Archive for January 2009

Double-standards you shouldn’t even bother TRYING to argue against…

January 29, 2009

There’s a heat wave and the Eco-alarmists will instantly attribute it to Global Warming.   But if there’s a sudden cold snap across the country, they’ll ALSO say this is caused by Global Warming.   (Because Global Warming “causes instabilities in climate”…there will be some hot periods, and some cool periods.)

If women on TV talk about kinky sex in vivid detail, it’s considered “exploring their sexuality” and “empowering”.  But if men did this, they’d be called “pigs”.  Candlelight vigils would be held, and the “sexist” show would be banned from the networks.

Your company screws up and blows tens of millions of dollars on a major project, and nobody gets fired.   But you get raked over the coals when your one, tiny, insignificant report is a week overdue.

Hurting someone (to the point of them collapsing on the ground writhing in agony) is not only perfectly acceptable on TV, but it’s encouraged and considered FUNNY.  (But ONLY  if you’re male..and only if you’re getting hit in the genitals.)

The Do-Gooders will pick on overweight people and smokers, claiming these people put a drain on the Public Health Care system.  Yet these same critics will be dead set against allowing anyone to pay for their own private medical insurance (which is illegal, in Canada).

If a dog refuses to learn a new trick, it’s because they’re “too stupid”.   If a cat refuses to learn a trick (ANY kind of trick) it’s because they’re “too smart”.

They promote you to a position with more responsibility and longer work hours,  but they’re offended when you have the gall to ask for an increase in salary.

Writing a blog post describing a list of tips on how to start thinking about putting together notes to prepare a rough draft of a short story will get 150 comments.    Actually WRITING a short story…maybe 20.

Your Yuppie friend self-righteously announces they’re buying a $2500 energy-efficient front-loading washer to save on energy costs.  But then they’ll fly to Flagstaff Arizona for the weekend, just to enter an Eco-Triathalon for fun.

You share an office with several noisy co-workers, to the point that you can’t concentrate on your work.  You don’t have a lap top where you can go find a quiet room to work.   Your boss wont’ give you one.  And you’ll get scolded if your work is late.   Which may come up on your annual performance review.  Which your boss will probably type up on THEIR lap-top.

Even though you work and pay taxes, they’ll criticize and question your lifestyle choice if you’re overweight, buy a gas-guzzling SUV or smoke.   But nobody dares question the lifestyle choice of the drug addict getting free needles, or the welfare mom with four kids from four different dads.

Christmas trees are being banned, but some people want to start bringing Sharia Law in the courts.

They schedule a work meeting at lunch, and offer to feed you.   But when the pizzas are delivered, they sit there getting cold, because everyone is too scared to get up and demand to start eating.

You’ll get a ticket if you parked in a handicapped spot. (Yet when was the last time you saw one of those spots actually OCCUPIED?)

Parents want certain cartoons banned because they’re violent and are a bad influence on kids.  Even though they’re precisely the same cartoons the parents grew up watching in the first place.

Update on Basil the Special Dog

January 25, 2009

I worked some more on my storybook this week.   Here are a couple of sketches. 


I’m learing a lot of things as I go.   For one thing, the colors on the first picture are noticeably clearer, because the drawing was done on high-quality board paper.  

The 2nd picture is a bit more smudgy, because it was done on cheaper paper.  (Well, that’s okay..these are still drafts).    Plus, the scanner isn’t the best quality, so the colors in the actual pictures looks better.

This time I tried to color in the sky completely (as opposed to my other cartoons).   The sky color might be a bit too vibrant, I find.   Perhaps  I might have to try a more subtle shade.    (Maybe do the sky with Photoshop, instead of with the pens).   

As for the story…I wasn’t sure whether to work on the words first, and then add the pictures after.    But what seems to be working  (right now, at least)  is to keep drawings the pictures first, and the story seems to follow quite nicely.  

I have a game plan, and I’m starting to develop the characters.  The older kid (holding the leash) is Michael Mobeel, and he’s about about 8.   His younger brother following in the trike is about four and will be called Finster. 

