Then and Now Again

The Toronto 1977 – 2007 photo series showed how Toronto changed over three decades. Photographer Irina Wering’s Back to the Future project shows how people have changed in the same period of time.

Mechi in 1990 & 2010

Mechi in 1990 & 2010

Each pair takes an original image, usually of a child but occasionally with a teenager or younger adult, and recreates the scene with the same person in the present day.

Some of the pictures look like classic school portraits, while others show a variety of everyday activities that one would expect to see photographed — playing at home or at the beach, or posing at a landmark while on vacation.

Werning has taken care to duplicate not just the location but also the clothes and even the posture and facial expression of each original.

Lali in 1978 & 2010

Lali in 1978 & 2010

(via bumbumbum)

Open Two Instances of Mac OS X Applications

Whitson Gordon at Lifehacker just revealed the most exciting thing I’ve ever learned about Mac OS X: the secret to opening two instances of the same application simultaneously.

Unlike Windows, Mac OS X normally only opens each application one time. Then as you try to open new files the application just creates a new window for each one. This is ordinarily no problem at all — you can still have as many PDFs open in Preview as you want; there will just be only one Preview icon in the dock or in the ⌘→ switcher.

But what if you want to open the same file twice? That’s not possible! And what about applications like VLC that only open one window at a time? There, each new video you start playing replaces the previous one.

Opening a file with open -n changes all that. And my life is now happier for it.

The Best Egyptian Protest Signs

Astute observers of current events may recall some sort of hullabaloo in Egypt a little while back having something to do with freedom and democracy.

The Cheezburger Network has showcased some of the best protest signs.

Egypt Protest Sign

Egypt Protest Sign

They’re all quite clever, such as this programming-themed protest:

try {

Free and Fair Elections;

} catch (DemocracyNotFoundException ) {

“Time for Mubarak to leave”; }

Return of the Browncoats

The Science Channel now has the rights to Firefly and will be re-airing the series, but unfortunately won’t be producing any new content. Nathan Fillion gave a brief interview to Entertainment Weekly in honor of the occasion. In it, he said, almost offhand:

If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.

And that’s the story of how was born.

The current theory is that enough Firefly fans exist that we can just raise $300 million. And since $300 million is a figure Fillion pulled from thin air, it probably wouldn’t take that much. And while nobody wants to donate money to a random website with the vague hope that it will somehow result in new Firefly episodes, who wouldn’t willingly give their savings over to Malcolm Reynolds himself?

The Internet is pretty awesome.

No Grooms Allowed

Wedding planning involves shopping for a lot of big items — a venue, a caterer, a professional photographer, and myriad other services. All are unique in their offerings, but almost every vendor we’ve encountered has shared a fundamental assumption about weddings: the groom is just dead weight.

One venue toured us through the luxurious bridal suite with four-poster bed and adjoining private bathroom, and then through the groom’s room with some chairs and a poker table. At our actual venue the bride is promised chilled champagne and a plate of fruit, while the groom should expect a twelve-pack of domestic beer. (It’s the “domestic” that really sells it.)

Conclusion: I will be so bored at my own wedding I’ll want to bring a deck of cards and get drunk with my friends while my bride carries out the celebration on her own.

At dress shops (catering legitimately only to women) brides-to-be can bring their friends to solicit advice as they try on sample gowns and evaluate the elegance of various designs. At Men’s Wearhouse, I was handed a book with ten glossy photographs of models in tuxedos and asked to point to one like a kid ordering off a children’s menu. The clerk took measurements and ushered me out the door, without so much as a peek at a physical tuxedo. (We canceled our order there and went to Al’s Formalwear where we were able to see real products and choose the best style shirt, tie, vest, jacket, and pants — and even try on a sample tuxedo. And with the total $70 less, the moral is: never go to Men’s Wearhouse.)

One department store recently invited us to a “Sip & Scan” party in order to create a wedding registry. They’d be serving drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and promised consultants in each department to help us choose the items we’d most like to guilt our friends and family into buying for us. And in each e-mail urging us to come, the bride is reminded to “bring your fiancé (he’ll love the scan gun).” I won’t care what dishes we have or what color our sheets are, as long as I can scan some barcodes!

With the gender stereotypes this overpowering, the wedding industry should be enthusiastically supporting same-sex marriages everywhere. While male couples would unfortunately never set foot in a wedding venue, female couples would be free to spend billions of dollars on their weddings without the restrictive dead weight of a groom.

Held on the Runway

I gave Sophie a jetBlue Airport Playset for Christmas a few years ago and when she began playing with it again today I joined in. The set includes a catering truck, baggage cart, pushback tug, various cautionary signs and pylons, and of course an airplane — all in jetBlue’s livery.

One can’t help but recall The Phantom Tollbooth, of course:

“One (1) genuine turnpike tollbooth to be erected according to directions
“Three (3) precautionary signs to be used in a precautionary fashion
“Assorted coins for use in paying tolls.
“One (1) map, up to date and carefully drawn by master cartographers, depicting natural and man-made features
“One (1) book of rules and traffic regulations, which must not be bent or broken.”

We played for a while in the manner the toy’s creators probably imagined: loading baggage and food at the gate, pushing back, following signs to the runway, and then of course flying around the room.

And then Sophie decided the next time the plane asked for permission to take off she would just say “no”. Even when support vehicles and eventually every toy car in her room lined up waiting to cross the active runway, the “tower” refused to let the plane move. After a while I announced that the passengers had run out of food and the plane had to go back to the gate to get more and the answer still came back enthusiastically “no!”

So I guess the major question we have to ask is: is there something about jetBlue aircraft that encourages controllers (even at age five) to leave them sitting on runways?

Huddle to Fight Hunger

In the wake of the Superbowl, we can revisit a brilliant ad from Kraft’s Huddle to Fight Hunger campaign.

Besides communicating Kraft’s message effectively, it’s also a pretty good demonstration of how the game is played.


The important steps when building a fire:
  1. Crumple a layer of newspaper at the bottom of the fireplace
  2. Build a pyramid of logs to allow air to flow on all sides
  3. Light the edges of the newspaper with a match in several places

Oh… and one other tiny little thing: open the flu.

With temperatures dipping to record lows over the past few days, I eagerly started a fire to warm our living room for the evening. It only took a few seconds for the room to fill with smoke thick enough to see. (Thankfully not thick enough to set off any smoke detectors which, perhaps by design, aren’t located near our fireplace.)