Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

BX5 Update

So it's been a couple of days now and I'm up to the B+ level on chart 1 of the exercises. They consist of about 12 toe touches, crunches, reverse leg lifts, push up like exercises and running on the spot. Doesn't sound like much, considering I trained all last year for a marathon, but my body is a little sore so I think I'm working some unused areas.

So far looks promising.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Las Vegas

I recently returned from 5 day conference in Vegas, IBM Information on Demand (IOD for short).

Great conference, lots of technology innovation to take note of and be inspired. But Vegas is a crazy town, 4 days is more than enough. It's funny that I had the same thought in my mind 8 years ago as I was packing to come back home, "Get me the f- out of this town!"

Fell off the face of the earth

Back to the Blog.

After a long absence I've returned. The long absence due to other more pressing priorities like completing home renovations, lack of motivation, relaxation and rest, the latter I have not really had much of.

I am evaluating a physical fitness routine that claims to take only need 11 minutes. I'm gonna put it to the test and give you my feedback, positive and negative. I'm sure there are lots of these type of workouts out there but I'm curious if this one really works because it's supposed to be from legitimate sources.

What I'm attempting is is called 5BX and was originally developed by the Royal Canadian Air force for crews to stay fit in remote bases with limited exercise equipment. So the premise is intensity versus duration.

Here is a link to the PDF of the now out of print original booklet.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Oil Gusher - Were doomed and US is being played

This happened 30 years ago in Mexico.

Get this, back then the Top Hat was called 'Operation Sombrero', no kidding.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Now I'm committed

It's not what you think but I may be insane for starting this ....

For months now I've been contemplating replacing the first floor parquet flooring with hardwood (I really hate parquet, it belongs in apartments, dance floors, and museums). Having already finished the basement with laminate, installation is really not that different ... except that the basement was smooth ceramic and the first floor requires first prying up the glued down parquet first.

I've been hesitating because I know when the first tile comes up, I'm "committed" to following through with the project.

Wish me luck and a speedy recovery for my knuckles.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learned something new and valuable

This is an example of something I think is a life necessity. Learning how to fold a fitted sheet into a nice neat rectangle.

For years I've hated folding these damn fitted sheets because of their irregular shape, due to the elastic corners. It's even worse because if you have King sheets, which we do. What ends up happening is I get pissed off trying to fold it neatly and end up folding it over 4 times and stuffing it in the closet.

So today I learned to fold it like a pro. Check it out for yourself.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Great day for some street hockey

With the Olympics over what else are we supposed to do?

If it feels like 14C, then that means some street hockey.

Aidan : 4 Goals
Dad: Zip

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Imagine that you walk into your bank today and ask to withdraw all your money, and they tell you to come back in 7 days. It's not the thing that gives you confidence in where you are placing your hard earned cash.

We'll that's what Citigroup told it's customers in a recent statement:

"Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change."

Later Citi claimed it was a legal formality as a result of changes to FDIC coverage, and it only applies to Texas customers. Ok, sure.

You might say who cares, deposits are covered by FDIC insurance. But Last week four more US banks failed totalling 20 for 2010 (140 for 2009). I guess the FDIC is going to need a bailout too.

One interesting metric. Only 1 in 40 dollars of deposit is in the form of paper cash, the rest is electronic.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pay down or invest

I've been hotly debating with co-workers my strategy of paying down the mortgage versus investing in the stock market. Not surprisingly those with families appear to quietly agree with me. And don't even get me started on that Smith Manoeuvre silliness. Surely if you have $1000 + interest per month to throw into stocks you must also have that much to throw at your mortgage principal.

Sure I know variable rate mortgages are 1.9% but who cares? I say this because, eventually we all have to pay taxes on the gains. Pay now or pay later. At least if you're paying the principal on the mortgage your hacking it down big time. Once you're free and clear, then go crazy on NASDAQ.

I guess it comes down to risk management. Sure, I could find any number of stocks and income trusts that pay 12% dividends, put personally I like to sleep soundly at night knowing I haven't bet my son's inheritance and our home on less of a sure thing. Having said this though, it does not mean that I don't contribute to RSPs and TFSAs (and dabble here and there). Those of excellent savings vehicles for the future and tax shelters. Some wisdom I will be glad to pass down to my son's when it's time is don't believe the hype about "conservative 8% growth until your retired BS". As we have all seen, all it takes is an incident like the sub-prime and you're back to zero (if you are lucky).

I'm sure a lot of you will disagree and the math says I'll come out ahead if I invest instead, but as I mentioned earlier. I love to sleep.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Red Light/Green Light = Family Day

Remember a game you used to play as a kid called Red Light / Green Light. You'd all walk across the gym floor towards a wall but when the teacher said, "Red Light" you stop. "Green Light" and you'd advance. Then "Red Light". You stop again. What power that teacher much have felt!

I was struck by a comment I heard today that made me realize that Ontario's Family Day is alot like that game. The comment was something like "I thought we were supposed to do something with the family". The Government tells you it's Family Day then all of a sudden we think it's mandatory to do something family oriented? As if we don't already do family stuff 365 days of the year we need bureaucrats to tell us so.

