Freeport Tornado -- 3 Deaths and Many Injured

A freak storm, a tornado touched down and ripped through the island of Grand Bahama where the city of Freeport is located. The billion dollar container port suffered the most damage. Gantry crane #10 was felled. The two men inside were killed, as well as one on the ground. Scores more were injured. Here are some pictures.










Freeport is the second city of the Bahamas, and economically it is suffering. It still has not recuperated from Hurricanes Frances and Jean. This further adds to the woe and misery of that island in the sun.

Source Code for Abused Altar Boys -- Getting the Name of your USB Key

I don't know where this stained glass window is, but it should be taken down.

OK, I have some C# .NET source code for getting the name of USB key. I have a program where a bunch of data is on a Cruzer USB thumb drive or USB key. I wanted to make sure that the Cruzer USB memory stick was stuck into a USB port on the computer. To test this code, I created a simple button that uses System Management to create a ManagementObjectSearcher. The searcher got a ManagementObjectCollection that I iterated through to find my Cruzer thumb drive. (To get the name of your thumb drive, just stick it in a port, and once the system recognizes it, open My Computer and look at the name.) The code is simple. You have to start with the Management directive:

using System.Management;

private void buttonUSBVerify_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
ManagementObjectSearcher theSearcher = new ManagementObjectSearcher("SELECT * FROM Win32_DiskDrive WHERE InterfaceType='USB'");
ManagementObject("Win32_PhysicalMedia.Tag='" + currentObject["DeviceID"] + "'");

ManagementObjectCollection collection = theSearcher.Get();

foreach (ManagementObject item in collection)
{
foreach (PropertyData property in item.Properties)
{
try
{
if (property.Name.Equals("Caption"))
{
if (property.Value.ToString().Contains("Cruzer -- put in the name of your"))
{
MessageBox.Show("Found it");
}
}
}
catch (Exception)
{
}
}
}
}

Things That Need Inventing -- A Mood Ring IPOD

Back in the 1970's, the hottest thing to have was a mood ring. They changed colour depending on you moods. They were quite inexpensive as well. I don't know if they worked, but I remember once getting angry at someone and my mood ring turned black, so I was convinced.

As I was going through my morning routine this morning on the computer, I searched for some suitable music for my mood. Unfortunately, I don't quite know what my mood was this morning, and thus I was struck with the great Eureka moment once again. (Sometimes genius is a heavy load to carry).

What this world needs is a mood ring coupled to your iPOD. The mood ring figures the type of music that you need and the iPOD plays it accordingly. They say that music soothes the savage beast. I am told that the correct quote is that music soothes the savage breast. That too.

Anyhoo, with today's technology, this thing should be a snap. Instead of me racing to the patent office, I think that the folks at Apple (Paging Steve Jobs) should just include this in the next release and send me a big fat royalty cheque. I will watch my mailbox for this one. And my mood ring music would be playing:






If you want to see my other putative inventions and things that I consider worth inventing, please click HERE !

An Idea Whose Time Has Come -- Tactile Packaging


When I was in my twenties (and knew it all), I had just read Alvin Toffler's book "Future Shock". It was highly interesting, but quite stupid I thought. I was wrong. When I re-read it fifteen years later, I was amazed at how accurate the predictions were.

At the time, there was a new wave of marketing. Dave Nichol who introduced "President's Choice" line of products was the marketing guru at Loblaws and was doing a whole bunch of innovative marketing and packaging. It struck me that the next big thing would be tactile packaging. I wrote Dave Nichol a letter to the effect that he should look into tactile packaging for Loblaws to ride the wave of the future.

Tactile means touch, and I predicted that shoppers would like products to have a unique touch as well as look. It was like putting the FEEL into look-and-feel. The ultimate example of tactile packaging was the classic coke bottle. It fit perfectly into your hand, was a pleasure to hold, and became an icon for a meme, a theme and a lifestyle.

Well, Dave Nichol never responded personally to my letter. I got a polite letter from one of his flunkies saying that they would look into it, but don't hold my breath. He never did bring in tactile packaging, and his star faded dramatically. He ran Cotts foods, and the stock dropped by a factor of ten from $35 to $3.50. His glory days passed. I figure it was because he refused to recognize the genius of my idea.

My idea is simple. Things should not only look nice, but feel nice. Your bottle of peach nectar should feel fuzzy like a peach. Orangina the orange drink from Europe had a bottle that feels like the outside of an orange. If whatever you buy has nuts in it, the package should feel like nuts. The Fruit Loops box should feel loopy. Chicken breasts should feel like ... never mind, that is the exception that proves the rule. Anyhoo -- you get what I mean.

I did some Googling, and I found one example of tactile packaging on a wine bottle:


It's a shame that there aren't more examples. Maybe I was ahead of my time in suggesting tactile packaging to a supermarket chain.

