Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Richard Dawkins Lecture: Queerer Than We Suppose

I heard a good portion of this lecture on Mothercorp last week. Quite fascinating. Biology and physics. Not much of the anti-god stuff. I include it here because I am so glad to have found it through Digg. I was seriously considering ordering the recording from Mothercorp. And I still might. This video is 23 minutes long. The Mothercorp program was 60 minutes (which included some questions at the end.) Maybe Dawkins has more than one version of the lecture.

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Sam the Record Man Closes Down

The flagship store of Sam the Record Man is closing down in old Hawgtown. A victim of modern technology. Ain't nobody buyin' CDs hardly anymore. How can even an institution like Sam's keep up?

Of course, I feel as if I'm solely responsible for the demise of this landmark. I just didn't shop there enough. (I have an excuse now, squirreled away in the Yoni School as I am for god knows how much longer...) In fact, hardly at all. Even when I lived in Hawgtown.

Still, in the misty days of my youth, Sam's was Mecca. Music Mecca. You would go in there and just wish you had a pot full of money cuz there was so much to buy. You could hardly decide where to start. All that music! Anything you wanted! Amazing prices! (In those days, some of the prices were amazing. Later, as Sam's became a chain, the prices became amazingly homogenized with the rest of the industry...)

I bought my first Steely Dan album there. I bought records there on my honeymoon. (Yessss, I had a honeymoon. It was short. I still have the records.) I bought an album by a loony called Screamin' Lord Sutch who drove around in a Rolls Royce painted as a Union Jack. Crappy album, really, but Lord Sutch could afford to pay guys like Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and Nicky Hopkins to back up his screams. How could you not buy it? 99 cents.

Will I miss Sam the Record Man? Probably not. Will I remember? Definitely.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Link Love Logo Identified

OK, the mystery she has been solved. Thanks so much to MarkK who left a comment on my earlier post. He didn't have his lawyers send me a "cease and desist" letter, so I guess it's OK to use the pitcher, eh?

I promised link love for the originator of the pitcher, so here goes. MarkK manages 3 blogs. I must admit that I didn't read them in depth. Geez, I barely have time to read my own in depth! But I checked em all out. Each one has items of interest for eclectic readers. The LinkLove graphic appeared in The Next Post, which is a blog about blogging, and other things that interest Mark. Common Sense With Mark K focuses more intently on blogging and internet thingies. And finally WiredHound Blog is a more of a mix of topics, video, travel, what he calls buzz and trends.

Now you all go and look at MarkK's blogs and spread that link love.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Common Thread Community Chorus of Toronto

8th ANNUAL CONCERT with Special Guest, Eve Goldberg

Saturday, May 26th, 2007 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.




Email: info(at)commonthreadchorus(dot)ca


A few days ago, the Song of the Day was a tune called Dégénérations, which HWSRN has been practicising for this concert with the choir mentioned above. He insists on coming to the Yoni School to practise. He says the po-tree in the air, wayward or not, is inspirational. It gives flight to his fingers. (Some days it gives flight to my sanity...but then, who's complaining? Three squares a day, as much TV as I can stand, the company of eccentrics, wayward eccentrics...what more could I ask for.)

Anyway, he's been practising. I've been driven mad. Can't get the song out of my head. Over and over. And over.

Did I mention over and over?

Anybody, in the Toronto area. Go to the concert. There you will see HWSRN, playing his accordeen, along with a standup bass player, fiddle and bodhran. The choir, not professional, (it's a community choir) is pretty good, says HWSRN, and led by a very good woman named Isabel Bernaus. All the people are very nice. They create lots of positive vibes.

And the Lord knows Hawgtown needs all the positive vibes it can generate.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Adolphe Finally Gets Some Sax

Believe it or not, it was on this day in 1846 that Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone. It had already been around for several years, but he only got around to making it official, I guess, in 1846. Naturally, others attacked his patents and actually drove him into bankruptcy twice...hmmm...seems like things haven't changed much in 160 years. Owning a patent guarantees neither that you are right nor rich.

But just think...
Without him, no Charlie Parker.
No John Coltrane.
No Clarence Clemons!

Here's a photo of Adolphe Sax busking in front of his birthplace in Dinant, Belgium. People who know him say he's a cold, hard man...doesn't talk much.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Update on "Larry's Head in the Clouds"

Ain't the blogosphere a marvellous thing, eh? A while back I asked for some help to turn my label/tag list into a label cloud. Sure enough, a couple people responded. (Which is pretty good, I think, considering that some days only two people actually read Mental and HWSRN.)

Static Brain found my post, God knows how cuz she didn't say, but left me a link to Phydeaux3 which has step by step instructions to change the Blogger template and the code you need to do it.

