Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rechargeable Pigeons, Political Buffoonery And Other Subjects

I swear this blog is about snow shoveling, but we really haven’t had anything to write about. The aftermath of the last storm weren’t nuthin’.

By the way, if a child fails miserably in a geometry or algebra exam, would the consequences they suffer be aftermath?

Before history    recorded history that is   people would settle disputes with rocks and the odd stick. Today, we have debates to decide things like "who will be the leaders of democracy and freedom?"

Being apolitical, I usually don’t touch the subject of politics. But as I was on my way home from the gym, eating an English muffin, I thought about the lack of chemistry between the Republican candidates and the average U.S. voter. The ongoing buffoonery with the Republican primaries has inspired the following poem:

The Republican’s Lament, 2012

I sing the blues, I can't rejoice.
How do I choose? Is there a choice?

If that’s the choice I’d rather pick
my dry old nose than the guy named Rick.

If that’s the choice I’d rather root
for Satan himself than the guy named Newt.

If that’s the choice, I must admit
I don’t give a... well, it rhymes with Mitt.

That's enough politics for now. Let’s move on to Science and Technology.

Technology is going nuts! I’ve already warned my readers about the possibilities of test-tube meat and nazi-producing printers. Now the Antler River Free Press has another article about advanced technology and the pitfalls that come with it; specifically, the loss of privacy.

Someone quoted in the report said that data can be obtained from kitchen appliances, among other things. So if you've recently bought a state-of-the-art toaster or coffee maker, personal and possibly damning information about you could have already been sent to Mr. Coffee or Toastmaster. 

But never fear. We at Snow Shoveling In Canada (appropriate fanfare here) vow to fight for your right to privacy. For further details on how we plan to do this, just send your name, address, phone number, email address, credit card information, family history, social insurance number, sexual preferences, a few photos, and anything else you might deem relevant to the SSIC Privacy Bureau.

Here are some quotes from the Free Press article. We've followed the excerpts with our caveats which you should heed.

"Some computer viruses can switch on the cameras and speakers without the owner knowing about it, allowing hackers to watch people in their homes...

Along with the fisheye webcams built into most computer monitors, new "smart" televisions have them embedded into the sets, allowing for interactive TV shows and video telephone calls, much like the wall screens described by Ray Bradbury in his dystopic novel, Fahrenheit 451."

If you’re worried about your computer watching you, then do as I do; take off your reading glasses and move right up to the screen and squint. Even if you're not near-sighted, you can use this technique to obscure the view from your nasty nosy computer.

If you feel the need to escape from dystopia,
Just look at the world with a touch of myopia.

Likewise, you can just close the lid on your leering laptop whenever you’re not using it to prevent it from spying on you in your most unguarded moments.

This should be a common practice, like putting down the lid on the toilet. And while we’re speaking of porcelain thrones, be advised that smart toilets are probably coming to a washroom near you; tracking your movements. Pun intended, but, (wouldn't you just know it)  introducing the sense-a-load commode:

That is one clever crapper (pardon my French).

Back to the news article:

"Communication tech-makers Cisco Systems estimates smartphones will outnumber human beings on the planet by 2016."
I don't understand this statistic. Perhaps those with multiple personalities may want a phone for each of their identities. Or maybe the smartphones are becoming smart enough to call and talk to each other. And if that’s the case, who will be charging them? What I mean is who would bill them, not who would charge the batteries. Come to think of it, who would charge the batteries?

"The Nano Hummingbird looks like a feathered friend, but it's really a flapping robot, remote-controlled and armed with a live streaming camera and microphone."
Hummingbirds that seem more interested in your face than your hummingbird feeder should be treated with suspicion.

"Funded by the Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the U.S. military, it is one of many new biomimetic robots: machines that look like spiders, insects, birds and snakes, with cameras for eyes and microphones for ears."
Remember your critters from biology class. Be wary of spiders with webs made from copper wire. As well, snakes with a rattle that looks like a microphone should be treated with suspicion.

