Tuesday

Earthquake Devastation

Well, the tallies are starting to come in on the damage caused by the earthquake that rocked the Ottawa-Montreal corridor last week. Thankfully there were no injuries. For most people in the area, the magnitude 5.0 earthquake was the largest they had ever felt. The damage was extensive.

The photo below was sent to me by a friend who witnessed the damage first-hand.

At first glance you may not want to believe it. But trust me, this is a real photo.



In all seriousness, the epicentre was 53 kilometres (33 miles) north of Ottawa. It was felt as far away as New York and Ohio. Not having experienced and earthquake before, many people in downtown Ottawa evacuated office buildings. 
According to the FEMA website, "Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave."

Natural Resources Canada indicates that the largest earthquake to ever hit Montreal took place in 1732 and was estimated at 5.8 on the Richter Scale. I also found this nifty map and list on their website, providing the locations of the ten largest earthquakes to hit Canada.


Date
Magnitude
Location
1/26/1700
9
Cascadia subduction zone, BC.
8/22/1949
8.1
Queen Charlotte Islands, BC.
6/24/1970
7.4
Queen Charlotte Islands, BC.
11/20/1933
7.3
Baffin Bay, Northwest Territories.
6/23/1946
7.3
Vancouver Island, BC.
11/18/1929
7.2
Grand Banks south of Newfoundland.
5/26/1929
7
Queen Charlotte Islands, BC.
2/05/1663
7
Charlevoix, Quebec.
12/23/1985
6.9
Nahanni region, NWT.
12/6/1918
6.9
Vancouver Island, BC.





Monday

Skills We Take For Granted

As I was putting on my shoes getting ready to go out the other night, it suddenly dawned on me, I am really good at tying my shoes. Listen, I'm not bragging. I'm sure you are good too.

After all these years of practice - I don't even have to look.


Sunday

Sunday Game of the Week - Elona Shooter

Elona Shooter is not your run of the mill Flash game. Your charge is to defend your castle against the waves of marauding warriors, dragons, suicide bombers, mice, giant spiders and chickens. Yes. Chickens. Have mercy!
What makes this game most intriguing is the ever increasing difficulty at every level. It gets frakkin' hard.
It is a castle defense game with some RPG thrown in. Earn gold and action points to build castle, character and weapon upgrades. You can start off solo or with one team member and build your crew as you increase experience. One tip, I tend to start with the Hunter class. I like the crossbow weapon.

Elona Shooter

Addictive? It just may be. I've been playing this off and on for some months. Your progress in Elona Shooter is automatically saved as you go, enabling you to stretch your game out over days, or months. An original take on an old idea. Elona Shooter will fulfill your shoot to kill needs.

Saturday

Batman Fan Film

Already over 312,000 views, this Batman fan film was made out of love and $27,000.00 by Aaron Schoenke and Sean Schoenke. Batman: City of Scars. Better than most of the earlier 90s Batman films, City of Scars is worth viewing.

"When the Joker escapes from Arkham and murders the parents of a young boy, Batman recalls the pain of losing his own parents as a child."


CITY OF SCARS par Batinthesun

Batman

Zee Avi

Zee Avi
Zee Avi is one of those artists discovered via YouTube. She released her debut album in May 2009 and is now touring with Lilith Fair. Hearing her the first time I immediately thought of an upbeat Cat Power.

From her website:
"Zee Avi is just 23 but she's an old soul. A huge talent in a petite frame bringing a universal message from the unlikely birthplace of Borneo... With an eclectic pool of influences that range from such eccentrics as Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits..."

Here is I am Me Once More.

Fail Blog

I pay a weekly visit to Failblog (dot org). I always laugh. The pictures items fall under the category of epic product planning fail. Is that a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle you have there God? When oh when will they reveal what actually happened behind the Iron Curtain?

epic fail- Product Fail Spree
see more Epic Fails

epic fail- Product Fail Spreee
Failblog
see more Epic Fails

Wednesday

Ikea - Lacking Common Sense

You do your part, we do our part. I was going to call this post The Staff at Ikea are a Bunch of Fuckers. But I cannot necessarily blame the staff for the rigid corporate bullshit and red tape that has to be followed. Hence the title.