The story will be told from the eyes of Michael Mobeel.   Basil is really HIS dog.

The basic plot is:

 Some dogs do “X”.   Basil is special, he does “Y”   And when he does “Y”,  “Z” happens. 

 And usually, “Z” will involve something getting destroyed or messed up, at someone else’s expense.   Except fpr Michael Mobeel, who is conveniently unaffected by Basil’s shenanigans.

Basil is a big PAIN in the butt, he drives everyone nuts.   But you can’t really blame him…he’s just a rambunctious stupid special yellow lab.  And he redeems himself in the end.   You’ll have to wait and see how.

So anyway, that’s where I am right now with the story.  

That’s all for this week, kids.    Till next time.

18 Tips Guaranteed to Save the Planet……and Make you Miserable!

January 22, 2009

Strictly adhere to the hundred-mile diet.    Which means no strawberries, pineapples, oranges, bananas, kiwi fruit, chocolate, mangoes, cashews, coffee, juices, tea, Irish Whiskey,  Champagne, most cheeses, and a lot of seafood.   … (Turnips from the root-cellar, anyone?)

Never go anywhere on vacation where you have to fly.    In fact, never fly AGAIN.  Jets leave a huge carbon footprint,  kill the ozone layer, and make Little Baby Jesus cry.   You can always enjoy the Grand Canyon or the Rocky Mountains from photos or post cards. 

Actually from now on, take ALL your vacation within walking distance from your home.    You don’t have to go anywhere to have fun.  Why not take those two weeks, and just spend quality time with the kids at the local playground?  (Won’t THAT be fun?).

Close all swimming pools, they waste space and use too much water.   Fill them in with compost and use them to cultivate organic lentils and lima beans.

Ban all forms of recreation that needlessly burn gas.   Like downhill skiing, motor boats, ski-doos, ATV’s,  hunting and fishing trips etc.    Let’s make “Walking” the new National Pastime.

Don’t exercise TOO vigorously, or you’ll burn too many calories and have to eat more, thus putting demands on our already over-stressed food resources.  

Don’t contribute to Urban Sprawl.  Sell your house and move into a Soviet-style apartment blocks with 150 square feet of living space.    Take the money you save and give it to Africa.

Consider shutting off your power at 9:00 PM, like North Korea does.

Stop having pets.   It’s unconscionable to keep animals, when so many people in the world are starving.    Make do with a stuffed animal, or pet rock instead.   

Get rid of Christmas trees, and Christmas lights,  Christmas presents, and the Christmas turkey.    Donate the money to PETA and celebrate the Holidays with a modest vegetarian supper.

And your car?  Are you KIDDING?  Get rid of it!    Walk everywhere, regardless if it’s  minus 30 or plus 100.

It’s unlikely that those Easter Bunnies are made from free-trade chocolate.   To avoid any doubt, just don’t buy them altogether. 

Dont’ use hot water when you bathe.   (Sure, it’s cold..but think of the ENERGY you’ll save!)  While you’re at it..give up shaving (both men AND women).

Save trees and by eliminating toilet paper or feminine hygiene products.   Make do without, like they did in the 1700’s.

With the planet as overpopulated as it is, it’s almost criminal to make babies.   Forget about raising a child of your own:  those days are over.   Only adopt orphans from a third-world country like Brad and Angelina did.

Get rid of TV.   It’s a waste of time.   There is plenty to do instead.   Like stringing popcorn, playing the spoons, or churning butter.

Give up blogging.  (Computers contain heavy metals and non-recyclable components, not to mention they use up a lot of electricity).

Brush the dog and save the itchy hair to make a shirt.   You can wear it in public as you act out the Eco-martyr.

An Open Letter to Lucky Charms Cereal

January 21, 2009


Dear Shooting Star and Lucky Hat;

Didn’t you used to be the Orange Star and Green Clover?   Along with the Pink Heart and Yellow Moon, you used to be part of the Fab Four:  the original four marshmallows that made up Lucky Charms when it first came out.   We grew up with you and loved you.

