Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

These cameos by various film actors are entertaining for the most part, but I particularly liked the one of Tilda Swinton.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the flat
Not a creature was stirring, not even a that.
A who and a which were lurking around.
A where and a whence were making some sound.
A but and a wherefore were nowhere in sight
And a since and a therefore were having a fight.
I asked my poor mother, "What, what shall I do?"
She yelled in my ear, "Just please eat your stew".

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This was actually last year, but we are all focused on our friends who are stuck in Europe. You lose your flight and then any subsequent flight that does take off is, of course, already booked out. To a Canadian it does seem strange that they simply don't have more snow plows. They are certainly have to get get them if they go on having winters like 2009 and 2010. They winge about temperatures below zero, while we live every winter like that. I rather like the cold, as long as I have a warm coat. Mine has recently lost its zip so it is a little on the cool side, but, as long as the Velcro tabs hold out, I'm OK. There was a man on TV tonight in a suit designed for minus sixty. That's what we call cold.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I really must get some bridge work done

Friday, December 10, 2010

Computerworld - Any attempt to criminally prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the ongoing disclosure of classified State Department cables will pose huge challenges for the U.S. government, according to a newly updated report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The 24-page report, released this week, examines the criminal statutes involved in the WikiLeaks case and how they might apply outside the U.S. The report concludes that at least some of the information released by WikiLeaks has national security implications and may indeed by covered under the Espionage Act and other criminal laws on the books.
Even so, actually prosecuting Assange for the disclosures would be unprecedented -- and challenging, the report said.

"We are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it," the report bluntly stated. Such an action would have First Amendment implications, and political ramifications "based on concerns about government censorship."

In addition, prosecuting a foreign national whose actions were conducted entirely overseas carries with it certain foreign policy implications and would raise questions related to extraterritorial jurisdiction, the CRS said in its report.

Details of the report were published Wednesday by Steven Aftergood on Secrecy News, a blog run by the FAS Project on Government Secrecy. The blog also posted a link to the CRS report

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Apparently I am now a terrorist, according to Sarah Palin, because I read and support wikileaks. I should be hunted down like Alaskan vermin or Osama Bin Laden. In fact I look forward to the next wikileaks batch, which will be about international banking. That should disturb the hornets nest.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My niece posted this wonderful art photo on Facebook

Snow, first of the season on the ground in our garden. The two eldest sons and us, we are off to the family Christmas party. We were supposed to have left now. With some trepidation I have to return to work on December first. I still don't sleep well. I cannot lie on my left side and wake every time my body wants to roll off my back. Thus in the morning I tend to slumber on, trying to catch up on the night's lack of rest. I was telling Cathy that I think it will be at least another two months before I am back to normal. She said it would be good for me to work as I have become too inactive and this I see is true, but brrrr, I am not looking forward to being up at six in the dark and home at six also in the dark. It serves me right for choosing to live so far out in the suburbs.
I think we are leaving....
(Later) The party was fine, although the huge family was reduced to only about 40 attendees this year. I found that I have lost my nerve in the car, especially returning in the dark, my son driving quite fast, sometimes with wisps of snow blowing low across the road. The persistent thought that we might crash and that, of course, my chest would open up again, I found quite terrifying. I closed my eyes and recited protection mantras silently to myself. They did not help much.
Arrived home safe and sound and watched "Casino Royal" up to the bit that made me cry the first time. Eva Green is lovely and will be recognised as a great actress someday. This is the third film I have seen her in.
Woke several times in the night, but slept in till nine. I feel ancy today, perhaps because I have to go back to work.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Last Friday I started this record of flagged visitors on the right. It is hard to understand why I get visitors from quite exotic places.
I am still at home recuperating slowly from an operation on my chest. I will have to return to work in just over one more week. I can't imagine what it will be like to get out of bed at five to six again and get through the day without the afternoon nap to which I have become accustomed.
I just got a call from an old old friend and when I mentioned that all the furniture in the Stieg Larsson book I am reading seems to be also from IKEA, she said that she had stopped reading him in horror. She said that there is a vogue for describing unspeakable violence towards women, while pretending to be feminist. We both watched Medium from the beginning and have noticed how the crimes on that show have become more violent and almost always involve violence against women. Her feminist roots rebel against this new excess of violence against women. I very much see what she means, but will go on with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo mainly because I enjoy the amateur quality of a book written for the entertainment of the author with no original intention of publishing it. His first title for the book was Men Who Hate Women and he wrote three books before approaching a publisher. He was dead at fifty. However gruesome some scenes are, I enjoy the read much as I enjoy blogs more than learned articles.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First there was the problem. What was the problem? It had something to do with knowing. I could remember the dream, but I could not remember what the dream was about. There was an apartment very sparsely furnished, comfortably empty. We lived there and we were happy, but we had a problem and I can't remember what it was. As usual, I woke in discomfort, mildly cursing again that I could not be inured by sleep. Surely it had been long enough, I reflected, to find a comfortable position to lie down in, but it was not yet to be possible. I got up and swore off the pain killers in the drawer next to my bed. What had I just dreamed and what was the problem? I still don't know.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My best friend has just challenged me, (and inspired me), to write something on my blog even though I don't feel that I have anything to write about.