I took advantage of a day off from work and went to Ikea. I need to update my furniture and Ikea has always been a convenient place to get inexpensive furnishings. After eating most of my meals in front of the TV set I figured it was time to get a new table. I want a table that doesn't wobble. I also need a sturdy bookshelf. I have a ton of books and not enough shelves on which to store them.

If you have been to Ikea before you know it is a cavernous building with hundreds of rooms sectioned off to give it a homey and warm feeling. I walked through the store, took my notes, and examined each piece that interested me. I verified the measurements and moved on to the next room.
Before leaving I made sure to ask about delivery charges. There is not enough room in my car and just one of the boxes I was to purchase weighed in at 140 pounds (63.5 kg). The kind lady at the counter informed me that charges are $65.00 for delivery. Extra charges apply for more than 20 boxes.

Here's where the problem starts. I did not make the purchase. I went home.

Once arriving chez moi I browsed the Ikea website. I confirmed to myself that this was a good choice and the right purchase and I completed the order.
After I put my credit card through, Ikea added $99.00 plus tax for delivery charges. I did not pass the 20 box limit so it should still be $65.
Something is wrong here.

I called Ikea. The first guy I spoke to said it is $65 in store and $99 online. I have to pay for the convenience of shopping online. Convenience? According to the timer on my phone I've been on hold for 29 minutes. There is nothing convenient about this. He puts me back on hold so that he can transfer me to customer service.

For every minute I wait I know I will become exponentially more aggressive with the person who answers.
It won't be convenient for the person I speak to.

47 minutes in, (I have a speaker phone so I was able to do other stuff while I waited) I was finally transferred to customer service. Customer Service lady then explains to me, after the fact, the benefits of completing the order online instead of the store. Wrong play on her part. I now know there is a difference in "convenience" in shopping online compared to in-store.
I did not know it before they charged my card. And I had not seen any evidence of this so called convenience prior to them charging my card. Or after.

The representative’s offer to me was to keep the order or cancel the order. To which I replied "You are telling me take it or leave it?" For some reason she wouldn't answer.
I was not getting any satisfaction so I told her to transfer me to her supervisor.

No go. I was told specifically; her supervisor will not take the phone and would tell me the same thing.
I insisted she escalate the matter and she put me on hold for a tolerable two minutes, coming back to tell me her supervisor was not available. She would however give me the option of cancelling the order. I replied by asking her if it is in the best interest of the company to cancel my order without resolving the complaint? Again no answer.
She repeated that she did escalate my concerns and told me a supervisor would call me back within two to four days. I asked if she considers two days a reasonable delay. Again I was given a take or leave it option.
I cancelled the order.

Fast forward to today. I received a call from someone from the "Resolution" department. I was a little calmer today and I really tried to keep an open mind and listen to what the representative was saying.
She gave me a lot of the same crap. Mostly she kept repeating herself saying purchasing online is not the same as in store. I asked her for the purpose of her call as, while she did apologize four times she is repeating the conversation I had yesterday.

The mantra I heard over and over while I waited on hold yesterday was "At Ikea we work together to keep costs down. You do your part, we do our part. Together we save money for you."

My options were to go elsewhere, or go back to Ikea. My decision was based on two points. I can keep a chip on my shoulder but why inconvenience myself any further? And the purchase of a bookcase was my priority. I can easily find a dining room set at any number of stores. And I have to admit Ikea has great storage and shelving units.

I come from a world of call centres and customer service. I do not work the phones but I do receive the occasional escalated complaint or concern from clients. First you must listen to the problem, second, conduct your research, third, offer an explanation and /or an apology. The apology could simply be, I apologize for the confusion. In most cases the problem is resolved. My company had the forethought to empower myself and a couple of my colleagues to make decisions based on the company policy but also the needs of our clients.
The Ikea representatives by comparison were stuck on the acknowledgement portion of their speech. To be so rigid in your policies as Ikea is, so that customers walk away with such a bad taste in their mouth makes no sense. From here on end Ikea will not be my first choice. Why should I risk putting myself through this again?

