Friday, November 28, 2008

Rest in Peace, my friend...

This update is dedicated to a brother-in-arms who lost his life this morning.

As someone who has worked in a customer service position for over half my life (first as a restaurant employee, then manager, and now an inside salesman in the Industrial & Hydraulic hose & fittings industry), I know full well the things that face those of us who serve the public.

My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of the American Wal-Mart worker who was trampled to death this morning by a throng of bargain-crazed idiots who cared more about buying a cheap big-screen TV or being first in line for the "great deals" than about the life of a man, or even about giving the paramedics room to work on the man after they trampled him.

Equal blame and scorn should go to Wal-Mart as well, for not immediately closing the doors and stopping people from coming in (calling police if necessary to control the crowd) so paramedics could save the life of their employee.

But, it's astoundingly easy to play "WHAT IF?!" from several thousand kilometres away. I wasn't there to see the incident, so for all I know, the Wal-Mart staff and management tried valiantly to fight off the aforementioned throngs of materialistic, simple-minded, bargain-obsessed sheep.

However, I highly doubt it. Perhaps more info will trickle in proving me wrong. More than likely not.

** UPDATE **

I am very happy to report that, yes, I was wrong. According to the latest update on this story, the staff at Wal-Mart did indeed close the store while the paramedics and police did their best to save their (Wal-Mart staff's) fallen comrade. Good on them, and I will happily retract what I said in the previous commentary. My faith in humanity (BUT NOT SOCIETY) is restored, somewhat...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ikea! Ikea is coming!

That's all I've been hearing from a few of my female friends, and quite frankly, I AM FUCKING SICK OF HEARING ABOUT IT ALREADY!

Ikea is NOT coming per se, they're merely looking at the market and seeing it has potential. (Original Winnipeg Free Press article). So don't get your hopes up until you see the building actually being built.

I'll admit I'm not a fan of Ikea. I've been (dragged) to a few stores in the 'States and don't see the big deal. I've helped assemble some of their furniture and felt it was rather poorly made considering how much some of it cost. Don't get me wrong, some of their products do look rather nice and would liven up my rather dreary West K house, but I've always felt Ikea offers poor value for the money. 'Sides, when I want faux-Scandinavian goods of dubious quality, I'll shop at Jysk.

Speaking of my dreary West Kildonan abode, I've been bitten by the home improvement bug again (still no fucking vaccination available).

I've been clearing out the Lab, getting rid of clutter and making room for Project Torquemada (my rack-mounted Unix server) which should be online mid-2009. Figured I'd better get Torquemada up and running to coincide with the renovations I plan to inflict upon my living room, which involves moving a few electrical outlets, installing network ports (still don't trust wifi), installing a new ceiling fan, and partially knocking down a wall to make a lunch counter/bar between the kitchen and living room... ugh, and replacing the flooring... and repainting...

Of course, by knocking down a portion of the kitchen wall, I'll have to move the cupboards that were previously there, and if I'm gonna do that, I may as well replace the fucking lot of 'em, as they're uglier'n sin... of course, that means I may as well repaint the kitchen , too, and while I'm doing that, replace the peel 'n stick crap on the floor with real ceramic tile...

Hmmm, then why not replace the exhaust hood over the stove with a nice new stainless steel one...? - with a nice new stove to match, but then I'll have to buy a similar stainless steel fridge, and if I'm doing that, I may as well pick up a stainless steel ceiling fan/light fixture too...

Christ, at that point, I'll be supporting the economy almost singlehandedly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SLP Heaven: The Continuing Saga

Some of you may remember my abortive little work-in-progress entitled "SLP Heaven" from a year or two back. Those of you who don't remember or aren't aware, don't worry... you'll soon know.

I'll spare you the synopsis, bile, and backstory, as I plan to have the project back online in the New Year, complete with new material.

(SLP, for those not familiar with the abbreviation, stands for Surface Level Parking)

Why the sudden interest in an old, shelved project?

Because, once again, a piece of Winnipeg history is facing the wrecking ball to make way for yet another surface-level parking lot.

If, like me, you're sick and tired of losing our city's heritage bit by bit to make room for modern "conveniences" , ill-advised "modernization", and to pander to the automotive/sprawl advocates, I implore you to join the Save Kelly House Facebook group.