Here are some of my fearless predictions. Materials engineering will not only produce new products based on function -- like the bullet-proofness of Kevlar, but they will also make new products that have different textures and feels. It will be a whole new world. If I choose to join that line of endeavor, I will make a product that feels exactly like human skin. I will make a mega-fortune and be richer than Bill Gates. After all, humans are the ultimate example of tactile packaging.

And this is a song that is as anti-packaging as it gets:



Pictures From The Tropics Time

Photo time from the archives. Spanish Wells is a community and an island off Eleuthera. Most of the residents are fishermen, and quite well off. They fish to supply the Red Lobster restaurant chain with seafood. However, it is dry, meaning that the residents voted liquor stores off the island. Not to worry though, right across the channel on Eleuthera, the first think that you see at the water's edge is a liquor store to supply Spanish Wells:



This is one of the ferry from Eleuthera to Spanish Wells. There are (were) many.

A New Threat -- Cell Phone Firearms

Air travel took a turn for the scary. Cell phone firearms arrived on the scene.

Beneath the digital phone face is a .22 caliber handgun capable of firing four rounds in rapid succession using the standard telephone keypad. European law enforcement officials are stunned by the discovery of these deadly decoys. They say phone guns are changing the rules of engagement in Europe .

Only when you have one in your hand do you realize that they are heavier than a regular cell phone.



Screening lines at airports are going to get a lot longer. This invention is unsettling. This particular weapon depicted above was invented in 2001, and has shown up a couple of times in Europe at airport screenings.

On Blogstitution, weird searches and other stuff

My life as a blogger has some travail to it. It is tough to coin new words these days. The Lovely One spent many hours doing her first blog and website, and I casually said that if she wanted to drive traffic to it, all she had to do, was put Michael Jackson or Karla Homolka as key words. She said that she wasn't a prostitute (in the bloggery sense). Immediately I wondered if blogstitute was a unique word, and if I would have the dubious honour of coining it. I checked with Google, and unfortunately, someone else has already thought of it.

Then I wondered if bloggery was a unique word. It wasn't. Well that sent me on a quest to invent a unique word. Shmizzle seemed like a good bet. It wasn't unique. I finally came up with a unique word -- crinshull. Unfortunately its not a very useful word, but if it ever becomes one, remember that you read it here first.

In the photo world, below is what the weather was like outside my window the day before yesterday. The beach on Paradise Island is particularly inviting as I type this.




In other word news, I got a hit from Indonesia last night. The key word was "otopsi". I was surprised that Google would find me with that word. The searcher was looking for autopsy pictures (and of course there is a Michael Jackson autopsy picture on this blog -- ok, ok, I am being a blogstitute by mentioning this).

I also got an email from a friend in China. He says that my blog is blocked there. Quelle surprise.

So, today I am back at it, watching the snow melt. Apparently a local golf course it open, but it is hard to play with mitts on. I will be back in the tropics shortly and should be able to resume my Tourist Scene pics. In the meantime, I leave you with a Rolling Stones country music song. Mick Jagger is doing a parody of Gram Parsons, from thirty years ago.




Boys and Their Toys

Now that winter is done, it is time to sell the snowmobile and look for a bigger better one for next year.

This baby has a retro style all of its own -- based on a 1957 Nash Metropolitan auto body.








If I owned this baby, I would want eternal winter -- which is essentially the definition of most of Canada.

Google Not Censoring In China

Well, Google has finally done it. They have stopped censoring searches in China. It is about time. Regular reader of this blog will know that my own servers have been hacked from a government institution in China. You can read about that entry here:


CNN actually mentioned the above blog post when the Chinese were caught in state-sponsored hacking.

What bothers me most about China and other Communist countries, is their perversion of the literal truth. The Chinese will do dirty deeds, and when they are caught out, they say in diplomatic and other circles, that there is a slur against the peace-loving people of China.

TheChinese shoot kneeling people in the back of the head at the slightest excuse, and then put on a veneer of civility for occasions like the Olympics. Once they are off the world stage, it is back to beating dissidents, cooking up Rover with some soy sauce, and stealing technology and secrets from the West.

I am in the middle of re-reading Raissa Berg's book from the 1980's called Acquired Traits. She was a geneticist in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist times when an uneducated brute called Lysenko came into power with the ruling elite who were also a bunch of uneducated thugs. It was illegal to teach that chromosomes and genes existed. Lysenkoists preached that if you fed a starling the food of a nightingale, the eggs from those parents will have nightingale chicks in them. There was a total subversion of the truth. This is what the Chinese are doing today.

The Chinese government is two-faced. There is nothing noble about it or its constituent persons. There is nothing altruistic about the Chinese people at the levers of power. They actually live a tissue of lies that involves the most brutal repression of their own people all in the name of other motives. And that makes them something less than what noble men can be when they aspire to transcend animal selves and act on a higher moral plane. Unfortunately these ideas are Chinese to the Chinese.