But look at you now.  What happened?  You’ve obviously had some work done…you’ve enhanced your looks.  You’ve gone all Hollywood on us….You’ve CHANGED, man!
lc_red-balloonDear Red Balloon;

I dunno.   You don’t look like much of a balloon.  More like a blob.   I know you once helped Lucky escape from those thieving little shits who tried to steal you.  But that was like 20 years ago.  What have you done for us LATELY?

PS.  I hope your red dye doesn’t cause cancer.

Dear Blue Moon;

Hey, didn’t you used to be yellow!?
It’s too bad you felt you had to change your color.    You should accept yourself of who you, and embrace your yellow heritage.   We did.  It’s not about how you look, but how sweet you taste in the bowl.
lc_horseshoeDear Purple Horseshoe;

You were a late-comer.  But I admit, you’ve withstood the test of time, and you’re here to stay.  And we’ve grown to love you.   You’re the best purple breakfast marshmallow, ever.

lc_rainbow-hourglass1Dear Rainbow and Hour-Glass;

Well, Laaaah-Dee-Dah.

Lookit the new-fangled three-dimensional multicolored marshmallows!

You know, you look really cool.   And it probably took a NASA scientist to figure out a way to extrude you.    But you don’t really fool me.  You’re all show…and no substance.   If I close my eyes, you taste exactly the same as all your other corn-syrup-gelatin flavored buddies.

lc-heartDear Pink Heart;

In today’s hectic fast-paced society, where a typical attention span lasts for a minute, it’s good to see some things never change.  You’re still the same Pink Heart you were 40 years ago.   In fact, as far as I know you’re the ONLY marshmallow that’s still around from the original Fab Four.   Kudos to you for staying true to yourself.

PS.  Whatever happened to the Blue Diamond?   How come he got kicked out of your group?  He’s like the Pete Best of breakfast cereals.

And last but not least:
lc_cerealDear Cereal

Uhhh…thanks for coming out.

General Mills tries to advertise that you’re now made of “Whole grains”.   “Part of a Good Breakfast”.   (Snicker).  Yeahhh…Right.  😀

As IF that little bit of fibre will make up for the fact that the Lucky Charms itself is 40% by weight sugar! (Yes!  40%!   Check the box!)

But seriously.  You’re NOT really that important.  We don’t necessarily like you.  We tolerate you.

You’re basically filler to spread the marshmallows around, so that kids don’t end up eating pure candy for breakfast.    You could be sawdust, for all anyone cares.

If you don’t believe me, just try to make it on your own, WITHOUT the marshmallows.   (Yeah…That’ll work!)    See how long you last.

Limited Time Offer: Learn SEO with this Certified On-Line Blog Course

January 19, 2009


Proudly presents the

U.B.L. Certified Master’s Diploma

in Über-Blogging.

Taught by the Illustrious Dr. Friar.  (Ph.D, M.Sc, P.B.S, F.U.Bar, Ei-Ei-Oh)

Course Curriculum

Session 1

  • Self-Awareness 101:  Learn why your opinion is so God-damned important that the Blogosphere cannot possibly survive without you.
  • The Fundamentals of Food Martyrdom:   Laser-focusing your productivity by neglecting to to eat and sleep.
  • Smugness 101:   Why it’s not us, it’s the REST of the non-blogging world that doesn’t “get it”.
  • Nutrition Awareness:   Learn about the Four Basic Blogger Food Groups:  sugar, salt, caffeine, and fat.
  • Open Forum:  Should you really be reading 500 blogs a day?  (Damn right, you should!) We tell you why.

Sesssion 2

  • The joys of self-actualization:  Giving up that miserable 9-to-5 cubicle job, in exchange for a stress-free 85-hour workweek being your own boss.
  • Open Forum:    SEO.  How often should we mention it?  Every post?   Or every 2nd post?
  • Network Approach to Brown-Nosing: How to maximize your traffic by sucking up to the other Über-Bloggers
  • Overcoming Anxiety: That big yellow thing up in the sky.  It’s called THE SUN.  (Try to get out more.)
  • E-book Case Study:   How I earned $1200 in one night….then nothing for the next 28 months.

