August 2002

Saturday, August 31, 2002

[ 11:37 AM ]

Codename Marklar. Marklar is maintaining a feature-complete marklar of Marklar running on Marklar as a fall-back marklar in case the Marklar is no longer viable. Maintained since the early days of Marklar, Marklar gains greater relevance in the context of Marklar's inability to deliver higher-frequency Marklars, but is seen as less likely given Marklar's forthcoming 64-bit Marklar-based Marklar. (via Marklar; posted to Marklar)

[ 9:34 AM ]

Don "Thunder Throat" La Fontaine is the voice behind movie trailers of the last several decades — yes, that voice. The question is, is this trailer (see previous entry) an hommage to/satire of his work, or, as evanizer suggests, is he actually dubbing that voice too? (That ain't him in the trailer.)

[ 9:19 AM ]

One of the features of .Mac is the ability to publish your photos for other users of Mac OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar") to download as their screen saver. I've done just that. I've uploaded eight of my higher-resolution mountain photos (three are scans of my father's prints); Jaguar users can find the instructions on my trails page.

The photos are, for the record, as follows: Chephren Lake/Howse Peak, Crowfoot Glacier, Robertson Glacier, Mount Sir Douglas (Burstall Pass), Mount Assiniboine (Burstall Pass), Dolomite Peak, Egypt Lakes (Healy Pass), and The Monarch and Ramparts (Healy Pass).

Friday, August 30, 2002

[ 9:32 PM ]

Clarion South: SF writers' workshop for Australians.

[ 4:47 PM ]

Finally got my copy of the July issue of The Ontario Herpetological Society News; Mel's done an astonishingly good job. Now I see the fruits of her extravagant printer purchase. When I was editing that particular journal, I was dead opposed to suggestions that we use 8" x 14" instead of 11" x 17" paper (saddle-stitched, natürlich), but now I'm awfully impressed by what can be accomplished in that odd format. Nice work.

[ 4:44 PM ]

Kung-Tunes is a neat little application made with AppleScript Studio that uploads the track data of whatever you're listening to in iTunes to a web server. The results have been cropping up here and there on the sidebars of blogs by people running OS X, including, as of last night, yours truly. Damned easy to set up. Of course, it's only going to show anything when I have a network connection, am listening to something on iTunes and remembered to turn Kung-Tunes on. (via Kottke, originally)

AppleScript Studio looks like it has potential. I'll have to install it from the Developer Tools CD that came with Jaguar and play with it. I think this might allow me to try and create that herp collection management software that I've dreamed about for so long.

[ 4:43 PM ]

Jordan Hubbard, FreeBSD guru and Darwin project manager, says,

[Darwin] can be used completely stand-alone on both the Power PC and x86 architectures. Just add the XFree86 package and whatever creature comforts you prefer (like KDE or fvwm) and you've got an OS which is reasonably equivalent to the other open source "Unix desktop" solutions out there.

Now there's a thought (in re this).

Thursday, August 29, 2002

[ 12:15 PM ]

Sprawl-induced aberrant driving behaviour: a fascinating theory proposed by University of Ottawa geography professor Barry Wellar. "[S]uburbs are built to move cars as quickly as possible. Although signs are posted with sensible speed limits, the roads are wide and open enough to move at much greater speeds. Therefore, people do, he argues." As a result, suburban drivers develop bad habits that are applied wherever they go. For example, the article says, "Features such as dedicated right-hand turning lanes allow drivers to feel they can roll right through without stopping to look for people on foot or on bicycles." Those drivers get out of the habit of checking for pedestrians when turning — then they nearly kill me when I try to cross Bank Street downtown. It's an interesting explanation for a phenomenon that has bewildered me since coming to Ottawa. Most people around here blame drivers from Quebec; most people around here are full of shit. (Update: posted to Metafilter, where they missed the point.)