15 Richest Fictional Characters

Forbes has been putting out an annual list of the richest Fictional characters. I have to admit I am not familiar with two of them. I haven't been following the Twilight series nor the Thomas the Train Series. Click the picture to go the article containing descriptions of each individual. Here are the richest fictional people of all time.

The Top Five
5. Jed Clampett
4.  Tony Stark
3.  Richie Rich
2. Scrooge McDuck
1. Carlisle Cullen

Monday

It's Gonna Be Norah Jones

Norah Jones
In a departure from her Jazzy earlier work and her later bluegrass releases (The Little Willies) Norah Jones newest disc takes her in a complete different direction. Always recognizable by her smooth and effortlessly sexy singing style her latest work, released at the end of 2009, sees Jones trading in the ivory keys for a six-string (well, except for the song below).
For those of you who were impressed by her vocals but found her music a little tame, you may be in for surprise. From the album The Fall It's Gonna Be.
Watch her perform it live


Did I mention I have a huge crush on Norah Jones?

                                                                                

Sunday

The Other Guys

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg coming to a theatre near you August 2010, here is the trailer for The Other Guys.


The Other Guys

Game of The Week - Super Text Twist

If you enjoy word games you will like this little time waster. Along the lines of Scramble this game requires you to spell out words from the available letters. Beat the clock by completing the list or find the six letter word to move on. The higher you go the more difficult it gets. Super Text Twist is a super word game.
click here -- Super Text Twist
Text Twist

Friday

Please Return My Dignity

I was a little angry yesterday. Today I am better. I had a beer. Now I'm drinking coffee. I will switch back to beer shortly. But in the meanwhile, let me tell you about something that will continue to be a regular theme for me. Toilets. And this is where my headline kicks in.

I work in a big office tower in downtown Montreal. Everyday at 3:15PM the cleaning crew scrubs down the bathrooms. If you time things just right, you get a nice clean bowl. If you don't time things right, the nasty lady from the cleaning crew stands there with the door wide open waiting for you to leave.

Okay, she is more clueless than nasty. How would you feel sitting in a closed stall with your pants around your ankles and the hallway door wide open? Got the image in your head? Now, same picture, but add a lot of fibre. It's a busy hallway. I would like a little privacy. And I get in trouble for hiding her cleaning cart.
Toilet Head

Thursday

Disaster in Montreal


Montreal Downtown Skyline

What can cause all the radio stations in Montreal to halt their regular programming? What can occur that would cause our local TV stations to lead off with the same breaking news story? What can happen that my entire staff stopped working to search the internet for more details on a news story?

Was there a plane crash? Was there a terrorist attack? Did the Olympic Stadium implode? Did the Decarie Expressway collapse? Did the ancient volcano beneath Mount Royal awaken? Did Montreal Island sink?

No. No to all of the above.

The city stopped dead in its tracks because the Montreal Canadiens hockey club made a trade.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak was traded by the Montreal Canadiens to the St. Louis Blues for two forwards. This event caused the city to stand still.

Is this an unprecedented event? Hell no. Do the Richard Riots ring a bell? Hear about Patrick Roy needing surgery? Or when Roy demanded a trade? What about the numerous times the city cordoned off the downtown core because the Canadiens won a playoff round? Oh, wait, sorry, that was a playoff game.

Montreal is a glorious city. It's cultural and entertainment scene is vibrant. Its sports history is rich and celebrated. Jackie Robinson played for the Montreal Royals. The first non-American based Major League baseball team was created here. Sugar Ray Leonard fought Roberto Duran. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups. We've won, we have celebrated. Yet the world stops when a goalie gets traded.