Kudos to Google. There motto is "Do No Evil". It is about time that Google stopped playing the dirty Chinese games and living the lie that the Chinese tell.

As an interesting aside, this blog is hosted by Google, and Google is my search engine of choice. As I was preparing this blog entry, I got the above screen shot several times. Google appears to be under cyber attack this morning. The screen above says:

We're sorry, but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can't process your request.

Guess who? One of the traits of any evil empire, is that they are afraid of the free dissemination of information and news. They are afraid of the truth. And with the Chinese, the truth is always their first victim. Then come the human victims. There are a lot of them.

The Unknown Thingie

I once read this piece of literature about a man in Paris who collected objects that were a complete mystery to him. Once he knew what they were, he disposed of the objects because they no longer interested him. If you were a guest at his salon, and you knew what the object was or did, you were not permitted to blurt out the function.

The story was a dark one, and if my memory serves me correctly, he found a set of objects of calibrated balls and some sort of apparatus at a flea market. For years no one knew what it was. These balls became the focus of his social life, and the source of speculative conversation at every party he threw. Eventually someone came and identified the objects as a primitive gravitometer to measure the alcohol density of wine from medieval times. The loss of the objet inconnu (unknown object) mystery was so great to him, that he committed suicide.

Well I have an unknown object that came with our house in the hills of Quebec. It was in the garage and it looks like this.

At first I thought that is was some sort of hammer. Then I realized that the blunt end was the same as the other end, but just broken off.

The other end had a fluke like an anchor, but it wasn't an anchor for two reasons. The first is that it is cast iron, and cast iron would rust.


The second reason why I don't think that it is an anchor is that it has a machine bolt on the other end and a groove that makes it bolt to a cross piece.

Might it be a meat hook? Could it be some sort of shoemaker apparatus? It really could be anything.

If you know what this is, or have a guess, please leave a comment. I am dying to find out what it is, but not dying enough to commit suicide once I find out what it is.

The Covered Bridge Today

I went for a walk today on Pine Road which is a couple of minutes from our house in the hills. In a way, I am collecting memories to carry back with me to the islands. What I like up north, is the fresh air, and the eternal promise of spring. There is a cosmic expectancy of the wonderful things that summer brings.

This bridge is at the bottom of a steep hill. The body of water that it traverses, is Meech Creek. Meech Lake is not far away. The photo above is what the bridge looked like today. The air was crisp, and the sun came out in patches only then disappeared behind the clouds. I am saving up memories to take back with me, of space, solitude, wilderness, the boreal forest, birdsong, rushing water and the big karmic hug that Mother Nature gives you in the springtime in a place where you actually have real seasons.

Bags Are Packed, Ready to Go

My return to the islands is set. April 5th. Easter Tuesday. Back in Nassau for another go at it.

No Electricity, No Phones, No Internet, Unpaved Road in the Sticks

As I travel the highways and byways, and come upon houses built at the turn of the last century, I often wonder what the landscape looked like. I found a partial answer.

I have this amazing slide in my digital archives. It is a colour photographic slide, encased in glass and metal that I digitized. It is of a country road in Quebec in the early 1930's. There is no electricity poles, telephone poles, or pave roads connecting the farms. Yet by sheer dint of hard work, the fields are cleared and cultivated on the hills. Farm homes are nestled in the valley and a ribbon of a dirt road connects them all. Amazing.

Please ask for permission if you take a copy of this slide. It is going to be my next painting.

Fearless Predictions About the Future -- Virtual Goods

For this blog post, I will don my gypsy fortune telling scarf and peer into my crystal ball. I will make some fearless predictions about the internet.

I read an article on CNN a couple of days ago, that said that the Chinese spent $5 billion dollars on virtual goods last year on the internet. The United States accounted for just a billion dollars in virtual goods.

You may read the article by clicking here:


Virtual goods are things that you can't hold in your hand. An example is a dress for your online character, or a tattoo for your avatar. You can also buy stuff to cash in on online games to get you to a higher level. I have never understood the virtual goods market, but it is real.

So what are my predictions about the virtual goods marketplace on the Internet. First of all, I am willing to bet that within ten years, someone will come up with an algorithm to de-virtualize them. Someone will figure out how to make digital things into real ones that you can hold in your hand.

I predict that the virtual goods markets will become like the commodities exchange. You will be able to trade the production and derivatives of virtual goods. For example, a company could make an investment vehicle on its goodwill and sell it on the internet. Right now, if Toyota did that, the price would be dropping like a rock.

Someone will also create an online mall where virtual goods from all over the internet can be bought, sold, traded or given away as freebies.

One of the biggest area of virtual goods waiting to be exploited has to do with sports memorabilia and fandom. Celebrities will charge to use their images in avatars. You will be able to buy production digital copies of commercials and movies that don't make the final cut. We will see an explosion and a commercial exploitation of all things digital.

