June 2004

Election results

So we had an election last night, did you know that? I assume you already know the results. (Liberal minority, tight races, yadda yadda.) Some random thoughts thereon:

Liberal candidate I’m most sorry to see lose: Glen Murray (Charleswood—St. James). I knew he shouldn’t have quit as mayor of Winnipeg to run federally. He was the best mayor Winnipeg has had in decades. And who told him that that was a safe seat? It’s a seat that expects and rewards constituency work: that’s how Harvard owned it all these years, not by being Liberal. (How else do you think we put up with Dangerous Dan McKenzie all those years? Because we frigging agreed with him? Ha.)

Liberal candidate I’m most sorry to see win: Jean Lapierre (Outremont). For the obvious reasons.

Former Young Liberal associates: It’s a disconcerting thing to see people who I knew when I was — I must confess — a member of the Young Liberals (1988-1992) now running for office. I mean, I’ve seen some of these guys drunk. Expected: John Bethel (Edmonton East) and Bill Cunningham (Burnaby—Douglas) losing. Unexpected: Ruby Dhalla — who must’ve been under 16 when I first met her — winning in Brampton—Springdale.

Strategic voting: It cost the NDP seats, as left-leaning voters held their nose and voted Liberal in terror of the Conservatives. Look at the results in North Vancouver and West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast: disproportionately high Liberal votes; disproportionately low NDP votes. But it backfired in Saskatchewan, where vote-splitting on the left — irony, that — put 13 of 14 seats in Conservative hands. Bottom line: second-guessing doesn’t work, you spineless pussies.

Election prognostication

I’m not much of a political blogger. Oh, I’m capable of it; I just lack the fervour and the need to spout off on a regular basis. More power to them that do; I just find the non-political niches that much more interesting at the present time.

Canadian political bloggers have been giving their predictions over the past few days — see here and here, for example — about the results nationwide and in their own particular ridings.

For my own riding (Pontiac), the usual conventional wisdom is whether the seat will stay Liberal or go to the Conservatives, what with Judy Grant as a strong local candidate. But I think that the riding could go to the BQ tomorrow.

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Snake egg update

Florence reports that Ruby, her snow corn snake, is laying eggs right now. Four have been laid so far as of this moment, with number five imminent. She got to see number three coming out — a fascinating process, according to Florence. Assuming all goes well, Ruby’s eggs will hatch into either amelanistic (red albino) corns or a 50-50 mix of amels and snows, depending on which male got to her first.

This is as good a place to reiterate the updates from the previous thread on this subject. Of Lilith’s (black pine snake) three eggs, two still look good; the smaller one is discoloured and is almost certainly not viable. Little Guy (anerythristic motley corn snake) laid at least 10 eggs — I can count 10, but am not certain if more are not hiding underneath. Some are dimpling, collapsing a bit already. We’ll find out about these eggs for certain around mid-August, when they’re due to hatch, more or less.

Finally, the single baby normal corn snake has eaten its second meal without incident tonight.

How milk became bad

In Slate: Milk: How a Wholesome Drink Became a Villain; via Megnut.

For the record, I don’t particularly like soy milk myself; thinking that I might be developing a milk allergy, I tried goat milk last year. Bit gamey. I’ve found, though, that the trick is not to overdo it on the dairy: the days of quaffing two litres each day are clearly over.

Iron Chef Chelonian

Worm Salad The Iron Chef is offering one dish. The bitterness of the organic mixed greens is gently scented by the slime of the chopped nightcrawler, while the grated carrot and chard add essential nutrients for a growing turtle.

Tasting: The turtle ate the nightcrawler pieces but ignored the veggies. A bitter defeat for the Iron Chef!

Epilogue: When the turtle was finished eating her worms, we added a chopped strawberry to her plate and put her in it. She turned to clomp away, stopped, did a double take, and went back to eat the new treats. Though this morning most of the strawberry pieces were still there. Box turtles are finicky beasts, even when you’re trying to convert them to a more vegetarian diet at the age of three.

Back to you, Fukui-san.

The verdict on the Newmarket show

The verdict on the Newmarket reptile show, where we peddled our wares on Saturday: “rather weak”. Crowds were light and for some vendors sales were even lighter. Some (like us) didn’t sell anything, though others were luckier.

In fact, some vendors left partway through, presumably fed up with the light crowds. But I’ve been to enough of the smaller shows (i.e., not Grant’s) to know that small crowds, heavily weighted towards local curiosity seekers rather than serious reptile buyers, are to be expected. In any event, the lack of a crush made it less hectic and more pleasant.

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Egg problems (updated)

It has turned out that the one baby hatched so far from Pretzel’s clutch will be the only one from that clutch. No other eggs hatched, so Jen pipped the ones that were supposedly viable yesterday. Fully formed snakes, but definitely dead — and with enough yolk remaining in the egg that it cannot have been recently. Which means that pipping them earlier wouldn’t have made a difference.

Meanwhile, Lilith (female black pine snake) is looking positively pendulous. She’s past due and I hope she lays them very soon. A trip to the vet for a dose of vasotocin would be expensive. Since Lucifer (mate) was occupying the nesting box all the time, we’ve temporarily removed him from the cage. Crossing fingers.

