Point of clarification

My profile for this blog says that I'm a struggling writer. I just wanted to clarify a point.

I write in my profile that no one can call themselves a writer unless they put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, at least once a day. Just want to clarify that there's more to it than that and even if I do manage to post something every day it doesn't mean that I'm a writer.

Just because someone gives you a paintbrush it doesn't automatically make you Rembrandt.

So, even if I write a lot of content, if it's crap or if no one wants to read it, then I'm not having any success at becoming a writer. Although the hope is that with consistent writing there will be an upward curve in the quality, which is what will help me to become a writer.

Snakes are soothing!?!

There's a spa in India which is promoting having (non-poisonous) snakes slithering over your body as a relaxing, therapeutic massage. I watched Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes came from him falling in a snake pit. I don't think it was relaxing for him, and I don't think I'd every find it relaxing.

The owner of the spa said she was "inspired by her belief that once people get over any initial misgivings, they find physical contact with the creatures to be soothing."

OK, good luck with that. I don't think I'll be visiting any spas in India in my lifetime.

Detroit autoshow pics

Some of the dealers had cameras set up and were taking pictures of people with the cars. they then gave you a card with an access ID where you could download your picture. So, here's me with a Viper and a Corvette.

Here's more pictures that I took. (There would have been more, but I had power issues with my camera.)

Noble cause or just plain stupid?

Either this guy has a death wish or he really believes in his cause enough to die for it.

"Slovenian Martin Strel plans to swim 3,375 miles down the world's greatest river, defying piranhas, snakes, crocodiles and even sharks."

Martin is 52 years old and the swim will take him 70 days to complete. He's swimming for world peace and the environment. Hey, he's risking life and limb, he might as well aim high with his goals.

"I've always been swimming for peace and friendship. I decided to dedicate the Amazon swim also to the preservation of the rain forest and clean waters," he said.

All the power to him. And at a cost of $1 million to fund the swim, I hope he gets a lot of publicity for his cause.


I made it

Last minute plans came together and I made it to the autoshow yesterday.

However, I was a bit disappointed as I don't think it was as good as past years and there were a few trials and tribulations.

To start off, I had to pay $25 for parking!

And then as soon as I get into the show I pop in new batteries into my digital camera and nothing happened. OK something happened, the green light flashed for a second and then the red light flashed a few times and then nothing happened. Not what I was expecting. I did eventually manage to get some intermittent power out of it and was able to get a couple pictures (I'll post those tomorrow or Monday).

There were some nice cars and some nice concept cars, but many of the manufacturers had scaled back. VW especially; they used to have a huge section in the lower level, but this year had just a small corner on the main level. And Ford didn't have the GT there.

Anyway there was a lot of steel and chrome and power there, notably Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Jaguar, ... and I had my picture taken in a Corvette.

So, I did have a good time, and definitely going during the week is better than going on the weekends. The crowds are a lot better. We had some fun too trying out a racing game where we actually sat in real race cars jacked up on hydraulics that moved like the real thing. That was cool.


Detroit Autoshow

Another year of great launches and concept cars. Unfortunately, I'm stuck here, missing all the flash, the chrome, the steel, the sleek lines...

Maybe next year (provided I have my passport to get across the border).

The Canadian International Autoshow is next month, so maybe I'll get to that one; even though it costs more than the North American Autoshow in Detroit and is way less fanfare and car launches than at NAIAS.

Five minutes to doomsday

The Doomsday Clock counting down to doomsday or Armageddon was moved from seven minutes to midnight to five minutes to midnight.

The clock was created in 1947 and signifies the degree of perils we faces on Earth and the destruction of humanity in the "Second Nuclear Age."

Over the years, the countdown clock has fluctuated, and was at its closest, two minutes to midnight in 1953, during the Cold War.

The move was prompted by the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran, and also by the threats of global warming.


Blood Diamonds

You've likely heard of the movie currently playing in theatres,starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but you may not be aware that blood diamonds are a real problem in the world.

Blood diamonds have fueled wars across Africa, leading to the deaths of more than four million people and displacing many millions more.

Right now, $23 million in conflict diamonds from the Ivory Coast are being smuggled into diamond markets around the world.

In the movie, men from villages were taken from their families to work at the diamond mines. The young boys were taken, brainwashed and turned against their families and made to fight for the rebel armies. The rebels would cut off a villager's limb for every rebel that was killed. The women and young children, if they weren't murdered, fled their homes to refugee camps.

War stories from Sierra Leone, where the rebel group mined diamonds to fund the conflict (PBS):
  • Unidentified Amputee: “First used the ax to chop the left hand off. After, they want to cut the other, then this little boy started crying and said, "Please soldier, don't cut off my papa's other hand." So they said, "Let this woman remove this child from her back, we'll chop off his arm." And I said "No!" So they decided to chop the other hand off.”
  • De Sam Lazaro: “So they basically said you could have your right hand if you gave your son's hand.”
  • Amputee: “Yes”.
You can do your part to help stop the smuggling and sale of blood diamonds, by reading this buyer's guide and ensuring jewelers you visit have policies in place to guard against selling blood diamonds.


Viral videos of 2006

Check out these videos from last year:
  • Stick figure doing the running man on a treadmill while laughing his head off watching the Simpsons.
  • A sumo hippo doing ninja moves on an infomercial selling a potato peeler while levitating.
OK, maybe not performed all at once in the same video.

And check out this Google video to see more juggling feats and decide for yourself, who's better: Garfiled or Bliss?


16 Rules to Live By

If you haven't yet made your New Year's resolutions, or even if you have, take a look at these rules for some things to add to your list of things to achieve and work on this year.

Here's the short list, follow the above link for more on each rule.
  1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone.

  2. Never give up.

  3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think.

  4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be.

  5. Focus on what you want to have happen.

  6. Take things a day at a time.

  7. Always be moving forward.

  8. Be quick to decide.

  9. Measure everything of significance.

  10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.

  11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you're doing.

  12. Never let anybody push you around.

  13. Never expect life to be fair.

  14. Solve your own problems.

  15. Don't take yourself too seriously.

  16. There's always a reason to smile. Find it.