Monday, June 30, 2003

Happy Canada Day!

Spine.cx wishes Canada a happy 136th birthday. To give people something to comment on, how are you spending your holiday?

Edit 07/02 0051h: Just got back from watching the fireworks. They sucked. But I did take some photos. The most interesting things I saw that night were this and this. And some lesbians. Wanted to get a photo of them kissing, but didn't want to be too conspicuous.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

At least we have our priorities straight

I thought, I'll test my theory of buying beer on Sunday and go down to the Cold Beer Store on Agricola Street. It was closed. But wait! There's a sign telling me to go down to Water Street to the Keith's brewery store. To the Stevemobile! I park and walk in, and there is a line up of no less than 50 people in front of me.



I see some curious sights. I meet some cute chicks, and talk to them whilst in said line. We bitch together about the state of affairs and how long it is taking us to get through to the cashier. This guy is trying to stuff a 2-4 into his backpack to ride home on his bike. Humerous.

Although I'm sure that being Canada Day weekend, this was the exception rather than the rule, maybe this will convince the powers-that-be that being able to buy alcohol on Sundays would not be a bad thing. Surely there are enough people interested in the idea to make it worthwhile.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Some people are just weird

This actually happened a couple of days ago, but I forgot to mention it on the site. Something today jogged my memory. Anyway, I'm in a restaurant, and I finishing my meal, and this guy at one of the nearby tables is in the same boat. He's just getting served his coffee. Everything is normal up to this point, but just you wait.

He opens the sugar packet lengthways. What. The. Fuck. I simply do not understand this man's process of reasoning. It couldn't have been a fluke, because I saw him do it to more than one packet. How do you maintain flow control with such a large opening? I mean that's why they make them rectangular; so you can open the small end. Otherwise they would make them square, like a throw pillow.

I think he was a closet anarchist.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

What's there to do in Halifax in the fall?

Christine writes: "This coming October (I know, it's pretty far away) I will be travelling out east with some friends. We are heading to Cape Breton for the Celtic Colours Festival but on our way back are hitting Halifax. From what I hear about your wonderful city it's a great place to go on a pub crawl. I'd like to go on an organized crawl, so we wouldn't be alone. I hear Halifax has such tours. I found your site but it seems we will be way late for your crawl but do you have any suggestions for me? I would so so so so so much appreciate any info you could offer."

Do it up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Why do I always get the crazy ones?

All I wanted to do was get some groceries. I finish going through the isles and head up to the checkout with my cart full of goodies and hope to be on my way fairly soon. Unfortunately the cashier apparently has other plans. She tells me about how she really regrets being an only child and how her friend got beaten up in university, but she had a big sister who came to her rescue (big sis played rugby). Then she tells me about how the population at large is part of a growing conspiracy to steal her pens and she shows me the one currently tethered to her belt. This girl is nuttier than trail mix. "They're not getting this one! Huhhuh!" she chortles. And I believe her. I wouldn't go near that pen with someone else's ten-foot-pole. Thankfully she only makes me sign the credit card slip with the pen that she's woven a cover for out of yarn bearing her name.

Next time, I'm going to pretend I'm mute.

Don't even get me started about taxi drivers. Most of the time, when I get in a taxi, I just want to be driven to where I want to go and get out when I get there. I'm not hiring them for conversation. If I want that, I'll go buy some groceries.

I realize these people are mostly just trying to be polite, and in some cases trying to garner a larger tip, but chances are, I'm happy sitting in my cone-of-silence and just want to be left alone. If I'm taking a cab, chances are I'm drunk anyway. I don't think I'd make very good conversation at that point.

I think people in these positions should leave it up to the customer whether they should engage in conversation, which is really just meaningless banter about the weather, sports, or current events anyway. It'll save them the headache of talking to someone who gives only marginal responses, and it'll save me the headache of giving marginal responses.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Ownership of Montreal Grill

The ownership of the Montreal Grill (the restaurant in the basement of the Bank of Montreal building on Hollis & George) has changed hands. It is now owned by the Greek couple that owned the Soup'er Sandwich a few years back. They have promised to bring back Souvlaki Thursdays. I was planning to put a menu in this article, but they don't really have one that I could take and scan.

Consider this a P.S.A. Go down there and show them some business.

Saturday, June 7, 2003

TABU: Forbidden Fruit

Here is the second review of an alcoholic beverage ever done on Spine.cx. I'm not doing Baja Tango, like I said I would, basically because I didn't feel like drinking that stuff right now. I was buying some beer (Keith's has the 15-packs back for the summer), and this stuff in a curious metal bottle caught my eye. It's called TABU (complete with weird backwards and upside down letters and a funny accent over the upside down 'U'. Don't tell me I'm going to find that one in the ASCII chart :)

Despite the obvious puns I could make with the name 'Forbidden Fruit', I'm going to try and make this a serious review and give this beverage some thought.

So, anyway, the metal bottle is what inticed me to buy this. They sell it in individual 500 ml bottles for $3.95. It's 7.0% alcohol by volume. The main alcoholic ingredient is vodka. It has a bottlecap, which I thought was kind of strange. I expected a screw-off plastic cap for this kind of drink. From the look of it, it strikes me as a cooler-style of beverage.

Oh well, here we go. First impressions: It smells a bit like grapefruit or some kind of fruity punch...Definately some grapefruit in there. Tastes like candy...a little too sweet. This drink makes me think of what it would taste like if someone decided to add alcohol to one of those crazy energy drinks like Red Bull or something.