Session 3

  • Support Group:   Dealing with the guilt of missing  a post. (Paramedics available upon request.)
  • Addiction Counseling:   Twitter:  Is it the new Crack Cocaine?
  • Achieving Financial Independence:  Convincing your spouse to work full-time to support you, while you pull in a whopping four-figure salary.
  • Couples Counselling:  Do I want a relationship with my blog?   Should I break up?   Or should we just be good friends?
  • Advanced Navel-gazing:   Who are we?  Why do we blog?   How does this fit in with the Grand Unified Field Theory?
  • Video Demonstration:   Yoga techniques designed to get your head out of your arse (Prerequisite:  Advanced Navel Gazing).

Session 4

  • Vacation Tips:   Finding discount tickets to Lah-Lah Land, and staying there as long as necessary.
  • Open Forum Discussion:   Benfits/downfalls of wearing Depends.  (When is it okay to leave your computer to go to the bathroom?)
  • Filling the Void:   How to blog about blogging without actually writing anything of any substance.
  • Learning to prioritize.    Blogging.   Blogging.  Blogging.  And more blogging.
  • Intro to Divorce Law:  How to keep custody of your lap-top after your spouse leaves you for blogging too much.


Note:  This course is available for a LIMITED TIME only.

The price today is $225.17.

But by NEXT FULL MOON, it will double triple quadrulple  to $900.68




KIDS!!!   For the LOVE OF GOD…!


SIGN UP for Dr. Friar’s Course!

If you don’t, you’ll REGRET it for the REST of your God-Forsaken Miserable EXCUSE for A LIFE!

If you DON’T BELIEVE US, check out these ASTOUNDING Testimonials from ACTUAL written text!

“It was…er….interesting.”
Professor F. Meigh.   University of Uptown on the Chudleigh.

“Read this…and it will make you cry”
–   Oprah Mom

“That Dr. Friar.   That guy…what a character!”
– Ölaf ThuynderFrûcken

“After taking this course, I feel that it was money spent”
– Dick Weed

“…much more pleasant than sitting in a dentists’ chair, if they don’t use Novocain”.
– Fallopia M. Ornice.

A few new Watercolors

January 18, 2009

In between my blogging and my kids’ story book, I’ve somehow managed to get a few more landscapes in.  Especially since my painting group started again last fall.

These first two are quick (~ 1 hour) sketches.  These scenes are from Gatineau Park, from the cross-country ski trails.

From a pure laziness point of view, I like winter scenes, because it involves less painting (i.e. you have to leave lots of white).   The down side, though, you have to know WHERE to leave the white.    (It’s really easy to screw up a winter watercolor painting if you’re not careful).



This next scene is from Alaska, between Homer and Anchorage.   Alaska is awesome.   You can see glaciers like this right from the side of the road.


This next one you might recognize.  It’s from a photo I posted last October, from Upstate New York.   I couldn’t resist the brilliant yellow colors;.


Finally, here’s one from my summer vacation, at Neys Provincial Park.     The North Shore of Superior always fascinates me…it’s so untamed and rugged.    And cold.   This was Labor Day weekend, and you can see the leaves were already starting to change.


Yes, we have NO Breakfast.

January 17, 2009

Some of you know I like to bitch about the local small town stores here.  But every once in a while, I’ll still give them the benefit of the doubt, and try to throw some business their way.   Support the local economy, you know.

Like this morning.  It was 11:30 and I went to eat breakfast at the Clueless Restaurant.   Even though I’ve gotten burned there before (they stop serving breakfast on Saturdays after 11:00 AM).

(God only knows WHY…).  But that’s besides the point.

But they’ve been under new management, and I know they extended their Sunday breakfast hours.

So heck, why not give it a shot?

No such luck.

Survey says: “ANNNNNNH!” (Insert obnoxious buzzer sound here).

When I walked in, they told me sorry, we don’t serve breakfast after 11:00.

Never mind that the Lunch Special was a FRIED EGG SANDWICH!  (Seriously, I can’t make this up, folks!)

They probably had club sandwiches too.

Meaning you could probably buy bacon, toast, and eggs.

