Saturday, January 30, 2010

There she is...

In 1974, for Christmas, I got a Miss America Barbie doll.

I would've seen it in the Sears or Eaton's Christmas catalogue - that's where we got all our toys back then. There was no Wal-Mart, no Toys R Us, not even a Zeller's store within driving distance of our tiny town back then. They're all there now.

But I remember that I wanted it - bad. And on Christmas morning, there she was, with her flocked cape with fake ermine trim, and her tiara, and her sceptre. I think, looking back, it was the single most wonderful Christmas wish-come-true I can remember.

Somehow, living in a tiny fishing town in Newfoundland, Canada, Miss America meant something to me. Some kind of ideal. Did I see the pageant on TV? I can't remember. We only had 2 channels, both Canadian. But the pageant was broadcast worldwide. Somehow I knew who she was, and why I wanted that Barbie.

Tonight, for some masochistic reason, I am watching the 2010 Miss America pageant.

It's sponsored by Amway. Rush Limbaugh is one of the judges. And I just watched an ad for a pharmaceutical product that will help you grow more eyelashes.

God, does a fall from grace get any worse than this? A brand, an ideal, trampled beneath a stiletto heel, into the mud.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life's little ironies

When you go to some of these resorts in Cuba, they give you a wristband to identify you as a paying resident. These are your key to the restaurants, bars, and recreational activities around your resort (and often others nearby with which yours has partnerships).

I usually cut it off as soon as I get home and it gets pasted into the scrapbook for that particular trip. When I returned from Sol Cayo Santa Maria, I just... couldn't bring myself to cut that band off. It was probably because, due to the sprained ankle, I kind of felt that I hadn't really experienced the vacation... and cutting off the wristband would be an acknowledgement that it was just all over. Just gone.

Well, we're working on planning our next trip, and the stupid thing was getting ratty and worn and torn, and yesterday I said the hell with it and cut it off. And when I glanced at the inside of the band, I saw something interesting.


That embargo looks more and more elective every time I turn around...



Saturday, January 23, 2010

An oversight

I'm watching CSI in HD. I may never leave the house again.

We bought an HD TV and got a digital box a week ago, and it's been quite the learning curve. Going from 60 channels to (potentially) nearly 2000, figuring out what channels we have and where they are, figuring out the mysterious combination of things that must be set in order to actually get the signal from the box to talk to the tv, figuring out how to turn the closed captioning on...

And about the closed captioning... one of the first things we discovered was that the captioning (which we turned on through the TV settings) worked on the analog channels, but none of the HD channels - none of them - had CC. This afternoon Husband did some research and we discovered that incredibly, for a variety of technical reasons that I don't understand at all, when they developed HD television, they - if I have this right - didn't include the capacity to read the normally-broadcast closed-captions. That means that, depending on your digital box and your TV model, you have to jump through a bunch of hoops and figure out where the Sekrit Setting is to turn on CC for your HD channels through the digital box.

Fortunately, Husband was able to figure this out for our system, and tonight I finally have CC on our HD channels. (And it works for the analog channels too - fortunately.)

It's mind-boggling to me that 20 years after the FCC mandated closed-captioning on televisions over 13", manufacturers and developers are still "forgetting" to include easy access to CC as technology advances. In fact, it's frustrating to me constantly how often people with disabilities - of any kind - are overlooked in the development of new technology. (Almost 100% of video posted on the internet, for example, is without captioning, although YouTube and many other video players have the capacity to show it if it's included.)

It's just frustrating to be an afterthought. Always. Never mind how sorry I feel for the thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing people who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on HD systems and can't figure out the mystery and resign themselves to watching the gorgeous pictures without information input.

Was I ranting? I'm sorry. I'm watching CSI in HD. I may never leave the house again.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Email's back.

ronniecat at functional again.

Thank you, Jason, who FINALLY explained to me what the problem is. (A hidden email account that stores copies of every email to ronniecat at that I have ever forwarded to my aggregate email address.)

Hope he still has a job when I, like other frustrated and confused customers, migrate elsewhere for our hosting services.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Manitoba Hydro, CTV & Air Canada. Winnipeg

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I can't wait until I have access to the internet so I can post on the internet how completely broken and lame the Delta Winnipeg Hotel's wireless internet is.

Since I'm posting this from my Blackberry, this is possibly some kind of metapost. Or not.

Ronnie@Winterpeg where it is really, really cold. And the interwebs does not work on my laptop.

