Tuesday, January 30, 2007

No water? No worries.

Saturday I had an eventful day. Woke up around 8:30am to use the toilet and after I flushed I notice that the tank wasn't refilling, so I turned on the tap and only got air. First thing I did was go back to bed and hope that whatever is wrong is fixed by the time I got up again.

Unfortunately, a couple of hours later when I got up there still wasn't any water running in my apartment. I went downstairs to knock on the neighbors door since they have access to all the pipes in the basement but no one was home. I called my landlord but I just got his answering machine. So my dilemma was that we had no water, had no idea why we had no water and Liisa's dad was scheduled to arrive from Eesti at 6pm.

Liisa and I tried to go about our daily business as best we could while calling our landlord every 30 minutes hoping he'd answer. We had a lot of cleaning to do in the apartment in anticipation of our guests but there was little we could do without water. Finally, around 2pm we were heading out the door when our neighbor came home and explained that at 6am a pipe burst in the basement (most likely caused by the sub-zero temperatures) and he had to shut off all the water to stop the leaking. He explained that he was in a rush in the morning but for whatever reason didn't bother leaving a note for me. :-(

We called a plumber, waited 4 hours for him to show up and about an hour before Liisa's dad arrived from the airport I had water again. This entire event made me think of the time I got locked into my apartment in Tallinn, although not as amusing.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 25, 2007

BrozeMan would be a crappy superhero.

Looks like all the yelling and screaming that Russia is doing about the Pronksodur has managed to grab some attention. Normally their bitching is restricted to their own state-sponsored newspapers and some state sponsored youth demonstrations but today both the NY Times and the Washington Post ran stories about the little statue on Tonismagi. Thankfully both of the articles are well enough written and don't spew the normal Russian hate about demolishing the statue (it's being moved) and how Estonians are fascists. It will be interesting to see what happens after the elections, will this issue be resolved or will it just quietly go away? Hopefully we don't see a replay of Lihula on a bigger scale which would be a major problem.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monkey love

I've spent a fair bit of time in Sweden the last couple of years and living with Liisa I think I've started to understand both the people and the country a little bit so when I read this article I wasn't sure what to think. At first I wasn't sure if this was a legit article (I'm still not) and I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
Some highlights:

- Sweden is one of a number of counties in which bestiality is legal.
- "It is very difficult for the police and courts to decide whether or not an animal has suffered psychologically. A ban on sexual relations means that they will not have to make such distinctions,"
- "Because an animal cannot say yes or no to an invitation we feel that there need to be limits"

Reading this it would seem like if the animal could agree and wouldn't suffer any psychological effects from this sort of behavior then there would be no objections at all and the practice could continue.

I think of Sweden as a sophisticated, well-educated, liberal country that cares about it's people and it's welfare, but who knew they loved animals so much?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I want my Mac OS.

I read this article today and thought to myself, why doesn't Apple license their OS to other computer makers by now? The old argument of controlling the hardware that the platform runs on is quickly becoming obsolete as programs like Parallels continue to develop. Soon enough (probably even now) I'll be able to easily run Mac OS on any machine I want, so the question is what is Steve Jobs holding out for? Imagine if he had announced Mac OS for all PCs this month at MacWorld just as Vista is coming out, now that would have been revolutionary!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Get rich quick! Really!

I've been getting a lot of spam emails lately, thankfully Gmail is pretty good at filtering them out but some get through still. The more interesting ones seem to have something to do with selling penny stocks. So out of sheer curiosity I decided to look at one of the stocks that was being pumped in the email.

They quote: HXPN already up 500% in the past week with insiders accumulating. Huge events are driving HXPN way up. This one is still trading at only a fraction of its book value. This is a company that can quite literally strike gold and when that announcement hits the street watch out!! Get in while there is still time!

Have a look at the 3-month graph for HXPN in the corner.

