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Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm Voting for The Internet

Hey everybody! I hope everyone had a nice Easter. I've been awful busy and haven't been able to read stuff on the Internet, much less write any. I don't think I'm fading away like lots of blogs do... my guess is that the psychotic demands of my work and study life will return to normal soon. When that happens, I fully intend to annoy and bore the crap out of you in my old and much more frequent manner. For that I will require the Internet.

For those of you who don't live in Canada, there has been a bit of a furor over how the big ISPs in my country (and perhaps all ISPs in Canada may at some point) bill for Internet services. The short version is that caps on monthly transfer are common here, after which the customer must pay more. There have also been legal and regulation changes in the wind that would open the door for these same companies to charge based solely on usage. This makes things like using Netflix or downloading tons of content a trickier and more expensive proposition for sure. By the way, now that Netflix is indeed here in Canada, those of you with unsecured Wi-Fi may want to secure it now, or end up paying for your neighbour to watch the entire Fast and Furious series, sequel count unknown.

In the midst of this debate we are now also very close to a Federal Election. Openmedia.ca , a Canadian non-profit fighting metered Internet (also known as usage-based billing) and advocating for open access to big Internet for everybody, has compiled a list of candidates who have proclaimed their support for a more open and less costly Internet. Here in Canada there are 2-5 major political parties, depending on who you talk to.

They are:

The Conservative Party - currently in power in a Minority Government. To learn more about Minority Governments and the Parliamentary System, go somewhere else. I'm thinking the Internet may hold all the information you could ever want and more.

The Liberal Party - The other big party.

The New Democratic Party - A kind of "always the bridesmaid" party, though they are showing signs of some real gains this time.

The Bloc Québécois - Paradoxically, a Federal (National) party that really only cares about Quebec. I love my country. That sounds sarcastic, but I really do.

The Green Party - Environment first. They have a long long way to go before they could ever achieve the numbers necessary to form a government.

This is a gross over-simplification, but in general terms the above list starts with the most right wing party and works its way to the most left wing. Politically-minded people are probably going to rip my head off in the comments, but that's how I see it. Now, back to openmedia.ca and their candidate list. As of April 25, 2011 the "pro-internet" candidate tally shakes out like this:

Conservatives - 1
Liberals - 85
NDP - 52
Bloc - 2
Green - 65

I just counted on-screen, so I might be out a couple here and there. To see the list for yourself, go to http://openmedia.ca/candidates. One party I probably did not miscount is the Conservatives because, well, they only have one. ONE! I mean, c'mon, the Communist Party (not that there's anything wrong with that) has FOUR! I wonder which of the big political parties in Canada supports the big ISPs and usage-based billing? Garsh, you got me. I am still undecided about who I will vote for. I am, however, decidedly decided about who I won't be supporting. 


Hey, if you are a Canadian, please be a sport and vote. That way when you complain about the government (and you know you will), you will have the right. R A N T W I C K

Monday, April 18, 2011

Encounters with Rantwick, episode fifteen: Stupid Honking Jerks

I'm not usually one to piss and moan about the weather. I mean, I most often get some sort of sick satisfaction out of climate related cycling misery and/or joyjoys thanks to true preparedness. But Mother Nature sent out some teaser days that looked and smelled suspiciously like Spring, and now I am ready for nicer weather. Instead this is what most of my weekend looked like:




As you can see I tried out the gopro camera on the dash of my car. I must say I find dashcam video strangely hypnotizing. Compared to cycling video it is so fast and smooth that it kind of sucks me in against my will. The new cam also captured the sights and sounds associated with Stupid Honking Jerks on one of those recent nice Springy days:






Man oh man, do I love those Stupid Honking Jerks. Their laughter is totally worth the startle. Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

PS - Hit GoPro.com to check out this new camera I'm using. I must say I'm digging it bigtime.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bag Balm

First off, my apologies for being rather absent lately. This blog has had to play something like sixth fiddle to a bunch of other things. One of those things was, well, something I am reluctant to write about but that often affects cyclists... saddle sores. The last time I wrote about Anti Monkey Butt I blithely mentioned that I had never had any need of a chamois cream. I will never be blithe about the subject ever again, because as some of my readers reminded me back then, an unhappy undercarriage can be a serious business, which I have learned personally over the last couple of weeks.

