Annals of Money

Item One: Seen on a memo on the bulletin board at the CBC in Charlottetown: across Canada, directory assistance charges cost the CBC $150,000 a year. The suggested remedies were “use the white pages” and “use” My own side note: how long before Bell starts charging for access to that site?

Item Two: Norwich Union had, by virtue of its frequent and quite annoying television advertising, one of the most recognized brands in the insurance business (“It’s Patrick, he’s bought life insurance…”). Now they’ve changed their name to AIG Insurance. Does this make sense?

Item Three: I remember being told by my friends in the anti-nuclear lobby in Ontario that if Ontario Hydro replaced the refrigerators of everyone in the province with new energy-efficient models, they would still spend less money than it would take to bring a new reactor on stream. Why don’t things like this every actually happen?

Hambly and Innis

I have, for a long time, wanted to own another cardigan. Cardigans, alas, have gone out of style and it’s almost impossible to buy them anywhere. Today, I bought a cardigan.

I had avoided going into Hambly and Innis for 10 years. Initially I was afraid, and then later it was out of an allegiance to Henderson & Cudmore, with which I have had various working and personal relationships.

But now H&C is no more, and I still need a cardigan. So with 30 minutes to spare after lunch today, I took the plunge. I should have gone sooner.

Hambly and Innis is a mens clothing store. Or rather a Mens Clothing Store. They sell suits and shirts and sweaters. They sell belts and hats and arm bands. They sell pyjamas, fleece and otherwise.

They do not sell sweat pants or Goretex shells or running shoes.

But they do sell cardigans. Many of them.

I was served by an very friendly elfin man who guided me directly to the cardigan I wanted. I tried it on. He said they only received one in this colour — “you’ll never meet yourself.” List price $100. Sale price $69. I bought of pair of flanel pyjamas because I felt so good about the cardigan.

Even if you are not in the market for a cardigan, even if you are not a man, you should really visit Hambly and Innis. You will be glad you did.

In Flux

This site and others in our oeuvre have been “off the air,” for most intents and purposes, for the past 24 hours. A surprise switch in Internet connectivity at our sister company Okeedokee across town resulted in the need to suddenly change the Internet address of our DNS servers, the gizmos that convert Internet names like to Internet numbers like and thereby allow browsers to connect to servers.

I don’t have the energy to go into the details of the surprise switch. Suffice to say that there was a lot of miscommunication, and blame can be shared around equally between Okeedokee, ISN and Eastlink. Nobody did anything wrong, per se. It’s just that a lot of things happened at the wrong time, and the right people didn’t know they were happening.

Things are gradually coming back into normal operation now. The servers here, web and email, have been operating normally all along; it’s just that without DNS service, none of the other computers on the Internet have been able to find them, so I’ve been largely without email and the world has been largely without our sites.

Morals of the story: communication is good; there’s a reason for having two or more DNS servers, on different networks (which we have now, thankfully, as a result of all this); sometimes it’s nice to have a break.

I know things are getting back to normal because the spam is starting to flow into my mailbox again. I’ve got to go and get my penis enlarged before I help the King of Nigeria recover dormant bank accounts and invest the proceeds in a hot new miracle cure for insomnia.

Welcome back.

Digital Cable

Our palace at 100 Prince St. is now equipped with Eastlink’s new digital cable service. We’ve made the jump from 50-odd television channels to something in the neighbourhood of 200.

The installation experience was frustrating. A guy came around on Thursday morning to do the installation, and spent about 15 minutes installing the digital box in our living room. He then made a telephone call to activate it, and then was on his way, telling me that in about 45 minutes everything would be downloaded to the box, and we’d be in business.

Well, 5 hours later we only had about 20 of the channels between channel 100 and channel 200 coming in: the rest of the channels simply contain a message saying “One Moment: This channel will be availble shortly.” But many moments passed, and nothing came in.

After 15 minutes on hold to Eastlink technical support, I got through to a helpful agent who was able to reset the digital box several times remotely, but alas to no avail. She scheduled a service call for Friday morning.

Friday afternoon another Eastlink guy showed up at the door to do the repair. He fiddled with the box, and couldn’t do anything immediately. So he phoned in to headquarters and was on hold for 10 minutes himself (proving that at least they treat themselves as poorly as they treat their customers). More remote resets, etc. Nothing. Finally he resorted to going out to the pole on the street where he found that we were plugged into the “old plant” rather than the “new plant” and, further, that the line from the pole to our house was in rough shape.

He spent another hour giving us a brand new line from house to pole, and when he left about 4:00 p.m. we were fully digital, with all of the channels coming through loud and clear.

That we had a bum line from pole to house probably explains something about why our analog cable had quirks, like wavy lines showing up every 2 or 3 minutes on A&E.

For the next three months we’ve got a free trial of the whole universe of new digital channels. I’m disappointed that the international channels seem to be “Canadianized” versions: for example, we get “BBC Canada,” not the bona fide BBC. If you’re a fan of advertising as I am, it’s disappointing to get ads for Bobby Vinton CDs from Kitchener rather than bona fide British ads.

My initial favourites of the new channels: BBC Canada (for the pre-Trading Spaces show Changing Rooms), iChannel (a weird channel that seems sort of like the Discovery Channel, but hosted by Joe Clark’s daughter; they have Scientific American Frontiers hosted by Alan Alda, which is great), BBC Kids (for all the kids shows with multi-ethnic kids with British accents), Tech TV (just for the crazy insanity of watching people take technology absurdly seriously) and, of course, the Movie Channel, all 5 versions thereof, for movies and HBO programs.

It’s amazing I can get any work done.

Ed from Melfort

My brother Steve emerges from hiding, with this classic line:

Yeah this is Ed from Melfort. What kind of a yahoo have you got on there this morning?”
Welcome back, Steve.

Melfort is located about 1/3 of the way up Saskatchewan, roughly halfway between Saskatoon and Prince Albert and over a bit to the east.

Oddly, Melfort appears to have three city slogans:

Melfort is Saskatchewan’s “City of Northern Lights”.

They have another city slogan: “You’ll love it here.” That doesn’t seem too original to me.

And Melfort appears also to be known as the “Heart of the Carrot River Valley.”

Some day I will visit Melfort and find Ed and avenge the insult.