[ 7:57 AM ]

If you think Mac users are cultish, then chances are you haven't met a Newton user. According to Wired, Newton users are still going strong, despite the gadget's cancellation over four years ago. Deluded? In denial? Hell, I have an appreciation for old technology (anyone got a spare Apple IIc?) and would probably tinker with one if it became available, though the lack of OS X compatibility is a significant obstacle for me. The problem I have is when people try to present it as a serious alternative to a modern handheld: a Newton MessagePad is several times the size of my Palm m505, and don't tell me that's not an issue.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

[ 4:39 PM ]

I've registered to present the OARA's case at the September 23 meeting of the City of Ottawa's Emergency and Protective Services Committee. That's the meeting where they hear from the public about the proposed Animal Care and Control By-law. (Remember, the relevant documents are available here — select the "By-law" folder.) We get a grand total of five minutes. Oh boy, am I going to have to be concise.

[ 4:35 PM ]

A Medicine Hat, Alberta woman was refused a Catholic wedding by her priest because he found out that she worked for Planned Parenthood — which is, unlike raping little boys, apparently unforgiveable in the eyes of the Church.

[ 4:34 PM ]

We've begun the onerous task of taking care of the mite infestation in my collection. Last night we treated the Butler's garters and flame garters, and their cages — the two confirmed sites of mite infestation so far (though it's likely widespread by now). The Butler's garters definitely have it the worst: we drowned a lot of mites by soaking the snakes in a confined space (a covered deli cup), and pulled a lot more (presumably dead by drowning) mites off them by swabbing or rubbing them with vegetable oil. There were mites under their chins and in their vents. There were an awful lot of mites in the cage. Comparatively speaking, the flame garters' infestation was rather light: we found few drowned, and we didn't pull many off them either. I hardly expect to have gotten all of them, but what was done will no doubt make them feel better until we bring out the big, dichlorvos-flavoured guns.

In other snake news, all but one of the baby corn snakes (see previous entry) have had their first shed so far, so I will be offering them food shortly. Last year's litter was downright leisurely in terms of getting in the mood to eat, so I'm not in a terrible hurry to start feeding this bunch. Still, I ought to stock up on some pinkies.

Found one of the baby red-sided garters dead in its cage; it was one of the runts of the litter, and never fed well. I expect it was starvation rather than dessication.

[ 8:38 AM ]

Hello, Kitty. I installed Jaguar last night, having managed to snag a copy at Compucentre after work. The installation was lengthy, as expected — backing up my files onto CD-Rs first (yes, I do backup occasionally!) took a bit of time, and installing Jaguar itself took well over an hour — but it was uneventful. Everything, so far as I can tell, works, without my old data being munged one bit. I'll post later on about some of the changes and new features, and my impressions of them. First up will probably be Address Book.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

[ 5:05 PM ]

The war on terror — sort of. Raymond Villeneuve, head of the radical Mouvement de libération nationale de Québec, is given a three-month conditional sentence for exhorting his supporters to hunt down "enemies of the French language" with shotguns. Villeneuve is a convicted FLQ terrorist responsible for the bombing death of a night watchman in the 1960s. Apparently some terrorists are not worth worrying as much about.

[ 5:05 PM ]

Betamax is finally dead — Sony announces plans to stop producing Betamax VCRs. What's surprising is that it was still alive in the first place.

[ 5:04 PM ]

Apple reports that 100,000 copies of Jaguar were sold worldwide last weekend. It could have been more; I was ready to buy my copy, but no one had any to sell (see previous entry)! Quoth The Mac Observer: "While we still are disappointed by Apple not offering Mac OS X 10.1 users a discount for Jaguar, it seems clear that others are less concerned about this, and that's a good thing for Apple." The reason why people were complaining about the price was because they wanted it very, very badly, and did not feel like they could do without it (an attitude Microsoft would kill for among its users); complaints that Jaguar was only a "point upgrade" or that it wasn't a "complete operating system" before now were, I think, tactical — whine enough and maybe they'll lower the price. Besides, since no Mac comes without a copy of a Mac OS, all Mac OS X sales are either pre-installs or upgrades, though I don't think anyone is including the Mac OS 9 and earlier installed base as "upgrades": they mean current OS X users. (But I digress.)

Monday, August 26, 2002

[ 10:01 PM ]

Last week I received the full report on the proposed animal by-laws for the amalgamated City of Ottawa (see previous entry); I've uploaded the documents to my iDisk for people to download and read. Go here and select the "By-law" folder. They're Word files.

