November 29, 2004

The rank of love, Part 2: e john love

...or "SERPing high and low"

...or "Looking for Love" ("Wooking puh nub" if there are any old-school E. Murphy fans)

It is official: through some unforeseen "Act of Google(tm)", neither my personal web site nor this blog are ranked in the top 10 in Google for the search phrase john love. For an excited few weeks there, I was number one out of over 22 Million results.

A few times, I caught myself caressing the word "milliion" with my tongue like some Dr. Evil-meets-Carl Sagan love child. It sounds so nice to say "twenty two mm-mmmillllionn!" But, I knew it was too good to last for long... :(

Google finally got around to doing housekeeping in some dusty corner of whichever datacentre my site had managed to wedge itself near the top. It doubtless said "What the...?", and then flung my site's listing down into the depths of Google SERP purgatory... :D

However, hope springs eternal, as (cue the mass 'woo-hoos') I am still numero uno out of 15.7 M. results under the slightly less generic phrase e john love.

Here we go again...

November 21, 2004

The "rank" of love... Where the heck did I go in Google?

I knew it was too good to last!

Previously, my personal web site, was ranked number 1 out of over 22 million results under the search term john love
(no quotes)

...but alas, since Friday, I appear to have disappeared from Google. Sometimes Google is finicky, and my site may disappear for a day or three, and then magically reappear back at numero uno.

I wait with baited breath to see if I'll reappear or not... Google seems so dang fussy... :)

November 20, 2004

Budget Conscience

It sucks not having as much money as I'm used to (or as I used to).

I don't regret my current job, nor the friendly relationships I have made with my coworkers. People grumble about their jobs all the time. It's mostly a stress reliever, I think. Sometimes you just gotta vent. I just wish I made a bit more money.

Making a livable wage is technically all I need, but I think my mind has become used to making a little more than I need, and having some left over for long-term savings or for some short-term enjoyment. However, over the past year or so, I have started to finally "feel the pinch" as my paycheque has gone just a little bit lower than before.

I guess I had my personal equivalent to the "dot com boom", working for some high-tech startups that paid me fairly well to do what I loved. The downside of having all that lovely disposable income was the periodic stress of knowing that the company that gave me those fatty paycheques could go toes up in six months. This uncertainty, coupled with the lack of structure in small companies leads to stress and fear.

Sure, I'm grateful as hell to have a job today, even if I can't sock away as much into the old RRSP as I used to. It doesn't take much to remember the dry, coppery taste of unemployment, and not having many prospects. I told myself after being laid off a few times that, if at all possible, I would seek an opportunity that could be long-term and stable. It's unrealistsic really, but I intended to not get laid off again. I wanted a better level of job security.

I'm reminded daily of people who literally have almost nothing compared to me. Really, I'm lucky as hell to have a stable job, a warm and loving partner and home and relatively good health.

So, I do consider myself to be fortunate. One day, work will end for me. One day I will be too old or sick to work. When that happens, I will become dependent on my long-term savings. I have only been able to invest a little bit each month, at the expense (literally) of my monthly budget. But nobody else is going to pay me when I get old and grey (I'm assuming OAP or CPP will not be dependable in another 30 years), so I must try to save as much as I can.

So, it's belt-tightening time, and I must do some kind of budget and plug any holes in my pockets.

As I think about this more, I can bring even more perspective to my situation:

When I was 19, and just beginning my Foundation (first) year at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, I had very little income. My friend Coniah and his family graciously let me rent their townhome for a meager $200 per month, and between this and some part-time jobs I was usually able to scrape together what I needed - not always, mind you, but most of the time (did I mention that Coniah's family were gracious?).

That first year was a real bitch. I worked part-time washing dishes at the Pantry restaurant, and made another $75 to $100 per month setting out the lawn sprinklers in my townhouse complex. That second job saved my bacon: the Pantry only paid me about $4.35 an hour. I think I got a raise up to $4.65 after about six months of scrubbing dishes and urinals. My Dad and my dear old Aunty Molly helped me with tuition that first year too, but by April I was flat broke. Later, I applied for a student loan for the following year, amounting to a whopping $3000. My Dad's voice echoed in my head, warning me not to get into debt.