McGuinty, thanks for the holiday. I really do appreciate it. But everyone else start thinking for yourselves, your family will love you for it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

iMac Upgrade

I finally got around to upgrading to the latest OS, 10.6 aka "Snow Leopard".

For $39 I consider it free. As one should expect it was pretty uneventful. Pop in the DVD and 45 minutes later it's done. On the surface nothing seems different but as I understand it's all under the covers. e.g. full 64-bit support and a host of other technical upgrades. I did notice however that apps like iPhoto and Safari run significantly faster and can you believe it, I got back 50Gb of space. When is the last time a Microsoft upgrade needed less space?

That's probably how things should be. Same look and feel but only better.

If you haven't done it already, go for it.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Creating CO2

This is my latest aquarium project.

It's called a carbon dioxide (CO2) reactor. It's a device used to dissolve CO2 into the water. It's hooked up to a 1.5 juice bottle filled with yeast, sugar and water. All that's needed to generate the CO2.

Plants need light and CO2 in order to thrive, and you want a lush healthy planted aquarium you need both in large quantities. Approximately 5 watts of light per gallon. And about 20-30 ppm of CO2.

CO2 ussed by plants for creation of organic compounds, this process is commonly known as photosynthesis. Although fish exhale CO2 through respiration it's hardly enough to make any impact, in fact it only contributes to about 1ppm.

The powerhead is used for agitation and thus dissolve the CO2 bubbles into the water while inside the plastic tube, but I found this wasn't happening too efficiently because the bubbles were actually large enough to float to the top of the water and escape. So I added a recirculation tube that keeps the CO2 moving in and around at high speeds and chopped up into little tiny misting bubbles (see the video). After about a week there are pretty significant results.

Here's a video of it. I actually shot it in high-definition 1080p but my darn version of iMovie is old and wont export in HD. I'll update it to HD after I upgrade.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marathon Chaos

Toronto City Hall bufoons are in talks to restrict the number of fall marathons to 1 largely due to the traffic chaos caused by both the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon and the Goodlife Toronto Marathon.

Sure it causes an inconvenience but it seems like a small price to pay to get a sleepy city like Toronto on the map for some potentially international premier events. I've run both events and truthfully it's the Goodlife marathon course that's causes the most congestion. That course runs all over the place whereas the Waterfront course is basically the lower downtown and across the Lakeshore. The new route through the East Beach neighbourhood is wonderful for participants and residents. In fact the Waterfront marathon disruption is no worse than Caribanna.

Toronto planners can learn from Chicago. I was there last year during the July 4th weekend. No question this is a world class city capable of hosting many major events and simultaneously for that matter. For example the July 4th weekend coincides with the Taste of Chicago. Streets are closed for food stands, yet Grant Park and Navy Pier still runs fireworks all weekend long. Museums, parks and tours are open, and somehow traffic still moves, buses still run and the city is bustling with locals and thousands of tourists.

True, the Windy city has the advantage of being master planned but there is something that Toronto can consider ... And that is people called Traffic and Transit Officers. During these events these men and women clad in bright green vests assist to move traffic and people along the busy streets. Unlike alot of TTC workers, these individuals love their job and are happy to help you get where you're going, and with a smile.

Instead of preventing great things from happening, why not do something to make them better.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Last year for his birthday, Aidan got a nice little 5 gallon aquarium from his uncle. We started with a couple of fish, little did we know they would breed like rabbits and we'd end up with over 25 new inhabitants.

Nature says you can't sustain that many fish in a 5 gal. tank (I think the rule of thumb is 1 fish per gallon), anyways we witnessed a few float the top last week. So last week I ended up at Big Al's Aquarium store to buy a 20 gal. tank. As much as I like fish I also love the look of a natural planted aquarium, i.e. real plants. So today I splurged and picked up a Hagen High Output T5 dual lamp. This is like the BMW of marine lighting. Wow, spectacular lighting for both fish and plants!!! Awesome piece of harware, looks nice too.

The fish are really happy cause they have clean water and lots of room to swim and we'll get around to finding a nice variety of plants and mosses to fill the aquarium.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2010 Financial Outlook

Don't think that we're out of the woods yet. If you listen to CNN you might think the US economy is on the upswing but the reality is that unemployment is not signifianctly down in the US or Canada. Almost 1 in 4 borrowers in the U.S. owes more on their mortgage than what thier home is worth. The U.S. contiues to be the larget debtor nation in the world and that's not going to change anytime soon.

Check this out:

My 2010 prediction is that there will be a serious decline in the stock market in March when it's apparent that the growth we've see isn't organic but because of injected stimulus money. You know, Toronto hired 1500 new city workers last year, how was that going to stimulate the economy?

Continued low interest rates isn't going to do anything except put downward pressure on the US dollar and bond yields so my bet is on gold. And I don't mean the Olympic kind, I'm talking bullion.