Also, Florence reports that Little Guy (female anerythristic motley corn snake) is also hugely gravid, past due and not dropping eggs yet. Can we get vasotocin in bulk?

[Edit: Updates in the comments.]

Reptile show update

For last Sunday’s reptile show, we decided to drive down in one shot. By getting up at 3 a.m. instead of coming down the day before, we got less sleep in exchange for less stress, and got our Saturday back, too. But man was I tired on the drive back that night. Yesterday was essentially spent catching up on the sleep; like food and sex, sleep feels fantastic when you’ve been deprived of it for a while.

Anyway. Wasn’t a bad show. We sold a couple of ceramics and three more red-sided garters, so we came out ahead for the first time in a long while. Smaller crowds but a smaller proportion of curiosity-seekers. Some definite interest from people who I think were this close to buying, too — and I can relate, since between the rough-scaled sand boas, trinket snakes, Trans-Pecos rat snake and the pair of sauromates, I was coveting about a thousand bucks of snake meat myself.

Steve got his head shaved by raising $2,000+ for the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre. I didn’t take my camera, figuring that there would be plenty of shutterbugs present, but the bastards haven’t gotten round to posting theirs yet! [Edit: Here they are!]

Next up is the show in Newmarket this Saturday. We’ll get up early to drive down to it as well; I think that will be standard procedure for shows from here on in. I just need to figure out how to get to sleep: nothing like insomnia just before having to get up frickin’ early. It’s the only time I can’t get to sleep.

Pretzel’s eggs hatching

It looks like some of Pretzel’s eggs were viable after all, because they’ve begun to hatch. One baby had pipped as of yesterday and as of now has hatched. More or less right on time, too — they were laid on April 16 and at the time I’d guessed at a hatch date around June 11 or so. These things are never exactly precise.

We’ll find out soon enough how many other eggs end up hatching. Once these are done, there won’t be anything else for a while, since no other snake has laid eggs yet. (Pretz was really early this year.) But Little Guy (normal and anerythristic corns) and Lilith (black pines) are probably gravid at the moment, and I suspect they’ll be producing eggs any day now. I’d dearly love to produce black pine snakes again this year.

Windows as a bad neighbourhood


John Gruber’s “Daring Fireball” essays invariably get widely circulated around the Mac web, and for good reason; his latest is no exception. In it, he argues that the reason why there isn’t any spyware, malware, and other assorted crapware on the Mac is because Mac users have absolutely no tolerance for it.

Especially interesting — startling, actually, because it’s so clever — is the analogy he makes to urban decay:

My answer to question posed earlier — why are Windows users besieged with security exploits, while Mac users suffer none? — is that Windows is like a bad neighborhood, strewn with litter, mysterious odors, panhandlers, and untold dozens of petty annoyances. Many Windows users are simply resigned to the fact that their computers contain software that is not under their control. And if they’ll tolerate an annoying application that badgers them with pop-up ads, well, why not a spyware virus that logs every key you type, then sends them back to the creator? …
The Mac is like a good neighborhood, where the streets are clean and the crime rate low. You don’t need bars on your windows in a good neighborhood; you don’t need anti-virus software on the Mac.

Which doesn’t do his argument justice, because doing it justice would require a hella long quote. Worth reading in full.

Speedway of the Pontiac

Highway 303 between Shawville and Portage-du-Fort may roll with the hills along its 13 km, but its speed limit of 90 km/h is not particularly excessive. Still, I keep running into drivers — at least three different drivers in recent memory — who persist in driving no more than 60 to 70 km/h along that route. It’s not that I’m surprised that there are rural drivers who go well under the speed limit, it’s that they’re turning up only on Highway 303, and nowhere else in the Pontiac. What gives, I wonder?

Our fastidious town

Early every Friday morning the street-cleaning truck makes its rounds in Shawville. As was the case with this town’s snowplowing schedule, I’m amazed at how frequently it’s being done: in Winnipeg, my suburban street was swept once each year, in spring, to get rid of the accumulated sand from the previous winter. This town is obsessed with cleanliness. Next I’ll be finding out that there’s no litter in the park, either.

Starbucks isn’t Wal-Mart

Starbucks: not evil. Or, to elaborate: according to this Willamette Week article, it does not destroy local coffee businesses, but rather stimulates demand; it does not pay its suppliers or its employees badly, all things considered; it enhances, rather than hurts, neighbourhoods. You’re thinking of Wal-Mart. Carry on. This bit of counterintuitiveness brought to you via Jerry Kindall.

Shrek 2

Saw Shrek 2 last Thursday night: a lot of fun — there were moments when we were laughing convulsively — though the busy plot sometimes lacked the coherence and elegance of the original. On the other hand, there’s a lot of raucous energy. It’s enjoyable.

Rob Anders

What do you do when your MP barely shows up for work, says outrageously loony things, and is generally embarrassing — such as, being the only one in the House of Commons to vote against granting Nelson Mandela honourary citizenship? You set up a web site called Vote Out Anders, that’s what. It’s dedicated to the defeat of Rob Anders, MP for Calgary West, by, well, anyone at all. Good on them. Via James Bow.