Above is an old picture of me with my brothers. Quite a bit more of me than now protrudes from my belly. I found the picture, reading over the 2008 entries of this blog, an entertainment of the last few days, as I sit at home waiting for my lungs to settle comfortably back into my rib cage. I saw the surgeon on Tuesday and he told me that I was repairing well and that I might stay at home until the end of the month. Just as well, as I don't feel up to returning to work yet.

This same best friend does not work on Mondays and we spent a congenial four hours on the phone and Skype, chatting like the two old men we have both become. He is a good friend and has been since I first came to live in Canada in 1973.

My younger brother, the handsome one on the right, just called me from England. His amateur dramatic society is putting on the same play I was in late last year, Hay Fever. It would be such fun if he played the same part I played. At the time I kept quite careful notes on a private blog and now I have the opportunity to invite him alone to read it. Even more fun would be to be in a play with him one day. We both like small parts and, in an amateur way, I dare say that we can both be quite funny.

The brother in the middle is my genius older brother, never an actor, but a recently retired professor. Teaching, I suppose, has elements of acting to it. So there you have it: three very different brothers with very different careers. Very soon we will all just be old men sitting in rocking chairs remembering...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Oh no. Do I need to attempt a succinct explanation of geomatics?" asks Professor David Parker of the University of Newcastle. "Well, I could say something long-winded based on the way we take measurements of the earth, but essentially we do SatNav and Google Earth – professionally. So whereas most people use Google Earth to visualise a drive along their high street, professionals can use imagery from land, air and space not only to visualise our urban infrastructure but to sense vegetation, moisture and heat loss."

Until recent times geomatics was a sort of adjunct to engineering. The Channel Tunnel, for example, wouldn't have happened without it. But as satellites have progressed, the profile of the geomatician has soared. "We can now sense the uplift around an active volcano or measure the rate of melt of the ice caps," says Parker. His science is the great hope for providing the blueprint (or greenprint) to enable us to have a truly sustainable lifestyle. Parker is loath to take any personal credit – geomatics is always a team effort – but he has brought geomaticians, engineers and geoscientists together to collaborate in a new way.

Ecologists point out that everything is interconnected, yet scientists often go about their business in a compartmentalised way. Parker and his team, however, merge data to create mind-bogglingly detailed maps that allow them to profile, for example, coastal erosion, or to treat Newcastle as an urban laboratory. Over the next two years, the School of Geomatics ( will map all the details of the city's infrastructure. "When we've done that," says Parker, "we'll know how to change to live within our means. Enough for all, for ever – that's the aspiration."

Yesterday, we drove out through fall leaves and a little further North, where the fall was already over, to Stratford to look at houses for our retirement. We saw a house on Maple from the outside, Redford Crescent round its own park, where there was nothing suitable for sale and inside the two half built houses on College, which, sadly will be ready before we can move. We liked the agent a lot and he represents Stratford's biggest builder, so we might find something in the future. We loved the town, although it is an hour or two from Toronto.
I have always lived in big cities and I don't know how well I will adapt to a small one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I just made a little You tube film of photographs taken on my first cell phone. These are some of them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

As you older, it becomes more and more important
not to get water in you shoes,
to buy a Harley sometime soon,
to play in that old farts band,
not to get up at three thinking it's six,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stoned on Percocet and anti-histamine. I lay examining the word "coindre" Je coins, tu coins, il coin, Dans le temps nous coindrions, c'est a dire, nous nous mettions dans un coin. We painted ourselves into corners. I was coming back up to the surface slowly, irritated that even my watch strap was itching. The operation has been highly successful and a lot less painful than expected. I had a morphine pump for twenty for hours but used it less than I could have. I slept a lot. I came home today. I will have a pretty scar for some time to come. It was not my thymus at all. The remainder of my thyroid had descended behind the breast bone, hence the five inch vertical scar.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Neurophotonics and tremor control

