Archive for the ‘Other Stuff’ Category

An Ode to a Very Special Little Rescue Dog

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Lucy Lu
Lucy, a Yorkshire Terrier, was rescued from a puppy mill just about 3 years ago. She arrived in our possession as a small furry ball of fear. She had no muscle tone in her legs, and for the first month could not walk more than one block before becoming too exhausted to continue. By the looks of her elongated nipples and stretched vagina, and based on her lack of muscle, we suspected she spent most of her estimated 4 to 5 years stuck in a cage pumping out puppies. Lucy also had just one eye so we suspect that people purchasing pure breed Yorkies from that mill were never introduced to the mother of the litter. Lucy led a very sad life, till she met us.

She slowly came around. Became more energetic, slowly could walk a little farther, developed some good muscle tone in her shoulders and hips and eventually discovered play. The video below is her playing with a small tennis ball about a year after we got her. This pouncing and rolling on her back became her signature play. It was always a solitary play. If you tried to get involved she would simply abandon the game.

Lucy was a very nervous dog. Afraid of sudden and loud noises. Afraid of other people she didn’t know. During lightning storms or Halloween and New Years fireworks she would shiver in fear till she was panting from overheating. We would do our best to comfort her and keep her cool. Other than those kinds of extreme sudden noise events she did get a little better with time and would not be quite so jumpy at lesser noises.

She was uncomfortable, even with us, when you would place your face too close to hers. She would turn away. Except once in a blue moon, when she was particularly happy, she would give you a quick little kiss. Just a lick or two but we always treasured those rare kisses.

Lucy loved other dogs, especially larger dogs. Whenever we dropped her off at doggie day care Lucy would instantly go snuggle up to some random large dog she’s never met. We suspect that though she had little human interaction at the puppy mill she was obviously around other dogs and they were her go to spot when she needed comfort.

Lucy was a lap dog. She loved to snuggle with us on the couch. Her and Maggi, our miniature Schnauzer, snuggled together a lot. Seems they took turns as to who would be the pillow.

Lucy was a beautiful dog. Though the vet said it looked like she was born with the one eye it was probably a rare recessive trait and not passed on to many of her puppies. Her puppies were probably perfect Yorkie specimens. Her one eye was very endearing. The long hair on top of her head grew over the missing eye to create this adorable side bang action.

Lucy was over flowing with pure cute. It was heart-melting. Her little mouth and how sometimes one fang would poke out from her lips or when she was fully asleep the tip of her tongue would poke out just a little bit. How she would let out little snorts. Sometimes in happiness, some times in disgust. All cute.

Lucy was a dancer. She would break out in a random hoping while scratching at the ground. Sometimes hoping high, other times in circles and legs flailing about in odd directions. We thought she should audition for “So You Think You Can Dance”. We would say to her “Dance it out Lu. Dance it out” and she would proceed to bust out a few more moves. I wish we had a video of that.

Lucy had a sudden seizure last night and died. We don’t know what caused it. Could have been a brain tumor, a stroke, or her overworked nervous little heart gave out. It was very quick and she did not suffer. We’re thankful of that.

We’re sure going to miss you Lucy. You were very very special.

Support Your Local Animal Rescue Organizations!

We received Lucy through Angel’s Rescue out of Merrit, British Columbia. Today we sent Angel’s a donation through Paypal. If you are in the Southern Interior region of British Columbia, why don’t you go send them a donation too. If you are located elsewhere it should be rather easy to find an Animal Rescue organization in your area. Just do this search in Google - yourcityname Animal Rescue. You should be able to find one. Most have Paypal donation buttons on their websites.

If you are a dog lover why not adopt your next dog. It’s a wonderful thing to give a stressed animal a new life in a loving home. If you are a serious dog lover, adopt the older dogs. Very few people are willing to do so and many of the older dogs get put down. Instead give that older dog a nice comfortable retirement home for the last year or two of it’s life.

More Photo’s of Lucy

Lucy of the NestLucy of the GardenLucy and MaggiLucy the SnugglerMore snuggles with LucyMaggi as a pillow for Lucy

Centering a Div in IE9 Using margin:auto

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Almost 2 years ago I after Internet Exploder 8 was released I wrote a post about how to get divs to center properly when using margin:auto in your CSS. Now with the release of IE9 - yet another piece of shit MS browser - I’ve encountered similar issues with getting it to obey centering styles.