Where the hell was this passion when our right to speak our mother-tongue in the work place was taken away from us? What the hell did you do when you were told you could not send your child to an English school? What are you doing about it today?

On trade deadline day earlier this year a colleague of mine left work early telling his boss he wasn't feeling well. In actual fact, he was too upset to work because the Canadiens did not make a trade on deadline day.

How can so many people lose perspective? Our roads are failing. Our hospitals are failing. Only a grandfather clause allows me to send my kids to an English language school. I love hockey. I love my city. But this is fucking ridiculous.

Sunday

The A-Team does not disappoint

The A-Team 2010
This remake of the 80s TV series The A-Team may be an improvement over the original. After the cheesy 80s what else could you expect?
The A-Team 80s
Save for Rampage Jackson, the cast of Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley is a step up from the TV series. And of course there is Jessica Biel who is as beautiful as ever.

Rather then the Vietnam War set up; Iraq is where this team is framed for a crime they did not commit. The film is just short of two hours and you won’t be bored. Click here for the Trailer from the official site. 

Saturday

Free Online Games

Long before Mafia Wars came along, I got hooked on internet gaming. I do not like purchasing games as they do not hold my interest long enough to make it worth the purchase. After a month they usually end up in the junk drawer - I may make an exception when it comes to EA’s NHLWhile there are tons of games available, I was looking for hassle free sites. No registration, no pop-ups, no hidden links and above all, free to play.

I developed a particular interest in the Tower Defense genre. I do not remember which version came first. There are so many of them. Flash Element TD was the first that I discovered. The concept apparently comes from World of Warcraft III.

In the future I’ll list the best online games period. Here below are some of the best Tower Defense games. Not necessarily a Top Ten list. But these are some of the best and with which I didn’t mind wasting time.
Click the links in the titles to go to the games.

The first one that I became aware of. It’s basic and a whole lot of fun. Less strategy required than some of the later games.





The sequel is a whole lot different from the first. Smoother graphics, both the appearance and movement. Simpler in some ways.






This one will keep you busy for a long time. It has many levels and becomes increasingly difficult. You may need a walk-through. You will also need a fast computer for the higher levels. It is one of the best.


Cool. Really cool. Several versions, I prefer this original. Music is okay and not as offensive as most online games. Cool graphics. Like I said, cool.


There was something about this game that makes it one of the most fun. 
There are six missions, each tougher than the one before.

This is the original version. I thought it was goofy when I first saw it but ended playing it for a while. Several versions, see below.

Many options with this version of Desktop TD. This “Pro” version could keep you busy for hours.


If this is the first TD game you play you may like it. I am just throwing in because of the theme. I fell on it the other day. Nothing special and not original. Just hyping the Avengers and Iron Man theme. If you like Iron Man you may like this.















This one is a little different. Pick your Archer, Mage or Ninja. There are a couple different versions of Ultimate Defense. Nice looking board. Pretty to look at.

Wasn’t sure about this one at first. Quirky and amusing. I wouldn’t start on this one but after playing Desktop and some of the others you may like the change.


This one is relatively new and a little more advanced then the other games. Cursed Treasure is challenging and you will have to strategize throughout all the levels. I would place this in the Top Three.

That's it for today. I have to figure out where that smell in my fridge is coming from. If you are looking for hassle free sites, no registration, no pop-ups, no hidden links and above all, free to play, try to some of these game links. 


Thursday

My Friend Andy Had Sex

My friend Andy had sex. He did not tell me he had sex. He does not brag about having sex anymore. He told me that his wife is pregnant. She is due to give birth in December. I immediately started counting back nine months. Andy and his wife had sex in March.

My friend Pete told me that his wife is due in September. I congratulated him and pointed out that he had sex in December.

I do not think about them having sex. I do not picture them having sex. I know they had sex. Now, it is possible, and for their sakes likely, that this was not the only time they had sex. But I have no evidence of this aside from the claim of pregnancy. Therefore, and as far as I know, they had sex once.

