Stuff is changing, for better or worse

Today, the famous Armdale Rotary in Halifax has been changed to a roundabout. (Chronicle-Herald article.) The Yield-and-Proceed rules have been dropped in favour of ... just ... yield to the people in the inner circle. Much like life. The people in the inner circle have the right of way. So just wait your turn to get into the spin cycle. Not being a Halifax driver, I have only experienced the Rotary's mayhem from the passenger seat. Frankly, I'm not likely to notice a difference. However, I'm told that there have not been any smash-ups there today.

On Saturday, the Nova Scotia government will implement gas price regulation. Sure, it'll prevent prices from bouncing around like they did today -- $1.088/L in the morning, $1.145 at noon, $1.088 again right now. But the prices will go up or down every two weeks without warning of the direction. And depending on big swings in the New York harbour spot price, it could change more often than that. The Premier says the regulation will mean stability, and guaranteed profits for the retailers, but he certainly isn't promising lower prices for drivers.

This weekend, the Tories' 1% GST cut comes into effect. So, big spenders, get out and consume. From reading this Star article, I don't expect to see much of a difference in day-to-day stuff.
"Parking meters, taxi fares, vending machine items and possibly some new homes are unlikely to fall in price after July 1 despite a 1 percentage point cut in the goods and services tax rate effective Saturday. They're all products that are sold at a GST-included price, rather than having the federal sales tax added at the cash register."

Cigarettes and pinot noir won't cost less, either, as I understand it.

And, the Sunday Shopping debate continues. (Focus On The Family has its own "news" take on the subject.) Major grocery chains Sobeys and Atlantic Superstores have been opening more stores each Sunday over the past few weeks. The NS government says it'll close the loopholes in the anti-retail legislation by the end of this week in order to prevent the stores from opening. Pete's Frootique will get to stay open, though, since Mr. Luckett had been exploiting the loophole successfully before everyone else rejigged their stores to get in on the action. The Tories promise another plebiscite to decide the issue once and for all (again). That'll happen in 2008. Word is that Sobeys could be planning to defy the law, Paul Magder/Hy & Zel's-style, this weekend. As long as they're not strong-arming their workers to work shifts they don't want to, I say go for it.

It's okay to hate Star Wars: The Onion

The Onion AV Club goes over some classic movies that it's alright to hate, including, of all things, Star Wars:

Remove Harrison Ford's swaggering charisma from Star Wars, and what's left? The Phantom fucking Menace. And has there ever a soggier slice of white bread than Mark Hamill? The prequels didn't violate the timeless genius of Star Wars; their awkward dialogue and stiff performances simply carried on the wooden tradition of Lucas' 1977 Original.


The article also gives dissenting opinions on the alleged genius of Network, A Clockwork Orange, The Shawshank Redemption, and others.

Recent viewings, classic and otherwise, in our Halifax home: Life Is Beautiful, Schindler's List, City Slickers, Made, Citizen Kane, Sneakers, and Fight Club. Still in the pile: The Shining.

Jee-zus, I'm trying to eat breakfast!

This morning, The Daily News put a picture of Sobey's with a big red-circle-with-slash "no" sign superimposed on the front page, to highlight the Sunday shopping crackdown. If that didn't make you sick, the Chronicle-Herald's front page might've:



Caption: Pathologist Heidi Sapp examines a colon, removed from a patient during a recent operation, in a lab at the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

Eeeewww. That's no way to start Monday morning. She looks too bloody happy to be pokin' at those guts.

Hey fat boy! C'mere!

Little Sister and her husband Chris were in town this week for a lovely visit. Amanda was at the wheel for plenty of driving, plus we did a lot walking, visiting Point Pleasant Park, the Casino, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax Public Gardens, Peggy's Cove, Lunenburg, Herring Cove, Sir Sandford Fleming Tower at The Dingle (no relation to HTPC Little Eddie), some big-and-beautiful house viewing, and the general downtown environs including Chris' first donair. Photo highlights are in the Big Ass Super Gallery at flickr.

A few entries ago, I mentioned a show called X-Weighted. Good show, very entertaining, and inspirational, educational, moving, bla bla bla. Turns out they're doing a casting call this weekend in Halifax. I think I'm gonna be there.

Maritime word of the day: Elsipogtog (el-see-BOOK'-TOOK').

Canadian kiwis to stay fuzzy for now

It's been blogged all over the place already, but the online advertising for the Philips/Norelco Bodygroom shaver has caused quite a buzz and some big laughs on the net. Visit www.shaveeverywhere.com to see for yourself. It's for sale at Amazon.com, but they don't ship this product outside the US. It's not listed on the Philips Canada web site.

