Why is Ottawa Not The Worst G7 Capital?

The best that guest on a CBC show could do to defend Ottawa essentially boiled down to: the locals are excited about the possibility of a new library.

Suck it, Paris.

I think a better question for those people who don't think Ottawa is the worst G7 capital city would be -- ok then, name one of the other capitals which Ottawa is better than. Just one.


2015 Was The Year Of The Datsun 240Z

2015 was the Year Of The Datsun 240Z. What you see here are the black and white 2015 Mainline cars, the red 2015 Real Riders car, and the silver (nominally) 2014 Cool Classics Series 3 car.
This casting has always been something of a disappointment to me. Even though the car cuts a beautiful profile and a nice head-on view, there is something about the geometry that just doesn't look right when you have the car in your hand, something to do with the way the nose is very flat and not dipped and the way the headlight covers are placed. I can't really describe it, but it doesn't look entirely like the car it is based off of.
When you have all of them together, it is easy to see the differences. Of them all I like the Real Riders car the best. The paint is beautiful and the tampos are not overly busy. It has a nice weight in your hands thanks to the metal base. I personally find the Cool Classics car as disappointing, because despite the nice metal base the car has very poor roll qualities due to a manufacturing/assembly defect that leaves the rear wheels fouling on something.
All that said I was surprised to get the Cool Classics car and the Real Riders car last year. Normally models like that don't come to Canada, and if they do, they get scooped up so quickly the only thing left is Twin Mill things or the like.


Happy Cat

I haz a warm

Ceili finds a warm place to sit in the sun for the morning. The fact that she's partially concealed from Nathan is just a bonus.


Now THATS Old School

That's right, I used ed. In 2016. Why? Because the 1998-era Solaris installed on this E450 was complaining that vi couldn't load any termcap information. So, ed.

The Big Short

Financial Capers Made Easy To Understand.

What I don't understand from the whole thing: this doctor guy went to the banks and said I want to buy insurance that pays me if other people's mortgages fail. And the banks said, OK. (Which was dumb.) But then the banks started to sell each other insurance on whether or not that insurance would have to be paid out. And then insurance on THAT insurance. And so on. So: how was this EVER a good idea? I understand short selling -- you borrow a share and sell it, on the assumption that when you need to return the share you can buy it at a lower price -- because there's actual skin in the game (theoretically the share you borrow has to exist somewhere first). I also understand margin buying (basically the investment banks are lending you the difference between what you have and what you want to buy on the assumption that A) if you need to pay off the margin call you can sell the shares, presumably for more money than you bought them for and B) the shares you are buying actually exist somewhere and acts as a form of collateral. But this selling each other insurance on conditions they don't actually have any skin in the game on, that's either gambling -- or outright fraud. The insurance payout doesn't have any relationship to the underlying insured "property" (which itself is a terrible word for this situation but you know what I mean).

So people losing their homes -- that part was always going to happen because the loans were always bad. The financial market imploding, though, that was because of this synthetic CDO insurance bullshit they were selling each other. And yes, you have to bail out the banks because while people losing their houses is bad, you can say well they shouldn't have received the loans in the first place, but all the retirement investments that people have tied up in the banks would have been lost as the whole CDO thing unwound and took out all the banks' assets. And the alternative, bailing out a wide range of individuals because they've lost everything, is hard.

But the movie was a lot more fun than financial fraud had any right to be.


Toon'd Pajero

Mitsubishi Pajero (Toon'd)
Mainline 2004-054
This is a rare car in my collection -- a 'Toon'd car, where the wheels are exaggerated in proportion to everything else and the car is generally cartoony. I usually don't like these kinds of model, I am more interested in a realistic portrayal of the car I am collecting. This is one of two exceptions, and I got it because the 'tooning does make the car look like the Dakar racers that was running around northern Africa around the turn of the century, in particular a Renault powered one-off called a "Mega". In this case, the 'tooning works for the model rather than against it.


Ferrari F12berlinetta

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
Mainline 2014-031

This is also one of the highlights of 2015. This car represents one of the last, if not the last, common Ferrari casting for Hot Wheels. Despite being a 2014 series casting, this car was almost depressingly common through the early parts of 2015, the bright yellow standing out on both the racks and in dump bins. And it was hard for me to resist because I found the car so attractive and because of what the car represented. I have three or four of them tucked away somewhere.