For IE8 there were 3 different methods that could be used to make it work;

  • Set Width:100% on the containing element
  • Set Text-Align:Center on the containing element
  • Use Transitional Doc Type

With IE9 the use of the Transitional Doc Type is now obsolete, at least for me as I’m building in HTML5 now. Maybe it still works if you use the Transitional, I don’t know. Nor do I care, so I wont bother testing it. If someone tries it please leave a note in the comments as to whether or not that works.

In my testing the text-align center trick is not working for IE9 - so that’s off the table too. Good, this was a dumb hack anyways. Having to set a broader element with centered text alignment then every other element inside it would need to be reset to left alignment - makes for bloated CSS files.

Solution : Set Width:100% on the Containing Element

So the fix is to set your containing element, the one the centered element is to be centered within, to have a width of 100%. That will get that pesky div to center in Internet Explorer 9.

For example, if your were building a fixed width centered web page that was to be 1024 pixels wide you could set the body to width:100% then set your wrapper div or what have you to width:1024px and then center it with margin:0 auto. So your CSS might look like this;

body {width:100%}
#wrapper {width:1024px;margin:0 auto}

The one extra rule of width:100% does not add much bloat, though it should not be necessary if the asshats on the Internet Exploder dev team could ever get their act together and build a browser that renders as well as FireFox, Chrome, Safari or Opera.

My Wife is a Food Blogger

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

My wife, though she detests the word, is a foodie. Whenever there is nothing on the television the default channel is the Food Network. Every week at least one meal is something new she’s never cooked before. She’s been a waitress, a bar tender, bar and restaurant manager, for years (long before I met her). She’s just all about the food. Good food.

So over the holidays I built her a recipe blog for posting her recipes and such. We launched it at about New Years. Prior to launch she uploaded dozens of recipes, so there is quite a menu so far, and since launch she already has guest recipes from other food bloggers and even a Food Network celebrity chef. And our mail box is receiving samples of specialty olive oils and vinegars, organic cheeses, chocolates and other items that I’m lucky enough to be able to taste.

Everyone in internet land, please wish her luck!

Local TV Matters? WTF is this Save Local TV Campaign in Canada All About?

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

If you’re Canadian, and you watch TV, you’ve likely noticed the advertising war going on between the signal carriers (Cable, Satellite, and some Phone Companies now offering Video on Demand) and the broadcasters (Individual tv channels like CTV, CBC, CityTV, etc.). How can you miss them. And as we get closer to the Novemeber 2nd deadline for the CRTC review, that battle is heating up with both sides spinning their own vague propaganda. It has for months left me confused as nobody is really saying anything other than the other guy is a big evil corporation and blah, blah, blah. At least that’s all it boils down too from what I see and hear.

Where are the objective news reports about the issues? I’ve not seen a one, just those highly spun attack ads. Maybe I missed it but as a voracious consumer of media it strikes me as odd I’ve not seen it.

Could it be the obvious conflict of interest and inherent bias of one party trying to report it via their network that’s keeping their mouths shut? Or both parties fear that spilling the beans on the truth of the real details may sway public opinion in the opposite direction, so instead they hide behind the knee jerk fear tactics? I don’t know.

Well, I decided I would try to investigate by Googling around to see if I could find some real info. Being directly tied to the internet marketing industry, and following it closely I do have some initial thoughts as to what it might be about. And being that my specialty is local search marketing the local aspect of all this intrigues me.

This all sounds like some of the same issues that are plaguing other forms of traditional media (newspapers, radio, print magazines, even yellow pages, etc..). The internet has created a marked shift in consumer media consumption and, with that, changes in allocations of advertising dollars. It’s been going on for years now but it’s now reaching a level significant enough to force real change in the market place. This has also been quickly exasperated by last years global economic collapse (internet advertising see’s this too, though at a lower rate of decline).

But there’s more.

The Canadian Television Business Model

First some background on how things have been working up till now and what appears to be at the heart of the issue, “Who pays who?”. Or as it’s officially called, the “fee-for-carriage”.

