Category Archives: Life

Code to Automate Posting to a MySpace Blog

I’ve kept a blog on my website for quite some time now. But since most of my readers were on MySpace when I started my own-branded blog, I had to copy the posts from one blog to the next. This gets old in a hurry, so I wrote a little Python code to automatically copy posts from WordPress to MySpace. It should be easy to extend since the MySpace posting code is separated out.

I’ve made this code publicly available with the hope that others may find it useful. It’s on github. Check it out. It’s not perfect, but it works.

Big Park Dot Com

Our corporate web finally went live this week. I have been at this company for over six months, joining shortly after its inception.

So what took so long? Well, for one thing, we didn’t have a name until very recently. We were going by the temporary name “Funny Fox Games”, but didn’t want to waste any time branding us by the temporary name. We struggled over a final name for quite a while, and just a few weeks ago settled on BigPark, Inc. I actually think the name is quite good (kind of a relief… I thought some of the ideas were not that great).

So check out our quite pretty (and vague) web site at and see what you think. We have a few jobs openings, so if you like computers and/or games, take a look!

With a little luck, we will release our first game Real Soon Nowâ„¢.

A Word (Spelled) Uniquely Canadian

Canadian English is a hybrid… on one hand, with political roots in the Commonwealth and historical ties to Britain; on the other hand, its geographic and economic influences from the US.

In spelling, like so many other cultural aspects, it’s hard to think of something that is uniquely Canadian and not just borrowed or outright filched from some other nation. When British and American English do not agree on a spelling, the Canadian version is usually just one or the other.

However, this endless indecisiveness yields a word spelled in a uniquely Canadian way:colourize

The Brits spell this “colourise”, the Americans “colorize”. There are two rules at work here: Canadians keep the “u” in words like “color” and “flavor” that does nothing but take up space and reinforce, (in our minds at least), the massive differences between Canada and the US.

But when it comes to the suffix that makes nouns into verbs, we for some reason have settled on the American “-ize” rather than the British “-ise”.

Maybe like “foetus” (a fantastically ugly British spelling), we’ve decided that it’s just a bit too… provincial?

Travel Tips: Fly Clear

I have a Clear card, so security at San Francisco airport (SFO) is very quick. If you want one, use my Refer-A-Friend code SCA52693 to get us both a free month. There are some surprising things about this program. At SFO, you plug the card into a machine, then it scans your irises to confirm your identity. Then the Clear employees ask for ID. That’s right. Reading your irises isn’t enough… they need picture ID. This is in case someone steals your irises without taking your driver’s license. Yes, they know it’s stupid (they called it “illogical” in an email to members). But the government requires it.

After your ID has been confirmed, the valet helps you by carrying some of your stuff, and, chanting “excuse me” repeated while budding in front of everyone else who is standing in own line. That’s right, you don’t get your own line. You don’t get any special rules (you still have to take off your shoes and take your laptop out of its case). You just get butt in front of the same line everyone else is in. It always makes me feel like a self-important jerk. Not in a completely bad way though. All I can ever manage is a meek smile.

And what happens when everyone is in this program? The lines will be much slower because there will now be an extra step (the iris scanning), and the security screening won’t be any different. So what the hell??

I figure that what happened was it was a compromise between privacy versus security. A law was passed for frequent travelers to be pre-screened (and the TSA digs into your background before you’re approved) in exchange for a expedited security process. And they could never decide on exactly how the screening would be expedited… so instead of changing the process, they just bud you to the head of the line.

“TSA-approved and prescreened butthead coming through!”

Line-jumping: the compromise of bureaucracy.

On Living in Two Places

It’s been several months now since I’ve worked in Vancouver while living in California and having a place in both locations. I am getting used to the disorientation and have a few observations.


The money always seems native. I have a hard time telling which coins and bills are foreign. When I first moved to the US, it was easy: the foreign-looking money was native and vice-versa. As I spent more time there, the feeling gradually switched. During the switch, it was a little confusing as my brain swapped out “native” versus “foreign”, but that happened long ago.

Now when I go back and forth, I swap out the contents of my wallet and change pockets. It seems pretty arbitrary to me, especially now that the US and Canadian dollar are pretty much interchangeable on financial markets (on any given day it’s anyone’s guess which one is worth one or two percent more than the other). I’m a little irritated, really, and am very tempted to try to pass the other country’s money. Of course, that would work fine in Canada and horribly in the US. (This is a nice allegorical of the relationship between the two countries.)


Oddly, the switch between miles, kilometers, Celsius, Fahrenheit… none of that causes any problem. I am fully bi-unitarian.

Going Home

Another thing that’s odd is that I’m always going home. I’m at home, I get a ride to the airport, fly away, get my ride from the airport to… home.

I pack a small carry on bag. No clothes. No toothbrush. No pills. No deodorant. If the plane ever has to make an unscheduled overnight stop in some other city, I could be in for a bit of a pickle (and this almost happened once when Vancouver was fogged over).

This also means if a fellow traveller asks me “Going home?” I just smile and say “Yes.”

Aww… You So Entertaining!

