Signs that your day may not go exactly according to plan....

by Mark Zaugg 2. February 2009 17:56

Have you ever had one of those days where you're really looking forward to what the day promises to bring? 

I've booked my vacation - a whole week of time to myself to get all those naggly little bits done that I never seem to get time to do.  To have a little bit of "me" time where I can care and pamper myself.  Some loverly time to knock off a few dozen things from my personal todo list. 

And all I have to do is go into work for the morning, monitor my systems, drink a cup o' coffee and spend a nice relaxing couple of hours before I knock off.. 

And then this song plays on my iPod as I walk through the front door...

Kevin Bloody Wilson, you're a sage and a gentleman, but you're also a heartless ***.  Now if only you could say *** in Canada.

I Can't Stand Still

by Mark Zaugg 4. January 2009 19:37

"I feel the frustration 
In this funky old city tonight. 
There's a pack of dogs on the lawn 
And they're hung-a-ry for a bite." 

Ah, the new year.  Time for reflection on what's transpired and rumination on what is to come.  What did I do last year for my pseudo-contemplative musings? 

Oh, right.  Nothing.  I was going through the cold-soon-to-be-pneumonia with the side trip of "Does cancer run in your family?" and "Whatever happened to that blood clot in your lungs?"  I wasn't blogging much then. 

The year where I got fired from a place I no longer wanted to be and took the reins on a bunch of Linux servers just to get smacked around with how great the gap between what I know, what I want to know, and just what precisely it was I thought I knew in the first place.  You know? 

The year I turned 40 and realized that I still think of my father in terms of him being 30.  The year where I drove a honest-to-ghod race car and set my best time on a lap I made from a standing start.  The year I met my goal of 100 cache finds.  Wait, I didn't quite make it yet.  Next year.  The year I discovered the sweet intoxication of a Blackberry (my precioussss) Curve.  The year I recovered the photos of the kids I'd lost two years ago.  Remind me to back all those up to archival DVD's, okay?  Heh heh..

I get the impression most people are happy to see 2008 fall behind them.  For me, it wasn't all that bad.  Once I got past that really lousy few months.

I haven't been doing great on the Couch to 5k programme, but I'm significantly stronger in my lungs than I have been.  I took a hit with the cold weather and Christmas, but it's not about being perfect, it's all about improving.  There was a reason I gave myself six months to finish.  It's the year I got back into curling and I'm having the time of my life.  I genuinely like all the guys on my team, I'm learning how to be a better player and I'm adapting from the "player who doesn't fall coming out of the hack" to the "player who can adequately find weight about 50 percent of the time."

After a couple years of blah I've been more in touch with the music I love again.  I've actually got a little bit more than just the podcast of Dispatches on my iPod.  I need more blues, funk and jazz in my life especially after Iceberg reorganized again (sigh).  But riding home on the bus my mind flips over using one of those more obscure axes it likes to use, and I think of Danny Marks.  Damned if I don't dig up his website too!  Looks like birthday 41 is going to include some great music.

Thinking of Danny makes me think about this one time back on the Hum Line when someone called in and asked about a song that contained the phrase, "It's hot and it's sticky / Think I'll get myself a mickey / I'm so parched and dry."  And, in my mind at least, Danny shot out of his chair and said, "That's a song from a buddy of mine, _____ _______."  Now, I liked the song and hadn't heard it for years at that point and I was giddy to have a handle on who did it and what the album was and I rushed right out and searched for a couple of years and managed to dig up a casette tape (title and artist long since forgotten) which is probably out in Mike's basement right now.  And riding home on that bus, I dug out my trusty ol' Crackberry and spent the next 45 minutes chasing down the song, failing miserably.

Today, I'm messing around on youtube and I find it.  The Extras with "Can't Stand Still."  And he's got the video for "Jealous Girl" up there too!  Ooooooh, eightieslicious!  By the way, Danny's friend was Leon Stevenson who will also be getting a visit from my credit card in short order.

