Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Strange Firefox issue

Got this strange issue with Firefox. I was customising it so that I save as much screen real estate as I can. I use the Tiny Menu addon and move everything UP to the menu bar (all the navigation items and the two folders in my bookmarks toolbar). I then turn off (uncheck) the Navigation and Bookmarks toolbars - leaving my with one menubar line and the tabs.

Now, odd thing is my two Bookmark folders appear only until I close and reopen FF. Then they disappear (i.e. minimize to a small blue arrow) until I "customise" the interface again - just clicking customise then closing the window that opens does the trick - no moving of buttons, etc.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Adventures with Jeff - BUGS!

Part 3 of my hopefully ongoing series on my friendship with Jeff brings us to his incredible phobia with regards to insects. He hated bugs...and eggs and tequila, but those are other stories.

Once, we had to go under our friend's raised cottage...literally raised on jacks. We had to jack up the cottage about six more inches. There was easily two dozen to do. I think Jeff lasted 5 minutes until a daddy long legs dropped onto his face. He watched from inside his car, armed with a can of raid.

On a particular nice June evening, Jeff, the Hottie, and I went to our local pub and decided to sit out on their second floor deck.

Beautiful evening, moon brightly shining, beer flowing, june bugs hovering around the patio lights, sounds of someone puking in the alley below...wonderful summer evening in Ottawa. Ah.

Anyhoo, I decided, for whatever strange reason, to order the fruit, cheese, and veggie platter instead of something recently killed, gutted, and grilled.

As the waitress handed me my platter, a red grape rolled off and landed onto the patio deck near my chair. About an hour later, after a few more beers, Jeff gave a start and swatted at a june bug that had flown in front of his face. He clipped it towards me and it landed on the deck. He asked if he killed the little bastard. I reached down and picked up the grape. Holding it 'twixt my thumb and forefingers I showed it to him and said "Nope, but I'll get it. Here!". With that, I squished the grape and let it's "guts" goop down over my fingers and onto the table. Then I licked my fingers.

Fortunately, we were overlooking the alleyway, because he never would have made it to the bathroom.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adventures with Jeff - To the Gym!

My buddy Jeff and I joined a gym once and actually went regularly. Now, Jeff always biked a lot, and he has one of those sick metabolisms that allow him to eat a double order of fajitas and still be hungry...and yet not gain a freaking pound. Needless to say, he was the "in shape" one.

Now, we joined that particular gym because a friend (hot) of ours worked there. She was tall, long legged, and incredibly pretty (hot). Jeff had a thing for her...well, did I. But he saw her first, so the bro' code was in effect.

One evening, she (the Hottie) joined us in our workout. This was around the same time that both of us realized that the place was actually less a gym than it was a "meet market" (or is that a "meat market"...not sure). This became really obvious when the Macho Man, in a cut-off sweat shirt (no sleeves, bottom portion cut off up to the ribs), lycra shorts, and cheesie, neon-coloured running shoes, followed the Hottie around. Everytime she was on a machine, he was on the one next to her.

Jeff and I thought the look on her face was hysterical: rolling her eyes while scrunching her face up. What we didn't realize was that she was not only reacting to his constant attention, she was also reacting to his odour. We finally caught a whiff of it when she climbed into a leg lift machine next to us and he, of course, followed close behind, still attempting to engage her in conversation. The Macho Man had terrible BO mixed with some sort of cheap cologne. Like that sickly sweet smell of rotting fruit.

Out of the corner of her mouth, she whispered to us "Get this guy away from me!". I had just finished my final rep on a bench press and Jeff had just started, so I stood there talking to her in a flirty sort of way, hoping to make it clear to the Macho Man that she was interested in someone else. It seemed to work, as he shut up for a bit, while working on the leg press machine. There he was grunting away while doing less than half of the weights.

