Monday, October 31, 2005

Skipping Halloween

Thought I'd turn out the house lights tonight, and pretend no one's home, but I'll probably just stay in the dungeon, and come out occasionally to give the Halloweeners a scare. I won't even need a costume to do that. At least it's not a full moon, so I don't have to check for hair growing on my knuckles. In these days of the health conscious consumer you'd think that something other than candy would be handed out on Halloween, although I'm sure it makes a lot of dentists happy. Oh well, it's just once a year, and Halloween seems to be a waning practice anyway. By the way hoodlums, keep your eggs to yourself this year! It's really just a waste of a perfectly good egg.

Yours Truly,
Halloween Scrooge

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Best Internet or Blogging Experience

What would you consider to be your best experience while using the internet, or keeping a web log? Does it involve a personal connection, business success, or technology accomplishment? My best experience with blogging occurred recently when I stumbled across a blog called "Journey of the Spirit"... Read On!

I had done a search looking for blogs that have spirituality has a theme, and the title of this one intrigued me. There were only a few posts to read on the blog, but these were true gems. Her last post was dated June 22, 2005. The writing was very honest, expressive, and open like the voice of a true seeker. I decided to leave a comment on one post saying to the writer that I felt she had a very genuine voice, and to please keep writing and posting as in my opinion her fairly new blog showed great promise. A few days later this person sent a kind e-mail thanking me for my encouraging words. She then decided to write, and publish a post called "Words of Encouragement" to her blog. On reading this post I was overwhelmed, and humbled by her beautiful response. She is certainly a kindred spirit in the Internet world. I hope others take some time to visit her blog named Journey of the Spirit, and enjoy the honesty of her prose.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Psychic Events

I know that the word occult has a bad connotation with many people, and it does stir up some sinister associations especially amongst those who may have a conservative religious philosophy. However, in the spirit of being open-minded there are many definitions, and descriptions of paranormal activity that simply fall under the category of unexplained phenomena... Read On!

I don't pretend to be well read, or even knowledgeable in these matters, and can only speak from personal experience. While these experiences have been infrequent, and unexpected they did leave a strong impression at the time. The most powerful feeling or sense of a spirit world, or alternate reality occurred in my life at the time of my fathers death. The details of these events are too personal to discuss in a public forum, but I could say that there was a strong sense of benevolent spirituality that manifested itself intermittently over a few days. The primary theme was an absolute conviction in the belief of an after life, and one that held hope and promise. It wouldn't be unfair to suggest that these feelings might have had a psychological basis rooted in the despair of losing a loved one, except that they became manifest in certain physical realities that convinced me otherwise. Great mystical, and religious leaders have described visions and experiences of extrasensory events, so these ideas are not foreign to major religions. I am sure many readers have experienced phenomena that they found difficult to explain on the basis of five senses only. Precognition or the sense of knowing a future event is often reported, and may relate to something trivial ("I just knew that you were going to visit me today"). Of course basic probability calculations would suggest that sheer coincidence could account for many happenings deemed precognitive, and we likely forget the many times we felt something would happen yet nothing transpired. I believe that in this new century scientists, and others will start to unravel these mysteries, and even discover plausible mechanisms to explain paranormal events. We should not fear, or deride these investigations, as the search for truth shouldn't diminish or threaten your religious, and spiritual beliefs whatever they may be.

Disclaimer: The reference to Psychic in the post title does not constitute an endorsement by the author for any commercial, or other psychic services. I do not use such services, and readers should make an independent decision as to whether these services have any value to them.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blog Advertising

Do you hate seeing advertisements on Blogs? Do you think it is an affront to honest posting? Are some forms of advertising OK? Do you have advertising on your Blog? Would advertisements for other Blogs fall into the same category?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

StarBucked at StarBucks

This was the order (more or less) from a lady I stood behind at an ever cheery, Starbucks cafe. "I'll have a grande, double espresso, decaf, low fat, caramel macchiato, with extra foam, brewed at 180 degrees centigrade, topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a dollop of whipped cream."

Not only did she snap this order out like a drill sergeant, but repeated it again because the cashier didn't catch it all on the first run. After hearing it, the cashier didn't give the slightest hint of irritation, indignation, or surprise as she recited this lengthy order back for the brew master (is that the right term?). No offense to any finicky java drinkers out there, but have we become so bloody inundated with minutiae, and choices that even ordering a beverage becomes a complex, itemized, shopping list? Now don't get me wrong, the lady had every right to order whatever beverage Starbucks could whip up for her, and variety is the spice of life, but somehow this seemed a little over spiced to me. Not to mention the lengthy line of customers behind her. So much for my attempts at zen like patience and tolerance I guess.