So yes, I still feel like I have too much to do and not enough time or brainpower to get it all done.  Yup, I've got a pile of clutter and hell stacked around me that drives my Lady-love crazy that I can't seem to get a grip on.  Runescape time has dropped from a couple hours a day to a couple hours a week on a good week.  The year I planned on shrinking my consulting business saw expansion.  I took a couple financial hits that I'll have to work on and probably won't see much improvement for a couple more years now.

All in all, the biggest plus in my corner right now is that I'm not standing still.  I still feel a lot of frustration, I can feel those dogs nipping at my heels, and it may be hot and sticky and on the edge of something nasty ready to break out, but I feel like I've gotten traction regardless of everything else around me.

The idea of keeping a finger on something from my past while looking forward to the future appeals to me.  Don't forget who you are and what made you the person you are.  Now just dig in, change what you can to keep moving forward and don't worry about the costs, focus on the benefits from your effort.

Pfffth thhhhhhpb fnurt

by Mark Zaugg 26. December 2008 19:10

The nicest thing about having a Blackberry is the constant contact with the world. 

The nicest thing about having a blog is the constant imposition of my opinion on the rest of the world.  Mix the two of them and magic happens. 

Some observations:

- Bell changed to a new ad campaign a while back. I don't know precisely how they did it, but they made it dumbER, lamER and much lousiER than before. Don't they think about these things first? LosER! 

- When you see a woman with a white cane walking towards you, do you expect to see her listening to an iPod? That's more faith in Calgary drivers than I'm willing to impart.  

- Speaking of Calgary drivers, isn't it about time the traffic reporters stop telling people to slow down? Parked is the slowest you can drive.


I just flew in and boy are my knees achey.

by Mark Zaugg 29. October 2008 21:35

What's the point of doing something stupid if you can't share it for the world to see, right? 

I've officially began my Couch to 5k programme.  I'm tired of the high blood pressure and I figure it's time I put my foot down.  One at a time.  I have to say, "officially" since I have been working on getting my activity level up for a while after the pneumonia.  But although I feel my lungs getting stronger, my weight's continued to climb (along with the aforementioned blood pressure). 

The biggest part of a couch to 5k programme so far has been getting off the couch.  The dog and I went up Nose Hill this evening, he seemed to have an easier time at it than I did.  The pedometer says we covered 3.3 km today.  We'll see who stiffens up tomorrow.. 

I'm giving myself 6 months.  I mean, what Canadian in his right mind would start this before winter?

One request:  Could I get Kramer's Bro in a format large enough to hold in my beer belly?

So I had a nightmare last night

by Mark Zaugg 14. October 2008 01:00

I woke up in the wee hours this morning in a cold sweat. 

In my dream, my parents had joined a newfangled cult and one of the cool "features" was the surgical removal of their hands in a "welcoming ceremony for our visitors."  Some extra-terrestrial sadists or something. 

WARNING:  Any organization wishing for you to intentionally remove your hands surgically is a monumentally stupid idea.  Thanks, I'm here to serve. 

So the big woo of the whole thing involved my parents waving their no-longer-extant fingers in the air in a sign of welcome to our alien guests.  Naturally I woke up feeling nauseous. 


Okay, I'm a big boy.  I understand the difference between a bad dream and an unholy nightmare.  I know how to calm down after that, too.  You let the dog out and go watch TV with your son who's apparently up early. 

I go into his room nd he's channel surfing since there's nothing on that particularly grabs him.  He settles in to n old standard, Thomas the Tank Engine.  Aaaaand....

It's time I come clean..

by Mark Zaugg 30. September 2008 00:32

Honey, you remember when I woke you up at 4:00 AM when I was crawling back into bed and you were wondering what I was doing?

I was up late, trolling on American political message boards.

Next week, I'm moving on to Nancy Pelosi.

