Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Songs of the day: Joanna Newson...

Ladies and Gentlemen, as I know her, Joanna Newsom.

And the tilt of this strange nation
And the will to remain for the duration
Waving the flag
Feeling it drag

A pretty perfect song when you get used to her voice; and hold for the horn.

Twenty miles left to the show
Hello, my old country, hello
Stars are just beginning to appear
And I have never in my life before been here

And it's my heart, not me, who cannot drive
At which conclusion you arrived
Watching me sit here bolt upright and cry
For no good reason at the Eastering sky

And the tilt of this strange nation
And the will to remain for the duration
Waving the flag
Feeling it drag

Like a bump on a bump on a log, baby
Like I'm in a fist fight with a fog, baby
Step-ball-change and a pirouette
And I regret, I regret

How I said to you, "honey, just open your heart"
When I've got trouble even opening a honey jar
And that right there is where we are...

And I been 'fessing double fast
Addressing questions nobody asked
I'll get this joy off of my chest at last
And I will love you 'til the noise has long since passed

And I did not mean to shout, just drive
Just get us out, dead or alive
A road too long to mention, lord, it's something to see!
Laid down by the good intentions paving company

All the way to the thing we've been playing at, darlin'
I can see that you're wearing your staying hat, darlin'
For the time being all is well
Won't you love me a spell?

This is blindness beyond all conceiving
Well, behind us the road is leaving, yeah, leaving
And falling back
Like a rope gone slack

Well, I saw straight away that the lay was steep
But I fell for you, honey, as easy as falling asleep
And that right there is the course I keep...

And no amount of talking
Is going to soften the fall
But, like after the rain, step out
Of the overhang, that's all

It had a nice a ring to it
When the ol' opry house rang
So with a solemn auld lang
Signed, sealed, delivered, I sang

And there is hesitation
And it always remains
Concerning you, me,
And the rest of the gang

And in our quiet hour
I feel I see everything
And am in love with the hook
Upon which everyone hangs

And I know you meant to show the extent
To which you gave a goddang
You ranged real hot and real cold but I'm sold
I am home on that range

And I do hate to fold
Right here at the top of my game
When I've been trying with my whole heart and soul
To stay right here in the right lane

But it can make you feel over and old
Lord, you know it's a shame
When I only want for you to pull over and hold me
'Til I can't remember my own name

Man, sorry, I was about to post this on the facebook until I learned she wasn't Canadian.

Does that make a difference?


Still an ok song ;) And album.

Here's Baby Birch. It's a gorgeous song.

This is the song for Baby Birch.
I will never know you.

And at the back of what we've done,
there is the knowledge of you.

Well I wish we could take every path.
I could spend a hundred years
adoring you.

Yes, I wish we could take every path,
cuz you know I hated to close
the door on you.

Do you remember staring
up at the stars,
so far away in their bulletproof cars?
When we heard the rushing slow intake
of the dark, dark water,
and the engine breaks,
and I say,

"How about them engine breaks?
And, if I should die before I wake,
will you keep an eye on Baby Birch?"
Because I'd hate to see her
make the same mistakes.

When it was dark,
I called and you came.
When it was dark, I saw shapes.
When I see stars, I feel, in your hand,
and I see stars,
and I reel, again.

Well mercy me. I'll be goddamned.
It's been a long, long time
since I last saw you.

And I have never known the plan.
It's been a long, long time.
How are you?

Your eyes are green. Your hair is gold.
Your hair is black. Your eyes are blue.

I closed the ranks, and I doubled back--
but, you know, I hated to close
the darkened door on you.

We take a walk along the dirty lake.
Hear the goose cussing,
at me over her egg.
Your poor little cousin.
I don't want your dregs
A little baby fussing all over my legs.

There is a blacksmith,
and there is a shepherd,
and there is a butcher-boy,
and there is a barber, who's cutting
and cutting away at my only joy.
I saw a rabbit,
as slick as a knife,
and as pale as a candlestick,
and I had thought it'd be harder to do,
but I caught her, and skinned her quick:
held her there,
kicking and mewling,
upended, unspooling, unsung and blue;
told her "wherever you go,
little runaway bunny,
I will find you."
And then she ran,
as they're liable to do.

Be at peace, baby, and begone.
Be at peace, baby, and begone.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


So, at the end of the show I kinda started talking to a guy with a tripod and a camera who was kinda video taping the show.. I kinda got a lead on A VIDEO OF THE SHOW!

Yeah... it was kaplooie. Two encore set. Only song I was looking for that they didn't play was 'Songs for the Gang', which will hopefully come around tonight.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Illegal cheese

So, just reading this article from blogto, I think this would be a great thing to get a few people out.

