30, 2006

Been quiet

I know that it’s been quiet on this blog lately, but I haven’t had anything to write about. (Not that that usually stops me...)

I don’t really have anything to write about now, either, but I’ve been watching Visual Studio .NET install on my laptop for about a half hour now, and it’s not even halfway, so I guess I need to do something to occupy my time.

I don’t strictly need VS.NET for my job; it was more for a personal thing—I wanted to see how easy it would be to build an app for a Smartphone, for when I get mine. But the joke’s on me, because I’m going to be wasting over an hour to install this, and when I’m done, I’ll probably have to take it back off anyway, because I’ll be out of disk space...

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

As previously mentioned, I read The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carré. And it was good—but not as good as I was expecting, unfortunately.

The book was the first “big” book that le Carré wrote, and I think the reason it is such a classic is that it opened up the spy genre a bit, and made it a bit more realistic. Frankly, the book is good—better than most of the “spy” or “thriller” novels out there—it’s just not up to le Carré’s standards, compared to the other books I’ve read by him. Which isn’t exactly a condemnation of this book; of course the other books are better. He wrote them after he wrote this one, and he got better with the years.

Funnily enough, after I read this book, I started reading The Da Vinci Code, and I’ve been warned by numerous people: the plot is good, the writing sucks. So I fully expected to be blogging about it to the same effect. But I’m about a quarter of the way through it, and I don’t actually find the writing that bad. (Except for the dialog—it’s pretty bad.) But I mentioned that to Andrea, and she just said that I haven’t got to the bad part yet, so I guess it’s going to get worse as I go.

Friday, January 27, 2006

It's never going to end!

I had finally made a decision as to what device to get, out of the two choices I was looking at. Although the RAZR has “coolness factor”, the SMT 5600 has “geek factor”, which is more important to me. So I decided to get the SMT 5600, and am just waiting for the price to go down on Rogers’ website. (They raised the price after Christmas. Go figure.)

I’m even learning to program for it. I had written a quick ’n dirty little application for my Axim, and I’m currently figuring out how to port it from the PocketPC 2003 operating system to the PocketPC SmartPhone operating system.

But I realized something today: With the SmartPhone operating system, Microsoft didn’t include an application for viewing “notes”. In Outlook, you have a Notes section, where you can enter little text notes to yourself, and I synchronize these with my PocketPC. For example, I can maintain my grocery list in a note, and anytime I think of something new to add, I can add it; and if I’m on the road, I can add it in my Axim, and it will sync back with my computer, and the two will be up to date with the same grocery list. Or if I have some particular piece of information I need to remember, like a username on some particular web site I hardly ever visit, I can put it in a note, and whenever I need to remember it, I can just pull out my Axim, and read it.

So now I’ll have to figure something else out for the SmartPhone...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Book Review: Imperial Ambitions

Author: Noam Chomsky
Full Title: Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World

There’s not much to say about this book that I haven’t already said here and here. Imperial Ambitions is a great book to get yourself started reading Chomsky. In fact, if you’re looking to start looking into Chomsky, I recommend this order (even though it’s not chronological):

  1. First, start with this book. Because of its interview style, the book is very readable, and also a very quick read.
  2. Once you’ve whet your appetite, move on to Necessary Illusions. One of the things that Chomsky touches on in Imperial Ambitions is the way the media is so “self-regulated” that it’s simply a propaganda machine for the government and for big business; Necessary Illusions completes the picture for you. (Or, if you read it in Imperial Ambitions but didn’t believe him, Necessary Illusions offers further proof of his point.)
  3. Finally, it’s time to move on to Hegemony or Survival, one of the most incisive books I’ve read on world politics.
Who knows? Maybe after I read the next Chomsky book, I’ll change the order...

I’ll end off with another quote from Imperial Ambitions. Chomsky is talking about oppression, and the fact that the roles always end up being reversed: the “merciless Indian savages” threatened the early American settlers, and so therefore had to be exterminated; the unfortunate rich people are being oppressed by the “rich black women who drive up in Cadillacs to get their welfare checks”, and therefore welfare should be eliminated; the American soldiers in Iraq brutally mistreat people because “they did it to us, now we’re doing it to them”—meaning that the soldiers have to follow the party line that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. Whenever you find a people being brutally oppressed, you’ll also find the oppressor claiming it’s being done in self-defense—regardless of how ridiculous the claim might be.

But Chomsky gives the rationale behind this way of thinking:

The same is true of any form of oppression. And it’s psychologically understandable. If you’re crushing and destroying someone, you have to have a reason for it, and it can’t be, I’m a murderous monster. It has to be self-defense. I’m protecting myself against them. Look what they’re doing to me. Oppression gets psychologically inverted: the oppressor is the victim who is defending himself.

(p. 167)

I’m moving on to another book by John le Carré for my next read, so I’m sure my next book review will be less heavy. (I’m fairly sure it will also be another glowing review—the book is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which is one of the most critically acclaimed spy novels ever written.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Another Chomsky Quote

Another quote, also from Imperial Ambitions:

Why are you putting so much onus on the educated class?

Because responsibility correlates with privilege. If you’re more privileged, you’re more responsible....

The people who are sitting in places like MIT have choices. They have privilege, they have education, they have training. That carries responsibility. Somebody who is working fifty hours a week to put food on the table and comes back exhausted at night and turns on the tube has many fewer choices. Technically, this person has choices, but they’re much harder to exercise, and therefore he has less responsibility. That’s just elementary. The people with the privilege and the education and the training are also the decision makers, either in the government or in business or the doctrinal institutions. So, yes, they’re the ones responsible, far more than those who don’t have any choices.