Hello, Copyright Police? I'd like to report a crime against good judgment.

by Mark Zaugg 8. September 2008 23:51

Okay, I'm reading through the news Sunday when I spot this article from the BBC

"Rock band Heart have called in lawyers after US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin used their track Barracuda at a Republican Party rally." 

Yay!  This is so messed up I don't know where to begin.  How about I start with copyright law itself.  The continual re-extension of copyright terms is utterly ridiculous and deserves all the ridicule we can heap upon it.  In Canada, it is generally 50 years after the artist's death.  Fifty years!  Why not ten?  Why not one hundred?  Is this really for the author?  How about the author's estate?  What about when the rights have been signed away to a book company or record company or movie company or whatever? 

Given our ability to archive material, why not forever?  I mean, it's not like it was 400 years ago and we've long since lost track of who wrote William Shakespeare's plays!  We have the ability to keep track of these little details now and not forget stuff so quickly.  Really, it's not like we'll ever going to know who wrote Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" anymore. 

But do Shakespeare and Chaucer's decendents deserve a cut off every book sold anymore?  It seems laughable, but a company's ability to continue to extend copyright into the future is perverse.  Six hundred years down the road, will Mickey Mouse be in the public domain or will the image still be locked up by the Disney Corporation because there's value left to be exploited from Walt's most famous idea? 

And what about what I just said up there?  Is that even a valid comment for me to make?  I don't own the Mickey Mouse name.  Can I even legally talk about the character safely on a blog without invoking lawyerly wrath of those wealthier than I?  Must I mask my comments by talking about a fictional "Raymond Rat" and the large putatively family oriented Example Corporation? 

From the article, it seems the Republicans are claiming use of the song was covered under a blanket license paid for by the venue.  May I point out that the song was obviously broadcast outside of the venue?  In my opinion, that ought to make the whole license issue very cloudy indeed.  Otherwise I could simply be playing music in my bedroom for my own personal enjoyment.  The microphone and the broadcasting equipment pumping it through my neighbourhood would be merely incidental reporting on the news of my day, right?


Listen, you damned moronic politicians:  The mess you've created is way too convoluted in the first place and it sure as hell isn't doing what it's supposed to do.  And let's start with the jackasses in the USA:  Quit trying to push your mess on the rest of the world.  It's your laws, in your convention centre, under your rules, and YOU messed it up.  If you can't keep it straight, and you're supposed to be professionals at this, don't expect amateurs to be held to the highest bar either.  Go to hell, and take your lobby groups with you.

Actually, let me get on with those useless lobby groups while I'm loathing them.  There's the paid lobbiests who should be outlawed, taken behind parliament or congress or the senate or wherever they think they can bend opinions on behalf of anyone else and be spanked soundly until their bottoms are raw and pussy and they cry for their seats to be spared.  (I'm Canadian, that's just about as harsh a punishment as I can defend.)  Then there's the Industry groups - the RIAA, MPAA, CRIA - that are sock puppets for the cartel of companies behind them that represent few, that are responsive to fewer, and act as though they have all the rights in the world to go on disrupting citizens by taking advantage of the dismal and vague laws the lobbiests have put into place.  Suing file sharers by hook or by crook, whether they have to break the law to do it or not?  Nice, professional leeches.

And further more, let me make one small jump to the record companies themselves who are less business men and more thugs with finite fiscal sense.  May the lot of you be on the corner hocking plastic disks real soon now - I trust the precious few worth anything will eat and the rest will drift off to hopefully something manually intensive to purge the ideas of sycophancy from your heads.

Think about it:  These companies exist for one reason - TO SELL MUSIC.  So what do they do?  Lock their vaults to protect their "property" and refuse to sell you the very thing you're trying to get your hands on.  And no one else is allowed to sell it because we can't pry their damned fingers off the copyright.  Go ahead, try to get something released 20 years ago on an obscure record label.  It's hell to find it at all, or if you can find it you're paying extortionate rates.  Don't tell me there's no demand, *I* want it and I cannot buy it?  Up yours.

