Merry Christmas

The kids all show up later today for our traditional Christmas Eve. Tomorrow they will be with their own families or with their spouses families, so we do Christmas Eve.  A smaller gathering this year, with no Mom, Eric or Chelsea. Cass and Dave are brining Finn, so he should easily fill the spaces.

Once again the weatherman has managed to give us 30 below for holidays.  Tomorrow night’s forecasted low is -32°.  Thank goodness for remote start!  We are changing thing up a bit for Christmas Day, going over to Kyle and Tara’s for supper.  First Christmas Day I had to get out of my pyjamas in many a year. Another new family starting their new traditions.

Hope your day is filled with friends and family and is happy.


Merry Christmas 


Goodbye my friend

I found out that a friend passed away today. Maybe not a friend by the standard definition. We did not hang out together. I never knew the name of his daughter. I don’t think I ever spent a minute with him that was not in one of our respective offices. He was a colleague and a customer.

Yet I find myself very saddened by the news. I enjoyed every moment I spent with him. If ever there was a man with joy in his heart it was him. Always a big smile. Always a joke to end the meeting. Even when he was grinding me on a price it was always with a “do it for the kids, Mel” and a twinkle in his eye.

He was a small island of sanity in a sea of conflicting priorities, lack of resources, and over-stressed coworkers all trying to meet seemingly unrealistic expectations. I always admired and appreciated his ability to make a quick decision and his tendency for expediency over politics.

So even though I am what others might consider to be only an acquaintance, I feel as though I lost a friend. Maybe everyone who ever met him feels the same.

October is Gadget Month

If I were to look back over the last few years it seems that October is gadget month for me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is that summer and all the yard work and running back and forth to the lake is done so I have extra time (and money) to find and buy stuff. Maybe it is that payroll taxes like CPP and EI premiums are maxed on and I have extra cash. Whatever the reason this year is no different.

Tonight I finished installing my swanky new Nest thermostat. It would have been last night except for the need to replace the old wiring. I ordered this prerelease a couple of months ago and it has been sitting on my dining room table for two weeks waiting for me to install it.

Self learning programming, motion sensing, Internet connected for remote management, it is the perfect gadget for me. I can’t wait to see how much it tells me I saved by having a night and away lower temperature program that actually works with our erratic bedtime schedule. Adjustable from an app on my iPad I can sit comfortably back on the couch and control the heat without getting up, leaving me more time to play with my other new gadget, the Harmony Touch remote, but that’s a story for another day.

Classic Someone Must Pay Scenario

Italy has never been an exemplar of cool headed thinking and calm rational response. They are more often categorized as hot blooded, emotionally driven. Case in point this week is the conviction of six scientists and a government official to six years in jail for failing to warn citizens of a 2009 earthquake.

They were convicted even though the prosecutor acknowledges that earthquakes are impossible to predict. Current models forecast the potential for an earthquake within a period of decades. Even if these scientists said that there was a 100% chance of an earthquake they could not say with any certainty when it would happen. What did the Italian court want them to do? Did they really think it would be reasonable to evacuate a region for ten, twenty, thirty or more years until something happened?

What if they scientists issued a warning that said there was a 90% chance of an earthquake happening in the next 8 weeks? Would they have evacuated then? If it did not happen, would the courts then be looking to hold the same six scientists financially accountable for economic impact of shutting a place down for several weeks?

The conviction is a travesty. Thousands of researchers, geologists, and other scientists and scientific organizations around the world are speaking up against this conviction and writing to Italy’s president to step in. For Italy’s sake let’s hope he does.

Prairie Morning

A cell phone shot of another beautiful September morning, this time on a drive to Lloydminster. Lots of early morning mist.  I wished I had time to stop and take more shots and I wished I had brought my camera.


We have had a fantastic autumn. The forecast for the rest of September is sunny with daytime highs in the low to mid 20′s celsius. The walk to work this morning was beautiful.

Early morning along Spadina Cresent
spadine phtot with captain: Early morning along Spadina Cresent

Comfort Architecture?

Do you think there is such a thing as comfort architecture?

There are many comforting things; soup, a fire in the fireplace, a down quilt. I guess anything that is linked to a warm memory can be called a comfort item. Even though I hated it as a kid, today the smell of Vicks Vap-o-Rub is a comforting thing for me.

I was sitting in the main mall at the hospital today and noticed the design. It so reminded me of the buildings at the university I went to. All that 60′s and 70′s preformed concrete, open centre, overhanging design that makes you think of Expo 67 in Montreal. Then it struck me! I felt good. My university days were happy times and I was feeling so at ease sitting there.

So what about you? Does architecture do it for you? Maybe your grandparents farm house, or the cottage design. Maybe the look of an old English pub. Must be a few of you out there or we would not have as many similar looking man caves as we do.

DNA Storage Media?

Holy Smokes!  Harvard University researchers have developed a method to encode binary data onto bits of DNA making DNA the densest, most stable storage media ever.  The approach they use is actually quite simple even if the enabling technology of DNA sequencing and synthesizing has taken years to develop and perfect.  When I read the article and watched this video I could help thinking of the computer in Star Trek.

Obviously this is a long way from being practical in any sense.  This work is research and I say very cool research.  If you read the comments on the article you will see lots of people slagging the work and pointing out all sorts of problems.  People who are poo-pooing this research completely missed the point and are incredibly short-sighted and just plain naïve.  Future advances in biochemical based information processing will solve many of the issues the naysayers point out.  Researchers will continue to look to nature for answers and they will find them.

Read up on it here

or better yet here.