(pp. 131–132)

I may not be working in a think-tank in Washington, but as an educated, well-to-do, middle-aged white man, I can’t deny that I have a lot more privilege than most of the people in my country. And therefore, I have more responsibility. The readers of this blog have varying levels of responsibility, some less, maybe some more, but I know that I have a lot of responsibility, regardless of what others have.

Noam Chomsky: Imperial Ambitions

Warning: This post is not related to the Canadian elections.

As my long-time readers know, I’m a big fan of Noam Chomsky. I think that his book Hegemony or Survival should be required reading, for... well, for everyone in North America. However, I know that it’s a heavy read. (And man, does he ever like endnotes!) If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, by Chomsky, I recommend Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World, which is a series of interviews with Chomsky. It’s very readable, and very understandable.

I’m currently only halfway through it, but I wanted to share a passage with you. Because the books is a series of interviews, it’s a question followed by Chomsky’s answer.

At the talks you give to American audiences, you often are asked the question, “What should I do?”

Only by American audiences. I’m never asked this in the third world. When you go to Turkey or Colombia or Brazil, they don’t ask you “What should I do?” They tell you what they’re doing. When I went to Porto Alegre, Brazil, for the World Social Forum, I met with some landless campesinos, and they didn’t ask me what they should do; they told me what they were doing. These are poor, oppressed people, living under horrendous conditions, and they would never dream of asking you what they should do. It’s only in highly privileged cultures like ours that people ask this question. We have every option open to us, and have none of the problems that are faced by intellectuals in Turkey or campesinos in Brazil. We can do anything. But people here are trained to believe that there are easy answers, and it doesn’t work that way. If you want to do something, you have to be dedicated and committed to it day after day. Educational programs, organizing, activism. That’s the way things change. You want a magic key, so you can go back to watching television tomorrow? It doesn’t exist.

(pp. 39–40)

One of the best things about Chomsky is that he believes things can be understandable to the layman. Just because he’s an “intellectual”, it doesn’t mean that everything he says has to be difficult to understand. And in this book, which is simply him talking, that really comes across.

I’m sure I’ll have a “book review” post here when I’m done the book, maybe with some more quotes, but before I’m even done, I highly recommend it.

Michael Moore

There are those who disagree with Michael Moore, on a lot of things. Actually, there are a lot of people who disagree with Michael Moore, on a lot of things. But take a look at the letter he posted on his web site a few days ago—unfortunately, I didn’t get this to share with you until now.

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Michael Moore Statement on Canadian Election

Michael Moore is currently in production on his next movie. As an avid lover of all things Canadian, he has issued the following statement regarding Canada’s upcoming election on Monday:

Oh, Canada—you’re not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That’s a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny. Maybe it’s a new form of Canadian irony—reverse irony! OK, now I get it. First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq—and then you elect a prime minister who’s for it. You declare gay people have equal rights—and then you elect a man who says they don’t. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory—and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is intense! Only Canadians could pull off a hat trick of humor like that. My hat’s off to you.

Far be it from me, as an American, to suggest what you should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do. Well, actually, you’ve got just one American who keeps telling you to roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don’t feel this appeal of mine is too intrusive but I just couldn’t sit by, as your friend, and say nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some ‘splainin’ to do. And yes, one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But you have a parliamentary system (I’ll bet you didn’t know that—see, that’s why you need Americans telling you things!). There are ways at the polls to have your voices heard other than throwing the baby out with the bath water.

These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he’s a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C’mon, where’s your Canadian pride? I mean, if you’re going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don’t surrender so easily. Can’t you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete’s sake.

But seriously, I know you’re not going to elect a guy who should really be running for governor of Utah. Whew! I knew it! You almost had me there. Very funny. Don’t do that again. God, I love you, you crazy cold wonderful neighbors to my north. Don’t ever change.

Michael Moore

(Mr. Moore is not available for interviews because he now needs to address the situation in Azerbaijan. But he could be talked into it for a couple of tickets to a Leaf’s game.)

Oh well. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens...

Monday, January 23, 2006

My Friend

So there has been a bit of drama about my previous post on voting—some in the comments on this blog, as you’ve seen, and some outside of the internet. Most of which I don’t care about, but my friend’s feelings were hurt, and I definitely care about that. So I’m writing to give an update on that situation.

The first thing to report, which is the less important part, is that she has decided to vote. (I won’t tell you who she’s voting for, in case she’s not making it public...)

The second thing is much more important: I’m very proud of her, and the way she handled the whole thing. Although her feelings were hurt, she handled the situation with maturity, and with a Christian heart that put me to shame. She came to me (on Messenger) to talk about it, and we had a good long, rational conversation. Of course it wasn’t devoid of emotion—her feelings were hurt, after all—but man was I impressed with the way she handled herself. She was able to acknowledge her emotions, and discuss them, without being ruled by them.

As I said, the fact that she decided to vote isn’t the important thing—this isn’t a case where “I won the argument, so therefore she did the right thing”—but the fact that she could look past her emotions, and still make that kind of decision... how many of us would have done that? How many of us would have said “well, this person just hurt my feelings, but let me try to understand what he’s saying anyway”?

I think most of us could learn a thing or two from her. I hope I did...


If you’re ever scheduling a meeting, please keep in mind that the correct time to cancel the meeting is before it starts, not after.

That is all.

Conservative Party AGAIN

I have an update to my update. For those of you who are new to the blog, here’s what happened earlier:

  1. Without asking permission, the Conservative Party candidate in our riding put some huge signs up on our fence, illegally, without asking our permission.
  2. We called the guy’s campaign headquarters, to complain, and get them to take the signs down. They agreed.
  3. They didn’t do it.
  4. We called again, and they finally came to take the signs down.
Now here’s the update: on Sunday, they came and put up signs on our fence again!