I went down to the Gallery Lounge on campus at UBC tonight to checkout the karaoke contest that was supposed to be going on (yeah, yeah, I know). I was surprised to see how sparsely attended it was, so I found a book and put in Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, which I do in a pretty decent croaky impression. It went over pretty well.

As the night slowly wore on, it was pretty clear not too many people were interested in singing, so I went up and asked how many songs were left. They said there was one opening left, so I pounced on it and signed myself up for “The Bad Touch” by The Bloodhound Gang. This song is somewhat edgy, slightly rude, and I have it memorized. I also have a little outrageous dance/act-out which is rather of amusing to watch.

I did it, and it went over pretty well too. Immediately following, the crowd voted for “Best Singer” and “Most Entertaining”. I thought I might actually have a chance since I was fresh in people’s minds. Sure enough, I was voted “Most Entertaining”, so they called me up to congratulate me.

I have never advanced in any comedy contest after over three years of doing stand-up. Yet here I won. At least I’m entertaining compared to a layman.

The DJ asked me to do my Louis Armstrong impression, so I plugged my web site in the low throaty voice. If that’s why you’re here now, well… hi. Why not sign up to be my Facebook fan?

“Rock Band” Makes You Feel Cool

An invariant in my personality is an obsession with precision, pedantry, and pedagogy. This perfect storm is responsible for my unusual interest and aptitude for math and computers. But this was not a conscious choice, and with the good fortune of being able to breeze through math course came the curse of nerd-dom ostricization. My tendencies in this direction are too strong to ever hope to not be a nerd. I’ve always refused to “celebrate” the nerd way. Some of it is overcompensation, some of it surprising. For example, I’ve never seen an episode of Star Trek. As I like to say, I don’t trust anyone too much into anything. I’m a nerd, but I’m not a geek. (OK, I have a blog. Sue me.)

This repudiation of the geek lifestyle has caused me to drift away from video games that interested me when I was younger. My current job has brought me back into that world though, because… well, it’s that industry. So the office has XBOX 360, Wii, a giant TV. We got the game “Rock Band” pretty much as soon as it was available.

“Rock Band” comes with a guitar controller (with buttons instead of frets), a microphone, and a drum kit. You play and sing along with real songs that you’ve probably heard on the radio, like Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So”, and it scores you based on how accurately you follow along to the score that scrolls by. If a tone is assigned to you and you botch it, that note doesn’t play in the song, and the discordance socks a body blow to your musical memory (and makes the virtual crowd more likely to start booing).

It doesn’t take long before you actually start to get the hang of it, and surprisingly, feel like you are contributing to the songs. You really do learn certain musical skills, especially timing.

If the difficulty level is appropriate — not too easy that you get bored, but not too hard that you get frustrated (see also this Wikipedia article) — you really start to get into it, and become one with the music. You begin to understand what it might be like to be a real rock star. It’s a coolness simulator.

These effects are real. After I’ve played the game for a while, I really do feel more at ease. I feel more confident. I am more chatty with strangers.

Of course, the irony is that playing video games is kind of dorky. One might claim this it’s just a fantasy world, where people pretend to be something they’re not. But there’s no denying that it does have an immersive coolness effect on its participants’ mood. So how to reconcile this apparent contradiction?

Who cares? Cool people don’t care what other people think.

♩ Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture ♫

According to this article, wiggling your eyes back and forth can help your memory. Who’da thunk it?!

People read these articles all the time on the internet. Typical reaction: “Huh! How about that?” Then you read the next article.

Well, I decided I would use try to put this little bizarre tidbit to work for me. A few days ago, I was at a karaoke thing (“event”?) and I was trying to remember the artist that performs the song “Toxicity”, a song with a lot of desperate yelling, which I of course very much enjoy. I could remember they were Armenian, thanks to frequent mention by Adam Carolla on Loveline, but I couldn’t remember the name.

So I wiggled my eyes back and forth for a few seconds – maybe 15 seconds. And it came to me. “System of a Down”. The song was not in the book, but hey, I validated a new memory trick.

Try it yourself next time something’s on the tip of your tongue. Look left, look right, repeat. You have nothing to lose but your dignity.

Bosch Acquires Health Hero Network

The company that employed me for nine and half years, up until October, was acquired by the private German company Bosch.

Press Release

The details of the acquisition were not disclosed publicly. However, as a shareholder, I received detailed information about the acquisition. Since Bosch is private, it’s a cash buyout, so I guess I am getting a bunch of cash in the next few days.

It’s more than just a few bucks, but it’s certainly not enough to change my life. If I had known this was going to be the ultimate payoff, I probably would have done something else for those nine years. But it’s a nice feeling of closure that this chapter of my life is finally (almost) over.

Eye Em Dee Be

I am on IMDB!

Earlier this year, a documentary filmmaker came to a show I was doing in a comedy contest at Tommy T’s in Pleasanton, California. He filmed my set, asked me a few questions on camera and had me fill out a waiver. Then today I found out the film is on IMDB, along with the cast.

Good heavens.

I’m in the big time now, baby.