This is NOT a rattlesnake

"The U.S. military hopes to make a "pigeon" that recharges itself using its metal talons when landing on power lines."
Pigeons perched on power lines who have LCD displays on their heads saying “Charging” should be treated with suspicion.

"Researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan are also turning real insects into cyborgs, using electrodes to control the flight of moths and beetles."
Always keep cans of Raid on hand. Although a spray bottle of water should be sufficient to short circuit the electronics on these pests. Insects with antennas on their antennae should be treated with suspicion.

"Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created small robots that fly in formation. Like a disciplined swarm of dragon flies, they can navigate through windows and doors."
This one kind of worries me. The article states that they navigate through windows and doors - not open windows and doorways. It's curious that they would use the term "navigate" though. It's likely these bionic bugs would just crash their way into your home. And although they say that the robots fly like dragon flies. they do not say that they look like them. So if you see a broken window, a hole in your door, and what looks like a swarm of tiny flying Terminators in your living room, they should be treated with suspicion.

Futuristic cars will likely have the technology to ensure that you are an obedient driver. If you’re caught texting, or eating a Whopper while checking the geography with a road map, a camera on your dashboard will take a photo of you committing the offense. Then the car’s GPS will locate the nearest police station and your spying sedan will send a fax there. Finally, the car will drive itself to the station where you will be arrested by a law-enforcement agent (probably a cyborg).

So put down that phone, and stop somewhere to eat that Whopper. Drive with your hands at 10 and 2. And if you happen to smash any insects with your windshield    good!

On another subject, I should mention that this is the 51st post on this blog. Yes, I missed doing a celebration about our 50th blog post. Congratulations to the entire crew at Snow Shoveling In Canada!.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Nude, Stewed, and Pursued


It's been such a mild winter, that I've decided to spend the rest of it in the nude. This might make for some uncomfortable situations when shopping, visiting friends, and shoveling snow. But all I will need to do is put on a few layers of clothing. I can still be nude underneath! In fact, this is how I plan to live the rest of my life    nude underneath my clothes. However, this begs the question shovels the postulation raises the question, "In what state was I under my clothes previously?" The same actually. The only difference between then and now is a small mental adjustment. Ah, nudity. The feeling! The freedom! And here's an idea for those who really enjoy being nak

We interrupt this blog to bring you this urgent message from the author's conscience. The writer of this blog has purposely used the subject of nudity in a blatant attempt to gain readership. This post in no way reflects the staid, sober, and decent journalism normally exhibited here. This blog has never before mentioned  NUDITY, or SEX. We condemn any mention of NUDITY or SEX now. We will stay vigilant to prevent any mention of NUDITY or SEX in the future. Thank you.


A recent news item stated that the cost of  spirits, beer, wine, etc. are on the rise again.

“As of March 1, the cheapest spirits will rise by 50 cents on a 750 ml bottle to $23.90. The provincial government says about 10% of spirits are priced at the lowest possible amount”, says the article.

But what does this business of 10% at the lowest possible amount mean? For cryin’ out loud, I can’t imagine how prices could possibly be any HIGHER!!!

The article goes on to say, “The cheapest wine will increase by 5 cents to $5.90 a 750 ml bottle, but the LCBO doesn't sell any at that price anyway.”

What the heck do they mean by that??? Could you imagine a car dealer telling you that “the cheapest new car you can buy in Ontario is $7,000. But we don’t sell any at that price. You’ll have to fork over $30,000 for the cheapest that we or anyone else in the province can sell”.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???!!!

In addition, the article states, “The Ontario government first introduced its annual inflationary increase in 2009, killing the then-popular buck-a-bottle beer.” That’s not the only thing the government is going to kill at this rate. It will be only a matter of time before only the rich can afford to drink even the basest rotgut.

Thank you Ontario government and the LCBO (which really stands for Liquor Costs Big in Ontario).

I think I’ll investigate the possibility of drinking some exotic mind-altering teas, if there are any out there (and before the government gets their grubby greedy hands on them).