Just apparently not all together.

The manager tried to reassure me that I can still get  “breaksfasty” things on the menu (whatever the f#%*  THAT means).    But she stuck to her guns, and said they don’t’ serve actual breakfast.

Sigh. I guess they didn’t want my money.  (Even though I was the ONLY customer there.)

Oh well.  I did what I usually do.

I went 400 yards down the road to their competitor:  The Normal Restaurant.   That WILL serve breakfast on weekends.   Till 4:00 PM, even.

And guess what?   I was eating hot breakfast within minutes.  And there were at least a dozen customers already doing the same.

There’s probably a moral to this story here….regarding which businesses will succeed and which ones will fail.

But I dont’ think Clueless Restaurant could (or would) listen to it.

Walking to Work at Minus 37 Celsius

January 16, 2009


Sun is barely up.

Out the front door.  Ice forming on my beard within seconds.

Air is dead calm.   You can hear a pin drop.

Eyes watering.  Eyelashes freezing together.

Feet making loud scrunchy noises on the snow.

Breathing through my nose, and getting an ice-cream headache.

Ski jacket makes funny crinkly noises.  The materials’ gotten brittle.

Face burning…especially two spots on my cheek, where I once got frostbite years ago.

Approaching my office.   (Jesus this is cold!)

Still, I’d rather be here outside…

…than go inside to work!


Recent Update on Basil the Special Dog

January 13, 2009

It’s been a while since I reported any progress on my Basil story book.  So I thought I’d give an update.

A few months ago, Karen J.L. provided me with some great consulting.  She gave me some excellent feedback and constructive criticism on how to improve the story and some of the artwork.

Since then, I’ve been revamping the whole book.   Developing characters.  Researching different mediums (pen and ink, watercolor, etc).  Selecting colors.   Learning more about Photoshop, etc.  And sketching, sketching, and sketching again.   Practicing drawing trucks, trees, dogs, houses, furniture, etc….Here are a few examples:

Holy cow…what I thought would take me a few short months to crank out is turning into a serious Magnum Opus.    We’re talking hundreds of hours here, before this is all said and done.

But that’s okay…if you want to do something,  you might as well do it RIGHT.

Moral of the story:  Putting together a kids book is NOT as easy as you think!

Anyway, the book isn’t done yet.  It’s a work in progress.

But as you can see, I’ve been busy…

But slowly but surely, I’m getting closer to completing the real thing…

More updates to follow on the coming months


Calorie Counting with Perfesser Friar

January 13, 2009

Now that New Years is here, and the big Holiday pig-out is over, lots of us are making resolutions to lose weight.  And we’ll say it’s time to start  “counting calories”.    But how many of us really understand what a calorie actually is?

A calorie is  a unit of energy.   Energy is the ability to do work (applying a  force to move something).  Or the ability to generate heat.    With the exception of nuclear reactions (which I wont’ get into here) that’s pretty much how all the energy is used in this Universe.  Energy goes into work, or is dissipated as heat.

By the official definition (in the thermodynamic sense):    

1 calorie = the energy required to raise one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

And that’s actually NOT a lot of energy.   One gram of water is one cubic centimeter.  That’s smaller than the dice you play Monopoly with.   And a change of one degree Celsius is barely something you’d be able to notice by touch.

In fact, if you rubbed your hands together, there you go!  You probably burned several calories’ worth.  The warmth your palms generated could easily heat a dice-sized cube of water by several degrees.

Now, what about FOOD calories?  (The numbers you see in cookbooks or on the food packages).    Those calories are same thing, right?

Well, er…not exactly.

You see, a FOOD calorie is a thousand times larger than a thermodynamic calorie.

(Yeah, I know it’s confusing.)  But don’t blame me.  (Go yell at the science-geeks who made up these names!)

To get back to that definition:

1 food calorie = 1000 thermodynamic calories = 1 kilo-calorie (or 1 kcal).

In the more recent literature, they often talk about food in kilo-calories (kcals) to try to avoid this confusion.