So, I called the Philips customer service line to ask when the Bodygroom will be sold in Canada. The line is one of those frustrating voice-recognition dealies ... ("English ... no ... no ... no ... main menu ... no ... no ... operator ... operator! ... no ... other.") ... after getting lost on hold and otherwise yanked around, my third call got me a different 800 number.

The instantly helpful operator at the Canadian line said the company doesn't quite know when the gadget will be sold here. Apparently it's still pending CSA approval. Seems kinda strange, 'cuz it's been sold in the UK for a while now, and in the USA since at least this spring. I guess the CSA takes a while to vet electronics. "Maybe August" is the best I could get out of them.

Update: reader Laura points out a Halifax-based blog which tackles the subject, noting along the way that "wooly backs are nauseating" ... And re: the availability issue raised here, Byron points out in the comments that eBay sellers have Bodygroom available for import from the UK.

Coolest story I never heard

Saw a story on the ABC wire today about new "stealth" ringtones the kids are using to hear their phones ring, while preventing adults from doing so. (San Fran Chronicle article on same subject.) You probably know that high-frequency hearing is the first to go, and usually starts falling off around age 20. These ringtones are high-frequency tones that kids can hear, but adults can't.

ABC News filed a report by Jim Hickey which purported to tour the ringtone around their newsroom. The interns and desk assistants could hear the tone clearly, but the older reporters and editors could not. I thought the story was bullshit, because I inspected the waveform of the report, and there was nothing visible where the stealth tones were supposed to be -- just silence.

Rather than concluding that we'd all been had, I did some searching and found a web page with the stealth ringtone available for download. I played it, and the youngest person in the room immediately grabbed her ears and started complaining that someone was scratching a chalkboard or something. No one else, aside from our traffic reporter, can hear the damned thing. So, I guess it's true.

Frankly, I'm a little disappointed. I thought my high-end hearing was still decent. I routinely hear (and see) things that other people don't. (Not in a hallucinatory/delusional way, I must point out.) But I can't hear anything in that tone at all. Made me feel a little queasy after repeated loud listenings, though that may instead have been from noticing that a big paper cut on my finger had re-opened.

Rasslin' at the Forum!


A good, long night of action at the Halifax Forum as newscott.com brought the Maritime Cup III to hundreds of fans. It was a blast to hoot and scream at a wrestling show where I knew nothing about the performers. Thanks to Tim (off to Saint John to anchor the afternoon news, congratulations!) and Dominic for joining me on a boys' night at the matches. Here are some highlights thrown together for my YouTube page.

How to totally bury the lead

Double the power, double the fun! Staples had the Hauppauge PVR-150MCE on sale last week for $100, so I picked one up and slapped it into the HTPC. Now we can tape Ultimate Fighter and ER at the same time. Or Cops and HNIC. Or the trickiest one, My Name Is Earl and CSI. Tape two shows at once while watching another, or tape one and watch another. Good deal. Staples has the plain PVR-150 (minus the remote and IR blaster, which I won't be using anyway) on "hot buy" this week for $100, so pick one up if you wanna get into the TV-on-yer-computer era.

Got an email from register.com recently, telling me that bigasssuperstar.com was about to expire. I re-regged for another two years, and wondered when my old, stinky domain cygnals.com was going to expire. Turns out it was the day before. Problem was, Network Solutions still had my ancient email address on file. The @home network died ages ago, so I couldn't get in and tweak stuff. Their 1-800 support staff helped me sign back up for another two years, at prices well above what I thought I'd be paying. I know I should be paying less, but I don't have the patience or knowhow to transfer the stuff to another registrar. Maybe I'll be smarter in two years.

Best wishes to regular bigasssuperstar.com reader Mom in hospital. And congratulations to my little sister Shannon who called me last night to tell me that I'll be an uncle in 2007.

It's off to the rasslin' tonight for the first time in several years. The Maritime Cup is coming to the Halifax Forum tonight, featuring Randy, Mr. Lahey and Cory from Trailer Park Boys. Sarah "Sarah" Dunsworth will be shooting a documentary at the show.

Update on the healthy eating/weight loss effort: as illustrated, the eating is working. Walking home from work is also beginning to yield results, as several people have offered me unsolicited compliments on my shrinking size. Inspired by the show X-Weighted, we took some "before" pictures recently. Check in toward the end of the year for expected "after" shots, hopefully with magic morphing imagery.

Today was my last day at work, and I'm okay with that

Today marks a weird spot on the calendar for me. It’s one of those landmarks that really doesn’t mean anything, other than to illustrate the...