A Taste of Quebec lies deep in the heart of the Distillery District, off a cobblestone lane and behind large green wooden doors. Lately, when the shop lights go out and the closed sign goes in the window, they've been inviting cheese lovers to sample some of the best (and often illicit) goods that Quebec artisan food makers have to offer in a cozy and intimate setting with 20 complete strangers.

A Taste of Quebec actually offers the chance to try products that you simply cannot get anywhere else but in Quebec, due to stiff federal trade permit regulations. So long as they're not actually selling some of the products they serve, it's perfectly within the rules to host these parties, to give us cheese-deprived Ontarians a chance to sample some of the best that our neighbour to the east has to offer.

Check out the June 1st theme.

($30 / person)
With the warming weather, get ready for great patio afternoons, learning and tasting for yourself how well cheese pairs with beer. You will be led through a tasting of many styles of cheese paired with microbrewery beers from Quebec and Ontario.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wow. What a dick.

Haiti: Bush cleans his hand on Clinton's shirt.

(via Good)

Using statistical significance (95% confidence) to your advantage


For anyone who's taken a science or statistics course, you'd be most likely familiar with the Holy Grail of statistical significance; the 95% confidence interval. We've all read something to the effect of, "Group A and Group B are different along C variable due to drug D, statistically significant to a 95% confidence level." The 95% confidence level is today's gold standard.

However, these numbers tend to lie. Here's a great example:

Consider the use of drug tests to detect cheaters in sports. Suppose the test for steroid use among baseball players is 95 percent accurate — that is, it correctly identifies actual steroid users 95 percent of the time, and misidentifies non-users as users 5 percent of the time.

Suppose an anonymous player tests positive. What is the probability that he really is using steroids? Since the test really is accurate 95 percent of the time, the na├»ve answer would be that probability of guilt is 95 percent. But a Bayesian knows that such a conclusion cannot be drawn from the test alone. You would need to know some additional facts not included in this evidence. In this case, you need to know how many baseball players use steroids to begin with — that would be what a Bayesian would call the prior probability.

Now suppose, based on previous testing, that experts have established that about 5 percent of professional baseball players use steroids. Now suppose you test 400 players. How many would test positive?

• Out of the 400 players, 20 are users (5 percent) and 380 are not users.

• Of the 20 users, 19 (95 percent) would be identified correctly as users.

• Of the 380 nonusers, 19 (5 percent) would incorrectly be indicated as users.

So if you tested 400 players, 38 would test positive. Of those, 19 would be guilty users and 19 would be innocent nonusers. So if any single player’s test is positive, the chances that he really is a user are 50 percent, since an equal number of users and nonusers test positive.

Because of the way statistical significance works it takes a large difference to achieve statistical significance on a small sample size but as the sample size gets larger and larger a smaller and smaller difference will yield statistical significance. If the sample size is large enough, you can get statistical significance for a difference that is very small, unimportant, and sometimes just plain wrong.

Just something to keep in mind next time you read test results, and how numbers can lie when the entire story is not told.

A closer look at 4 supplements, and sample daily diet formulations...

First up, Creatine. Yes, that creatine.

From this infographic, everything seemed to make sense, except for the benefits of creatine on cognition(?).

I've always heard that creatine is a good supplement for vegetarians (protein replacement) and is great for building muscle mass. "In humans and animals, approximately half of stored creatine originates from food (mainly from fresh meat). Since vegetables do not contain creatine, vegetarians show lower levels of muscle creatine, but show the same levels after using supplements." (wiki)

But cognitive effects of creatine?

In both trials, (vegetarian) volunteers receiving creatine scored better than placebo-treated volunteers on measures of memory and analytical skills... In one test, for example, volunteers taking creatine could recall an average of 8.5 consecutive numerical digits, but those receiving the placebo pill remembered only 7 digits.

Effects on quality of life?

Using an animal model of aging, it was shown that creatine supplementation extended maximum life span by 3.5%.[3] Even more impressive was the effect of creatine supplementation on “healthy” life span (defined as the age before animals were classified as suffering from disease) which significantly increased by 9%.

More from Wikipedia:

A placebo-controlled double-blind experiment found that vegetarians who took 5 grams of creatine per day for six weeks showed a significant improvement on two separate tests of fluid intelligence, Raven's Progressive Matrices, and the backward digit span test from the WAIS. The treatment group was able to repeat longer sequences of numbers from memory and had higher overall IQ scores than the control group. The researchers concluded that "supplementation with creatine significantly increased intelligence compared with placebo."[20] A subsequent study found that creatine supplements improved cognitive ability in the elderly.[21]

Seems maybe like it's only for the old and the sleep deprived - which, aren't we all?