Now, I have this private blog which I use to test new stuff sometimes, so I tried it on there. The cloud worked, except that pieces of the code showed up at the top of the page. So I hesitated. I was leery. Not Timothy Leary, only Somewhat Leery (Timothy's naked half-brother.)

Finally, I just decided to try it out on Mental Blog (since you can preview it without actually setting it in stone (or bits or bytes or whatever this electronicity is set in...) And, by Gawd, it worked! Like a charm.

So now I have my Label Cloud. It's very sparkly. I still don't understand the code, although there are other instructions on the Phydeaux3 page to tweak things if you want. But I did figure out...all by myself...what line to edit that would change the title of the Cloud. I've called it "Cloud-Hidden Whereabouts Unknown" which is the title of a book by Alan Watts, and also a couple of lines in a song by Van Morrison about Alan Watts called, not surprisingly, Alan Watts Blues.

So anyway, thanks to Static Brain for the tip, and also to John Gillespie at Sensitivity to Things, who provided code which looks to me like something which will let me insert an image of my choice in the sidebar. I haven't tried that yet. I'll play with it on the test blog first.

And with this post, I'm introducing a new category to put in the clouds, Link Love, as you can see by the graphic above. I stole that graphic from somebody's blog and I can't remember who, so if you recognize it or if it's yours, let me know. I'll make more Link Love.

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Possible Epitaph #5

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Song of the Day

A song that HWSRN is trying to learn for an upcoming concert with Common Thread Community Chorus in Hawgtown, May 26/07.

More on this later, perhaps.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Parti Québécois Loses 2 Leaders in One Week

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles DeSeat is known as an excellent debater. "Of course, I'm an excellent debater..." he often says. Here, he is shown defeating himself in debate:

GD: Should I run for PQ leader? Yes I think I should. (May 11/07)
GD: Non, I think you should stay in federal politics. Remain leader of the BQ.
GD: I really think my nation needs me. These Québeckers, they are so confused.
GD: You think the Québeckers are confused? Are you not a member of a federal parliament that is paying you to be a separatist?
GD: Sorry, I forgot. OK, I will stay as BQ leader. (May 12/07)
GD: Non, you should become leader of the PQ.
GD: Please, I cannot make up my mind. Do you think maybe I should instead become General Manager of the Canadian National Hockey Team? Dat way I could choose any captain I want.
GD: I think you should abdicate all responsibility and give it to a woman. How about dat Mare-wha? woman?
GD: Mare-who?
GD: Non, Mare-wha?!
GD: OK, OK, I will stay as BQ leader. B comes before P. Besides, a woman should lead the nation out of confederation. Dat way they cannot always blame it on the men.
GD: Oui, and she probably knows how to make up her mind too.

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I've Just Joined My Own Community!

One thing you can say about doesn't discriminate. You can join any old community you like, even your own. Here's the message that was in my Inbox this morning. (Fortunately it wasn't out of my inbox or I never would have found it. Or in my Outbox...if it had been in my Outbox that would have meant I'd already read it...which I hadn't. And then I'd start worrying that somebody was reading my mail and you never can be too careful these days. Especially here in the Yoni School where everybody is so damn nosy and in fact it's part of the job description to make clandestine attempts to read everybody else's mail even when it's marked Top Secret and encrypted and passworded and has a skull & crossbones on it where the skull figure is sticking his tongue out at you just daring you to try and slip one past him and somebody usually does because we're nothing if not devious here at the Yoni School where Wayward Poets pass the time dreaming up new flights of imagination as if the mail were only an excuse to create po-tree...)

Umm...the email from MyBlogLog:
Hi LarryKeiler!
Part of what makes MyBlogLog so special is our ability to automatically add you
to communities in which you have shown a repeated interest. We have just added
you to the following communities:

1) Mental Blog

Bonus -- The "Hot in My Communities" box on your My Home page will keep getting
better and better with each community you join.

Note: If you decide one or more of these communities is not for you, simply
visit that community's page on MyBlogLog and click the "Leave Community" button.

Rock on,
See, when you join MyBlogLog your member's settings allows you to set how many visits you make to a particular site before you automatically become a member of that community. Mine are set at the default...10. So this email means that I've visited Mental Blog at least 10 times from my MyBlogLog home page.

Why would I do this? I don't know. Maybe I haven't been doing it! Maybe it's whoever has been reading my mail! Maybe it's Nurse Ratchet...looking for ways to extend my stay at the Yoni School. She really has it in for me! Maybe it's Suzy Homemaker! Or LaLaLeo! OMG maybe it's CosmiCat! She's always trying to get into my room...even when I'm there!