Depending on their size,  a typical adult requires approximately 2000-2500 food calories (or kilo-calories) every day.   And of course, we get this energy from food, that our body burns and metabolizes.   But exactly how does this work?

Think of a log burning in the fireplace.    The log is plant material.  The complex molecules in the wood (cellulose, lignin, resins) react with the oxygen in the air and break down into simpler compounds (carbon dioxide, water, and waste (i.e. ashes).   This combustion process release energy.

The exact same thing happens when you eat an apple, or a piece of bread, or a Big Mac.   Our body converts the complex molecules of proteins, sugars and fats, and breaks them down into simpler molecules  (carbon dioxide, water and waste).  This is also a combustion process, and it also  that releases energy.

Except the food doesn’t burn quickly all at once in a burst of flames.   The process happens happens more slowly, through the biochemical reactions within our cells, spread out over several hours.   But it’s a similar reaction.  Food (i.e. plant and animal material) plus oxygen go in.    Heat, water, carbon dioxide and waste goes out.

In fact, that’s how they measure the caloric value of food. They actually BURN samples of food in specially-devised instruments called “calorimeters”  and measure the heat given off.   The laws of physics don’t care whether the food is burned in a fire place, a calorimeter, or in the mitochondria of our cells.    For a given chemical reactions, the net release of energy remains the same.   And our body takes this energy, and converts it into heat and work.

The heat part, we can easily relate to.   Hold your hand in front of your mouth when you exhale, and feel the warmth of each breath…that’s the heat of your body burning your food.  Anything alive has a metabolic rate and generates heat.

But what do we mean by”work”?

Work, from a physical sense, is defined as (Force x Distance).

Basically, work means pushing something (with a force) to make it move.   We do that all the time with our muscles, when we walk, run, open doors, play with our kids, open the cork on wine bottles.   In fact, right now, I’m using a bit of force with my fingers to make the keyboard move, so I’m doing “work”, in a physical sense.

Anyway, getting back to the 2500-odd kilo-calories you use up every day.   That’s equal to 2.5 million thermodynamic calories, which is quite an impressive number, when you come to think of it.   I wont’ bore you with the calculations, but if you do the math, that’s  enough energy to bring 4 liters of water (just under a gallon) from room temperature to the boiling point.

No way!”, some of you might say.   “Boiling a gallon of water?  That’s way too much!  Surely I don’t get all that energy, just from the food I eat?

Well,  “Yes way!”   You DO burn off that much.   There’s a lot of energy packed into the food you eat. (Have you ever seen a bacon grease fire?) .   Imagine half a pound of buring bacon grease…that’s approximately 2500 calories.  You could probably heat a lot of water with that.

But thankfully, the energy you burn is spread out over the whole day.   Lucky it doesn’t burn all at once, like the grease fire, our you’d have steam coming out of your ears.

Just think how much energy it takes to keep that big hunk of meat you call your body at a  temperature 98.6 F.   In fact, if you do nothing else but breathe and EXIST, it takes a minimum of about ~ 1200 kilo-calories to sustain life.   The remaining 800-1300 kilo-calories are used up moving around, and doing the things you call living.

Now, here’s an interesting fact:  each person gives off about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb.

Makes sense, if you do that math.    2500 kilo-calories a day = 2,500,000 thermodynamic calories.

Divide this by the 86400 seconds there are in a 24-hour day, and you get (2,500,000) / (86400) =  29 calories per second.

Again, I won’t bore you with the unit conversion.  But 29 calories per second  works out to about 120 watts of power.   Which is close enough to a 100-watts.

So next time your’e in a crowded auditorium wih no air conditioning, you’ll know why to room seems so stuffy and hot.   It’s because each person is giving off as much heat as  a bright lamp.  Ten people give off as much heat as one blow-dryer on “high”.

Now, how does this tie into the FOOD we eat?  Howcome we can scarf down a Big Mac in 2 minutes, but it takes hours to burn it off?

Good question.   That’s because of the way the laws of physics are designed.   Physical work (moving things) dosen’t burn off that much energy.   Not when compared to all the chemical energy stored in food.

But that’s a topic that will be covered in the next Perfesser Friar Science post.