That said, this particular model doesn't seem to photograph well. The combination of the yellow and the harsh white lights I am using for lighting seem to emphasize every flaw on the car, while simultaneously turning the detail into yellowish mud.

It is still a favourite, to the point that it is one of the cars that grace the desk at my office.


Lego Space Outposts

One from me, one from Nathan. I think mine is too busy even if it does have some nice touches.


Subaru BRAT


Subaru BRAT
2014 Cool Classics Series 3
Subaru BRAT
Mainline 2015-123

The Subaru BRAT isn't a new casting, it was released first in 2012 as part of The Hot Ones premium series. This year we got three more examples. The blue one is a Mainline car, and there is a bright yellow variant with the same tampos floating around as well that I have not been able to get. The red one is a Spetrafrost Red Cool Classics Series 3 car, ostensibly from 2014 but only making an appearance here in Ottawa in late 2015 in the Dollarama stores. However when I first saw the red one on the internet I knew I had to have it. I have two, one that is opened and one that is still in the package. For the mainline I also have two, but the one in the package is broken.

It is interesting to compare the two cars. The red one is a metal-on-metal car and has a much more solid feel to it than the mainline, which has a plastic-chrome base. Similarly the red one has more premium wheels on it than the mainline. Put the weight and the wheels together and the Cool Classics car is clearly the better car on the orange track, although the nice paint would make me more reluctant to put it on the track in the first place. Both of them are visually fun to look at, and I'm still on the look out for the yellow one should it surface here in Ottawa.


'96 Nissan 180 SX Type X

'96 Nissan 180 SX Type X 
Mainline 2015-205

This is one of the nice surprises of 2015. I like the relatively clean and unfussed lines and the half-recessed headlights. I was reading somewhere that Mattel usually releases new castings, especially real castings, with very simple decorations -- no wild tampo art -- and that these ones were more popular with some collectors. I do agree. For the most part, the busy tampo art can detract from the forms of the car itself, like the car is trying to take on another identity somehow.


Super Tuned Open Wing

Super Tuned
Mainline 2001-017

The Super Tuned casting was introduced in 2001. Most of these cars released that year, and all of these cars released since, had the solid, filled-in spoiler seen on the right. But some cars of this blue 2001 color had an open spoiler instead. Normally I'm not a truck person but this casting appeals to me, and for some reason I find it particularly photogenic -- the other color from 2001, the bright yellow, modeled for one of my favorite photos I have ever taken.


Time Machine Hover Mode

Time Machine Hover Mode
Mainline 2016-221

Was down by Inkerman yesterday and stopped at the Walmart at Highway 416, and look what I found. Someone had put it on the rack backwards with the cardboard facing out, but it was right at the front so when I pulled it off to have a look I almost had a heart attack. (Pro tip: if you are hiding Hot Wheels on the rack, put them near the back of the peg, not right on the front.) I never expected to find one ever, and here it is right in front of me. Mattel also makes a "1885 Time Machine" with the ridiculous white-wall tires but that's a premium car and that series wouldn't last long if it showed up anywhere, so if I want one of those I'm probably eBaying big bucks. I'm currently on a open-everything kick but this is one I just might keep in its package along with the non-hover-mode version from 2011.


Breakfast Of Champions

Never let it be said that Disney passed on a merchandising dollar.


Ferrari FXX

Ferrari FXX
Mainline 2008-033

Just playing around with the macro mode in iOS Camera+. When I took a picture of this one last week, it visibly had a bunch of dust on it, so I've carefully brushed and air-blown the car so it looks all pretty. I have a bunch of FXXs, I think they look nicer than the Enzos that they are based on.

(Mattel part number #L9948 from the 2008 Mainline.)


Tough Neighbourhood

From Reddit, who almost certainly stole it from somewhere else.


LCD Fault

Office where I was on Friday had a phone with a cracked LCD panel. The liquid crystal flowing through the faults made an interesting pattern.


What Year Is It?

