Very smart and funny blog

A friend just made me aware of this blog. The title says it all: Worse Than Hitler: Dedicated to those lacking the imagination to make an appropriate analogy. The premise is that if people feel really passionate about something, they’ll eventually make an analogy between the issue that bothers them and the Holocaust, the Nazis or Hitler. Dont forget to read his explanation, his primer on how to make a better analogy, the Huffman’s Hitler Hypothesis and the Outrage-o-meter. It’s worth the read if you need more reasons to procrastinate.


Unveiling my new MacBook

I’ve had my new MacBook for nearly a week now and what I can say? I’m in love. I’ve even started liking the glossy screen, which I hated before I bought it. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the experience of getting the laptop out of the box. I know that opening the box of a new electronic gadget is usually done without much thought – I mean, who cares about the packaging? All we want is what’s inside, right? Well, apparently Apple cares. Its attention to design and form extends to the packaging. Anybody who has an iPod knows that.  The volume of packaging has been reduced in recent years but opening the box is still quite an experience. Here’s my new MacBook:




Neat package, if only my office was this neat…


New working setup. I can view my documents on the 24″ iMac while taking notes on my laptop. It’s been working great this past week!


Obama’s Inauguration

Read the full text of the speech here.

The cynics will say that Obama’s plans are too lofty and could never be accomplished. It may be so. He certainly has an upward battle ahead of him and it is dubious whether he’ll be successful against so many powerful interest groups. As first lady, Hillary Clinton worked hard for accessible health care for all but the outcry against any sort of reform of the currently lucrative health care system run by private insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies was too strong. Al Gore understood only too well that a green platform would not get him elected in the 2000 elections.  There’s not guarantee Obama could succeed where so many have failed before. But the issues he raises are important ones that need to be discussed and brought to the agenda. He has been very clear that it won’t be easy and that whatever change that may come will not happen overnight. Yet, there’s hope. His astounding popularity might actually allow him to pull it off. If there’s one thing that congressmen listen to in a democracy is public opinion. Canadian PM Harper backed off from re-visiting gay marriage and abortion laws in Canada when he sensed the public was not behind it. The American government keeps the arrival of the bodies of soldiers who died in Iraq away from the public eye to maintain some degree of support for the war. Heck, even the Nazi government responded to public opinion by moving away from its plan to eliminate the mentally ill and handicap when the German people complained. So there is a chance that Obama can convince the American people to support his ideas, which would lead congressmen in Washington to listen. Who knows? It’s all up in the air at this point. But what if Obama fails? What if he just turns out to be another mediocre president? It won’t matter. Suddenly, even here in Canada, young black men and women as well as children of other minority groups can stand a little taller and trully believe that dreams are possible. It was fascinating to see young children across the Canada fascinated by his example. How many politicians have had that reach recently? It’s quite remarkable and it should be interesting to see what he does with that in the next few years.

I heart Macs

I love my 12″ Powerbook. I think it’s the best laptop Apple has ever produced. It totally converted both my husband and I into Macs and it’s been my faithful and trusty machine since 2004. Although it still works perfectly, has the latest version of Mac OS X, new memory and a new high speed 100GB hard drive, time has come to upgrade. I’m not a light user – I always have at least 10 programs running simultaneously and a score of web pages. I routinely need to run Adobe CS3 and I do web design and photography work. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, my 12″ Powerbook was starting to show its age and there were things I couldn’t do with it without an extra dose of patience.

It was then that Alan started talking about using computers as a media centre at home. Basically, the idea is to have all our music on itunes and have it connected to a stereo system that can be activated remotely (he found a nifty way of doing this using the ipod touch as a remote control). The initial idea was to get a Mac Mini but once we started pricing everything, it became clear that for a bit more we could get the new laptop I needed and use my old laptop as the multimedia centre. This idea occurred to us last weekend and after a week of researching to make sure the 12″ Powerbook would work well as a multimedia centre, we finally bit the bullet. Today I got my new Macbook.

I know people are sick of hearing Mac fans brag about their computers but I have to say something about one of my favourite features of OS X. Setting up a new Mac. All I had to do was take it out of the box, plug it in to the power supply, turn it on and it asked me if I wanted to migrate from a previous Mac. I said yes, and selected the backup drive I had used to backup my Powerbook earlier this morning. In half an hour (30 minutes!) all the software, files, accounts, EVERYTHING, I had on my Powerbook was installed in my new MacBook. Anybody who has gone through re-installing software, files and setting up internet and network connections knows how amazing that is. I’m happy.