I guess they figured it was the day before the election, so they’d like to get as much exposure as possible while they still could. We felt we didn’t have time to waste, so we took the signs down ourselves—we practically lept out of the car while it was still rolling, to get them off the fence as quickly as possible—and called them to complain again.

Now Andrea has been researching the issue, and we’ve found out who at Elections Canada we can report the issue to. (Apparently it’s a local City of Toronto by-law, but it’s enforced by Elections Canada somehow.) So we have to write a letter to them, which we’ll be doing tonight.


I narrowly avoided getting a parking ticket on Saturday. We’d gone downtown to help some friends move—although we didn’t actually end up doing anything—and they only had metre parking available. We were about ten minutes overdue, and were heading back to the car, just in time to see the parking guy getting out of his car, and heading towards ours.

Now, I wasn’t too worried about it. He had caught me fair and square, and I was willing to pay the fine. But Andrea saw him, too, and started heading purposefully toward the car, to let him know we were about to get in it, and drive away. I saw him look at the slip of paper on our dash, and hesitate, because he wanted to give us the ticket, but after a brief internal debate, he decided not to bother.


Saturday, January 21, 2006


I just forwarded the URL for my blog to a whole bunch of people—only some of which I probably know—via email.

So, just on the off chance that some of those people are visiting, welcome!

And if you’re wondering if you should bother coming here on a regular basis, here are my thoughts:

  1. First off, here is a post telling you why you shouldn’t bother.
  2. Second, here is a post where I mention that even I don’t know why I come here.
So... I guess I won’t see too many of you here after this. But it was nice of you to come anyway!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Political MSN Convo

Everyone’s thinking about politics these days, in Canada...

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:'re of no help at all!!

sernaferna says:

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
i thought you're blog was gonna be helpful

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
i've done some reading and have been watching nothing but politics for the last TWO hours or so and I don't know what to do

sernaferna says:
Sorry. I'm not in the helpful business--I'm in the confusion business.

sernaferna says:
What are the choices you're looking at?

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
same as you

sernaferna says:
Are you like so many others--trying to decide between NDP and Lib?

sernaferna says:
You can try this site:

sernaferna says:
They're trying to predict who will win each riding, based on who has won before, and hopefully other factors too...

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
i just went to

sernaferna says:
That might help you decide what to do for your particular riding...

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
that's exactly what i'm looking into right now

sernaferna says:
Yeah, the latest polls show the Libs closing the gap wiht the Cons.

sernaferna says:
GAH! That thing suddenly just opened a bunch of windows. lol

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
yeah....i know....sorry

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
it would be really interesting to know how many ppl voted liberal as a strategy

sernaferna says:
It would indeed...

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
most ppl i've talked to are going through the same thing

sernaferna says:
Of course, the NDP has been urging people to vote NDP "strategically"... I don't know that anyone's buying that.

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
that would take a lot of ppl

sernaferna says:
I *think* that the NDP has a chance in my riding. However, that website I just sent you predicted Liberal pretty strongly, so they obviously don't agree.

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:

sernaferna says:
Of course, I live in Toronto--and most of the people who are voting Conservative aren't from Toronto. There is a good chance that they'll win the election, but most of the votes won't come from here, I don't think.

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:
well...apparently it's too close to predict here

sernaferna says:
Funnily enough, if it was me, that would take some of the pressure off. I'd be able to just vote for who I wanted to vote for, and not be panicked that the Conservatives would get in...

Beth-'s a powerful thing!! says:

sernaferna says:
And on that note, I'm off to get a , which will help me think about things.

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

Candidates Debate

Andrea and I went to a “Meet the Candidates” thing last night. There was a debate, between candidates from the Conservative, NDP, and Liberal parties, and then after there was a time where the candidates in our riding made themselves available for us to meet them.

We planned to go to the meet ’n greet thing, but unfortunately, as it turned out, the debate would have been a much better use of our time. We caught the end of it, and it was a really good debate. (And, the more we thought about it, the less we really cared about simply shaking hands with the candidates...)

One of the main things they were talking about was child care. The Conservatives have plan where Canada would stop spending money on child care facilities, and instead would give each family with children up to $1,200 per year, to spend on child care. (I didn’t catch the details, but probably through tax credits—Conservatives love tax credits.) Both the NDP and Liberal candidates took the Conservative guy to task for that, though; first of all, $1,200 sounds like a lot of money—until you add it up, and realize that’s only about $5 per day (if you don’t count weekends). That’s not enough for day care. Second of all, if the government isn’t going to invest in day care facilities, then that $1,200 becomes even more useless—where are you going to spend it? (Over-simplification alert! This paragraph was simplified!)

Another thing that I found interesting was that the Conservative guy said that one of the biggest problems with the NDP and Liberal plans for day care is that their plans require the day care workers to be unionized. I don’t have the exact quote for you, unfortunately, but he used the word “union” as if it were a slur. Now, I don’t feel as strongly about unions as some people—I do think that some people in North American can get too lazy/greedy—but I also think that unions, in general, are a very good thing, and that they’ve done more for workers rights than any other force in North America. So I was surprised to hear the Conservative guy just out and out blasting the Liberal and NDP plans for something that, really, most people would consider a good thing, not a bad thing. (And the other candidates immediately called him on that, as well.)

All in all, I think the Liberal and NDP candidates did a very good job of presenting their positions; the NDP guy especially impressed me. (But, of course, I’m much more aligned politically with the NDP than the Liberals, so that’s not very surprising.)

But you know what really surprised me, about this debate? It’s that I was able to follow it, and understand what was going on. I was expecting everything to be couched in such politicised language that I wouldn’t realize what was going on. I pretty much figured that the Conservative guy would say things that I would disagree with, but what I thought was that he would say it in such a way that it would just make me uncomfortable; I figured I’d then have to go away and think about it, and really dissect it, to figure out why I disagreed with him. But, as it turned out, it was very understandable. I was completely blown away to hear him talking about things like unions being a bad thing, and just out-and-out saying it.