Ok, so, it seems to make sense (even though I'm not sure I'm gonna try) to take about 5g of creatine a day when sleep deprived or under a larger-than-normal amount of stress.


Next, NAC (Cysteine).

I have no idea what this is/was, but so far I've read that NAC (cysteine amino acid) is apparently a potent antioxidant. What brought it to my attention was its heralded liver and kidney detoxification properties. It's apparently also not bad at fighting throat infections and bronchitis, and it may help build and repair connective muscle tissue.

Food sources for cysteine include poultry, yogurt, oats, egg yolks, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, and (ugh) Brussels sprouts.


Fish oil.

My fascination with fish and fish oil first started maybe 10 years ago when someone asked me if I ate fish in the last few days, cuz my completion had really changed recently. After saying "wha?" (cuz I had and normally didn't at that time) I did a bit of research. So, anecdotal (and potentially psycho) evidence aside, Omega-3s are a great anti-inflammatory. Everywhere says that, and if you have a healthy diet, a supplement of 1g a day is enough.


My mom recently attended some conference where they were told that Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) was starting to show really amazing lab results. These lab results included significantly longer and healthier rat lives (like 10%+), cardiac arrest and heart failure reduction. There are ongoing studies on its impact on cancer. Basically, 30mg a day seems to be the accepted dosage for optimal gains.

(sorry - just gave up on links the last few of these, cuz it was just taking way too long.. )


So, to sum it all up, in an ideal world, I'm looking to do the following most days (4-5 days outta 7). I'm gonna try to vaguely put these in an order that I think they are important and the order in which I'd recommend them based on my readings.

1) Vitamin D3 supplements (500-1000 IU, depending on season) - boosts common immune system, cancer, cardiovascular
2) Vitamin B-complex (100 IU) - energy, mood, neuronal connection production and maintenance, immune system
3) Omega-3 (1g - with ~200mg DHA) - cognitive function, concentration, cardiovascular health, anti-inflammatory
4) Vitamin C (500mg) - immune system, kidney stones, teeth, bones, everything really...
5) C0Q10 (30mg) - anti-oxidant, cancer, heart disease, energy. Drawback? They're expensive.
6) Beta glucan (250mg) - cancer, immune system
7) NAC (500mg) - colon cancer, kidney, liver
8) Lutein (10mg) - for glaucoma, which runs in the family
9) Creatine (5g) - when/if needed for energy, lack of sleep, studying.

Wow, 8-9 supplements? That's starting to sound like a crazy old person. From the quick math it'd cost me under $3 a day when I do this, which is practically nil given the researched benefits behind these.

However, at some point it may be worth to check the statistical significance of these claim, the funder of the research, etc...


So, now, turning the attention to diet. I'm gonna try to eat the following as much as possible. Just a note that this isn't a specific recommendation; these are foods that will significantly (statistically) improve your life in one way or another.

- flax seeds (it really only requires a small sprinkle on anything - 1/2 a tsp with the supplements above and your good)
- learn to like canned sardines (recipes???)
- more smoked salmon (anti-inflammatory and very low mercury (cuz they're small!))
- Microwave whole-grain brown rice
- almonds
- Brazil nuts (one a day is enough for the selenium)
- blueberries
- apples (pectin lowers fat absorption and cholesterol)
- tomatoes (grape tomatoes for ease)
- low fat yogurt
- apple cider vinegar
- green tea
- coffee
- skim milk
- oatmeal
- Curcumin (use as a hot sauce substitute)

So, most optimal morning options look like:

- yogurt and flax seeds
- oatmeal and flax seeds
- peanut butter and blueberry jam sandwich on whole grain bread
- coffee
- green tea


- blueberry banana milkshake (so easy with a banana, frozen blueberries, milk, cup, and a handblender. 1 minute)
- beans (can of beans, bean soup)
- hummus spread
- BFS? (big fucking salad)
- sardines?
- sushi
- coffee
- lunches that are quick and easy are looking a little thin right now...


- almonds
- apples
- milkshakes
- nuts
- yogurt


- salad bags (quick and easy, throw on grape tomatoes)
- fish of some sort
- microwave brown rice
- beans, beans, they're good for you're heart... with cheese
- chili (nachos.. what up!)
- I'm not going to be able to stay away from making pastas - just need to do it less often.
- and of course, the good ol' vegetable stir fry on brown rice.