Walmart, Lincoln Fields. I found one 2005-era "Torpedo" car on the pegs. This was back when Mattel was fiddling around with weird non-standard things, like "Toon'd" and "Hard-Nozed" cars. None of those experiments particularly took, so if there was going to be a 2005 reject floating around it doesn't surprise me that it is one of these nasty things.

(No photo yesterday, sorry.)


Computer Archaeology

Fifteen years ago I left a job, and this was one of the computers I left behind - a Sun Ultra Enterprise 450. I still get periodic calls to go in and do some things for them. It always surprises me a bit when I find one of these 17+ year old computers still doing what I left them doing. Today the external A1000 array failed -- totally dead, no power lights on either power supply -- and the E450 wouldn't boot, so I got the call to go in and try to resurrect it. Fortunately the active use of the files on that array has already been moved elsewhere, so all I had to do was remove the array from the configuration and restart it. However I think we are pushing our luck somewhat so we are going to replace the active roles on this computer with something... newer? Maybe just "less old".

Adapt Or Die

Today: Cable Unbundling Will Devastate Canadian TV Production: Report
My problem with the whole "bundling" thing is that it makes you pay for things you don't want in order to get things you want. In the past one could make the argument that providing a customized, per-household bundle of channels was too technologically expensive, and thus cable providers needed to have only a few tiers of service. But even since the 1980s when pay-TV and the first channels like The Movie Channel, addressable cable boxes have made this somewhat of a lie.

The fall-out from this problem is that I spend a huge amount of money on this stuff: $230 per month for TV, Internet (15/5/unlimited), and home-phone; plus another $50 for Jenn's smart phone. If my employer wasn't paying for my phone you could probably double what Jenn's costs and add the same again for me. Plus $10/month for Netflicks, $10/month for Spotify, plus whatever we spend on iTunes and old fashioned going-out-to-the-movies. Do the math -- it is a lot of money.

So anything which offers to trim $10 or $15 here or there sounds good to me and frankly I don't care that doing so means The Home And Garden Channel suddenly stops getting the 75 cents or whatever per month from my household.

You have to have a product that people are willing to pay for in order to watch. And if you don't, you are in trouble.

I am willing to spend money on what I want to watch. If you don't make something I am willing to pay for, I am not interested in subsidising you any more. If a subsidy is a socially desirable thing, do it the honest way -- through taxes. Don't try to back-door money flow.


Still Life By Alex

Alex sometimes leaves his toys in mid-play when sleep overcomes him. This is what we found when we checked on him before we went to bed. Makes me wonder what we're seeing here -- a fast food service? Live target day at the shooting range? Something else?

Update, 2015-01-18: Alex tells me that these people are playing Jeopardy.


Wyatt Visits "Crazy" Uncle David

Wyatt and JD were at Mom's on Sunday. Aparrently my brother's family calls me "crazy uncle David". So I figured the photo was appropriate.


Minion Ghosts

My mom makes novelty hats for the kids (and sometimes for me). These are her take on the Minions. The one on the right is for a four year old but it is too small for him, and somehow we ended up with it instead of the one-eyed "Stuart" hat for Alex. I'm sure we'll sort it all out eventually.  It occurs to me that the hats look kind of like Pac Man ghosts with this aspect on them.


Minecraft Project

We literally slept until noon on Friday, and wasted the rest of the day in front of the TV. I started digging a gap in a ridge in Minecraft P/E for no good reason other than I wanted to see  how hard it was. It is a lot of work, and it eats up axes -- fortunately there are lots of trees nearby and the hole generates its own cobblestone by the ton. So the project is more or less self-supporting. This is easily my biggest excavation so far in the game.

Project 365-2016

I tried this last year, but I got sick early on in January. The point of this is to try to produce one image per day.

I have been trying to figure out how best to do this -- the photos I take get automatically put into Google Photos, and there isn't a trivial way to link to Google Photos from Google Blogger. I end up having to download the photos and then upload them into Blogger. I could just use a Google Photo Collections for this, but the text editing is a bit... sparse. Also nobody looks at those things. I could also use Google Plus, but again that has a sharply reduced audience from that of the dozen or so people who read me here.

This is a pain, but I think I'll have to try to make it work.

...also, I'll be back-dating the posts so that they match the date that the photo is for/from.