And, although we weren’t that interested in just shaking hands with the candidates, we did go and meet the NDP guy from our riding. Although I’m still a little bit up in the air on the “strategic voting” thing (meaning I don’t know if I’ll vote for the best people for the job, or vote for the non-Conservative party with the best chance of keeping the Conservatives out of power), he did convince me that the NDP really does have a fairly good chance of winning in our riding. (Of course, in the last election, only 140 people voted in my riding—meaning that every vote was worth almost 1%—so if enough people get out to the polls this time, it’s anyone’s race.

So, in a nutshell, I still haven’t decided whether I’ll vote NDP or Liberal. As I mentioned to Andrea last night, every time she comes up with a reason why we should vote strategically, I immediately present a counter-argument, as to why we should vote positively—and every time she comes up with a reason why we should vote positively, I immediately come up with a counter-argument as to why we should vote strategically. So that just proves that I’m still struggling with this...

Nigerian Letter Scam, Part 2

Further to my earlier post, about the Nigerian Letter scam, here’s another example.

As long as people are still falling prey to this, other people will keep perpetrating it.

The Soap

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another Thursday in the books

I’ve had a fairly productive day today. I won’t bother telling you what all I did, since it’s work-related, but take my word for it, it was productive.

Pretty soon my Christian book will be ready for online publishing. However, there’s still one part that I need to talk over with my pastor; when he read the first draft, there was a section he thought I needed to look at again, and I agreed, and told him I’d take him out for a coffee some day, to talk about it. And then I never did, so he probably thinks I was either lying, or just lost interest. But every once in a while, I remember this book I still have lying around, and think to myself “oh yeah, I still haven’t asked him out for a coffee yet, to shoot the breeze about that section of the book”. And then I forget again, because I’m always busy.

At any rate, despite the fact that this book spends 90% of its time on the back burner, everyone who has read it so far has given me a lot of very useful feedback, so I’m happy they’ve been able to help out.

Nothing to say, again

As my faithful readers (all 2 or 3 of you) know, I haven’t written much here, the last couple of days. It’s because I was in all-day meetings for Tuesday and Wednesday, and thus not in front of my computer.

Now that I’m back, and able to post if necessary, I apparently have nothing to say. (Except one vitriolic post about voting, of course.)

I’d really just rather be at home reading a book right now, under the covers, than be at work.

So, you know what this means, don’t you? When I’m not too busy at work, but I have nothing to say? It means that there will probably be dozens of posts this afternoon, all of which will be 100% content-free!

Editor’s Note: I’ve probably just saved you from having to read a dozen posts on nothing; any time I say “I’m probably not going to post much” I end up posting a ton of entries, and when I say “I’m probably going to post a lot”, I don’t normally end up posting too much at all. I’ll be interested to see if the pattern holds up this afternoon. Of course, I don’t think I’m feeling too well, so I may end up trying to go home early anyway, in which case I really won’t post that much.


I just read a friend’s blog, in which she claims that she’s not voting, and is sick and tired of people “harassing” her about it. Let’s not sugar coat it: People who are eligible to vote but don’t are just being lazy and selfish. If you’re a Christian, you have no excuse for this.

Some people don’t vote because they don’t know enough about the issues, or the parties they’re voting for—because they’re too lazy to look into it.

Some people don’t vote because they think all parties are the same—because they were too lazy to look into it, and don’t realize that they’re NOT all the same.

Some people don’t vote because they just plain don’t care about their country, or the world in general. The Conservative Party—the one that looks like it’s going to win—will take money away from the poor and the middle class, and give it to corporations and the rich. Because people don’t care enough to learn about the issues and vote, they may get in power, and do harm to your friends, neighbours, and maybe you. They are also planning not to support Kyoto, and to help the US put weapons of mass destruction in space. Because people don’t care enough to learn about the issues and vote, these people may get in power, and do harm to the entire world.

I’ve never, ever, in my entire life, ever heard anyone come up with any valid reason not to vote. Don’t even try to claim to care about the poor, the world in general, human rights, or any other issue, if you’re not going to take part in the one thing we as citizens can do to make a difference in these matters.

This person is getting “harassed” on this because she doesn’t have a good reason for it—because there is no good reason for it.

I can’t believe someone would be so lazy and self-absorbed, and then have the gall to write a blog entry where she vents because people are calling her on it. No wonder everyone else in the world hates North Americans—we frigging deserve it!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Email Fraud

Anyone who has been on the internet for any length of time has probably got the email from someone—usually claiming to be from Nigeria—who has a large sum of money stowed away in a bank somewhere that they can’t get at, and if you just send a few hundred dollars for “banking fees”, they’ll split the money with you. (Or, more likely, they won’t ask for any money up front; but eventually things will go a bit wrong, and they’ll need some money from you to get things back on track.) It’s a famous scam, and it’s been around for a long time. (It’s known as the Nigerian Scam, and also known as a “4-1-9” or “Advance Fee Fraud” scheme. You can learn more on Snopes.)

But I just saw a version that, to me, looks updated: There is now someone claiming to be a Christian, with a large sum of money, that they want to give to you so that their non-Christian in-laws can’t get their sinful hands on it. Andrea claims to have seen the Christian version a long time ago, so it’s probably not that new at all, but I believe it’s a variant of the older Nigerian Scam.

It looks like the same old con, but they’ve modified it especially for Christians. The email I got is as follows:

Dear Beloved in Christ.