A recent headline in the Antler River Free Press read: "Cops use Facebook to end standoff"

The dateline was Winnipeg and it said in part, "Mounties ended a standoff in northern Manitoba using Facebook earlier this week."

The article didn’t elaborate much further. I can only assume that the head of some tactical unit with the RCMP said, “Quick. Get a picture of a S.W.A.T. team with guns pointed straight at the camera. We'll post it on our Facebook page with the caption “Surrender, scumbag" or something like that. Then we’ll send a friend request to the perp and wait until he accepts. Once he goes to our page to have a look at the photos, we'll have him.”

Perhaps the miscreant was guilty of being nude and drunk and that's why the Mounties were pursuing him. I can't speak for the average Manitobanite, I mean Manitober, uh Manitobian, that is to say resident of Manitoba, but fortunately for me, Ontario has not only cold weather, but high booze prices as well. That's why I'm not likely to become a fugitive from justice; nude, stewed, and pursued.

However, I would like to offer my blog to any law enforcement agencies who might want to use it to capture criminals.

  "Surrender you scumbag (but otherwise fine person for reading this blog)." 

Although, my readers are usually gentle law-abiding types. In order to attract the criminal element, I may have to post pictures of stolen items    booty, swag, hot goods.

Booty, Swag, and Hot Goods

Again we must apologize for the blatant use of SEX and partial NUDITY in the above image. This must stop. In fact, this whole article with it's mentioning of NUDITY, ALCOHOL, CRIME and MIND-ALTERING TEAS must be censured completely. 

We urge you to stop reading this particular blog post now.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Vacation Recap: Dry Counties, Sea Turtles, and Cruise Ship Toilet Paper

The vacation is over. Back to the land of snow and ice. Brrrr! I love it.

We drove all the way down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where our ship departed. Our intention was to spend a few days traveling around Florida after the cruise to see if there were any nice places we would like to visit on an annual basis. We didn’t come up with much (now don't get me wrong Floridians. We love your state. We just didn't find anything on this trip. Whew!).

On our drive down, our first hotel was in a dry county in Kentucky. I didn’t think there were anymore of those. The residents that I met were surprisingly friendly and happy. I know if I lived there, after a few days I’d be so ornery I’d bite the head off of a Kentucky rattlesnake.

In two more nights we were in Florida. A real highlight here was the Florida Turnpike. We missed a toll gate and ended up in the Sunpass lane. This is reserved for those who have paid for a transponder that allows you to zoom by the toll booths. Inexplicably, this particular toll area had a barricade between the Sunpass lanes and the ones where you could use cash. So here we were, stopped on the shoulder, trying to figure out how to get back to the cash lanes and avoid the posted $100 fine.

We had an inspired idea. We tried going backward on the shoulder for several hundred feet while traffic whizzed by us at 70 miles per hour. A Florida State Trooper was on the opposite shoulder of the road, busy giving a ticket to someone else. She saw us.

WEEEEOOOOOOO BEEEEEP BEEEEEP, came the noise from the cruiser.
"MOVE IT!" yelled the trooper.
"I'm trying to get back to the pay lanes," I explained.
"MOVE IT!!!" she reiterated.
"You don't understand. I'm the chief contributing writer and editor for Snow Shoveling In Canada. Perhaps you've heard of it?"

I didn't really say this, because I don't like to unduly use my considerable influence and notoriety to my advantage. Instead, we hightailed it out of there, and ended up mailing our toll fare to the fine people at Sunpass.

I couldn’t imagine this trip being more fun than what we had experienced so far, but we were so excited now because our very first cruise was only a couple of days away.

Our ship was the Emerald Princess. This is a BIG boat. While standing on one of the upper decks, I saw a large freighter steaming passed us. From my vantage point, it looked like a dinghy.

Our stateroom had the latest in security — you know, a peephole to see who is on the other side of the door. The peephole even had one of those fancy slide-away covers. But the image provided by this privacy protecting peek portal was so blurry, that you couldn’t possibly make out who was on the other side. It could be a thief, a murderer, or some super villain  —  the evil Dr. Blur (this could be a job for the amazing Gar-Gar).