As average TV consumers we subscribe to access to distribution networks via our Cable companies, Satellite TV companies, etc… Through this we have access to a wide range of individual TV networks and we can choose to watch whichever ones we want. We pay the signal carriers, the cable and satellite TV companies, and that’s where they make their revenues. The TV channels broadcast various shows and receive revenues from the advertising displayed.

Some of the specialty TV networks like the Discovery Channel, Food TV, History Television, etc… do get paid by the signal carriers, the cable/satellite companies, for the privilege of having that network within their monthly subscription packages. From the cable companies perspective it makes their monthly service more attractive. “Look, you can watch these too”. They also have up-sell packages where you get access to even more networks for a higher monthly fee. Those specialty networks are also pulling in their own advertising dollars.

Not so for the normal, local, Canadian TV networks. They provide their signal to the cable companies for free and have done so for years. Why? On the surface it’s a good business model for the Canadian networks as it allows them to have their signal carried across the nation, unencumbered, thus allows them to ensure they have eyeballs to feed advertising too. But now that advertising revenues alone are not producing profits, as they once were, they feel they should get paid a fee like the other networks do to be part of the cable companies package.

Maybe it’s fair for the Canadian TV networks to be getting a small piece of the cable companies revenues like the other networks do. But wait there’s an inherent problem with that, government mandated Canadian content rules.

Canadian Protectionism - This Market is not a Free for All

In Canada we have this government body known as the CRTC, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, who’s mandate is “to ensure that both the broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public”. What it boils down to is that we are a small market and we have to the south of us a capitalistic behemoth. We love American culture, from music to movies, as well as television. However, if that market were left to it’s own devices the fact of the matter is that our Canadian networks, production facilities, talent, etc… would be swallowed whole and some essentially Canadian aspects of our culture, as well as raw dollars, would leave the confines of our own borders. The purest of capitalists hate these rules, but the majority of us wee citizens appreciate it. So there are some rules in place to help ensure a piece of us remains intact.

Here lies part of the current dilemma. If the CRTC demands that cable networks carry a certain percentage of Canadian content, including local TV networks and programing, which on it’s own most of us deem fair enough, it becomes something else if the mandated portion of the market must also get paid by the carrier forced to include them. So perhaps that inherent conflict was why, up till now, the Canadian TV networks, who were running profitable anyways, up till now, saw fit to forgo that potential revenue. But now sitting deeply in the red they are trying to claw at it.

Why Local TV is the Fall Guy in the Fee for Carriage Debate

The major Canadian TV networks are both a national and local television station at the same time. Certain time slots are for the big entertainment programs we all want to watch and those get broadcast across Canada at the same time, with some shifting here and there to account for time zone differences. Other portions of the day are sectioned off for local programming. That’s the local news, often just before or after the national news, as well as some locally produced shows in some markets. Portions of the advertising space are also allocated for national and local advertisers.

With the decline in television advertising, due to shifts in the market place such as the flow of advertising dollars to the internet, dilution due to more choices for obtaining TV signals (Satellite, Video on Demand, Direct to TV, etc…), and the current economic environment making many advertisers spend less, the local portion of Television feels that impact the most. The local portion of Canadian television networks has long been the smallest contributor to their revenues. If accounted for separately their profit margins have probably been smaller locally. So when times get tough this portion of the market goes into the red first, and deepest. When it comes time to cut costs, as with any organization in need of cost cutting, you cut the least profitable parts first. So local TV is finding it’s head under the guillotine.

But local TV matters to many of us. Sure it does. Hence the name of the co-operative campaign conjured up by the major networks, localtvmatters.ca. They even have their own twitter account. They argue, and rightly so, that local stations in small and medium markets will need to be closed if revenues do not pick back up.

The Broadcasters (Cable Companies) Role in This

The major broadcasting networks, formally know as Broadcasting Distributing Undertakings (BDU), that’s the cable satellite and phone companies, are required to commit 5% of revenues to the Canada Media Fund, which is to be a combination of the Canadian television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund. As well they must contribute 1% to the Local Programming Improvement Fund.