I've decided that I'm going to drink it out of the bottle because I don't want to know what color it is. Upon reading the ingredients, I'm sure it's some sort of dye anyway. The only natural thing in this drink is water, and maybe the vodka; everything else is artificial this or synthesized that. Kind of makes you wonder how they came up with this drink. Some mad scientist stirring a cauldron of stuff and when a drop of it can eat through a steel plate, he knows it's ready. Still, it's almost encouraging that they can create something that approximates fruit from scratch. What will they think of next?

It's not hard to taste the vodka if you're looking for it, but I don't think you'd notice it otherwise. All the same, I'm not even halfway through the bottle yet, and I'm kind of getting sick of it. Maybe it's the artificiality-ness of the whole thing. Maybe it's a carcinogen. Maybe I'm rotting away from the inside. But I digress...

I don't really taste anything particularly forbidden about this "taboo" drink. Kind of girly. Maybe something to sip on before you chase it down with a bottle of Boone's. Whatever the case, I don't think it's for me. It certainly is a neat bottle though. I'll bet you could use it for a candle-holder or something. I won't break if you drop it. That's good to know. At least it's recyclable.

Steve gives
TABU: Forbidden Fruit
Thumbs Down

Friday, June 6, 2003

Palm Zire 71

At first, I was cheesed off because I had purchased an m515 about a month before the Zire 71 was announced by Palm because, at the time, the m515 was the best price/performance value, in my opinion. Since the Zire 71 was offered with a built in camera and MP3 playing functionality for only $50 more than the m515, after I got over my original bout of swearing and disappointment, I decided to bite the bullet and attempt to trade up.

Inside is my review of the Zire 71.

So, first impressions: The screen is amazing. Very low-glare, at 320x320, it's 4 times the resuolution of the m515. It's plastic, where the m515 was mostly metal, so it can feel kind of cheap and flimsy. The stylus, which is also plastic, doesn't have the proper weight to sit in your hand. It's much too light. In addition to the normal four function buttons on the bottom and nstead of the usual up and down buttons, is a 4-way joystick. This offers a little more flexibility, but it can be hard to tell if you've actually pressed it, so you can end up going further down in your document than you thought.

The processor is completely different. As with all Palm OS 5 devices, the Zire 71 uses an OMAP Arm processor running at 144 Mhz. It is reams and reams faster than the 33 Mhz DragonBall processor than ran the M515. Even though I had mine overclocked to 66 Mhz most of the time, the Zire 71 still puts it in the dust. Menu changes happen instantly instead of waiting for that split second.

The built in software is pretty much the same as every other Palm, with the exception of the camera software and photo viewer. The accompanying software is pretty neat though. It comes with a video player, MP3 player, and some other stuff I didn't really look at.

Kinoma Video Player has a PC-based part for converting MPEGs, AVIs, etc. into a Palm compatible format (and reducing them to 320x320), and a Palm-based part for actually playing and managing them on the device. I have a 256 Megabyte SD card so I managed to cram on a whole bunch of crap. Tripping the Rift played surprisingly well. I was impressed.

The MP3 player did not fare so well.

Unfortunately, Palm has decided to bundle the piece of shit that is RealPlayer, or rather now RealOne with their devices. Real is second only to MusicMatch on my list of despised media players. I didn't even bother installing this one on the Palm. I got as far as the splash screen of the installation and cancelled it.

Obviously, I still want to play MP3s, so what do I do now? Sureley there is a shareware or open source MP3 player for Palm OS... My search ended much better than I had hoped. I found AeroPlayer, which not only plays MP3s, but also OGGs! This was fantastic. I installed it and it worked without a hitch. I had no qualms about purchasing the lifetime upgrade key for this piece of software.

Battery life appears to be very good. Playing OGGs during my 35 minute bus ride into the office, the battery meter didn't drop at all. Thankfully, AeroPlayer allows you to turn the screen off while it runs in the background, saving valuable battery life.

The camera is no prize, it only takes pictures at 640x480, but for the time it takes to write them to the card, I wouldn't want them to be any bigger! The digital camera I bought three years ago, the Kodak DC480 is much better in quality and resolution, but it's a little bulky to carry around with me 24/7. The Palm is light, small, and very easy to fit in a pocket so I'll never again have to say, "I wish I had a camera." If I'm ever planning to take pictures, however, I bring my real one.

In conclusion, I wish I had known that this device was going to be released, because I would certainly not have purchased the m515! The Zire 71 completely destroys it in every way I could ever want. WiFi support would be nice, but the Palm that supports that is nearly twice the price. I can live without it....for now.

Edit 06/06/03@22:43 Oh yeah, the thing I forgot to mention is that trasferring files to the SD card via a hotsync is retardedly slow. I mean stupidly slow. I waited twenty minutes for a 60 meg album of OGGs to transfer over before I gave up. The same album transferred to the card via a card reader took about 25 seconds. Go figure.

Steve gives the
Palm Zire 71
Thumbs Up!

Thursday, June 5, 2003

Group wants you to donate your $155 cheque to charity

According to several articles, including this one, a coalition of church groups want you to donate your $155 forthcoming cheque to charity, to help the homeless. I wonder if this is something that people will actually do? How exactly is it vote-buying if you hate the Hamm government to begin with? Discuss.

Monday, June 2, 2003

Greekfest 2003

This coming weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) is the planned date for Greekfest 2003. Experience what a donair should *really* taste like! Have your own piece of baklava! The possibilities are endless.

Come on down and drink your fill of Ouzo and do some of those silly dances. You know you want to.

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