I hate to admit it openly, but I like Starbucks espresso coffee drinks even though the prices might be called outrageous. On the other hand, there are the disappearing rain forests, and the poor under paid coffee farmers. So you see it is a guilty, ambiguous pleasure, and that creates a schizophrenic feeling as I enjoy my Starbucks brew. Somehow they have managed to develop a cult like clientele, and perhaps we need to be saved from their clutches by an intervention. Last night I had the scissors in position over my Starbucks card, but with coffee withdrawal taking hold and my hands shaking I just couldn't go through with it. One solution to save money and help the environment would be to buy organically grown coffees, and brew your own drinks at home, but somehow that's just not the same. Any coffee addiction treatment centers out there? Check out this page at The Aesthetic if you find yourself asking just
why do people hate Starbucks?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Howling at the Full Moon

"Fly me to the moon and let me sing among the stars... Let me see what life is like on Jupiter and Mars" "Blue moon, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart" "Dancin' in the moonlight everybody feelin' warm, and right"
"I see a bad moon rising"...

That full moon is right out there now. I hope you can see it. Gaze at it for some time if you're able, slow your breathing down, meditate, a slight quiver runs down the spine, a little spooky that ol moonshine... That moon has witnessed many harsh lands and deeds, it's staring back at you, tempting you, enticing you. Mysterious and haunting, cold and unforgiving... you want to capture it, possess it... Read On!

Moon mythology permeates the culture. We speak of lycanthropy and vampirism as though there might be a ring of truth. We speak of more crime, aggression, suicide, disasters, accidents, sleep walking, supposedly all agitated by the full moon. Alas, the skeptics and science have dispelled these myths when analyzed by hard, cold evidence, and statistics, so the nurses, psychiatrists, and police should surely put their fears of the full moon to rest I suppose..., but just take another look out at that full moon, and try to convince yourself that it has absolutely no effect on human affairs or behavior. That old moon may still have some secrets for us after all.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Funky Wise Owl

"The wailing owl Screams solitary to the mournful moon." - David Mallet, Excursion

The Owl here was created with Adobe PhotoDeluxe software, and is a modified photo of a native soapstone carving purchased at the Cowichan Native Village in Duncan B.C. Unfortunately I do not have the carvers name. This will be my profile photo for now, as the Owl symbolizes many qualities in the spirit world (wisdom, mystery, knowledge, religious beliefs), and I hope any night Owls out there will appreciate it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Poll Update

Thanks to everyone who has voted in the best President poll so far. As of this post and time Bill Clinton has a significant lead followed by Ronald Reagan. Of course the voting sample is not statistically significant at this point, at least between the front runners. Why Bill Clinton?

Perhaps his attempts at addressing social reform left their mark, and the economy certainly thrived during his administration despite the ultimate market crash partly relating to the Internet/dotcom bubble popping. This may show that citizens will forgive personal and moral indiscretions far quicker than they will domestic or foreign policy gaffs of significant magnitude a la Bush. Bill could also play a pretty mean saxophone. Many Canadians also seemed to have an affinity for Clinton and vice versa, but I'm not sure what that means in the final analysis (personally my favorite President is Jimmy Carter because I think he was and is a great person, although I would confess to some ignorance regarding how well he rated as the Chief). I plan to keep the poll (in the prior post) open for at least a few more weeks to see if the early trends continue, and to establish more valid results. Of course the results might be different if the votes were restricted to U.S. internet addresses. Keep the votes coming in as I think the results might lead to some good discussions.

The following excerpt is from a discussion about a presentation called "Personality traits of U.S. Presidents" by Stephen J Rubenzer et al.

"It may come as no surprise that the research shows that most modern presidents are clearly extraverts. However, the data indicates that the early presidents scored below average on this factor. Does that mean that presidents are becoming more extraverted, or that the entire population has become more extraverted? The researchers say their data can't answer that question, but "given the increasing role of the media in presidential elections, the more plausible explanation is that the change is limited to the presidents and not the general population."

What makes a good President?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Best U.S. President

Do you have a favorite President? Do you think he was the best one in the last few decades? Let us know by voting below, and then view the up to date poll results. Please leave a comment if you would like to explain why your choice is the best. The current President might win an approval poll, but how does he stack up with recent Presidents?

Who would you rate as the best U.S. President?
George Bush Jr.
Bill Clinton
Ronald Reagan
George Bush Sr.
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Richard Nixon

Free polls from

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Coffee Cats

It's not much of a stretch to say that we are a coffee crazy society. Caffeine fuels the daily buzz of commerce, and you can't really be a tech geek without an espresso addiction. Have you ever seen a coffee withdrawal rage? It's truly a scary sight, often associated with bleeding from the nostrils and frothing at the mouth (non whipped), so buy your damn espresso drinks fast, and don't make others wait too long in the Starbucks line. If you do wait too long in line it's called getting Starbucked. There are more coffee varieties, blends, and brews made from the beloved beans than ever before along with innumerable cafes dotting the city landscapes. You can see three Starbucks cafes in the same city block and you have to wonder what the marketing strategy is, but who would argue with their success? Just check the history of their stock price, and annual revenues from across the world. Coffee drinking is truly a viral phenomenon, so of course there has to be a coffee out there that boggles the imagination in terms of origin and price.