Additional ideas/things to prepare/make:

- apple cider vinegar and garlic (Garlic vinegar) - easy as shit. Submerge peeled garlic cloves with vinegar, cover and place in fridge. If you feel like doing it up, put some salt in there and maybe add some fresh ground basil. Tastes fucking amazing, good for you, detoxifies, and keeps for 4 months easy. Use alone as a garlic clove snack, on salads, on rice, with fish, stir fry, etc...


I go two-three times a week max, and I'm eating whatever the fuck I want just to avoid going any more insane than I apparently already fucking have.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

National Parks Project: Gros Morne

As Geoff pointed to, The National Parks Project will be showing at the HotDocs festival this year on Monday May 3rd at 7pm. Tickets are available now from this link below.

Pick one up, and I'll see you there.

Here's the homepage:

Showing on 3 screens, with live improvised score by Sandro Perri & guests.

We're pleased to announce that National Parks Project: Gros Morne has been invited to screen at the 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. This special event at the Drake Underground will combine performance and installation, allowing the audience to experience the film in an immersive environment, and to be present for a further evolution of the ongoing collaboration on its score. Showing on three screens, the film will screen first with live musical accompaniment by Sandro Perri and guests. A second screening will follow, in which the score will be comprised of elements from past improvised live performances that the filmmakers have captured and combined. For subsequent screenings, parts of Perri’s interpretation from this evening will be added to the aggregate score, creating yet another layer in the film’s evolution.

Sandro Perri writes and improvises music across a spectrum of styles using electronics, voice, guitar and percussion. His recordings (as Polmo Polpo, Glissandro 70 and Sandro Perri) have been released through Constellation, Alien8Recordings and more since 1999. For this screening, he will construct music with electronics using elements of drone, folk and jazz in collaborative engagement with the film.

For more information on the film, click here and for tickets visit the Hot Docs box office.

In the tradition of the Group of Seven, Margaret Atwood’s Survival and other cultural touchstones, the National Parks Project aims to explore the elemental ways in which Canada’s cultural imagination is shaped by the wilderness that defines our identity, and the technologies that inform our day-to-day lives. From May to October, 2010, the project will send groups comprised of one filmmaker and three musicians to a park in each province and territory, to collaborate on a short film and soundtrack that reflects their experience of the landscape.

The result will be a collection of 13 films that showcases both the country’s natural diversity and the breadth of its artistic talent, and celebrates thespirit of creative collaboration. The complete collection will ultimately be available online via an immersive interactive flash web site, designed by award-winning new media company Jam3 Media. The project will also be featured in a thirteen-part documentary series, airing on Discovery HD in Spring 2011.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The memory palace

I can't remember where/how I saw this blog, but it's pretty sweet. It basically summarizes a historical event or idea in a 3-5 minute audio story.

So far, I've already heard about World War II bat bombs... (Episode 4):

In the plan, members of a top-secret World War II-era unit of the U.S. Air Force would net literally millions of Mexican free-tailed bats, from Texas or New Mexico caves, before gluing a tiny, specially-made napalm time-bomb onto every individual one. More than a thousand such armed bats would then be hung beneath stacked trays, inside a hollow, five-foot-tall bombshell perforated with air holes and equipped with a parachute. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these bombs would then be loaded into planes. The bombs’ temperatures would be lowered enough to send the bats into temporary hibernation—to eliminate the need to feed and calm them—and the “bat bombs” would then be flown, via the Micronesian island of Tinian, into the early-morning darkness over Japan.

The bombs would then fall through the air until, triggered by an altimeter about 4,000 feet up, their parachutes would bloom, their sheet-metal sides would fall away, the pins of the time bombs would pull out, and the bats themselves would awaken and emerge. The moonlit sky would fill with leathery wings, and the bats would fly down to roost before dawn, down to the eaves and overhangs of the city of Osaka. Fanning out for an estimated twenty miles in every direction, the bomb-bearing bats would roost all over the overcrowded city, before settling into the nooks of the city’s picturesque but notoriously combustible wooden buildings—shifting into sleep, and then exploding—bursting into flame, and burning down the city, a city that at the time boasted a population of approximately seven million people.

This crazy idea went so far as to actually be successfully tested on a mock Japanese town in the Utah desert. The bats functioned as expected and burned the entire mock up town to the ground. That was enough to convience the USAAF to go ahead with an operational development and deployment. The nuclear bomb put an effective end to the bat bomb however before it was deployed.

Four biological factors gave promise to this plan. First, bats occur in large numbers (four caves in Texas are each occupied by several million bats). Second, bats can carry more than their own weight in flight (females carry their young — sometimes twins). Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or maintenance. Fourth, bats fly in darkness, then find secluded places (often in buildings) to hide during daylight. (here and here)


... And about the oft troubled 14th President of the United States, Franklin Pierce. (Episode 6...)