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Monday, January 11, 2010


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

More email problems

Allow me to heartily recommend that you DO NOT USE PRONICSOLUTIONS.COM as your domain host. Carl, I want to take you up on your offer to help me set up my webmail as external to my domain server.

Alternate email for me is at, or you can contact me via the blog comments (thanks to Brian, this time, for the heads-up).

This may be the beginning of the end of my hosting the RACS Pet Gallery. I don't suppose anyone else would be interested in adopting it...

Anyway, no rash decisions yet.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Well, I'll TRY to do that the next time I'm in Cuba.

Buh. Critical much?

engrish funny carefully fall

see more Engrish

Watching the Canada-US Gold Medal game in the Junior World Hockey Championships!

Wait, that's a tweet, not a blog post.

Goldarn all this new-fangled technology.


A series of (un)fortunate events - Days 6 & 7

You'll have to wait for Husband to post his own account of his trip right across the island of Cuba, 4 hours each way, from the Atlantic shoreline nearly to the Carribean Sea, from Cayo Santa Maria to Sierra del Escambray. Transport changed from a large air-conditioned bus, to an army truck, to a jeep, to foot as the road got more rugged. He and another fellow - a very interesting Austrian - were the only two on the tour, giving them the guide's undivided attention. It was a good story - should make good reading when he gets around to it. Right now he's soldering circuitboards, so who knows?

For me, the day was spent on the beach, reading and sunning and slipping up to the beach bar for ice-cold Cristal and the universally excellent Cuban bread bread dipped in delicious homemade hummous. (Who would've expected?)

The leg was still swollen but nearly painless. On Thursday, I was pretty much ready to begin my Cuban vacation.

Friday was our last full day, and we spent it together on the beach all day. Yes - I was definitely ready to start my Cuban vacation.

Before we leave Cayo Santa Maria, let me share with you some of my favourite things about the place - like the floor-to-ceiling windows in the shower, that allowed you - depending on your villa's location and your modesty - to shower while gazing out over the lush foliage and gorgeous water, stark naked.

(Note the low-flow toilet. Every toilet we've seen in Cuba has been like this. Hot water comes from solar-panel-heated storage tanks on the villa roofs. This too is standard at the resorts.)

Oh! Or the statues of strangely menacing pelicans that were scattered around the grounds. We saw many pelicans fishing at the beach, and none of them looked like a refugee from an Insane Clown Posse video shoot.

The disco had me even before I noticed its uncompromising "no Speedos" stance.

(This reminds me of a sign in a building at Cayo Largo, which just said "DANGER", with nothing remotely dangerous anywhere within close inspection. Because we looked. Hard.)

And although Cuba is all about delivering the national drink, ron (rum), into tourists and locals as quickly, cheaply and efficiently as possible, this still stopped me in my tracks: tetra pack Mojitos.

With straws. Yes, for a mere 90 centavos you too can have an ultra-portable, quick-serve shot of alcohol through a bendy straw. I've brought back four and haven't had the heart to drink one, so I don't know how good - or terribly bad - they are.

There were also Cubitos, a tomato-juice and rum cocktail which sounds absolutely disgusting and which I've never tried, and straight rum. What a country.

And how I miss it.


(One final, disturbing note: for the first time, to take this trip, we had to submit to our names and passport numbers being turned over to US authorities as we were flying over US airspace to get from Toronto to Cuba. Given the US's stubborn insistance on classifying Cuba a state which sponsors terrorism, this is not knowledge that I am particularly comfortable with the States collecting about Canadian citizens. Or, more pointedly, me. Right now, a planned trip to Maine has been shelved. Sad - I've visited the States many times - but with the hysteria right now, I just don't want to go there, literally or figuratively.

Paranoid? Probably. The problem is, so are they.)


Monday, January 04, 2010

Numa Numa

Remember the Numa Numa guy?

It was one of the earliest viral videos. One day in 2004, Gary Brolsma sat in front of his computer webcam and hit "play" on a recording of "Dragostea din tei" by Moldovan pop band O-Zone. Then, he... well, he...

Then, he posted the video to a small video-sharing site, where it caught on like wildfire, becoming known simply as "the Numa Numa video", after a phrase repeated in the song. The video migrated to other video sites, including YouTube, and was viewed over ten million times. People kind of laughed at him and his geekiness. He was so geeky! He was the newer version of the Star Wars kid.

Today I stumbled across a little piece of internet awesomeness. In October 2009, during the halftime show of a football game, the Michigan State University Marching Band invited Gary to... well, to... Oh well, just watch the video.

I think I love the Michigan State University Marching Band.