Our itinerary took us to Bahamas, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Kitts. We enjoyed an excursion at each stop.

The best of the excursions was a stair climbing adventure in St. Lucia. This activity was very strenuous and exciting. The rainforest views were as breathtaking as the steep stairs themselves. To get from one stairway to the next, we were hooked onto a steel cable with some rope and pulley contraption, and then we would use these ”zip-lines” to continue on to the next climb.

Another of the better shore excursion was a wild sea turtle encounter in Barbados. We were told that we could lightly touch the shells of the turtles as they swam by. These were large turtles; about the size of a bean bag chair, but less comfortable to sit on, I imagine.

A particularly sizable specimen came swimming straight for my nether regions. I was wearing my swimming trunks so I don’t think that he was mistaking my Johnson for some of the chum that the tour guides were tossing into the water to attract the beasts. Nevertheless, here he was, coming full speed ahead. I swam up a couple of feet and spread my legs apart as far as I could. An Olympic gymnast would have been impressed. I thus avoiding having the face of a sea turtle permanently branded on my groin area.

There was one Einstein on our excursion who decided he would grab onto the sides of the turtle’s shell and ride it à la some Orca trainer at Sea World. This was after we were specifically told NOT to grab onto the turtles. I was hoping that his hands would somehow get caught in the shell while the turtle dragged him to Galapagos Island.

Another fun trip took us to Bird Island in Antigua where we never saw as much as a common sparrow. But we did get to enjoy a nice catamaran ride on some choppy water. Now imagine if you will a 58-year-old Canadian on a tottering catamaran after downing a few rum punches and deciding it would be a good idea to enter a limbo contest. Not only did yours truly do just that, but I actually won! My prize was a bottle of coconut rum and a herniated lumbar disc.

The food on the cruise was good for the most part, but the orange juice was unexpectedly bad. It tasted like it was made from fresh squeezed Canadian oranges. Let’s put it this way, even Tang-hardened astronauts would likely refuse to take a swig of this breakfast drink.

The swimming pools and hot tubs were nice. The hot tub had a warning stating that those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure should avoid using them. As well, you should stay out if you were under the influence of alcohol, antihistamines, anticoagulants, immunosuppressants, vasoconstrictors, vasodilators, hypnotics, stimulants, narcotics, or tranquilizers. This list should prohibit anyone over the age of 35 from using the tub (which would easily include everyone on the ship).

I saw some of the most out-of-shape human beings I’ve ever seen in these whirlpools. As they lay there for half an hour, looking like giant slugs, I was thinking that they must be violating at least a full two-thirds of these rules.

You know, you would think that after 58 years on this planet that I would be worldly enough to know just about everything. But there were these metal covers over the toilet paper rolls in the washrooms and I’m still not sure what they are for.

Splash Guard? Paper Ripper? Patented Roll-Stay-Fresh® Technology?

I initially thought they were used to help tear off some sheets of toilet paper. But that would be overkill. We’re not tearing off sheets of titanium foil here. Then I thought I had it figured out. These are guards to protect the paper from splashing (from men who can’t aim or have an erratic stream). However, my wife informed me that the same covers are on the rolls in the women’s washrooms as well. Perhaps they’re just used to keep the paper fresh. In order to wipe this question from our minds, we’ll have to get our crack investigating team here at SSIC to get to the bottom of it. I’m sure the Internet is flush with information regarding this.

Finally, one night late into our cruise, I entered a Motown music trivia contest that I technically won. The prize was a bottle of wine which went to another contestant who missed one question. I also had missed one. However, she was given credit for identifying a Four Tops song as “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch”. Although that’s not wrong, it isn’t completely right either. The assistant cruise director said in no uncertain terms that my answer was wrong. I said the song is titled “I Can’t Help Myself”. I insisted that I was right. She insisted otherwise and said that I should “Google" it. I did.

If you’re reading this, little miss assistant cruise director, you owe me a bottle of wine.