Photo Copyright © 2008, Conceited Jerk Creative Media

If you're wondering what the big deal is about "some old house sitting alone in the middle of a warehouse district", check out everyone's favourite local historian for the full story!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayer

Here is irrefutable proof of the existence of God, and that He has answered my prayers.

Well, sort of. While it wasn't the paralyzing stroke or debilitating aneurysm I'd been wishing upon her, the fact they've wired her jaw shut will do nicely.

Extreme Right be damned!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

You Read it Here First!

I've hit the big time!
One of my drink recipes, in reality my bastardization of an existing
recipe, has been published on Drinksmixer!
I'm going to celebrate by having a nice cup of hot chocolate.
CJ's Mint Hot Chocolate

2 packets Carnation Rich Hot Chocolate
350ml boiling water
1oz Meaghers Creme de Menthe (green)

Now, if only I could get into Modern Drunkard...
Cheers, folks!
SDF Public Access UNIX System -

Friday, November 14, 2008

On Pleading Poverty

*** EDIT *** Under advisement from the Conceit and Sociopathy legal department, I have edited out the name of the payroll company in question. They will be known hereafter as "That Fucking Payroll Company". -CJ

So, thanks to the wonderful folks at the payroll company my employer uses, I am without money this weekend.
Today was supposed to be payday.
The day began as all previous paydays began. I got up fifteen minutes early, followed my usual morning regimen, and headed to the nearby Mac's store, where I grabbed my usual large "Seattle's Best Fair Trade
Organic" coffee. I walked over to the ATM, so I could withdraw money for Grant (our coffee truck driver) in order to settle my tab. Put my card in, told the machine to withdraw "x" amount of money, and...


"OK, it's not the end of the world," I thought, "This has happened before. The money will probably be there by the time I get to work. Fucking direct deposit..."
Luckily, I had enough change in my pocket to pay for my coffee. I soon cleared my head of my apparent lack of funds. I got on the bus (with yet another rookie driver), hit PLAY on my iPod, and soon forgot about everything.
I arrived at work five minutes late (again, rookie bus driver), and the first thing anyone said to me was "CJ, did your cheque go through?". I recounted my trouble at the ATM this morning, checked my bank balance online, and soon found that NONE of us got paid today.
I'm a tad miffed at this point, because I realized the problem isn't limited to me and/or my credit union - it's affecting all of us at the branch, and therefore a rather large issue.
When the boss arrived, we informed him of the situation, and he promised to look into the matter when our head office opened up in the next hour. He managed to get ahold of the lady who looks after our payroll and, sure enough, she'd been fielding calls from all our branches. Seems none of our staff nationwide were paid. She told us she was on the blower to That Fucking Payroll Company and hoped to have a definitive answer for us soon.
She called back a little while later. Turns out, our good friends at That Fucking Payroll Company had fucked something up (having the fucking gall to blame Rememberance Day), and our cheques would be deposited either late today or early tomorrow. "Of course," I thought, "this HAD to happen this weekend, of all weekends." This weekend, my credit union is changing their system software, so any transactions will be delayed until Monday or Tuesday, so if my paycheque hadn't cleared by 5pm this afternoon, I would be broke until Tuesday.
Suffice it to say, we were constantly checking our bank accounts this afternoon. By the time we left work at 5pm, none of our cheques had cleared. I don't need to tell you that we weren't exactly thrilled with our pals at That Fucking Payroll Company, or with a certain coworker who loudly proclaimed "This is why you should always have at least a month's salary in the bank at all times, just like me!" - a certain coworker who, I might add, is damn lucky he can run faster than myself, as the smarmy little fucker was about to "meet with an accident".
In a sense, he was right. In theory, always having at least a month's salary in the bank is just sound financial advice. In practice, however, it's not always that easy in this day and age. I've been trying to do just that, which is why I cancelled my high-speed internet and digital cable last month, and liquidated a few pieces of electronic equipment I no longer use. It's an uphill battle some days, but, meh, I'll survive.
So, my credit union has assured me that any NSF or late fees will be reversed, which is a good thing, and my boss lent me $20 for cat food, so my kitties are looked after. No thanks to That Fucking Payroll Company, whose nonchalance in the whole matter ( "Oh, it should be there today or tomorrow. If not, you'll have to wait until Monday. But I can't really give you a definitive answer on that") was not appreciated.
Alright, I know sometimes these electronic glitches happen and sometimes people get screwed. I can understand that. What I DON'T get is why That Fucking Payroll Company chose to lay the blame on Rememberance Day. I mean, our payroll has never (in the fifteen years I've dealt with That Fucking Payroll Company) been affected by holidays before... even when a holiday has occurred in the middle of the week. So why now?
Methinks someone's fucked up royally and is trying to cover their ass. That's what has pissed me off about the whole thing.
Fuck, it's going to be a lean weekend...
SDF Public Access UNIX System -

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

10ft long, 3ft wide, 4 tons, you can't miss it!