He finished his reps, and stood up to stretch, use the Hottie's machine to put his leg up. Once again, he began to flirt with her. I asked if he was finished with the leg press, and he studiously ignored me. I jumped onto it and started my reps...about the same time Jeff finished up and walked over to me.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, Jeff was the "in shape" one, but I always surprised him when it came to my leg strength. As an ex-competitive swimmer/lifeguard, I always had strong legs...but he was amazed that I could do full reps with all the weights on a leg press machine.

So I start my reps and make a big show, complete with a loud exclamation "Whoa! Man, this is too light. Just about overextended myself. Jeff, can you move the bar down to the bottom." Jeff and the Hottie laughed, and the Macho Man's face went a little pink as I started my reps.

He huffed over to the bench press machine, and when he struggled to lift the weight setting that Jeff and just done, Jeff walked over and asked him if he wanted it put on a lower setting. I laughed so hard, while pushing on the weights, that I farted.

Macho Man got up and stormed away.

His odour lingered for a good twenty minutes.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Adventures with Jeff

A few years ago, a buddy of mine, Jeff, and I went to Alexandria Bay for the July 4th celebration. After checking into our motel, we headed out to the docks to eat at this great restaurant we knew about and where we could catch a boat to take us out into the bay for the fireworks that evening. On the way there, we saw a souped up AMC Gremlin: racing car green, tinted windows, mag tires, wicked sounding engine...all on a Gremlin. I started to laugh as the car passed us going in the opposite direction, and it stopped. The driver got out, as well as three passengers. They were huge. The driver approached me. I could hear my friend whisper “You idiot…”, then the driver looked at me and asked, “What’s so funny?”. I thought for a second and figured, in for a penny, in for a pound. So, I swallowed that little voice inside of me that was saying be careful, and replied, “Um, dude. You souped up a Gremlin.” Then waited. Incredibly, his friends started to laugh and one said to him, “Told you, man. It’s a Gremlin!”

The driver looked pleadingly towards me and pointing to his car, said “Yeah, but look man, it’s in great condition! I mean, I redid the interior, brand new engine. I just couldn’t afford a better car! C’mon man, look at it!” I can remember hearing Jeff whisper “You lucky bastard!” Turned out that his friends had been busting his chops over his choice of wheels, like guys do. We ended up hanging around them the whole weekend. Great bunch of guys.

I think Jeff spent a lot of his time with me shaking his head and looking for the quickest route to the exit. There was this one time we had gone to see Cobra with Sylvester Stallone. Before the previews, we could hear a woman directly behind us nattering away incessantly. This continued throughout the previews, and when the movie started she laughed and said, dismissively “Oh, is this the guy that saved us from the communists in Rambo?”. At that, I had had enough, turned around and said “If you don’t want to watch the movie, you can always leave. At least shut up so we can hear it.” I have learned it pays to scout out the “enemy” before engaging. The guy she was with looked like a football player. I think his biceps were bigger than my legs. He didn’t say anything, and I turned back around and watched the whole movie thinking he was going to punch the back of my head. Jeff leaned over and whispered, “You’re on your own, dude.” I guess he had had enough of me putting him into possible situations in which we get our asses kicked.

So, with the movie over and the house lights up, I stood, turned, and looked at the guy as he was getting out of his seat. His date was already up and walking away in a huff. The guy gave me a small smile and a thumb’s up and he said, in a quiet voice “God, I thought she would never shut up. Thanks, man. Worst blind date ever.”

Jeff always thought I was going to say the wrong thing to the wrong person and get us into trouble.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random thoughts about Bananas and hair curlers, et al.

I had always wondered about the bananas and the trench coats of opportunity foisted upon humankind without the benefit of clothespins or tater tots. Notwithstanding the confusion that arises when benevolent hair curlers are lost in the miasma of idyllic hip hop, or festooned with the colourful branches that swooned from the trunks of compact cars, the great unwashed occasionally rise above the panderings of chimpanzees and find themselves the sole occupants of deflated dirigibles.

Outside, the plaid is covered in homesick pancakes, and only the trumpet sees the truth in trampolines.