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen

GREAT interview with Magnus Carlsen, the youngest person to become a chess grandmaster at the age of 13 years, four months and 27 days. He is currently the number one ranked chess player in the world, and trains with Garry Kasparov. He talks about general intelligence, work ethic, a bit of chess, and even less about girls. (via Kottke)

Here are some excerpts (SPIEGEL being the interviewer, Der Spiegel Magazine):

SPIEGEL: Where did this enthusiasm for chess come from all of a sudden?

Carlsen: I don’t know. No more than I can tell you why I wanted to do 50-piece jigsaw puzzles when I was not even two years old. Why did I want to know all the common car makes at the age of two and a half? Why did I read books about geography at the age of five? I don’t know why I learnt all the countries of the world off by heart, including their capitals and populations. Chess was probably just another pastime.

SPIEGEL: You are a sloppy genius?

Carlsen: I’m not a genius. Sloppy? Perhaps. It’s like this: When I am feeling good, I train a lot. When I feel bad, I don’t bother. I don’t enjoy working to a timetable. Systematic learning would kill me.

SPIEGEL: How were you able to stand maths lessons then?

Carlsen: When I was 13, my parents took me out of school for a year. They travelled around the world with me and my sisters, and on the way they taught us. That was fantastic, much more effective than sitting in school. I do understand that it is a problem for a teacher having to look after 30 pupils. But the slow speed was quite frustrating for me. I didn’t miss school at all.

SPIEGEL: Many football players use music to get in the mood before a game. Do you do that too before sitting down in front of the board?

Carlsen: Oh, yes. If I am feeling gloomy before a game, I listen to gloomy music.

SPIEGEL: Such as?

Carlsen: You probably won’t know it, a song by Lil Jon. A silly rap song, but it does me good, I loosen up. I listen to music on the Internet, but don`t download any songs. It’s all totally legal. Many people may find that boring, but I think it is important.

SPIEGEL: How is he (Garry Kasparaov, his coach) useful to you?

Carlsen: He still has loads of unused ideas for openings. And the fact that he has played against most of my opponents himself is invaluable. He senses what mood they are in, how they will open the game. I can’t do that.

SPIEGEL: Viswanthan Anand, the current world champion, is worried that you will dominate the scene for years to come. He thinks it is time you met a girl at last. How is that going?

Carlsen: I get a certain amount of fan mail from younger women.

SPIEGEL: Do you answer it?

Carlsen: It depends.

SPIEGEL: On what?

Carlsen: That is private and confidential.


Last night the family got our first opportunity to play Settlers of Catan IN REAL LIFE. So far I've just played on the iphone, and although the game is great either way, playing with people was (obviously) definitely better as, ummm, is the case with most things. There are two more online Catan resources. First, if you want to practice in front of your computer against computer opponents, go here. It's a Java version; no downloads and instant access.

Second, you can play against other actual live people online here. There is a program you have to install to participate, so not sure what that's like yet, but I'm pretty sure it's straight forward. My one outstanding question would be if you can you choose to play against specific people? Not sure with the free version.

Finally, there do seem to be plans for a Settlers facebook game... Here's a interview with Klaus Tueber, the Catan designer, at Cannes about a week ago.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So, what's your game plan?

Andrew getting hot under the collar with Yasmine and Seper.

"I'm down with her, she's a great girl Shoomer!... I don't even know her too much, but she's cool!"

That face is priceless!!! I HOWL every time I watch this.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday mishmash

After some dim-sum to celebrate Mitch's return with the gang, I had a great afternoon with Tiffany walking, talking, coffeeing, and playing board games at Zoots.

Tonight, Cuff the Duke!!!

But first some down time with a new iphone word game and a potential nap.

Oh, and while on the topic of word games, two great websites for crossword puzzles.

The first one, here, is a good site with tons of puzzles that are relatively easy. I found that getting the basics down on these puzzles is really helping with the filling in of harder puzzles. Crossword puzzles really do seem to follow similar patterns and often repeat clues (with slight variations), and it's true that a lot of it is just practice.

The second site, here, is invaluable. It's basically a database of known clues and answers with a great search function and ranked results list. So, if you ever get really stuck...

Clue: Cut
Pattern: ???n

Also from the site above, there are links to harder available puzzles too.

Visions of the Amen

Luckily Mitch put on a final repeat performance of his Visions of the Amen Friday night at the Spoke Club, complete with the gifted Asleigh Semkiw.

Umm.. not Mitch, but a vision none the less.