Bags, bags, bags

tombihnbannerI have mentioned before how much I love my Tom Bihn Aeronaut and Medium Cafe Bag. As I’m in the market for a new bag to carry to campus (my current backpack is not ideal as it’s too narrow on top and I’m not a big fan of how the space is distributed), I’ve been spending a few hours browing through Tom Bihn’s site and amazing forum. Everybody is so friendly there that you can easily spend hours simply reading threads and chatting with people. Tom Bihn himself participates often in the forum and the company is very responsive to customers’ suggestions. I love them. I think I’ll probably get an ID bag to carry my stuff and I’m really tempted to add a Freudian Slip to keep it all organized. And while I’m at it, why not throw in a grocery bag?

The bags are not cheap but they are made in Seattle with material produced in the US and come with a lifetime warranty. The only exception is the Dyneema in the grocery bag and a few other bags, which comes from Japan. I’ve carried a lot of weight on my Aeronaut, it has been thrown, hustled, through many airports, train stations and public transit in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, New York, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid and it still looks brand new.  I highly recommend Tom Bihn’s products.

The only drawback is that they don’t sell in stores. The production is small as it’s all handmade in their plant in Seattle. Ordering online is easy, delivery is very speedy as they use UPS and they have a generous return policy if you are not satisfied. You can see here how they recently handled a case of a customer that was slightly dissatisfied with his order.

Food in NYC

Food is very important to me. My earliest memories revolve around food and the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of a place that I visited or in which I lived is a particular dish or edible good. So it’s only natural that one of the important parts of travelling for me is trying new places and new foods.

I didn’t have much time to research about NY – I usually spend a few weeks scouting internet forums and the blogosphere for some recommendations off the beaten path. But I was busy in the weeks leading up to the trip and it was, after all, mainly a business trip. I knew a significant amount of time would be spent around the hotels where the conference was being held. After a cursory look through some travel books, recommendations from friends, and some googling, I realized the odds where against us – most of the good places were in other parts of the city. The hotel where the conference was held was in a very touristy part of the city, a place tipically associated with overpriced, low quality food.

In the end, NY far exceeded our expectations. We discovered some recently-opened cafes, had some memorable meals and enjoyed lots of very nice coffee (not Starbucks!). Somehow, the places where my friend J. and I hung out the most were French cafes or bakeries. These are the places we patronized – nothing too expensive, very simple and nice:

Amy’s Bread – where we had breakfast daily. For between 4-6$ one can have a breakfast of two scones, (or 1/2 a baguette, or 2 twist breads), a small latte, butter and jam.

Tisserie 55 – Our favourite place. Small pastry shop in front with a little bistro in the back. Owned by a French-trained Venezuelan chef it had some tasty pastries (the macaroons were to die for), amazing coffee, and the food was very nice. Good brunch option.

Nook – tiny cafe, also a bit of a French bistro feel. Sandwiches, quiches, brunch. Good service.

Hummus Kitchen – vegetarian, mediterranean, amazing hummus. Went with two friends from the blogosphere and we tried a smaple of everything. Very tasty.  Good place for eating tapas-style.

Edison Cafe – Good for the American deli experience. The Philly Steak Sandwich was juicy and warm.

Heartland Brewery – I liked trying microbrews and this place was highly recommended. Their Oatmeal Stout did not disappoint. Food is pub fare but good. Nachos were messy but very tasty.

Angelo’s Pizza – Walked in my chance on the first night. We were tired, it was bitter cold and we didn’t want to wander off too far from the hotel. Didn’t expect much and were surprised by how nice the thing-crust wood-stove over pizza were.

Mandoo Bar – Korean dumplings. Amazing stuff. Worth a detour.


My friend John sent me this today. It was published in the fake news comedy column but could just as well had been in the regular news:


We are pleased to announce that Doctor K.W. Kettelby, a Research Assistant in the Department of Molecular Biology, has had his contract extended by two months.

“I am absolutely delighted by the news,” he told The Poppletonian. “Although I’ve been working as a researcher at Poppleton for the past 24 years, this is the first time that I’ve been offered such a long-term contract.”

Professor G.P. Erlich, who confirmed Kettelby’s new appointment, told The Poppletonian that the decision had not been an easy one. “Although Kettelby has been a first-rate researcher in our department for nearly a quarter of a century, all of us on the appointments board were anxious that this extension should not be taken as a sign that he was being given ‘a job for life’.”