That's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

IE8 Beta 2 - GUI issues

Once again, MS, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant in the browser market, has been hammering out the new iteration of Internet Explorer: Version 8. Here's a screenshot of what it currently looks like:

You will note some pain in the ass features. First, take a look at the address bar - only is highlighted. Actually, the rest of the address is "de-highlighted" in that it is set to a dull, pale gray. This is called "domain highlighting" and it's supposed to give users the ability to more readily identify spoofed addresses. Whatever. Next, note the "Favorites" button on the tab line. This gets put there when you choose to not display the "Favorites bar" (when you right-click somewhere in the bar area, a menu appears with checks beside the menus you have chosen to display. In this example, I have turned OFF the favorites bar). Why is the button on the same line as the tabs? I have no idea, but there is NO WAY to move it. Look where the menu bar is (the one with File/Edit/View, etc.) and the Home and Print buttons. Like IE7, there is no way short of installing an addon called IE7Pro can you move these.

Here is what I want the IE8 interface to look like:

Note how clean this looks. How very little real estate is taken up by crap. If you want, you can even hide the Menu bar at top, if you so desire.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Monk

Back in 1979, near the end of the 11th Grade, something occurred that made me a bit of a legend at my high school.

First, some background: St. Pius X was a catholic high school in suburban Ottawa, and grades 11 to 13 were not funded by the Ontario government, though grades 9 and 10 were. That meant tuition. Nothing major…something like $500 a year. Since the senior grades were considered private, the school was not as accountable to the province with regards to the quality of their teaching staff. That brings us to Sister Ethel Snetsinger. Now, this woman was destined to be a nun upon being burdened with such an unfortunate name. She looked like her name and if you could picture an “Ethel Snetsinger” you would picture her.

I didn’t dislike her, nor had she a personality that would make anyone dislike her. She was sweet-tempered, but daft. For instance, she would mis-pronounce “gigantic” by making the second-g a soft one (ji-jan-tic).

She reminded me a lot of the rich woman who was cluelessly the butt of the Marx brothers’ jokes. Once, during a discussion of guilds and apprenticeships, someone acted confused and posed this scenario: “If you are…oh, I don’t, a baiter of hooks, and you join the guild, you start off as an apprentice baiter, and then what?” She responded, walking right into the joke with “After several months you become a journeyman baiter, and then, after several years of study and work, you would become a Master baiter.” Seriously, she said that and had a quizzical look on her face when the class erupted in laughter.

In grade 11, I had her for my home room and Ancient History, the first class of the day. Throughout the school year, she would call me Brian, and my friend Brian, she would call Steve. Typically, the half-hour after home room/first class was to be spent in either a daily mass in the school’s chapel, or in study, which meant you stayed in the classroom and did homework, read, etc. In early March of 1979 we were on the topic of monasteries, and how they became the foundations of universities.

On the way home one afternoon, my friends and I had to walk around a pile of garbage bags left out for the next day’s pickup. I noticed a doll sticking out the pile and pulled it out. It was a monk, complete with the Friar Tuck hairdo and cloth robes. I noticed that the head moved, and when I pushed down on it, this huge penis pivoted up through the robes. We all had a great laugh and I put it in my backpack. The next morning, we actually found the box: The Monk with “rising” action.

When I got to class, she wasn’t there yet, and I put the doll on a table beside her desk. Other than my two friends, I didn’t think anyone saw me put it there. Mike was in my home room, but Gary reluctantly had to go to his own class, one floor down. The classroom filled up and first period began. Sister Snetsinger walked in with some sheets and began handing them out, not noticing the monk. About half way through class, as we were all busy with individual work, she finally saw the Monk and picked it up. I began to laugh, which hurt because I was trying to hold it in. She looked at it and asked if anyone knew where this came from, and she commented on how appropriate it was given our current topic.

For the rest of Ancient History, she would periodically pick it up and examine it, but nothing more. When Mass/Study came, most of the class stayed, which is rare. I knew then that something was up and that word of the Monk must have spread. I could see Gary out in the hallway sticking his head around the door to the classroom, until he was caught lingering by a passing teacher. Again and again, throughout study she would pick it up. By this point I was in tears, trying hard not to laugh out loud. Then the bell for the next class rang and we were off.