It is by the grace of God that I received Christ, having known the truth; I had no choice than to do what is lawful and just in the sight of God for eternal life and in the sight of man for witness of God & His Mercies and glory upon my life.

I am Mrs. Mary Parker, the wife of Mr. Robert Parker, my husband worked with the Chevron/Texaco in Kenya for twenty years before he died in the year 2003.We were married for ten years without a child. My Husband died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his death we both got born-again and dedicated Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is strongly against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of US$7.5 Million (Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars) with a Bank in Europe. Presently, this money is still with the Bank and the management just wrote me as the beneficiary that our account has been DORMANT and if I, as the beneficiary of the funds, do not re-activate the account; the funds will be CONFISCATED or I rather issue a letter of authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf (note that you need to activate this account) as I can not come over.

Presently, I’m in a hospital in Kenya where I have been undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer. I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few weeks to live. It is my last wish to see this money distributed to charity organizations anywhere in the World. Because relatives and friends have plundered so much of my wealth since my illness, I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them. Please, I beg you in the name of God to help me Stand-in as the beneficiary and collect the Funds from the Bank.

I want a person that is God-fearing who will use this money to fund churches, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband’s relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of death since I know where I am going to. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. {Exodus14 VS14} says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace. I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my soundless voice and presence of my husband’s relatives around me always. I don’t want them to know about this development.

With God all things are possible.


Your Sister in Christ,

Mrs. Mary Parker

I just hope and pray that few—or no—people fall for this. It’s sad that people with such good intentions will get caught up by something like this, because they don’t take a few minutes to think about it first, before they start sending money.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Update on the serna Time Situation

Further to my last post, I’ve wasted even more time.

I went to my blog, and then clicked the Next Blog button, and just kept clicking, blog by blog, until I found one that was interesting.

Well... that was the plan, anyway. After a dozen or so, I gave up on finding an interesting one. Which brings me back to the two questions I ask myself the most, when it comes to blogging: Why would anyone read this blog? and Why do so many people have blogs of their own?

If I have any faithful readers, they must know by now that I don’t claim to be able to answer either of those questions...

Apparently, I have nothing to say...

Here’s how I have spent the last couple of minutes:

Went and checked out a blog, because I had commented on it earlier, and wanted to see if anyone responded. That, my friends, makes me a pathetic loser, but that’s a topic for another post.

Went to another blog, because I had a few minutes to kill. Read a new post, and commented on it. Then realized I had made a fool of myself in my comment—a not uncommon occurrence—and commented again. Which probably compounded the problem.

Still had some time to kill. Decided to post to my own blog about the fact that I’d just made a fool of myself, got partway done, and then realized that even I wasn’t interested in the topic.

Sat staring blankly at my computer screen for a few minutes.

Pulled up my editor to start a blog post; I may not want to post about the fact that I’m an idiot, but surely I want to post about something, right?

Stared blankly at my computer screen for a few more minutes.

Started typing, which produced the work of art you see before you.

My life is so exciting I can hardly stand it!

Strategic Voting

Here is the quandary I find myself in, along with many, many other Canadians:

Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have earned my vote. They won’t do anything to help the people of Canada, and the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. For the Liberals, it’s because they just won’t do anything, and for the Conservatives, it’s because they’re actively evil, and will work hard to make sure anyone in the middle class ends up in poverty as soon as possible. And then take away any social services which might have helped us. And then, when we’re all poor and broke and living in the gutter, they’ll give us hefty fines for living in the gutter, which will be considered trespassing. And then they’ll take the money from those fines, and give it to rich people. Who will use it to pollute the environment, and lobby to try and enact laws making it legal to hunt homosexuals for sport.

So what does this mean? It means that I should vote for another party, like the NDP or the Green Party. My understanding is that the Green Party in Canada is a joke (as opposed to many other countries in the world, where the Green Party is a very progressive party), which means that it’s the NDP who would probably get my vote. In fact, in the last little while, I’ve been pretty impressed with what the NDP has been able to do for Canadians, by strategically playing the Liberals. So they should get my vote, right?

But wait. There’s a problem. Because so many Canadians have a “two party system” mentality, they have it in their heads that they should vote for either the Conservatives or the Liberals—the two “real” parties. So now, because everyone is so disappointed with the Liberals, a lot of people are shifting their votes to the Conservative party. And therein lies the quandary: I really don’t want to vote for the Liberals, because they won’t do anything, but if I vote for the NDP or the Green Party, it will “split the vote”. What this means is that the votes needed to defeat the Conservatives will get split up among the other parties, and none of them will get enough votes on their own to defeat the Conservatives—meaning that the Conservatives will win. (And thus the whole “two party system” mentality becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy...)

So now I have to seriously consider voting Liberal, just to keep the Conservatives from coming to power, and killing us all. (Quickly, by making us all poor and eliminating social services, and also slowly, by poisoning the environment.)

GAH! My brain hurts.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Cartoon

EDIT: Warning! This post is out of date! I’ve finally taken the plunge, and uploaded the video to YouTube. You can see it on my blog here, or on YouTube here.

Don’t bother following the instructions given in this entry, because I’m removing the video from the link below.
Ah, forget it. Rather than trying to figure out if I want to join Google Video, I’ll just post a link here to my cartoon. In order to enjoy the cartoon properly, you’ll need to have your sound turned on. (No, this isn’t one of those cheezy things where everything is peaceful and then suddenly a face jumps out at you and yells “Boo!”)

1. You can follow this link to go to my Yahoo! Briefcase site, where I put a copy of the movie. There will be a list of folders (of which there was only one, when I wrote this):

2. Click the link called movies. This will list all of the movies I’ve saved there (of which there was only one, when I wrote this):

3. Right-click the movie name, and choose Save Target As:

4. Save the file (which is a WMV) on your computer.

5. Watch and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Diet and Exercise Addendum

Further to my earlier post, let me just set your minds at rest, and confirm that I did go out jogging last night.