While I was away during March I took a vacation in a hot and sunny place where I developed a minor heat rash in the final days despite the use of the aforementioned Anti Monkey Butt powder. No big deal until I had a couple of very cold wet rainy rides upon my return. Long story short and hoping to avoid Too Much Information, I spent most of the last week getting things calmed down and sorted out. All is well now, but I never want to go there again. I consulted some bike forums about what people preferred. It seemed to me that 2 products dominated the chamois cream discussion, Assos Chamois Creme and Bag Balm.

I have no doubt that the good people at Assos have developed a very good product because lots of cyclists seem to swear by it. Lots of cyclists also seem to swear by Bag Balm, though, which costs considerably less and was originally intended for use on cows' udders. Cows' Udders!

I know that this stuff is already familiar to many of you, and there is no novelty factor. You should probably just leave now, because I am obsessed with this stuff today. Mrs. Rantwick has long known of this product and its many uses by humans. My excitement annoys her slightly because I'm acting like it is my special discovery. I like that, so I talk about the stuff even more just for her. Here is some of the cow-related info found on the tin:


"... for bunches, caked bags, cuts, sore teats, chapping and inflammation"

"Active Ingredients: 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate 0.3% in a Petrolatum, Lanolin Base"

I have revelled in reading this kind of thing to Mrs. Rantwick and my children as only a pre-pubescent naughty boy should. I am a grown man, but not when I read this stuff... Caked bags! Sore teats! Hydroxyquinoline! HAHAHA hahahaha! I know how juvenile and lame that is, but I'm afraid I can't help it. Judge me, and punish me if you can! You are not the boss of me...

There are no instructions for my intended purpose, because the stuff is not marketed or approved for human use despite the fact that people have used it for a hundred years for all kinds of things.

I am tempted to add a couple of drops of Tea Tree Oil or Vitamin E or both just because I can never leave well enough alone, but I'll resist any mad scientist urges for now. Straight ahead Bag Balm is the stuff I'll be using in the hopes of preventing any more trouble. I would say wish me luck, but that would just be super weird and as you know I avoid being weird at all costs.


Wishing You All Glowing and Happy Udders,

R A N T W I C K


PS - I can't see myself as a cow without remembering this most excellent dinosaur head submission from Big Oak what seems like ages ago in 2009...


Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm Back, and I'm Chesty

Yes, I was gone for that whole month in order to undergo Breast Enhancement. Rare for a dude, I know, but I'm not your average turnip, y'know?



OK, that was my lame attempt at an April Fool's joke. What follows is the post I really wrote for today... there's still a Chesty tie-in, so be cool.

Hey all, I'm back from my March Break. Sadly I am no more caught up with my real life than I was before I took it, but I suppose that was to be expected. I was also hoping to find new inspiration for stuff to write about, but that didn't really happen either. Ah well, no worries about that, because I can happily fill my blog pages with empty tedious ramblings until my muse returns... like talking about video cameras!

My cheap old camera broke real good, so I began looking for a weatherproof replacement. As will happen sometimes, shopping around just made me want more and better. Eventually I settled on the GoPro® HD HERO Naked, because I didn't really want the helmet version and this camera is the only one I found with a Chest Mount option, which they have dubbed the "Chesty".


My thinking was that when on the bike your chest may be one of the "quietest" places on your body in terms of motion or vibration. In addition, unlike a helmet cam, the video doesn't sweep side to side like crazy as I navigate city traffic with my head on a swivel. I have barely begun playing with the cam but I thought I would show some of the video from this morning's commute. I want your opinion on whether you like me chesty (which means my arms and hands and bars are in the shot) or would rather have the cam back on the bars where I would likely have to go back to using deshaker software to stabilize the image.

The video I'm posting today is just raw, no deshaker action or title pages or any of my usual stuff. Anyway here goes...







Those videos were shot with the cam set on 720p. It'll do 1080, but I don't see the point when 720 allows a wider viewing angle (170 degrees) and 60 fps in case I want to slow motion something.

I'm still figuring out how to work with the .mp4 files this camera creates... hopefully I will improve at making them a little easier to watch.

Please Opine. Yer Pal,


R A N T W I C K

PS - In hindsight I think I should have gotten the package that came with the helmet mount, the GoPro® HD Helmet HERO™ Camera instead of the "naked" even though I didn't think I wanted it... Check out GoPro.com for info on all the setups.