Fix copyright.  The author deserves to reap the reward.  If the author wants to grant it to a company, fine.  Ownership of the original work must stay with the artist.  I'll even accept assigning copyright to the estate for a short period of time.  But exclusivity for 50 years?  No, that's crazy.  How about something like a non-exclusive copyright where others can republish works for a fee?  Go talk to Michael Geist a while until you put some sensible back into the law.

Define rules of fair dealing clearly and as unambiguously as possible.  The right to a backup needs to be enshrined.  It's not hard to draw a line between one backup and 500 given to friends.  But my backup for my personal use kept offsite is not and should not be considered unreasonable.

Shakespeare and Chaucer's works didn't die because they were republished and loved.  They got put out there.  Today someone can sit on a master tape and claim there's not enough demand.  Open the vaults and get those works into public so they don't get lost and we can find value anew.

And in case you were afriad I was going to run out of rants:  Ann and Nancy Wilson don't get a free pass in this either.

"The Republican campaign did not ask for permission, nor would they have been granted permission," they said.

Permission to use the song?  Are you frackkin' kidding me?

Did you get paid for the song?  (No, sadly that's a valid question in context here - there's no guarantee they actually DID get paid under the stupid licensing schemes of today.)  If they were paid, you can not dictate how the song is going to be used.  If you sell me a toaster and I squish it under a steam roller, it was MY toaster to do with as I wanted.  If you sell me a DVD of a movie, and I choose to shred it and store it in a sweaty gym sock, it is MY movie to do with as I wanted.  If you sell me the right to use a song and I choose to play it at an event you don't agree with, you can't go back after the fact and say I don't have permission.  If the company or organization or professional leeches you signed up with to represent you said it was okay, take it up with them for misrepresenting you.

Sometimes you have to throw your works out there and just hope they get appreciated for what they are.  It's a good song, I'm sure you've done well by it.  I can't say I'm fond of it, but a lot of people do like it.  Get it out there, play it loud and often and be sure the message of the barra-barra-barra-barracuda doesn't get forgotten.

And finally, for "Sarah Barracuda".  My ghod, it was a bad highschool nickname.  Really, horribly bad.  Stop drawing attention to it, it's lame.  Really lame.   See if Ann and Nancy will loan you a lawyer or two, and maybe you can start suing whoever dubbed you with that crap in the first place.

Seriously, I haven't heard of anything that bad since Boomer Adair.

This is why we can't have nice things!

by Mark Zaugg 29. July 2008 21:00

So in the interminable quest to explain how my brain works I present to you the following: 

A friend sends me to this YouTube video (embedding to be fixed when I'm not too brain dead to care).

Eleven seconds of wonderment.  Wonderful.

From there I end up on a bizarre path of YouTube links.  Naturally, I can't help myself.  you just know I'll eventually come up with this one.

Yes, that's Dick Cavett introducing Marshall McLuhan in the background.

Yes, this was the single most drop-dead funny moment I had all day and is an absolutely stunning piece of comedy gold.

To be fair, I was never a student of McLuhan nor was I ever particularly aware of his teaching or theories - other than the little pearls of wisdom that get whispered in the dark halls of Canadian braggartry.  But there are a few I know very well, mostly from odd sources.  Through them, I've come to respect Mr. McLuhan very much.

To explain the joke to my dear, beloved friend and benefactor, I first went to Marshall McLuhan's official site.  His estate continues to maintain it "... to ensure the integrity of his name and legacy."  It gives an awful lot of pertinent information on who he was and what changes he brought to our world.

Indeed, it was McLuhan that coined the phrase, "the global village."  You instantly know what it means, don't you?  I'm certain that McLuhan would have many an interesting and enlightening opinion on the World Wide Web and YouTube today.

