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Writer's Block: ONTD Games Giveaway

Which video game character would you like to have as your real-life BFF? One random response will win a $60 Amazon gift card! [Full contest rules here.] Don't forget to share your favorite gamer moments on at 3 p.m. PST for Free For All Friday (FFAF).

Am I allowed a large inflatable panda? There was a game out years ago for the Sega Saturn (I think!) called Fighters Megamix which featured as one of its fighters a huge inflatable panda called Pandachan. He was awesome, and I figure if he's fighting, he's sentient so I definitely want him as my BFF, he would hit people with his beachball which I think shows a nice laidback approach to life.

In defence of twitter

A few days ago now (because it takes me a while to write this much!) Patrick Osgood linked on twitter to this article by Craig Henry which recaps a discussion about twitter, blogging and journalists. The article is a good one, but unfortunately I then made the mistake of reading the comments, some of which take the "twitter is only for idiots without attention spans" approach. This particularly aggravates me because I get this response anytime I start a conversation about twitter on the forums I frequent (I like to do this, because I like to get follow recommendations from other people). Well, now it's aggravated me enough to write something down.

With any luck this is a little more reasoned and reasonable than my immediate response of "%%#!**, they're talking %%**###@".

By taking the view of twitter being a intellectual wasteland where users only post about having their Corn Flakes, and lamenting the dumbing-down of previously intelligent thinkers, people miss the huge strength of twitter, which is its network.

I started out on twitter finding just a few people, but by reading their "Following" list, I found more people, those people follow other people and, even better, will tweet to say "This person is a good person to read about this subject" and off I go again.

Twitter allows a reader (this one, at any rate) to gather headlines from a vast array of sources, clicking on provided links for later reading. It is a portal to the rest of the internet. What twitter-dismissers are missing, is that twitter isn't destroying blogs, it's facilitating them. A blog needs an audience, an audience that can be found in twitter.

For an example, let's look at my twitter following list.

I follow 113 people, which isn't much by twitter standards. Within those 113, I have:

Canadian journalists: 13
Writers and Artists: 12
Scientists: 10
Comedians: 9
Historians and historical feeds: 8
Actors: 8
Production Companies: 5
UK journalists: 5
Directors: 4
Politicians: 4
Transport: 3
Legal professionals from the UK: 3
Santa Claus: 1

To give you an idea of how the network works, I can trace a line through my connections which start from Simon Singh because I already knew of him through his BBC Horizon documentaries, he lead me to Dr Evan Harris, who lead me to David Allen Green. David Allen Green has then lead me to all the other UK journalists and the UK legal professionals - good man to follow is DAG.

Now, I admit that, while I'm a nerd, I'm always behind the curve when it comes to using new technology so there may have been ways to aggregate that many sources of information pre-twitter, but I doubt it was as easy as this.

What I can tell you for certain is that I am now better informed about what is going on politically in the UK and Canada (I'm British-born now living in Canada, to explain that connection), I'm up-to-date on local and national news here in Canada. I'm reading blogs about maths, economics, politics and the law - blogs I'd never heard of before, and thanks to twitter I also know which roads are being dug up in Saskatoon.

I don't have the time to seek out these different sources of information individually, but twitter does that for me, and I get a constantly rolling stream of information that I can investigate further if I choose.

And yes, I also know when Nathan Fillion is filming and when Wil Wheaton is playing with his dog, and I like that too.

Sad news

Norman Wisdom has died.

BBC report

Parenthood in all its forms

Been an interesting day chez trampledamage. When I came back to the house after doing my paper deliveries, there was a fledgling robin sitting on our patio. I didn't know if it was just trying to fly or if it was hurt, but as I was watching it, I saw an adult robin first talk to it and then come down and feed it. I went inside at that point, happy it was being looked after.

We've been watching it all day. It does have a dodgy wing. We had a sudden bad storm last night, so we think it may have been blown out of the nest. The parent bird isn't giving up though, it's been down several times during the day to feed the fledgling.

I'm glad now that I'm woefully behind on getting our lawn mowed - the grass is lovely and long for the fledgling to sit in, and since I never weed around our trees there's also heaps of ground-cover for it to sleep.

I've left out some breadcrumbs, but I don't want to do too much because I definitely do not want to get in the way of the parent robin.

The fledgling is remarkably calm about being on the ground with us humans about, but then the robins have always been happy with our forays into the yard. So long as the kids didn't get too close, the fledgling didn't seem nervous while we were playing, and the parent came down to feed it while we were there - that was fun to show the kids!

I just hope this story has a happy ending :o)
I never thought I'd see a story weirder than the "woman goes missing, body found later behind the bookcase in her room" story, but it appears I was selling the world short.

A woman in Louisiana has just been sentenced to 30 months hard labour for selling two children in her care as part of an exchange to buy an exotic bird.

How does that conversation even start?

The CBC News Story

Have a happy story

An elderly lady from Winnipeg was saved from a night sleeping on a bench at Chicago O'Hare airport by a local Chicago man who she originally struck up conversation with because he had shiny shoes and she's always appreciated well-looked after shoes. And when I say "saved" I mean, taken out for dinner, given a tour of Chicago, then put up in a posh suite of a hotel and driven by limo back to the airport the next morning.

Here's to you, Dean Germeyer.

CBC News article


[Noddy Holder]

It's Christmas!

[/Noddy Holder]

Merry Christmas!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tie downs with care,
In hopes that -- come morning -- they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick."
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!

With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was he takin'?

While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their heads,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower."

He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard, "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh,
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho-ho..."

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost,
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin' the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"

And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"

He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight."

(didn't write this myself or anything - most of the references go right over my head, I just like it :o) )

This is news worth sharing.

The race for Christmas number one in the British singles chart is between the most recent X-Factor winner and Rage Against The Machine! Currently RATM are winning.

BBC News article

It's a concerted effort by a Facebook group to get RATM's 1992 hit Killing in the name of as the Christmas number one. I wish them luck!

Have gone native - send help

We're watching the Rough-riders game on TV.

(mainly I admit so little miss trampledamage can say she saw it at school :o) )

Saskatchewan Rough-riders vs Montreal Allouettes in the CFL Grey Cup. So far, Rough-riders are winning.