[ 5:03 PM ]

Updating to a new OS involves breaking a few things, apparently. There is some disagreement as to whether Jaguar prevents OS-level hybrid CD burning (CDs that can be read on both Windows and Mac computers). Also, Jaguar seems to have a few problems with AirPort: some upgraders report not being able to use their base stations. The fix seems to be to make sure the AirPort base station firmware is upgraded to version 4.0.6 (which isn't available for the older, "graphite" version — lucky for me I have the newer, "snow" version — but I think it's supposed to come with Jaguar), and to unplug and replug the station to restart it.

Meanwhile, in related news, USA Today reports that Apple can't keep up with demand for its new 17-inch widescreen iMac. This after demand for the 15-inch model slaked off dramatically in May (see previous entry). Analysts have complained that Apple has trouble meeting the demand sparked by its product launches (or at least one or two did during their last quarterly earnings conference call). If nothing else, the new model has restimulated interest in the product line, but it seems that it's always the top-end model that garners the most demand.

[ 5:03 PM ]

Heaven forbid I should criticize my employer on these pages. (Good god, no!) But a federal government employee reading the news today might feel just a bit discouraged by what s/he finds: news that government employees are the unhappiest in Canada, according to a workplace study; a report that a 20-year pay equity complaint against Canada Post is only now getting past the evidence-gathering stage; and an interview with a government whistleblower who exposed wasteful spending in the Department of Foreign Affairs and whose career suffered as a result.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

[ 9:41 PM ]

Just saw Austin Powers: Goldmember. More than a few scenes I was embarrassed to larf myself stoopid over, but the way that one ended, if they make a sequel, I'm going to have to kill somebody.

[ 9:38 PM ]

Funniest. Movie trailer. Ever. (via Kottke)

[ 6:00 PM ]

Buy Mac OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar") immediately, says David Coursey. Would that I could. B. Mac's sold out; CompuSmart's sold out; they and Compucentre won't have any until the middle of this week. (He said, positively champing at the bit awaiting all that feline goodness.)

[ 9:09 AM ]

Pretz laid some 10 more eggs.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

[ 12:13 PM ]

The Palm m130 screen is 12-bit colour, not 16-bit as advertised. Apart from the legitimate false-advertising concerns (though it appears that Palm itself may have been misled by its own suppliers), it's hard to get worked up about colour depth on a 160 x 160 screen, which has 25,600 pixels. A 12-bit screen supports 4,096 colours and a 16-bit screen supports 65,336: you'd never be able to use more than 40 per cent of the colour depth of a 16-bit screen anyway.

[ 12:12 PM ]

Department of Boneheaded Non Sequiturs. Dan Knight at my new favourite source of Mac web stupidity, Low End Mac: "You can't simply append a file to a CD-RW on the Mac OS (although Windows users have software that allows it!); the whole disc must be rewritten." Let's analyse this, shall we? He's comparing apples (sorry) and oranges here.

He's complaining that multisession CD burning is not available on the Mac OS — i.e., there's no OS-level multisession CD burning. He then contrasts this with Windows, where they "have software that allows it". Except that (1) as far as I can tell, Windows users don't have OS-level multisession CD burning either (I'm told that XP has OS-level CD burning, but I don't know if it's multisession — someone enlighten me?), and (2) Mac OS users can get software that allows multisession CD burning too: it's called Toast. (And look! Dan mentions Toast three paragraphs up!) He's trying to find contrasts where there are none, just to support a pointless, ill-informed whine about CD burning in general.

I would really like it if more Mac commentary was actually informed once in a while.

[ 12:11 PM ]

"I don't care what's happening in Ottawa." Globe and Mail columnist John Barber, trying to make a point about why education in Toronto costs more, loses me right away; it seems to me that a lot of the reasons he cites for Toronto could also apply here (and in Hamilton, the third school board in trouble with the province), but he's too intellectually lazy to look past his own nose.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

[ 12:58 PM ]

Lately I've been interested in home-theatre systems, ever since I heard the sound coming out of one at Jen's parents' home. At the moment this interest is purely academic, since I don't even own a television. Shopping at electronics stores only learns you so much � though, thanks to some questions at the local Sony Store, I know what cables and jacks are required. Fortunately, there are web pages. "How Home Theater Works" (at is very thorough, and covers several options, including the different formats of surround sound (Dolby Pro Logic vs. Dolby Digital, for example). And here, in tiresome magazine format, is CNet's "10 Tips for Better Home-Theater Sound" (via Gizmodo). More information is eagerly sought.