I can't help thinking of Groucho Marx, who said he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a member...
I've looked. Groucho Marx is not currently a member of the Mental Blog community. Karl isn't either. What does that mean? Should I resign from my own community? I mean, I know Karl said "Bloggers of the World Unite!" but I don't think he meant unite with yourself! Doesn't it look sort of stupid when you go to the "View All My Communities" page on MyBlogLog and you see there that Mental Blog is a member of the Mental Blog community? In fact, it's sitting there right up in first place! How vain ist das?

Did I just slip into German? Oh man, I'm really losing it...I'm not supposed to let anyone know I have a slight familiarity with German...Affecting an accent is OK, but if they think you actually know the language, then they start jabbering at you and you have to stand there slack-jawed and perplexed until they're done and then finally admit that you haven't got the slightest idea what they were just saying and could they please repeat that in Mandarin or Sanskrit and when they do you have to repeat the whole charade again because you don't understand Mandarin or Sanskrit either...

Well, I'm just so worried now. The email says RockOn at the end. What do they mean by that? Do they think I'm old or something? Like "old rockin' chair's got me..."? Do they think I'm a geologist? Oh God, I hope not. Anything but a geologist! I'll even let them call me Officially Wayward as long as they don't make me be a geologist.

Please! Tell me what to do! Is there anyone else out there who has inadvertently joined their own community? Probably not. I'm probably the only one who's ever done this. That would be typical. Typical Larry Keiler. Can't even join a group without joining himself. Well, at least there's somebody he knows in the community.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another Bloody Widget

OK, so one day I was on Billy Warhol's site and there was music playing. I've lusted to have music...maybe...on Mental Blog for some time. So I asked Billy how he did that and he steered me to a service called finetune.

But I've been hesitating, cuz I find that I'm usually annoyed when music appears unexpectedly on a website. I don't even necessarily like it when I'm on a "musical" website. So I wasn't too sure about this.

Well, I decided to give it a try. Why? Because it appears that the finetune embedded player doesn't start automatically. You actually have to click on it. Now, that I like. It means that you, dear reader won't be assaulted without warning by someone else's idea of a good song. Unless you want to be.

So, while I'm composing this post, I'm listening to the playlist I created. finetune lets you create a playlist of 45 songs. You can choose any artist (in their catalogue) but only 3 songs from each artist. Every time you choose an artist, a list of "related" artists appears. I guess the idea is to help you have some sort of consistency.

I'm not entirely sure it worked in the case of the playlist which is currently embedded on Mental Blog. Of course, you can edit the playlist, but only within certain parameters. For example, there doesn't seem to be any way to change (or even choose) the order in which the songs play. Oh well, it's free ain't it? And legal too.

So, I've called the embedded player Another Bloody Widget and it's down right at the bottom of the sidebar. Click on it to hear the rather wonky selection of tunes, mostly from the 70s and 80s because, ultimately, Larry is a nostalgic SOB. And don't forget, if you clicked on it, you asked for it.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Buy a Book? Bring Photo ID

Get this!

Suzy Homemaker ordered a book from Chapters. It's in. It's paid for. In order to get it, she has to produce photo ID.

For a book. That's paid for.

I expect next we'll need financial documentation to buy coffee at TimHo's.

I answered the phone here at the Yoni School, cuz Nurse Ratchet's out having her bunions trimmed. I didn't mention to the young woman from Chapters, never mind photo ID, Suzy needs a notarized visa from the Mystery of Correctional Services just to get to Chapters!

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A Quarter for Your (Paranoid) Thoughts

Really, this is too much!

AP reported yesterday that some visiting US Army contractors spotted an outlandish coin while travelling in Canada, and they considered it to be so suspicious that they filed espionage reports about it.

The suspicious coin turned out to be the one shown here, the famous (only in Canada, you say?) "Poppy" quarter, the first colourized coin in the world.

It caused quite a sensation (only in Canada, you say?) when it was issued in 2004, because the government chose TimHo's to be the main distributor of the coin...proving once again that Canajuns really are all TimHoes.

I don't like to be too critical but sometimes you just have to shake your head. We Canajuns are often astounded at the appalling ignorance of our Murrican neighbours to the south. You know, the home of Mom, apple pie and a Commie under every bed.

Especially if it's a Canajun bed. (Didn't some Yanqui senator call us the Republic of Canuckistan or something like that? Clever enough, and lots of Canajuns got a laugh out of it, but it was deliberately inflammatory. But never mind, quite a few loose-mouthed Canajuns are also guilty of that form of idiocy with regard to our Friendly Giant neighbours.)