Although I pride myself on having a mostly text-only site, I was very excited when I found out I could upload pictures to Blogger, and post them here. (I don’t have a Flickr account or anything where I can post pictures, and my Yahoo Photos site—while great for allowing me unlimited space to post my pics—isn’t really geared toward including my images on other websites.)

However, as it turns out, I don’t really put up pictures here that often. Probably because I don’t tend to bring a digital camera around with me everywhere I go.

I was thinking about the situation this afternoon, which is what prompted me to put up this post. I just wanted to put up something that had pictures...

People are strange

When we were in Barbados, we came across the following graffiti:

“Ha ha!”, we thought. “People wrote their names on that plant! How funny!” We even got a big print of this picture, which we put up in our bathroom.

And then we went to Venezuela, and we saw the following:

Apparently, this is some type of world-wide epidemic! All over the place, people are finding plants, and carving their names into them.

So, just to keep the trend alive, we got a big print of this picture, too, and put it beside the first one in our bathroom.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Google Video Update

Update: I still haven’t decided if I want to upload my cartoon to Google Video.

That is all.

Okay, this is kind of funny...

Last week I was posting about the blogger party they hosted here in Toronto. (“They” being Raymi and Paige.) (Do you like how I just refer to these people by their first names, as if I know them?) But in Raymi’s blog, she referred to it as a “stupid gay blogger party”, because she didn’t know if it was actually going to be fun or not.

They got an email from someone who hosts some kind of gay blog, who thought the party was for actual gay bloggers.

Yeah, actually, you know what? The more I think about it, the less funny it is. But I did get a laugh out of it this morning...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

4:30 on a Tuesday

What a long, boring, pointless day. Aside from the fact that * ******* *** ** ** *********, nothing special happened today.

Maybe tomorrow will be more exciting. Although, if the last 365 days are any indication, probably not.


I would love to post about work right now, because one of my colleagues is a—

But I don’t post about work, so I can’t finish that sentence.

Diet and Exercise

First of all, let me just say this: I have not given up on my resolution to get exercise every night, and eat more fruit.

However, my plan has hit a snag, and that snag is weekends: Friday nights, I have Youth Group, which makes it unlikely that I’d be able to get home in time to go out for a jog. (I normally get home just in time to fall into bed.) Saturdays are also probably going to be bad, because we have plans most Saturdays. (I forget what we did this past Saturday, but I know that I wasn’t able to go out walking/jogging.) So the first two thirds of most weekends is probably going to be shot. Sundays are probably going to be fine, for the most part, but not always. (We went to a prayer meeting this past Sunday, which meant I wasn’t able to go out then.)

And then I was out last night picking up my package, which means that last night got messed up, too. Which means that I haven’t been out for a walk/jog in more than half a week.

But at least I have a repaired Axim now, so the next time I do go out jogging (which should be tonight) I can bring along Windows Media Player and listen to music...

Good news

I went and picked up my replacement Axim last night, and so far so good.

If it is going to break, I hope it does so in the next 50 days or so, because I believe my warranty is running out then.


Have I mentioned that waiting is the hardest thing? Oh, yes I have.

I’m waiting for a phone call right now, and until I get it, I don’t really have much to do. Which is why I’m writing this quick blog entry, even though I have nothing to say.

I’ve already read through all of the blogs I normally read (that have new posts), and the news sites I keep up with. Anything more substantial isn’t worth it, because I won’t have time to finish...

I hope you all feel as sorry for me as I feel. Not that that’s too likely, but anyway...

Raymi's Blog: The Gateway to Fame and Fortune

In a previous post, I had claimed that a good way to get your blog noticed is to get a link to it on Raymi’s blog. As it turns out, Fil has discovered that this is true. (Please be warned that there is a bit of nudity in some of these links. Also, please be assured that this is not why I was following the links in the first place...)

Who knew? I might be smarter than you thought I was.

Swiss Chalet has sold me out!

I just got takeout from Swiss Chalet—from whom I order on a regular basis—and was informed that they’ve switched from Coke products to Pepsi products. This is very disappointing—I always get a bottle of Nestea with my “quarter chicken dark with fries”, and they don’t have Nestea anymore. They have Brisk, which I dislike intensely. (A bottle of Coke would have been my fallback position, but I don’t drink Pepsi, either...)

Not that I think it will do any good, but I went to their website, and sent in the following complaint:

I just ordered takeout, and was informed that Swiss Chalet has switched over to Pepsi products, instead of Coke products. As a customer, this is disappointing, because I much prefer Coke products. (Not just specifically Coke over Pepsi, but I also much prefer Nestea over Brisk for iced tea.)

I'm not going to go overboard, and claim that you're losing my business--although I will have to start only ordering Swiss Chalet when I can do takeout, and supply my own drinks, which will, I suppose, reduce the number of times I go to Swiss Chalet. I'm only writing this in the hopes that others are complaining too, and maybe if you get enough complaints you might switch back.

Yes, I fully realize that nobody will care about this besides me. Or, at least not care as much...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Insert Witty Remark Here—And Then Laugh At It

I wish I had something clever to say right now, but I don’t. Even the title of this blog is ripped off. I’m just sitting around, right now, waiting for Andrea to call and let me know she’s ready to leave work.

I do have a substantial post that I’m planning to write, but I just don’t have the energy to type it all out right now, so if I were to try, it would be much less intelligent than I’d like it to be.