None of my friends have ever come up to me and said, 'Hey, Ohara. My wife and I had sex quite frequently in the month of February and on one of those occasions I impregnated her."
No. They would simply say, "My wife is due in November."

Here is a little game. 
1- Write down your date of birth. 
2- Figure out how old you are. (The current year minus the date you were born.) 
3- Subtract nine months from that. 
4- The result? That is the approximate date your parents had sex.

I'm one of the last of my friends that is single, and looking. I do not have any children yet. I date. I have sex. But unlike in our teens I do not compare notes with the guys. I don't say to my friends, "I cooked a romantic dinner for her and we shared a bottle of wine. We had sex. It was fun. You should have been there."

At this point in our lives we do not advise our friends when we had sex. It's happened frequently enough over the last number of years that it isn't a surprise, and it is assumed. Something that we take for granted.
So my point perhaps, is just this. Let us no longer take it for granted.

So, the next time your friend, sister, mother or coworker tells you that they are pregnant, it is correct to respond in an accusatory tone, "You had sex."
From left to right:
 baby, stork.

Tuesday

It's a Boy! Or is it?

This may be silly but it keeps making me laugh. My neighbour put an ad up on the bulletin board in my building. She has a chair for sale. This is not any chair. This is a boychair. I think this is the same person who was trying to sell her studles winter tires.
 

Setting up a Blog

Setting Up a Blog in a few easy steps. Blogger? Check. Adsense? Check. Google Analytics? Check. Amazon Associates? Check. Twitter? Check. Facebook page? Check. Blog content, rants, and stories? Check. Blog Directory? Check. SEO optimization? Check? Readers? Readers? Um...

Saturday

Toilet Humour?

Why do people insist on not flushing? It’s a shocking and disturbing sight for which you are never ready. I do not need to know if you eat corn or enjoy spaghetti sauce. Using a public bathroom should be a simple task.

Squeeze – Wipe – Get Up – Flush. Or,
Aim – Shake – Flush.

Something else I must insist on. Do not try to shake my hand in the bathroom. Do not try before, during, or after. It is a bathroom, a place of privacy and pee.

Do not punch fists, and no chest bumps. You know what? Do not even talk to me. I do not believe in urinal talk. This is not the water cooler.

The usual personal space rule, although limited by bathroom area, increases tenfold when you are trying to urinate.
If you talk to me I will forced to make awkward jokes. You don’t believe me? Here is, word for word, a reenactment of a recent event at the urinal.

“Hey Ohara what’s new?”
“Not much,” I replied. “Just hanging out.”

Some things are better left unsaid. Maybe unread.


Yesterday, I was in the middle of a conversation with my boss when he decided to make a stop to take a leak. I had no choice; I had to follow him in.
He’s at the urinal; I am standing in middle of the bathroom floor. Do I look in the mirror? At the ceiling? Stare at his back? Okay, I will make eye contact. Oh no, too much eye contact. I make my excuses and wait in the hall.

Still don’t think urinal conversation is awkward?
Reenactment number B.

“How are you Ohara?”
“I’m fine but this porcelain sure is cold.”

The other day I was sitting in the stall catching up on my reading when the fellow, one stall over STANDS UP to wipe. When did this become the procedure? Why wasn’t I copied on the email?
Or better yet, how old are you? Four? Is this an exotic custom you picked up in travels to far away lands? Does he not understand the risk of collateral damage?! There is such thing as gravity. Things fall. Unless you have completely disrobed and laid newspaper across the floor you are putting us all at risk.

Is it normal to talk on the phone in the bathroom? Don’t you care what the person on the other end thinks of you? That little mic in your phone picks up a lot of noise and sound effects.
Still don’t care? Do you know that I try to make as much noise as possible when I know you are on the phone? I flush the toilet an extra time or two. I run the hand dryer longer. I try to fart louder.

Do you look at it before you flush? Well, I don't as a rule. I do not go out of my way. Do you care how big it is? If you look can you look one more time to make sure you flushed?