Here's a bit of cheery news to brighten your day (in an 18-Megaton kinda way)!
The fact that this thing is still unaccounted for after forty years is rather disconcerting.
I'd like to think that the view that the radioactive material had dissolved was correct, but what if they're wrong, and this thing spontaneously goes off one day?
Someone's gonna have some 'splainin to do, when the glacial ice on Greenland suddenly melts.

(Hey ma! Git a load of that thar three-eyed seal! Ga-hyuck-hyuck-hyuck!)
SDF Public Access UNIX System -

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On Better Living Through Constant Upgrades, or Ooops, fell off the treadmill!

Well, I "sorta" have internet at home again...
I'm online via my dial-up shell account at SDF, which I can access with all the computers I have here - from my lowly TRS-80s to my 2.8GHz Linux box. Of course, it's slow going, considering I only have a 28.8K external modem at the moment.
But hey, what do you want for free?
I haven't yet received the replacement PSU for my Sun Ultra 5, meaning I'm still hamstrung as far as my major project is concerned. In the meantime, I've been testing a few bits of hardware I've bought over the last year or so, as well as a few pieces I've had sitting in the lab for ages.

One of the more important pieces of kit that needed testing was this USB-ethernet transceiver that I bought for my Ultra 5's SunPCi card (a 400MHz PC on a PCI card!). Of course, I can't use the SunPCi card as it's in my "dormant" Ultra 5, so I hooked the USB-Ethernet transceiver up to my aforementioned Linux box, and was able to connect to the other Unix machines on my network. If nothing else, I know the transceiver works.
OK, so I'll have ethernet capabilities on my SunPCi card when the Ultra 5 is resurrected. I dug out my Windows 2000 cd, so I'll have a supported OS for it. Problem is, the SunPCi card only has one USB 1.0 port, meaning I can't use any other USB peripherals whilst the transceiver is in use. Unless, of course, I can find a USB 1.0 hub somewhere...
Guess what I found at the back of my "loose parts" cabinet?

Yup, my friend Slam's old ADS USB hub. He got the thing in a bulk lot of computer junk he bought on eBay many moon ago and truth told, we never got the thing to work, owing to lack of drivers. Out of morbid curiosity, I hooked it up to my Linux box, and the damned thing WORKED!

Son of a bitch!

NOW my interest is piqued... let's put it through its paces, shall we?  I took the USB-Ethernet transceiver out of the Linux box, and plugged it into the hub, fiddled with the ethernet settings, and was able to connect to another computer on my home network in seconds!

OK, how does it perform with a couple more devices? Plugged in my Bluetooth adapter, and my bluetooth mouse was detected almost instantly! So far, so good. Now, let's plug in my new USB 2.0 card reader... and now a 512Mb Compact Flash card, a 512Mb Secure Digital card, and a 64Mb Smartmedia card... Holy shit! All three cards opened up immediately in their own separate windows on my Linux desktop.

Ain't that neat?
I am summarily impressed. However, I'll wager I can wring even MORE performance from this ol' hub... it may only have three USB 1.0 slots (which I've just filled), but it also has serial and parallel ports!
The final test for the evening was to hook my 28.8K modem up to the hub's serial port, and use it to dial into my SDF shell account so I could write this update via email (which was obviously successful or you wouldn't be reading this). I mean hey, ya gotta do something to while away the hours on a cold, blustery evening - Winnipeg is experiencing it's first winter storm of the season!
It never ceases to amaze me as to what these ancient bits of hardware can be made to do, with a little ingenuity and a dose of good ol' fashioned curiosity. That's the true hacker spirit!
(Incidentally, until I restore my "real" home internet sometime next year, I can be reached at the email address listed in the tagline below.)
SDF Public Access UNIX System -