There is one type of very rare, expensive coffee called Kopi Luwak that has some connoisseurs turning their heads. The next time you say that a cheap cup of java tastes like crap you probably won't be talking about Kopi Luwak, but actually that wouldn't be far from the truth. That's because Kopi Luwak is made from the digested, and excreted coffee beans deposited on the jungle floor by the Luwak, a small, "cat like", marsupial also known as the parodoxurus, or common palm civit resident in Indonesia. These animals climb the coffee trees, and eat only the ripest coffee cherries. In the process of digesting an outer shell the inner coffee bean remains intact, and apparently the enzymes in the civit's stomach add extra flavor to the bean through fermentation. The resulting coffee or "poopachino" purportedly has a heavy body, and a strong, musty (?something to do with anal gland secretions), caramel taste with a complex and unusual flavor. At prices of up to $300 U.S. per pound you probably won't see it on the shelves at your local grocery store any time soon, but a few commercial coffee shops are starting to take notice.

The Luwaks used to be considered a nuisance or pest in Indonesia, and that put their lives at risk, so perhaps coffee production has actually helped a species survive and thrive for once. It would seem that small treasures can be found in unusual places and under strange circumstances just like picking a few beans up off the jungle floor for a cup of java. There must be secret laboratories somewhere working feverishly to chemically duplicate the civit's natural fermentation process so that cheap, similar tasting, synthetic Luwak coffee can be brewed. Coming to a Starbucks near you!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Paris Hilton?

Alright. I have now made some forty odd posts on this barely born, blog trying to find its way. However, it is somewhat sad, comical, and ironic that an earlier, brief, silly post on Paris Hilton has generated the most comments for any one post on this Blog. I realize that how widely a post is read may not be reflected in the number of comments left, but so far the small sample here would indicate that controversy, fluff, and pop icons do create interest. I bow to the power of Paris, however I hope the majority of posts published here will stick to substance. Gotta leave the ego out of it.

Autumn and Hockey

In this part of the world the leaves are nearly off the trees, and there is a chill in the night air even after a pleasant fall day. Summer is becoming a distant memory, and students are busy trying to get their bearings after starting a new semester or grade. After a long hiatus and lock out based mainly on player/owner greed professional hockey is back in town. I thought the fans might show their frustration by sitting out a few games, but the first Oilers game was a sell out. On the other hand the presence of professional hockey in a smaller market such as Edmonton is a big economic boom for many businesses, and arguably important to the community in that sense. As for me, professional hockey is something I can do without, although I will continue to take my uncle to the odd game since hockey is steeped into his blood. My uncle played it, coached it, and lived through the glory days of hockey before sound bites, steroids, million dollar trades, and ridiculous ticket prices. Hockey is a great game, but you don't need to see the professional version of it to enjoy a great spectacle. There are great amateur games around, but even there the lure of future professional contracts has corrupted some of the action. There have been games where there are more fights between parents in the stands than players on the ice, coaches heaping abuse on their own or competing players, and referees attacked all in the name of competition. Heck, I think I'll stick to playing a little shinny in the alley with a few buddies!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Karaoke Krazy

Apparently there has been a recent upsurge in the sale of Karaoke machines across North America. It would seem that much of this is attributable to the ever popular American Idol television show, and that is likely true, but one can't overlook the availability of many new and cheap Karaoke machines of reasonable quality that make it easy to try your vocal skills. The new machines have better sound quality, and utilize a variety of media formats including graphic CDs, and DVDs that will display the song words on a built in monitor or television screen. Computers can be rigged up as Karaoke machines, and there are games such as Karaoke Revolution for PlayStation 2 that score a player based on their pitch, rhythm, and timing. So for those of us who only sing in the shower, and secretly believe they could perform well in public if given half a chance it may be time to give Karaoke a try. I tried it recently, and while belting out a particularly high note our cat looked at me wide eyed with ears back, and then shot out of the room in terror. Every ones a critic I guess. SUTS would like to hear about your adventures in Karaoke, and any tips for beginners would be great!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Anger Management II

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
-Albert Camus

In keeping with the theme of the last post here are ten thoughts previously compiled by David A. Willson:

1. Accept that most things in the world are out of your control.
2. Accept that it is your choice to get angry about those things.
3. No one makes you angry.
4. Life is unfair. Waste no energy lamenting or trying to change that fact.
5. No one likes to be around an angry person. No one feels like helping an angry person.
6. So why be angry? Maybe you really don't want your problems solved. Maybe you just want to complain and wail and gnash your teeth.
7. Take stock of yourself. What do you want?
8. You should smile more. Your face won't break.
9. Anger is a weed; hate is the tree. -St. Augustine
10. Anger makes a rich man hated and a poor man scorned. -Thomas Fuller