This stock has risen from $0.25 to $1.55 in the past 9 days. There is a little bit of news about the stock but that's still quite the gain. Theory behind these spam emails is that someone buys a cheap penny stock, sends out millions of emails to which a few suckers buy into which raises the price then the original buyer sells out at a big profit. I guess I should be hoping to be one of the first people to get spam since then I can get in early on the gravy train. :)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ad overload

One of the many amusing little differences between Canada and Eesti that always made me chuckle was the fact that newspapers in Eesti will often sell their entire front page for advertisement, so instead of seeing a headline you see an ad. I don't think I've ever seen that with a North American paper (maybe for the free subway papers but that I don't consider anything more than headlines with ads), I guess most papers try and come up with a catchy headline that they hope will sell a lot of papers but for some reason that doesn't figure in in Eesti, they'd rather sell the upfront ad.

The reason I bring this up is that I just read that Oliver Kruuda, everyones favorite chocolate baron, has just purchased the front page for Paevaleht for a whole month. Funny how he bought the ads just before the elections, I wonder if we'll see any of his classic shenanigans like big K's or pictures of Savisaar with a milk mustache.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Valimised 2007

With the new year upon us the Estonian election campaign is in full swing. Having moved back to Toronto I don't get exposed to the media blitz that I know is going on there (any big K's appearing around town?) but I do try and follow the printed press (can you still call it printed if you read only online?) and I have a pretty good idea of the current issues having lived there the past 2 years. My personal ideas are already set (sorry KESK, don't expect a vote from me) and I doubt much I'll read will alter my mind but a lot that goes on in Estonian politics still boggles my mind. If a Canadian politician tried to pull even half the stunts some "popular" eesti politicians have gotten away with they would have been chased out of town long ago, but somehow the same old crowd rears it's ugly head every election.

One of the most interesting phenomenons this year is the emergence of the political blog. Jaanus has a good post (in Estonian) about the technological and social impact of these blogs without getting into much politics. I personally stuck a couple of these blogs into my RSS reader to keep an eye on them, in particular I "enjoy" Edgar Savisaar's blog and the comments it attracts since I need a good laugh each day. The leads the question, where are the rest of the party leaders with their blogs? Laar, Ansip, and so on should all be out in the blogosphere sharing their thoughts with the people, strange that Savisaar was one of the first to get on the blog bandwagon. In the recent Toronto municipal election most candidates had blogs, myspace pages and ads on YouTube, did it make a difference in the outcome of the election? Probably not, but that doesn't mean that it can't change a few minds and for a technologically advanced country and small country like Eesti where a few votes can make a big difference I expect these things to be the norm, not the exception.

Labels: , , ,

Token blues.

The TTC launched a new token last month, it's dual alloy which is suppose to be harder to counterfeit, it's also 2.5 times heavier so apparently they've had to hire more people to deliver them to all the subway stations. I can understand the need for more effective counterfeiting but what I can't understand is why we still use tokens at all, this seems like really old technology, I think the only other place I've ever been with tokens is NYC. Why can't the TTC (which is always complaining about lack of funds) come up with anything new or even just keep up with the times and move to easier payment methods that might get more people riding, especially casual riders. For example, because of the oddities of where I live I don't actually ever go main TTC station, which means that I can't easily buy a monthly metropass because they're only sold at stations and certain select locations (which sell out in 1 day). Now, it isn't a big deal going to a station but for someone who takes public transport at least twice a day you'd think I'd be able to easily pay for a pass.

There are some great examples of efficient payment for transportation. In Eesti as long as you had a national id card (which almost everyone does) you can buy transit passes over the internet or with your mobile. In London you can get an Oyster card and load up money on it various ways and use whenever you want (I think I still have a couple of pounds on my card which is packed away somewhere).

So what are the reasons for Toronto's ancient transit payment? Is it lack of money (the standard excuse) to implement new technologies or could it be that local unions fear loosing a few jobs because a machine can sell passes as opposed to a well paid union member? A 29 year old city councilor recently took charge of the TTC, lets see if some young blood can bring new ideas to a old system.