Back then, my meals often consisted of eating the same oatmeal for a few days at a time in the morning (a big bag of it was cheap) and eating the same elbow macaroni in the evening (same reason). I used teabags for twice as many cups of tea as they were meant for, and when I ran out of margarine, I spread mayonnaise on my morning toast until I had used that all up.

Compared to all that, trimming my current monthly budget now isn't such a big deal. I think I can cut down on cell phone use, visit Starbucks a bit less and maybe even pack a lunch once in a while.

I've also decided that belt tightening should not lessen my contributions to the homeless guy that I see almost everyday, nor to the Union Gospel Mission. No matter how bad off you may be, there is always someone who could use your help.

Two bucks given to a homeless person beats the hell out of two bucks worth of coffee.

November 18, 2004

When hell freezes over...

Unapologetically copied from Martin's "Electric Blog",

- John.

"I found this while I was surfing around today and thought it was good. It shows that the education system isn't failing in all aspects as this student definitely has a creative mind.

This was supposedly an actual question given on a University chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet which is of course why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you, and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


November 14, 2004

What does your name say about you?

I dunno... seems like balderdash to me (that's right, you heard me... balderdash!), but what the heck... I gave it a whirl on both my first and second names...

The first name of Ernest creates an intense personal nature. Your feelings and emotional desires are strong and consequently you are an individual, determined, strong-willed person. Your creative nature and ambition drive you to pursue success to the extent that you jeopardize your personal well-being. There is a tendency for you to dominate others. You are too certain of yourself, and you are not open to the views of others or responsive to their desires or needs. Also, this name does not incorporate qualities that enable you to be diplomatic and to compromise. In all your work and activities you are inclined to be rather unsystematic and disorderly. These characteristics spoil stability, progress, and accumulation, even though you may put forth intense effort. Tension and frustration exact a heavy toll on your peace of mind and nervous system. You are often preoccupied with the desires and demands of the moment. Temper and indulgence could become serious problems in your life. Your health could suffer through disorders affecting the nervous system. Tension centering in the head could affect the eyes, ears, sinuses, and teeth.

The name of John has made you serious-minded, responsible, and stable. You love the security of a home and family, you are fond of children, and, as a parent you would be fair and understanding. Although you have good business judgment, you are not aggressive in your dealings because you do not like to create issues. You would be successful in any position dealing with the public as you have a diplomatic and tactful manner and possess a charming, easy-going nature which puts people at ease. People are drawn to you because they feel that you are patient, kind, understanding, and responsive. You would be effective in a career or in volunteer work where you are handling people and serving in a humanitarian way. While you are honest and responsible, one weakness that is paramount in your life is your lack of self-confidence and initiative, which causes you to put things off and avoid facing issues. Generally speaking, you have few problems with your health; however, there is a weakness affecting the fluid functions of the body.

Starbucks and other Canadian retailers have no shame at all...

I cannot stand to hear fricking Christmas music while it is still November! November, people!

As I write this, Starbucks is pumping out the crappiest, set-yer-teeth-on-edge jingley Christmas shit, and it's driving me nuts! What over-zealous moron at corporate head office is responsible for this?

Pity the poor Canadian retailers who do not have a big, overblown retail holiday sales event in November like their US counterparts. They have to artificially pump up the Xmas cheer meter a month earlier in order to try and shake us out of our complacency.

So, I complained (gently) to Lady Vee, a fellow blogger and sympathetic employee at our favourite Starbucks, and by the time I wrote this paragraph, the music mercifully switched to generic 50s crooner rock and roll, without the slightest hint of forced Xmas cheer! Yay!

No... wait, it was a fluke... just a random non-Xmas disk in the CD player I guess, because now we're back to Perry Coma or Mel Torme moaning on like a lovesick moose about chestnuts on a fire. Damn! It was too good to last...


November 13, 2004

What the bleep do I know?

I think this is a good question to ask myself from time to time.

Tonight, I went to see "What the bleep do we know?", a kind of info-tainment movie starring Marlee Matlin and host of physicists, theologians, biologists and spiritualists. The movie itself was not a revelation for me. I would describe it as an attempt to popularize ideas from quantum theory for a general audience. I liked the "dramatic plotline" starring Marlee Matlin as a young woman overcoming her own negative patterns and making a conscious change in the direction of her life. Otherwise, I thought the movie was too light on the science and too heavy on new age philosophy, juvenile humour and childish computer graphics. What can I say? I love educational television. I'm a bit of a geek. But "What the bleep do we know" was generally enjoyable, and did remind me that I hadn't read much physics or philosophy in a long while.