My second last class of the day was just down the hall, and, as usual, I sat at the back near the open door. Right in the middle of class, there was a loud shriek from down Sister Snetsinger’s classroom, and the sound of students laughing. Something had happened, and I had missed it.

Coincidentally, my last class was in Sister Snetsinger’s room, and I asked the teacher, Ms. Kennedy, if she knew what the scream was all about. She looked up at me through her strange glasses with a knowing half-smile and said she didn’t know.

That was it. Never heard anything more about it. Then, that summer, when I was working up at camp, my mother phoned and told me that during the break in the summer (mid-July) when I was back home, we would have to go to the school to meet the guidance counsellor and vice-principal. Apparently, all my tuition cheques had been returned and I would have to go to the school to discuss the situation. I, honestly, did not even think about the Monk incident.

My parents and I went to the school and were told that it was because I had supposedly asked a provincial school inspector how Sister Snetsinger had done during a surprise audit of her class. THAT was the reason they gave. Something I was not guilty of, which I proclaimed loudly. Nevertheless, Sister Snetsinger had heard me do this, had felt insulted, and for that they were expelling me. Just then, she herself came into the office, looked at me and asked “Brian, what are you doing here.” She had been expecting “Steve” who was Brian. The counsellor and vice principal apologised and took the cheques back. I remember my father remarking that she had me in her class for a full school year, and she still didn’t know who I was.

On the way home, my parents could not figure out how that was an expellable offense. That’s when it hit me. They knew, without proof, about the monk but couldn’t pin it on me. I told my parents…my dad laughed and my mom did that mom-head-shaking thing.

Two years later, in grade 13, I went into the teacher’s lounge to get something and the monk was there on the desk. 3 years after that, I went back to the school to perform in different scenes from plays throughout the school’s 25 year history. Some of the performers were current students, and when they heard my name, asked me if I was the one who put the Monk in Sister Snetsinger’s classroom. In May 2008, on the school’s reunion website, someone posted the story about the Monk.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Stupidity of a union

In March of 2008, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU local 279, specifically) which represents city of Ottawa bus drivers (OCTranspo) was in a legal strike position. They waited until December 10th to walk off the job. December. In the winter. Just before Christmas. In the middle of a recession. Roads were clogged, businesses lost millions, and everyone across the city was affected.

Over 1000 buses that shuffled some 400,000 people daily around the city sat parked at various bus depot centres for 51 days until the threat of being ordered back to work by the federal government prompted the union to agree to binding arbitration. The union's head, André Cornellier, left the announcement press conference in a stretch limo. In the middle of a recession.

Some blame the mayor and city staff, others the unions. I don't care about the strike, per se. What I do care about is the timing. They could have walked off the job in March of 2008, or waited until the summertime. But that wouldn't have had the desired effect: it wouldn't inconvenience enough people. People who NEED public transportation don't have cars and are usually living on a small income. These people were the ones most affected by this strike. They can't afford taxis (if you could even get one in a reasonable amount of time). There are stories of people walking for hours to and from work, people unable to go to cancer treatments, people losing money because they couldn't GET to work, and people who lost their jobs altogether.

Due to maintenance concerns, it will take almost 2 months before all the buses are running on their usual schedules. More delays, more traffic headaches. In the winter. What do the drivers expect in the way of behaviour from the passengers who return to taking the buses? Everyone, including the mayor, is hoping people are nice and sweet-tempered. But already there are rumblings of reprisals: not paying to get on and telling the driver to "Fuck off" being the main one.

Bernie Gauthier, the chief executive of the Ottawa PR firm Delta Media thinks that many drivers could face irate passengers when bus service resumes.

“I think they will have a hard time coming back. Right now there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sympathy for the drivers and for their union.”

Not "..a lot of sympathy"? Maybe it had to do with going on strike. In the winter. Just before Christmas. In a recession. The drivers pretty much deserve whatever they get.