Well, in the miscellany section they have a link to The Vestibules song, "The Ballad of Marshall McLuhan."  The only problem was that Brian couldn't listen to that on Windows Media Player.  (Side note:  Is it just me, or is wmp getting suckier with age?  Not that I gave it glowing reviews in the first place.)

Instead, I had to find The Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies to find this series of lectures, prefaced with The Vestibules' song.

Go listen to either version.  I'll wait.  It's funny and you'll understand why I sometimes burst out:
    "Marshall McLuhan, you're such a groovy thinker and
     We really dig what you say, 'cuz you've got the best insights
     Into mass media, this side of the Rio Grande!"

Heard it?  Awesome.

The whole joke centres around McLuhan's statement:  "The medium is the message."

The meta-joke is that I had to work WAY too hard to come up with the .mp3 online to explain to Brian what the joke was.

The meta-meta-joke is the fun of writing this and having you, the dear reader, wonder just what it is I'm thinking.  Or smoking.  Or something.

The meta-meta-meta-joke is that McLuhan's book went to publishing and a typo left the title as "The Medium is the Massage."  Which is all wonderfully in line with the original YouTube video in the first place.

Stick that in the soda straw up your nose and smoke it, baby!  Hahahahahahahaha.

Attention: Morons in the service industry

by Mark Zaugg 18. May 2008 22:57

So I go to Dairy Queen for a treat at the end of the day. 

I'm liking the idea of a Pina Colada Blizzard, but with bananas included..  Mmm, the very thought made me drool.  Sure, it's a little wacky, but if I'm going for a frozen dessert treat, make mine with fruit and some of that frozen dairy-like substance.  I'll take fruit over chocolate any day. 

"I'm sorry, we don't make that." 

Huh?  Okay, she's messed up with the request for bananas.  "Okay, just make me a pina colada blizzard." 


Now, the heart of the matter.  Remember the axiom, "The customer is always right?"  Well, I'm the customer.  I'm giving you money for goods or services rendered.  You do not deserve money unless you can render suitable goods or services in a timely manner.  Yes, that means you have to compete for my business.  I'm somewhat familiar with the concept, I provide services on a daily basis in order to obtain my income.  I don't have someone just handing me a cheque every month for the heck of it. 

The secret to "The customer is always right" is to understand when the customer is actually wrong or is making an impossible request.  There are times when to actually fulfill the request will take too much time or cost too much for you to fulfill and you're better off telling the customer that you are unwilling or unable to meet his or her request.  I don't care how much you pay me, I ain't installing Vista on that Pentium II in your basement.

However if the request isn't unreasonable, and I am working on the assumption that you actually value an income here, you should generally try to meet the demand.

Perhaps if you don't understand the request, you may wish to clarify.  A pina colada blizzard is nothing more than pineapple, coconut and that blizzardly goodness they call ice cream.  Guh.  Oh, and I'd like one with bananas in it, too, thanks.  Charge me extra, I don't give a damn.  I want what I want.

Oh, and the absolute ultimate:  Don't lie to a customer.  EVER.


"I'm sorry, we haven't made banana pina-colada blizzards for at least three years."

It's so bloody hard to find imaginative help these days.

P.S.  DQ's webpage sucks and is openly hostile towards browsers that aren't named Internet Explorer.  You'd think the whole company doesn't give a crap about my business.

There HAS to be a deep, moralistic meaning here somewhere...

by Mark Zaugg 18. April 2008 08:40

I love those little snippets of dreams we wake up to. 

In this case, I'm sitting down with the company Sales Weasel over lunch and he pulls out a fresh, brand new copy of the Bible. 

"Oh," I'm taken aback.  "I didn't realize you were a spiritual man." 

"This is the new edition.  I absolutely LOVE this book.  It speaks directly to me and it's changed my life from the moment I got it.  My favourite is Revelations."  He flips the book around so I can see. 

"Just look at all the advertisements in there for shoes!"


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


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