If you have read anything about quantum physics, you might be familiar with the idea that's particles can have more than one simultaneous state or position (called "superposition"), and may even have an infinite possible number of positions. The act of observing a particle causes this superposition to collapse down into one position, which is the one we perceive. This is basically, a dang trippy idea, and must be difficult for many people to accept. It's fascinating if we extend the idea of these multiple possibilities up to a human level, because it implies that the world as we know it is not permanently fixed in form and space, but is variable and constantly in flux.

The most influential teacher in my life, British Art Educator Tom Hudson, once told me that even though many people are present in this century, in terms of their education and the core concepts they believe, he felt that many are living with a 19th Century world view. I think it's fair to say that many people probably have a 19th century acceptance of physics, in terms of their everyday experience and how these ideas affect their lives. I think I'm guilty of this myself.

In the 70s and 80s, my Dad was an electronics technician at TRIUMF, the sub-atomic research facility located the University of British Columbia. TRIUMF is most well-known for it's Cyclotron, one of the largest particle accelerators in the world, which whips particles around at 75% of the speed of light and smashes then into targets so that scientists can analyze the results. Mesons and lots of other particles have been observed and measured using this massive machine.

My Dad was a technician, not a physicist, but his scientific and technical background rubbed off on me. He taught me some basic physical laws like "energy cannot be created or destroyed, just transformed from one form to another". I absorbed other ideas from popular culture - mostly TV. Along with Mickey Mouse's ears and Groucho Marks' moustache, I grew up with the motto "E equals em cee two". Of course, when I was eight years old, I didn't understand what the formula meant, nor what an exponent was, but I read and memorized the characters and learned their significance years later. Thanks to Star Trek and science fiction, I got an idea of what a black hole is.

So, maybe many of us have some appreciation for these concepts from 20th Century physicists like Einstein or Hawking. But I have to ask myself, after more than two generations since it's discovery, just how much of quantum theory has integrated itself into my culture? How much has it affected my understanding of my existence and that of the world around me.

For example, my common experience tells me that my body is distinct from the air that surrounds it. Yet I have been told that at the super-duper small, atomic level, it would be difficult to determine where the air ends and my skin begins. If I keep this idea in mind, it's easy to think of myself as being truly integrated and part of the world around me. At that level, we're all very similar. However, I have never been at this level to experience it for myself, so in order to integrate it into my view of life, I must, somewhat ironically, take it on faith.

So, while I'm immensely comforted by the idea that modern physics can provide a scientific model that reinforces, say, the Buddhist concept of interconnectedness or interdependence, it's all too easily overlooked from my human "macro" level unless I make a regular effort to remember it.

So, if I have to make a small effort to maintain this belief in atomic physics, how much more challenging will it be to keep ideas like "superposition" in mind?

I guess that faith and discipline are needed in order to keep my non-religious world view alive and developing. Doesn't that sound a little ironic?

Some links and reviews of this bleepin' movie:

Movie Review: Roger Ebert
Movie Review: Movie Magazine International
Official "What the bleep..." movie web site

November 08, 2004

My web site is is ranked #1 in

For the past week or so, my personal web site, has been ranked number 1 out of over 22 million results under the search term john love (no quotes)

That's just flipping amazing to me...

You never know how long these things will last... Google is always growing it's database...

...but anyway... Woo hoo!

November 07, 2004

House of Bush, House of Saud

House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

I have been reading "House of Bush, House of Saud" by Craig Unger.

I highly recommend this book if, like me and many other people on both sides of the Canada/US border, you are wary or cynical about the actions of the Bush Administration.

It seems to me that this book had a strong influence on Michael Moore. It is cited frequently in his book "Dude - Where's my country" and the US-Saud connection is the central theme in his popular documentary "Farenheit 9/11". Moore is very adept at popularizing political and social issues, and using information from Mr. Unger's book (and other sources of course), he makes a strong case that many Americans do not know (or maybe don't want to know) about the connections between the Bush family and their associates, and the Saudi and Bin Laden families and their associates. As I recall, Unger states that the relationship between the Saudi royal family and the US Republicans (particularly the Bush family) goes back almost 40 years.

Excerpts from Unger's book and other information can be found at the "House of Bush, House of Saud" web site.