My new Axim should have arrived today. I’m hoping to go and pick it up tonight, assuming that I get home in time to get to the depot before it closes. (And assuming that it really did arrive today.) I just hope Dell doesn’t ship through UPS; the last time I got electronics shipped through UPS, the idio^H^H^H^Hdriver just left the package sitting on my front porch, in -20 degree (Celcius) weather! Which is unfortunate, because it means I can’t shop at anymore, since they ship their merchandise through UPS.

Which reminds me... of nothing. I have nothing left to say for this blog entry.


I currently have nothing interesting to say.

Actually, that’s not true. I have something I want to write about, but I don’t have time to do it right now, because I have meetings all day, and I have to run to the caf to get something to eat before the next one.

Maybe this afternoon I’ll have some time to myself, and be able to type it up. Apparently Andrea might be working late, so I might have to sit around occupying my time for an hour or two after my marathon session of meetings is over...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Last Night

By all accounts last night’s event was a success. (Yes, when I say “all accounts” I mean just two accounts. I’m much to lazy to start combing through the blogosphere looking for accounts of last night’s party, to see if everyone else agrees...) I’m glad, because Raymi was a bit nervous about it ahead of time.

Hmm. Am I spending too much time just posting links to other peoples’ blogs?

Anyway, I’m not too sad that I missed it, because the Youth Group had a great time last night. We went to Mandarin for supper, and everyone ate to their content. And then had a couple more plates for good measure. And then had dessert.

Friday, January 06, 2006

My Sense Of Humour

What you have to understand about me is that I have a self-deprecating sense of humour. I have no problem pointing out my own faults, and am usually the first to do so. I amuse myself, and have no problem whatsoever laughing at myself. (Part of it is that I just really honestly don’t care if people have a good opinion of me or not.)

This sometimes causes me problems, because some people don’t understand this type of humour. (Not major problems, by any means—if people don’t get me, I’m not too worried about it.) Sometimes I make some kind of joke at my own expense, and people just don’t know how to take it; they can’t fathom that someone would not only allow himself to be made fun of, but even be the one who does it.

But if you’re reading something on this blog, and I’m talking about myself, and you can’t quite figure out what’s going on, it might be because I’m making fun of myself, and you’re one of those people who can’t understand it.

Attractive Bloggers?

Every once in a while I offer additional proofs to myself that I am a sexist pig. Here’s the latest:

I sometimes come across links to other blogs. (Often on Raymi’s blog, or Philogynist’s.) And sometimes those links have pictures, of the blogger or of the contents of the particular blog posting being linked to. And I’ve noticed that I’m much more likely to follow the link if the person in the picture is attractive than if they’re not. And even if I don’t click the link (because I firmly believe that most blogs are boring and useless—mine is a case in point), I’m still tempted to do so.

Now, I fully realize that this is stupid. The attractiveness of the person writing the blog has nothing to do with how interesting their words will be—if anything, there is an inverse relationship. (I know a lot of attractive but boring people...) But that doesn’t stop my impulses.

So... yeah. That’s it.

Blogging Party Tonight in Toronto

If you have a blog, and live in Toronto, there is a party tonight that you’re more than welcome to attend. For details, check out Raymi’s site, because she’s organizing it. Or helping to organize it. Or something. I’m not going, because I have plans tonight (and it would be hard to explain to my wife, who doesn’t really get blogging in the first place—not that I do, either).

I saw mention of it on Raymi’s site a day or two ago, and I’ve had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it might be fun, but on the other hand, my initial reaction was “Wow. Sounds lame.” But in order to understand that, you have to understand me...

Ever since high school, I’ve always been one of those people who never gets involved in anything. If you picture people who were in the glee club, or were cheerleaders, or any of that crap, I was exactly the opposite. Any time anyone would mention anything having anything to do with things like school spirit, my reaction would always be along the “sounds lame” lines. I don’t know why I would include a “blogging party” in that category, frankly. It’s just some kind of wimpy defense mechanism I’ve got going.

Now, I’m not trying to romanticise my past. Don’t come away from this thinking that I was in any way “cool” in high school. I wasn’t. As proof, I offer this: I had a mullet. Nobody who had a mullet can claim that they were cool, at the time they had that mullet. They weren’t.

Anyway, I’m just blabbing, and looking back over this post, I haven’t really said anything. (Not that that will stop me from posting it; none of my entries say anything.) The fact of the matter is, if I wasn’t busy tonight (and if I was single, and didn’t have to try to explain this to my wife), I probably would go. I just thought I’d take a few minutes to analyze myself, and as it turns out, I didn’t do a very good job of it. And now you’ve wasted a few minutes reading it.


I've got bad news, and I've got good news

First the bad news (because I always do the bad news first):

My Axim is having problems. It’s started freezing randomly on me. (For more information on what an “Axim” is, see my I’m such a nerd post.) It’s still under warranty, but I feel like a sap fighting Dell to send me a new one, because I’m on the verge of buying a new device, that will end up replacing it. (I finally settled on getting the SMT5600, instead of the RAZR. The RAZR is ultra sexy and all, but the more I think about it, the more the SmartPhone is sounding like what I want.)

But now the good news:

I called Dell tech support, and after a false start, I talked to a guy, told him the problems I was having, he listened to me, told me to hold for a minute, and then came back with a ticket #, and told me that the new one should be arriving Monday—or Tuesday at the latest. Great! I was expecting him to run me through the normal bull, make me reset the device, I’d tell him it’s still hanging, he’d make me do a hard reset (which erases all of the data), I’d do it, I’d tell him it’s still hanging, and then he’d decide to send me one. This was like a breath of fresh air! Get this: I told him that I’d done a hard reset, and it didn’t work, and he believed me! That does not happen when you talk to support people.