[ 11:15 AM ]

Don't Link to Us! is a blog that links to sites that prohibit linking without permission. I missed the Metafilter post about it, on account of I was off having fun in New Brunswick at the time, but caught the CNet news article on it. Anyway, good on him.

[ 10:41 AM ]

This article on the prevalence of Asperger's syndrome in the hacking community is a useful followup to the Wired article that made the rounds last year. (via tranquileye)

[ 10:13 AM ]

In belated Star Trek: Nemesis news, reported absolutely everywhere else, Wil Wheaton reports that the Wesley Crusher scenes were cut from the movie — apparently the first cut was three hours long. Will we see him on the DVD?

[ 7:44 AM ]

Journalism students don't read newspapers or watch the news, says Claire Hoy, referring to a Fulford column I can't find online and his own experience teaching: "And while it was bad enough that wanna-be journalists weren't actually interested in, well, journalism, my experience was that the majority of them weren't terribly interested in such inconvenient concepts as grammar, spelling and — most of all — getting the facts right." If this is in any way true, then if I go to journalism school, two things will happen. One, my fellow students will drive me nuts (what are they doing there, then?). And two, I'm going to kick some serious ass. Look out everyone, it's a news junkie with hardcore research skills!

[ 6:20 AM ]

The proposal for the Ottawa animal control by-law has been released, but I've yet to see a copy of the full report. None of the news coverage talks about the impact on exotic pets, but rather focuses, as expected, on nutty decisions like the one to licence cats.

[ 6:14 AM ]

Course curriculum for sale at my alma mater. Thanks to a $2.3 million donation from Microsoft, the University of Waterloo � which I attended in 1994-95 � is changing the programming language used in E&CE 150 — a required course — from C++ to Microsoft's own C#, and offering a pre-university course, E&CE 050, in C# as well. Controversial to say the least (see Slashdot and Metafilter). I'm not impressed.

[ 5:23 AM ]

Will Puppy swear fealty to Plush Cthulhu when he awakens? (via Metafilter)

Sunday, August 18, 2002

[ 11:12 PM ]

The New York Times enters the realm of Apple rumours and speculation, with this report on Apple's rumoured entry into the mobile phone market.

[ 11:06 PM ]

Dammit, dammit, dammit. I have a snake mite infestation in my collection: so far, the little pests have been found in the flame garters' and Butler's garters' cages. Will have to begin the usual protocols, but I've usually been pretty mite-free so far; the idea of a potential collection-wide infestation — particularly when I have 52 baby snakes on hand — fills me with dread.

[ 10:47 PM ]

"A friend" writes about a two-month-old blog entry:

From: Anonymous <>
Date: Sun Aug 18, 2002 10:22:00 PM America/Montreal
Subject: dirty laundry

Complaining about your ex in your weblog makes you seem like a grade-A asshole. Everyone has the sorts of problems you write about, but few people air their dirty laundry in public, because is accomplishes nothing. It isn't fair to her, and it makes you look petty.

Stop being a jerk.

A friend

Some friend. Complaining about one's personal problems in a weblog is hardly new; if my friend has a problem with this, I suspect that my friend hasn't read enough weblogs or journals online: they're replete with complaints about friends, loved ones, and family. Some have even been heart-wrenchingly, brutally honest about their troubled relationships with their parents. I suspect my friend is not a regular weblog reader. My friend is a good speller and knows about anonymizer services, so it's unlikely that he or she is a member of the reptile community (not to over-generalize, but it's a safe guess). It's possible I've met my friend, who would rather tell me off as an anonymous coward rather than stand up as, for example, one of Florence's friends. It's more likely, however, that this is a casual visitor who stumbled across my weblog for whatever reason, and then stumbled across the entry.

It was a single, ill-tempered entry after more than a year of relationship troubles followed by months of post-relationship tension (awkward because we still allowed ourselves to have anything to do with one another). I let it stand because it serves as a record of how I felt that particular week, regardless of whether I was being fair or accurate; down the road, it will be valuable to me. Not that I didn't expect some negative responses. My brother told me point-blank that he was unimpressed with the entry; on the other hand, a good friend sent me a supportive note after reading it.

In any event, my friend needn't worry. After that week, relations between my ex and myself have settled down considerably, and we remain on good terms: we looked after each other's animals when the other went on vacation, we continue to collaborate on reptile breeding, and we stay in touch. I do not anticipate another blog entry like that again.

My friend's reaction does illustrate some of the dangers of posting extremely personal subject matter on a publicly available web site. Normally I'm self-conscious and private enough that such things stay unposted (jeez, the one time I make an exception . . . ); I have, however, pushed myself to be a little less laconic about such things. Sometimes the personal interferes, and sometimes, as uncomfortable as it may be to read it, as awful as it may make me look, the personal must be written about.

Friday, August 16, 2002

[ 10:21 PM ]

This evening I discovered that Pretz's clutch of 13 eggs have hatched: a perfect set of 13 cute baby normal corn snakes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

[ 5:00 PM ]

Gizmodo is a blog about gadgets; its creator is paying the weblogger and hopes to earn revenues through Amazon referral fees. A new stopoff for my neat toy jones. (via

[ 5:00 PM ]

Clarion West's 2003 lineup of instructors, barring any last-minute changes, will be as follows: Nancy Kress, Kathleen Ann Goonan, China Miéville, Elizabeth Hand, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Samuel R. Delany (aka "that fucker" — but see this and this and this).

[ 8:07 AM ]

Oh, this is inconvenient. Now that the new towers are out, B. Mac is selling old 933-MHz Power Macs for $2,349, which isn't that much more expensive than the 800-MHz, 60-gigabyte hard drive, SuperDrive-equipped eMac that was announced yesterday and that sells for $2,299 at Apple's Canada store (all prices in Canadian dollars). The 933-MHz model lacks DDR and the other architecture improvements of the new towers, but it does have, in addition to the SuperDrive that the $2,299 eMac has, a 133 MHz bus, 2 MB of L3 cache and a GeForce4 MX with dual monitor support, though it lacks a monitor. Now this is not a good time for me to go and buy a desktop, but this nevertheless grabs my attention. Maybe, when it finally does come time to buy a desktop, I'll catch a recently discontinued model just after a new product announcement.

[ 7:54 AM ]

Brian says, with regards to the 167-MHz front-side bus on the top two new Power Macs, "what is up with that? Dell's top-end systems are up to 533." Apples to apples, please, Brian: the 533-MHz Intel bus is a quad-pumped 133 MHz; the 167 MHz on the Power Macs is dual-pumped to 333 MHz. So either compare 533 to 333 or 133 to 167.

[ 7:06 AM ]

I knew it. Diamond engagement rings are an invented tradition designed to maintain high prices despite an increased diamond supply.

The diamond invention is far more than a monopoly for fixing diamond prices; it is a mechanism for converting tiny crystals of carbon into universally recognized tokens of wealth, power, and romance. To achieve this goal, De Beers had to control demand as well as supply. Both women and men had to be made to perceive diamonds not as marketable precious stones but as an inseparable part of courtship and married life. To stabilize the market, De Beers had to endow these stones with a sentiment that would inhibit the public from ever reselling them. The illusion had to be created that diamonds were forever — "forever" in the sense that they should never be resold.

From the February 1982 issue of The Atlantic Monthly (via Slashdot).

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

[ 11:38 PM ]

On the train home yesterday, I stumbled across this Moncton Times and Transcript article on Remicade, a drug that would quite likely accomplish great things against my ankylosing spondylitis if I can ever get my hands on it — it's insanely expensive and not covered by provincial drug plans — by profiling a couple of local residents and the impact the drug would have or has had on them. I take "miracle drug" designations with a grain of salt as a matter of course, but this stuff sounds really promising. (see previous entry)

[ 11:10 PM ]

As of today, all new Power Macs are dual processor across the line: a dual 867 MHz, dual 1 GHz, and dual 1.25 GHz. DDR RAM (266 MHz or 333 MHz, depending) and L3 cache across the board, a faster system bus on the top two models, faster graphics cards, up to 2 GB of RAM, and two optical drive bays and four hard drive bays (two hard drives on an ATA/100 bus, the opticals and two more on ATA/66 — opticals apparently can't saturate ATA/66). Prices are up compared to previous models. Some Mac heads think it isn't enough, as usual.

I also note that they've gone and put a SuperDrive on a new 800-MHz eMac. Damn them.

[ 10:59 PM ]

Back from New Brunswick — took the train from Moncton — and what would a trip of mine be without lots of little things to complain about?

We tried out the new Comfort Plus service, which got us access to some of the first-class amenities (except, well, beds and showers). A less crowded car, as hoped, but it still had one screaming kid overnight, and they used the car as a waiting area for the adjacent dining car, which was a bit of a nuisance. Also, it's axiomatic that the more you pay, the more you expect, so I was annoyed by the burnt-out reading light that couldn't be fixed en route, or the gum stuck to the edge of the blanket — not what you'd expect from a supposedly deluxe service.

Not related to the class of service: the train was slightly more than two hours late, in spite of what I believe is a couple of hours of motionlessness scheduled in. Two reasons for the delay I know about: we added two sleepers in Moncton, which took additional time, and several apparently unruly passengers were escorted by police off the train at Miramichi. The delays compounded themselves along what is normally very quick track between Charny and Montréal, as we were pushed onto sidings to let pass higher-speed corridor trains that we should never have encountered.

They held the Montréal-Ottawa train for us, but neglected to tell us that baggage checked through from Montréal actually travels by truck: normally this is not a problem, because the Halifax-Montréal train arrives at 8:00 am and the next earliest train to Ottawa leaves at 10:00 am, so the truck has plenty of time to beat the train (which is actually much faster). This time, however, the truck couldn't do that, and as a result we waited an hour at the Ottawa train station for our checked baggage. I'm a bit annoyed that VIA staff did nothing to dispell the impression that the luggage would accompany us on the train.

They'll be getting one of my world-famous letters of complaint, I think.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

[ 1:46 PM ]

I know, you're still waiting for my mountain pictures. In the meantime, here are the El-Socko pictures of Healy Pass (Floppy Puppy was unavailable, so El-Socko stood in for him).

[ 1:44 PM ]

iPod Software 1.2 Updater for existing iPods has finally been released; it implements all the neat new features announced for iTunes 3 and adds iCal support, a clock, and all the other goodies announced at Macworld last month. It's nearly six megs, so I'll have to wait until I get home to install it.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

[ 8:37 PM ]

Julia Child turns 90: "America's culinary grand dame, Julia Child, is celebrating her 90th birthday with spectacular meals, great wine and lots of butter." (via Rebecca's Pocket)

[ 8:33 PM ]

Now in New Brunswick with my sweetie, after a mostly uneventful flight from Calgary. One wrinkle was a last-minute plane change at Hamilton: originally those of us travelling on to Moncton were told that we would be on the same plane; ten minutes before scheduled take-off, however, we were moved to another plane. The problem was that we switched from a Boeing 737-800 to a 737-700 — a smaller plane with fewer seats — which meant that some seats were double-booked and things were generally chaotic.

Incidentally, watching a DVD on my iBook while using the battery is as reported: I can get about two hours of battery life when playing a DVD, which means I can actually watch an entire movie. Or I could, if the flight was long enough.

In an odd twist, my seatmates on the Hamilton-Moncton leg were newlyweds who were lugging a garden gnome with them; they were planning on taking pictures of said gnome during their honeymoon. Shades of you know who.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

[ 6:09 PM ]

Yesterday, my brother and I went on another hike, taking advantage of the brief letup in the rain this past long weekend. Our destination: Healy Pass, which has been on my wish list for years. We took a slightly unusual route: from Sunshine Village, across Simpson Pass and through Healy Meadows, rather than going straight up the main route along Healy Creek. The advantage was that we would save 500 metres of climbing and see more stuff; the disadvantage was having to pay $18 per person for the shuttle to Sunshine Village from the Bourgeau Parking Lot — which, as it turned out, was worth it.