Virtual goods are the ultimate manifestation of cybernetics. It is a field where Louis Kauffman, President of the American Society for Cybernetics said "Cybernetics is the study of systems and processes that interact with themselves and produce themselves from themselves". We live in a brave new world, and the one true characteristic of it, is that it is getting weirder and weirder.

Unabashed Predictions - Volcano in Europe

Here is another fearless prediction. I predict that within the next few months, a volcano will erupt, spewing ash into the skies over Europe, causing great disruptions. This will occur before mid-May of 2010.



A Scholarly Study of Bats

Our planet is populated with plenty of bizarre and astonishing creatures. Among them are Bats, an important part of our eco-system.
Here are several interesting examples from the Bat Family.


Sucker-Footed Bat


Straw Wing Bat


Red Wing Bat


Hoary Bat


Guatemalan Black Bat


Right Wing Ding Bat

A Couple of Yards of Tea, and Other Melting Snow Memories

How much tea does the Lovely One drink -- a couple of yards, I'd say. I was out in the spring air with my camera yesterday, capturing some melting snow memories with my camera and I came upon this six-foot area of spent tea leaves.
The Lovely One drinks a whole pot of tea herself for breakfast. She makes it from loose tea leaves. And when she is done, the tea leaves get dumped from our living room balcony on the snow below. It is truly iced tea.


This is a graphic record of the couple of yards of tea that has gone through the Lovely One.


And as I was doing my daily walk along the highway, I spotted something that I thought that I would only see in Nassau. It was a discarded child's sandal.


There is one difference between a thrown-away child's sandal in Canada and in Nassau. This one was in a snow bank by the side of the road. Somewhere a kid's foot is freezing.

Spring is Springing

I am up in the north, still under a blanket of snow, but spring is sprung. It is in the air. The snow is disappearing day by day. Holes in the snow and ice are getting bigger. The air is warmer. The smells of fresh air and newly exposed earth permeate the air.

Spring always creates the impression of optimism, excitement and wonder in me. It is the promise of sunny beautiful days to come. It makes me feel young. Spring is early this year. Bring it on.



And in honour of spring, here is Marilou doing Edith Piaf's big hit "L'hymne a l'amour" at Versailles in France:





A Gold Medal Moment

I went to a colleague's house for dinner a few nights ago. On the fridge was a spread of the Globe and Mail's frontispiece when Canada's Sidney Crosby scored the goal in overtime to defeat the United States for the gold medal at Vancouver's Winter Olympics. My friend sent me an image of the newspaper. It covered both front and back of the newspaper.

The photo is amazing. It is just a second after the goal was scored and the partisan crowd in red shirts is already reacting. It is a fabulous frozen moment in time.

Low Floating Ducks

Half way down to Atlantis coming from the Cloisters and the One and Only Ocean Club is a road off Paradise Island Drive that lets you access the resorts on Cabbage Beach. When you turn down this short road, you come to a small pond, slough or as the real estate people say, a small lake. It is an acre or less in size. However it is crammed with aquatic animals.

There are ducks, herons, turtles and big fish in this pond. They are all sustained by the tourists feeding them. Bread is their natural food and diet staple.

What blew me away about the pond is how the ducks compete with the turtles who fight it out with the fish when you throw morsels of bread on the muddy water surface. The other amazing thing is seeing how low in the water that the ducks float.

Examine the photo closely, and you will see most of the body of the ducks are submerged. These are the lowest floating ducks that I have ever seen. I am wondering whether it is because of the type of duck, or the brackishness hence the density of the water or what.

All that I know, is that when a duck floats in the water, it is supposed to look like this:


The Weary Kind




I watched the Academy Awards, and the winner for the Best Song was "The Weary Kind" sung by Ryan Bingham. It was from the movie Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges.

The song resonates with me, especially with the events of my life in the past couple of months.

Confucius say



Confucius say:

"If you are in a book store and cannot find
the book for which you search, you are obviously in the.....

Vegan Snacks -- Wave of the Future?

We went to a dinner party over the weekend, and for hors d'oeuvres, our hostess served Kale Chips. She bought them at a vegan restaurant/store. When I first saw them arranged in a bowl on a lamp table in the living room, the bowl of kale chips looked like it was an artistically arranged centerpiece of silk flower greenery. It didn't look like something one would eat.

However, the kale was delicious. Kale is a crucifer -- a family of plants to which cabbage and Brussel sprouts belong to, among other things. This kale was raw vegan food. I had thought that the kale chips had been deep fried. However the package said that it had been dehydrated at 105 degrees. Other ingredients such as red bell pepper and other natural flavours were added.

The snack was delicious, and I am betting that this is one thing that could go mainstream in the snack world. It is simply delicious and good for you.