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Guardian, Monday 20 September 2010
Article history
The solar wind is a violent burst of charged particles that creates magnetic storms in the Earth's upper atmosphere. But the sun's light, too, has pressure: Nasa scientists calculated 30 years ago that in the vacuum of space, the impact of sunlight on a gossamer-thin mirror would be enough to get it moving with an acceleration of a millimetre per second per second. This doesn't sound much, but within 24 hours a space sailing ship could be travelling at 100 metres a second, and still be accelerating. It could reach Mars in 400 days. The US Planetary Society has twice tried to launch a prototype space sailing ship; in May this year the Japanese space agency sent its experimental "kite" Ikaros floating towards Venus. And today the European Planetary Science Congress in Rome will hear the case for a fleet of "data-clippers" – robot windjammers laden with instruments, scudding out on the gentle breeze from the sun to Europa or Titan and then tacking back to Earth to download vast quantities of scientific data stored in flash memory. The biggest costs in space are rocket fuel and data transmission across epic distances. A fleet of automaton solar-wind-powered ships would greatly cut the costs and thereby multiply the returns. But beyond this ultimate economy drive, think of the beauty: of a fleet of silent windjammers, riding on radiation alone, literally making light work of charting the planets and their many satellites – all the way to the very last outposts of the empire of the sun.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA, Sep 13, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Tech Museum today raised the curtain on its most ambitious exhibition, The Tech Silicon Valley Innovation Gallery, revealing cutting-edge technology developed by the world's foremost experts on computing, digital design, communication and collaboration.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Once again I have been in Toronto General Hospital for a few days. I felt a short spell of the old chest pain on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, I had to have my INR checked. Afterwards, at the streetcar stop up at College and University, I felt so tired that I felt I had to lean against a newspaper box. Then I felt that I would fall down unless I hitched myself up on top of the box. I saw black spots in front of me and, feeling awful, I slumped back against the wall. Two streetcars came, but I did not feel strong enough to walk to them. After only about eight minutes, I hailed a cab and went to the hospital's emergency department.
They monitored my heart, but, because I have had two DVT's in my legs, the doctor recommended a CT scan on my lungs. The results showed that I had no clots in my lungs, only small scars of previous clots, but they did show that I had a growth behind my breast bone. There is a gland there called the thymus. It usually shrinks after adolescence, but mine is about half as long and wide as half my thumb. Because it is behind my upper sternum, the thoracic surgeons reckoned they could not do a biopsy on it without opening the chest and so they might as well remove it.
I was in hospital until yesterday establishing by CT scan, gamma ray exam and ultrasound that, if it was malignant, it has not spread to my abdomen or my scrotum. So it is quite safe for the moment, but they will split my chest like a walnut and take it out. As I am on blood thinners, we will probably wait two or three weeks and then some discomfort. Bwaaa!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This twenty foot sail has been deployed by a Japanese team to travel to Venus in two years:
Analysts believe that the launch of the new Japanese solar sail demonstrator Ikaros evidences the fact that the dawn of a new type of space exploration is upon us. They say that the spacecraft proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the technology is feasible, and that it could in the future be used to drive ships and satellites way beyond the solar system.
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This is precisely what space agencies around the world are looking for, a rather inexpensive way of exploring other worlds, way beyond Earth's orbit. Come to think of it, using sails that harness the power of the Sun is not different than what our forefathers did to harness the power of the wind. Ships allowed them to conquer the world.Now, it could be that solar sails could help us conquer the solar system, and also the galaxy beyond it, Space reports. Seeing how Japan has proven the viability of these sails, other nations and groups will try to launch similar devices as well. NASA will launch its spacecraft this fall, whereas the Planetary Society, which already tried to do so once, will have another go at it next year. “Solar sailing is the only known technology we have on Earth that will someday take us to the stars,” explains the executive director of the Planetary Society, Louis Friedman.“If you want to go really quickly to the outer edge of the solar system you'd want to use a solar sail,” adds space expert Les Johnson.“A chemical system [such as] a rocket would run out of gas long before you get there. With solar sails, as long as you've got the Sun you can keep going,” adds the scientist, who is the deputy manager of the Advanced Concepts Office.The organization is based at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), in Huntsville, Alabama. Experts now believe that self-powered spacecraft are the future, and not those that use conventional fuel. A further use for solar sail-powered ships would be to have them deployed around the Sun, so that they can keep an eye on the phenomena and events taking place at the star's surface. Conceivably, in the future manned spacecrafts that rely on the Sun for propulsion could take people to other destinations beyond the stars.For now, experts need to focus on perfecting their achievement, and ensuring that new sail materials are produced and then sent to space.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


All photographs are out of order. The last three are not ours.

When we arrived in Paris we got a lift from the airport in a kind of shared taxi. As two other couples had to be dropped off before us, we got a tour of Paris. The driver recommended that we go up this hideous tower at Montparnasse and indeed the views were much better than those from the Eiffel tower, which is somewhat off to the side of central Paris. Also the view of the Eiffel tower itself was great and, as we watched it at sunset, it suddenly lit up.

Earlier we had ridden on a boat, which went downstream to the islands, turned around, came back on the other side of the islands, passed the Eiffel tower and turned around again to drop us off. A kind woman I barely know, whom I had met at Starbucks had lent me her camera and I was shooting everything in sight. Unfortunately I had not read the instructions and every time I pressed the button I was only focusing. I ended up with only six photographs when I had inadvertently pressed the button all the way down.

We visited our friends in Marseilles and then went to my niece's wedding. We returned to Paris for one night before our flight home. We went to the Orsay Museum and exhausted ourselves on the impressionists. A very worthwhile museum and not expensive. The paintings were just there and you could walk right up to them and look at every brushstroke. As usual, the Cezannes made me cry. Also, surprisingly, a Renoir whom I usually find too chocolate boxy, but those young people dancing and chatting, all, long since, old and dead moved me like photos of the civil war.
In the evening we wandered through the streets near our hotel, very aware that one day later we would be back in Toronto, a very different place. Almost any Paris street is interesting.