The Local Programming Improvement Fund in particular is relatively recent, created in 2008, and against the direction set by the CRTC the cable companies have decided to pass that extra cost on to the consumers.

In light of the performance levels of the BDU sector and the benefits accruing to BDUs as a result of other changes being made to the regulatory framework, the Commission is of the view that there is no justification for BDUs to pass along any increased costs relating to the LPIF - estimated to be on average approximately $0.50 per month - to their subscribers.

See, the broadcasters are not feeling the economic pinch that the networks are. Ad revenues are way down, but most of us continue to spend $50-$60 per month for our cable TV. Many of us are even upgrading to the bigger packages. So the cable companies are flush with cash, but they would rather keep it all, versus giving up 1% of it.

What’s this $10 TV Tax?

I don’t know, I’m scratching my head over this one. The cable companies are spinning this as though it was a tax, as high as $10 per month, each cable TV subscriber will need to pay. They too have their own website to push their point of view at stopthetvtax.ca along with their own Twitter account. Yes, I’m following both of them.

From what I can see that’s a pretty huge markup of the 50 cents the CRTC claims it would cost the cable companies. Maybe they are including the 5% to the Media Fund as well, but if 1% equals $0.50 then 5% is $2.50, for a total of $3. But they have already been paying into the Media Funds all along, I believe, which brings us back to $0.50. So where does the $10 come into play? I can’t tell.

What To Do? What To Do?

Frankly I can’t decide. I would like to see local TV survive. The Local Programming Improvement Fund I’m sure will help contribute to that, but maybe it’s not enough. I’m not a fan of the cable companies wanting to jack monthly subscriptions by $10, nor do I really see a justification for that. In fact, in a competitive market environment you cannot simply tack on each and every expense that comes up on to the consumers bill. You need to charge the market price for a service or commodity and any new expenses simply cut into your profit margins. Unless however all the market players colluded together to fix prices, which is illegal. But, by the sounds of their propaganda in all this, that may be exactly what they are trying to prime the market for, except this kind of media transparency method of doing so saves them from the legal ramifications had they done so in a back room deal. I don’t know, that’s pure conjecture on my part, I admit that.

Writing this, and researching it, has been rather time consuming. I’m much more informed than I was, but even more confused in my opinions. I’m pissed at the networks for some of their bonehead moves that got them into this situation (consolidation moves to buy up other networks and some specialty networks at the peak of the market, thus overpaying). I’m pissed at the cable companies for what sounds to me like they are merely trying to protect their profits as well as position themselves to profit even more in the future through higher fees. I’m pissed again, I think, at the networks for forcing the CRTC to erode some of their protections by decreasing Canadian content restrictions. I’m pissed at the media in general for not really bringing this to light in a wider manner. I’m pissed at local TV networks for the piss poor advertising products they sell locally which if they were better they could sell more of and make better local revenues, but that’s a whole other blog post.

What will you do? What do you Think? Leave your comments below.

Or, if you do have a more solid opinion than I do, you can submit them to the CRTC by Fax at 819-994-0218 or online with this form here

Interesting Times in Canadian Politics

Monday, December 1st, 2008

My blog does not cover politics but oh well, I can’t resist. Here comes the coalition. Exactly what Steven Harper deserves.

Harper called an unwanted election. Did so against his own legislation for fixed election dates. Why did he do it? Because he saw he was loosing grip and the world was changing fast. Of coarse the government saw the shit-storm brewing in the economy and figured if they could run an election sooner rather than later they could hold onto power longer.

So the election happens and the conservatives squeek by a minority win. A minority win under those circumstances, forcing an election when we didn’t need one, means they lost. They needed a majority in order to have confidence in their government. They didn’t get that and what’s going now is the result.

Them putting forth a budget that attempted to bankrupt the opposition parties and not having any meat regarding economic incentive packages in light of the brewing global financial collapse (not to mention they still wont admit they need to run a deficit) was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Harper is done.

Being that my blog ain’t political, if you want to comment on this issue then head on over to my girlfriend Kim’s site and comment on her post about this Canadian Coalition Government stuff.

Update (dec. 4)

OMFG, the Governor General suspended Parliament! I am so furious. Furious.

Again, just go comment about proroguing Canada’s government over here.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrr