Friday, May 19, 2006

Funny movie trailer spoof

This is a very clever and funny spoof of the trailers for teen movies. This is the funniest thing you will see this week.

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

(Hat tip: Ian)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy mother's day?

Are you willing to suffer for a good cause? Jesus was.Do you get the sense that the Pastor at the Westmount Baptist Church has some unresolved issues surrounding Mother's Day?

Friday, May 12, 2006

American Idol shocker

I haven't yet watched my recorded copy of American Idol this week, but the big news is that the favorite to win received the least number of call-in votes and has been eliminated from the singing contest. Now only three singers remain.

This is a shocking outcome. Chris Daughtry is a good rock singer. A kind of Jon Bon Jovi without a woman's haircut and appearances on the West Wing. In fact, the missus picked Daughtry to win the competition a while ago. Most everyone did. (I picked Katharine McPhee. But, in reality, I always assumed Daughtry would win.)

On the one hand, I figure Katharine is a shoe-in with Daughtry gone. But if Daughtry couldn't make it to the final three, then I don't what the heck is happening with the voting. Very unstable situation. I doubt Katharine will get Daughtry's voters. I suspect those voters will move to Taylor Hicks, who is closer to Daughtry's rock styling of singing than anyone else in the competition.

In any event, here is a gratuitous photo of Katharine McPhee. (I just noticed that in addition to Rachel Bilson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Valerie Bertinelli, she also reminds me of Canadian country singer Shania Twain.)

Katharine McPhee

Quebecor asks the tough questions

The Quebecor-owned news website Canoe asked visitors on May 8 whether it was "essential" that Finland-born Canadiens captain Saku Koivu "expresses himself" in French. (See screen shot below.)

A better question might have been:
"Are you worried that the serious eye injury suffered by the captain of the Canadiens (while he was working hard to entertain Montreal hockey fans regardless of their race, religion, language or creed) might end his career?"
"Do you support Saku Koivu's efforts to raise money for cancer research in Quebec?"
"Would you do a job where there was a possibility you could lose an eye, get a concussion or be cut by a flying skate blade?"
or better still
"Do you think Julie Snyder should appologize for implying that no English-speaking Quebecers can speak French properly?"

Saku KoivuSaku Koivu

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Planning my public transit trip

I don't know if any transit system is doing this yet, but I have a killer idea on how to improve service and encourage people to use the bus and metro.

The problem
I was trying to figure out if there was a quicker/better way to get home from work. Route one gets me to within a few blocks of my home. Route two requires that I transfer to a second bus and gets me even closer to my home.

I checked the various bus schedules and bus stop times on the STM website to figure out which route was more efficient if I left work at, say, 5:45pm. For instance, while route one only requires me to take one bus, that bus doesn't pass by as frequently as the first bus in route two.

It took some time, but I was able to figure out which route would get me home quicker. But figuring that out sucked. My goal is to save time. Not waste time.

What if there was a way to automatically knowwhich route was best at the exact time you need to leave?

The killer idea
Here's the idea: Users of the STM website enter where they are, where they want to go, and at what time they want to leave. The system will analyze the various routes and recommend a route based on speed.

I don't think this would be very difficult to set up. The STM has already documented the exact time each bus arrives at each bus stop. Some computer programming could transform that data into a meaningful and useful trip planner for users.

There. That's my killer idea.

UPDATE: It turns out my killer idea has already been implemented by the STM on the website. You can do a trip planner here. Their server is slow, so be prepared to wait. Also, the interface could be improved. (The STM should open the source code to let developers create useful hacks. It would be neat to combine Google Maps or Google Earth with the data in the trip planner.

One of the problems, however, is the nomenclature. If you don't use the French street names, it won't find your street (for instance, you must write du Parc and not Parc and definitely not Park Avenue).

Now why the heck don't they promote this service more. This should be on the front page so you just have to have enter your intersection or postal code in a text box.

And, forgive me, but Tous Azimuts is a dumb name. Never heard it before. I checked the Le grand dictionnaire terminologique and it says it means 'All sky' in English. What the heck does that even mean?

Snowdon metro escalator works

After 16 months of renovations on the two long escalators at Snowdon metro station, both are now working.

(However, work is still ongoing on the escalator I use to descend to the lower level metro platform. Hopefully that one should be done by 2017.)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Botanical Garden... who knew?

Maybe it was seeing the list of all those restaurants and activities listed the Entertainment Book. Or maybe it was a desire to go to the east end where I'd have no choice but to choose between La Belle Province, Lafleur or Valentines for lunch.

Whatever the reason, today we decided to broaden our weekend activities by visiting the Montreal Botanical Garden.

I always associated the Botanical Garden with dumb school trips. And plants. I'm not a plant expert, so a 60-minute walk through the several greenhouses representing the different earth climates doesn't appeal to me in the same was as walking through Best Buy for an hour. (Yay, ferns!)

Chinese plants and stuff in one of the greenhouses

And the greenhouses were much as I expected. Lots of plants. Lots of signs next to the plants. Some rooms were humid. Some dry. Some warm. Some cool. (Yay, mist!)

This explains so much about Wiley Coyote

But the highlight of the day wasn't in the greenhouses or at the Insectarium next door. (Although we saw some bugs that were Otis-Nixon-level ugly.) Rather, the highlight was the walk through the outdoor gardens behind the Botanical Garden greenhouses.

I always liked Beaver Lake on Mount Royal. But the lake and green space in the Japanese Garden is much nicer. See the photo below.

The Japanese Garden puts the Beaver Lake area to shame

The Botanical Gardens area is a nice place to go for a walk or run. If you've never been, I recommend a trip. Parking is reasonably-priced. They even give you "three only choices."

Three only choices

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Funny prank at Best Buy

What happens when you send into a Best Buy store 80 people dressed in clothes similar to the Best Buy uniform? Lots of confusion and fun. Read more. And check out these other great pranks.

Members of Improv Everywhere prepare to enter Best Buy

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day madness in the metro

Regular readers of this web log (hi Jim and Henry) know that I think stupidity and incompetence flow over every part of the Montreal transit authority like the hot lava of, say, the Arenal Volcano. Which is to say, it flows over everything. No one is spared.

The STM is a service business, but that fact is not very well understood by board members, managers and staff.

I illustrate my general point with a specific example, which today took the form of a hideous lineup to buy a $63 monthly transit pass at Snowdon metro. The line queued from the main ticket booth and up the stairs. (This I have never seen before.) There was no temporary ticket booth next to the main booth, as is usually the case. Hence, the extra long line.

Why no extra booth? I theorize there is a little-known STM regulation forcing workers to refrain from doing work-type things during International Worker's Day. Or maybe the extra long line was simply a tribute to the USSR, on which the STM models itelf (at least in the line-creation field).

Anyway, those suckers without a bus transfer or paper ticket were out of luck. They had to wait in that line to pay the STM for the privilege of walking down an 81-step staircase (escalator is still not working) and another 15-step staircase after that (the other escalator is under construction too)!

Relax... deep breath... 24 is on tonight... Jack Bauer is going to shoot bad guys in the knee... Yes... That is so cool... Okay... Okay, all better.

So, to conclude: STM sucks ass. CTU rules.