We left the ski resort at 10:00 am and reached the maximum elevation within less than two kilometres: an observation point on Wawa Ridge. Unfortunately it was still too cloudy to see very much at that point. From there, a quick and steep descent from Sunshine Meadows into the forested north side of a mountain, and then across the small meadow at Simpson Pass, which is on the Alberta-B.C. border and populated by small mammals. A short climb from there into Healy Meadows, where the trail was muddy and indistinct, but still findable. At this point the clouds cleared enough that I could see the massive pyramid of the Monarch; I took dozens of photographs of this nearby mountain. From Healy Meadows it was a short hike to the junction with the main trail to Healy Pass. We saw bear scat several times along the Simpson Pass-Healy Meadows trail; considering that only eight people were hiking that trail that day (based on who we saw, and the assumption that anyone hiking that trail would have been on the same bus as us), I was a bit nervous at the possibility of a grizzly encounter. Scenic, but primitive.

The Healy Pass trail was both in excellent condition and heavily used; this is clearly the main route taken by backpackers heading to the Egypt Lakes region. Day hikers were definitely in the minority, which is hardly surprising given that it's an 18-kilometre round trip. From the junction, we climbed steeply up a trail through meadows to the northern edge of the Ramparts — a ridge leading off from the Monarch — which is where Healy Pass is. The last few hundred metres before the Pass are remarkable: suddenly, without warning, the peaks beyond the pass come into view. Suddenly, there's Mount Ball, Haiduk, the Pharaoh Peaks, and all the Egypt Lakes. The view is remarkable. The view behind is no slouch either: the Monarch and Ramparts and, if you're lucky, Mount Assiniboine (whose peak was under cloud yesterday, unfortunately — but we saw plenty of it from Burstall Pass).

We descended back to the parking lot via the main Healy Pass trail. It was a better trail, but it was very steep — I would have hated climbing it — and, except for the final couple of kilometres before the pass, in forest. Poor visibility. Healy Pass is a magnificent and highly recommended destination: the question is, do you want to get there via a steep, forested trail that is in good condition, heavily-travelled, and free to use (park passes notwithstanding), or do you want to pay the extra money for more scenery along a gentler trail in worse condition? I opted to pay the money, and I'm glad I did.

Footnote: On the drive back to Calgary, we (and everyone else) were stopped by a grizzly bear that had somehow made its way onto the highway. Traffic was backed up for a couple of kilometres. The Herald reports that the highway closure occurred at 12:30, and we came to a stop east of Canmore at 4:45, so I'm guessing that the bear managed to get back onto the road.

[ 5:48 PM ]

Brief update after an overlong silence. My mother married Tom Hanrahan on Friday in a little church in Banff, followed by a small reception at the Rimrock Hotel. I took pictures. Yesterday, a much bigger reception/open house at their house, which many attended. I forgot to take pictures.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

[ 7:11 PM ]

I haven't finished my Burstall Pass photo gallery yet, but here's something to hold you over in the meantime. Here's Floppy Puppy's visit to Burstall Pass and my contribution to the iPods Around the World Photo Gallery.

[ 3:44 PM ]

Organic farming has become big business, even multinational. "Coopted by big business, . . . the organic movement has shifted away from the small farmer — and its corresponding focus on community food production — toward the techniques and problems of conventional and factory farming." Worldwide shipping. Packaged, processed foods. Doesn't much resemble the organic movement any more, does it? Factor in the transportation costs of food, and locally produced food, even if not strictly organic, may be preferable from an environmental perspective. (via Rebecca's Pocket)

[ 3:26 PM ]

Another arrogant, elitist Mac user's utter disdain for "the little people". Says Jason Walsh at Low End Mac: "It's not that I object in principle to people connecting digital cameras and camcorders to their Macs, it's just that I don't want to be forced to sit through the dross that they subsequently create." Walsh objects to Apple's focus on iApps to the detriment, he feels, of its professional user base. To which I respond, bullshit.

Historically, professional users have always been well looked after on the Mac platform. If consumers, who have been receiving short shrift on the Mac until the iApps, finally get the tools to produce home movies and photo albums, that does not necessarily impact on the professionals, who already have plenty of tools out there. And you don't need to point out the neglect of the professional user base by sniffing disdainfully at the presumption of ordinary people to work with multimedia and the unprofessional quality of their output. It's only the most narrow-minded, mean-spirited, misanthropic elitism that would begrudge non-professionals (like me) the opportunity just to fart around with movies and photos without having to shell out the big bucks for professional software with steep learning curves.

(Update: Brian Tiemann isn't impressed with Walsh's article either.)