The poppy is the symbol (only in Canada, you say?) of war remembrance and it is inspired by this pome, written by a Canajun, and proclaimed by the Arlington National Cemetery as "one of the most memorable war poems ever written". Arlington National Cemetery is, I believe, one of the better-known institutions in...where was that, now?...oh yeah, the Excited States of Murrica. (So that must mean that not all Murricans are appallingly ignorant, praise the Lord! and pass the ammunition...)

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Now, I don't expect the average Murrican to know this pome was written by a Canajun, or to know the pome at all, for that matter. It's a Canajun institution, for sure, and most Canajuns don't know all the words. But neither do I expect Murricans to come to Canada and proclaim, "Hmm, that's a mighty suspicious pome! We better test it to make sure it ain't gonna blow up!"

Which is what the US Army contractors did. (Or, rather, the Defense Security Service.) They suspected nano-technology! I suspect that nano-technology represents the size of the intellects involved.

What I want to know is: What the hell are US Army contractors doing in Canada anyway? I thought the war was somewhere else. What? Were these maybe a coupla Blackwater Boys on vacation in Niagara Falls, spending the combat pay they earned protecting VIPs in Baghdad? One of them buys a pack of gum and gets the quarter in his change? And, we Canajuns being so friendly (he wasn't being shot at by desperate Iraqis), he didn't realize he was in a furrin country where the money might be different?

And then, to compound the stupidity (and the arrogance) they label this coin a secret weapon that was somehow planted on them. In Canada. Which is the country that has had the longest-standing friendship with the US and is, in fact, an ally in that other adventure in Afghanistan. I ask you, should we be surprised when the US gets a bad reputation around the world? A nation that has considerable difficulty distinguishing between true friends and enemies.

Then again, maybe it was just four guys from Detroit on a weekend jaunt to the casino in Windsor who decided to play a practical joke on the Defense Department, just to see how far it would go...

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ego Sum: Fragments

ego, a mythical land
where the strata of history
weigh heavy
upon a base of airy nothings

what's another pottery shard
more or less...?
ah, but find the rosetta stone...

a craving for cinnamon-spiced coffee

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Instant Zen #1

Search your heart and see
Reality is only an agreement...
Today is always Today

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Stanley Cup Provides a Dharma Lesson

May 2, 1967.

That was the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens.

George Armstrong, the captain of the Leafs, scored on an empty net in the final minute of the game and the Leafs won, 3-1.

And today is the 40th anniversary.

I remember watching that game. I don't remember much about the game itself.

But here's what I do remember. We were all cheering for the Leafs. Hey, I'm from Ontariario. Back in those days, the Leafs were it. (Personally, I liked the Canadiens' colours better. A Montreal toque was way better than a Toronto one...But that would make me the opposite of the kid in Roch Carrier's story, The Hockey Sweater...) Drive anywhere in southern Ontariario when the Leafs are in the playoffs and you'll see that even now, the Leafs are still it. Even though they haven't won the cup in 40 years.

But I believe I mentioned something about a Dharma teaching. Well, here it is. Naturally, we were all ecstatic when Armstrong scored that goal. The Leafs had clinched the cup! And beaten the Habs to do it, too! So there we were, all celebrating. TimHo celebrating. Bob Pulford. Johnny Bower. Frank Mahovlich. Terry Sawchuk. Armstrong. Ron Ellis. And us.

But then the camera panned across the Montreal bench. I never saw such a dejected-looking bunch of guys. Jean Beliveau especially.

I immediately felt sorry for them. Cuz they had worked their asses off. But somebody wins and somebody loses.

Now, we're taught that it's a cause of negative karma to rejoice in the misfortunes of others, or to wish them ill. It seems to me that's a fairly common practice in the world of competitive sports (and its fans.) But at that moment, I learned a dharma lesson, altho I didn't know that was what it was at the time. I could no longer rejoice over the Canadiens' loss. I could still rejoice over the Leafs' win, but now it was tempered by the knowledge that someone's joy could very well be someone else's disappointment.

And ain't that samsara all over?

(Note: the link up above is a Google video of the entire game. How cool is that? I haven't watched the whole thing, but maybe I will...I've also linked to it in Larry's Surfboard. The video is an hour and twenty-seven minutes long, but if you scroll to about one hour and nineteen, you'll see the final goal and its aftermath.)

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Song of the Day

As if I'm trying to prove my point. This was on my stereo yesterday and I woke up with the opening riff in my head. But this morning it actually took several minutes to "hear" it. Too sleepy maybe. Or else it's just that I'm so used to the musical noise that it becomes part of the background...? - Create custom images

(No's an instrumental.)

Mental Blog Repair 1

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