Of course, I still have the problem that I’ll be getting that new device, so soon I’ll have an Axim lying around that I’ll probably want to give away. But at least I’ll have a working unit to give away, instead of one that freezes every 30 seconds.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Apparently, I shouldn't cook

I made chicken last night; some kind of frozen mandarin chicken from President’s Choice, because there is nothing that PC can’t make (except for plastic wrap). Andrea didn’t eat, because she’d had a big lunch.

Unfortunately, I managed to poison myself. Those of you who follow my blog—all one or two of you—will remember that the last time I poisoned myself, it was also on chicken. (I would normally put a link here, to the previous blog entry from when I poisoned myself, but a quick search didn’t turn up the post, so I won’t.)

It looked cooked, but halfway through I noticed that it was kind of soggy, and when I looked, it turned out that big huge pieces of the chicken weren’t cooked at all. I don’t think I ate too much of it, though, so I’m still alive today.

Luckily for you, because if I was dead, you wouldn’t have this blog entry to read.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Based on my exercise post, I had the following conversation in MSN Messenger, with someone who wants me to eat properly...

Tara (~38 days!) says:
All Bran Buds they contain psyllium and help break down triglycerides. very heart healthy.

sernaferna says:
A) I don't know what "psyllium" is.

sernaferna says:
B) I don't know what "triglycerides" are.

sernaferna says:
C) I *do* know what my heart is. So I'm not *completely* stupid.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
triglycerides = big bad fat = line walls of arteries = strain heart = heart attack = death.

psyllium = highly soluble fibre = absorbs big bad fat = less on walls of arteries = no heart attack =

sernaferna says:
What, no emoticon for death?

Tara (~38 days!) says:

sernaferna says:
Anyway, I'm not going to change my diet, yet (except for making sure i eat fruit every day), so it's not a deal.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
it's not changing your diet. just pour some on your morning cereal. bran is good for ya for a number of reasons.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
your colon will thank me

sernaferna says:
I don't eat cereal in the mornings; I don't have much of *anything* for breakfast...

Tara (~38 days!) says:
tsk tsk

Tara (~38 days!) says:
you should have breakfast

sernaferna says:
yeah yeah....

sernaferna says:
Speaking of eating, brb... need to grab some lunch, so I'll have time to eat it before my 2:00 meeting.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
get something healthy!

sernaferna says:
I'll try.

I'll try...

sernaferna says:

Tara (~38 days!) says:
that was remarkably fast.

sernaferna says:
I haven't eaten it yet; I just brought the food back up to my .

Tara (~38 days!) says:
is it healthy food?

sernaferna says:
Herb-marinated Salmon Loin, on a bun. Of course, I'm fairly sure salmon don't *have* loins, but that's what the sign claimed...

sernaferna says:
And fries.

sernaferna says:
'n Gravy.

Tara (~38 days!) says:

Tara (~38 days!) says:
well at least the loin (if that is indeed what it is) is good...

sernaferna says:
It's not bad....

sernaferna says:
Oh, and there are veggies on the bun, too. Along with the "loin".

Tara (~38 days!) says:
what kind of veggies?

Tara (~38 days!) says:
a tomato slice?

sernaferna says:
No, they're grilled; I think I see some onion, and some red and green peppers. Not sure what else...

sernaferna says:
The way they grill the veggies, they come out all drained looking...

Tara (~38 days!) says:
that sounds appealing

sernaferna says:
I'm probably not doing them justice; I just don't like grilled veggies. I prefer them to be steamed, or raw, or whatever.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
ANY veggies are better than no veggies.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
are you drinking 8 glasses of water per day?

sernaferna says:
I don't think so, although I'm probably not too far off. I do drink a lot of water every day...

Tara (~38 days!) says:
do you still have your little microwave?

Tara (~38 days!) says:
excuse me -dishwasher?

sernaferna says:
Of course, I'm having Coke for lunch.

sernaferna says:
No, we have a full-sized dishwasher now. I gave the other one away.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
you didn't offer it to me

sernaferna says:
Nope. I offered it to someone else.

Tara (~38 days!) says:
*feeling not-so-important*

sernaferna says:
I'm sorry you had to find out like this. *snicker*

Tara (~38 days!) says:

well, I suppose there are worse things to find out... herpes, for instance. or a yeast infection.

sernaferna says:
True enough. Although I doubt you'd find out about either of those through .

Unless you have a *very* modern doctor...

sernaferna says:
Or is offering a new service.

"hold your genitals up to the monitor, and wait 30 seconds for your diagnosis..."

sernaferna says:
"Result: You have herpes. Probably contracted from holding your genitals against computer monitors in internet cafés...."

sernaferna says:

Tara (~38 days!) says:
weird. you're just so weird.

besides - everyone knows that you don't get herpes from computer monitors in internet cafes... you get GONORRHEA from computer monitors in internet cafes

sernaferna says:

Tara (~38 days!) says:
I think that would be awesome. hold up various body parts to the monitor and get a diagnosis? They could have animated versions of your 'disease' appear on-screen to tell you the prognosis?

"Hi, I'm Timmy Tonsilitis. Guess what you've got!" or "Howdy, I'm Kidney Stone Katie. Careful when you pee!"

sernaferna says:
I meant to say this earlier, but I was on the phone at the time:


Tara (~38 days!) says:
Wow. I shouldn't have held my breath for that response

sernaferna says:

sernaferna says:
BTW, do you mind if I blog some or all of this conversation? (At least as much as I still have in this window... )

Tara (~38 days!) says:
how much do you still have?

sernaferna says:
It starts with your suggestion to eat Bran Buds, whatever those are...

Tara (~38 days!) says:
give'er. Blog away

Tara (~38 days!) says:
(it makes me feel really special that you don't blog any OTHER conversations that you have )

sernaferna says:
lol Most of the other conversations aren't as weird.

sernaferna says:
I mean interesting! Not as interesting.