West Park

West Park was our home church when we lived in London, Ontario.

They have a new building under construction. You can find the details at the Dickinson and Hicks website. Quite a facility. Roughly 56,000 square feet. I have heard that the cost is somewhere above $6 million. The church is not taking on any debt for this project.

Nice to see that West Park is finally moving ahead. I’ve copied part of the floorplan below. I think we will make a trip there once the new building is finished.

West Park


Studio 440 recently completed a private recording studio. Fairly typical of most high-end designs: particular attention to detail in construction and acoustics. And top-of-the-line equipment. Outfitting such rooms generally involves significant capital. Millions of dollars.

What makes this studio profile a bit unique is its location. The studio was built in a yacht called Octopus.

All components, lighting fixtures, electrical finish, hardware, doors, fabrics, carpets, furniture were hand made for this specific installation. The entire facility was mocked up on the manufacturers factory floor prior to any final fabrication. Money no object.

Curious as to the owner of the boat? Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. When you have billions of dollars at your disposal, you must have a high-end recording studio on board. More details about Paul Allen and his little boat can be found here.

Yacht 1

Yacht 2

All The News

Saturday morning offers me a chance to really get into the news. Free from all other distractions, I enjoy about a half hour to go through the front section. I can connect to what is really happening “out there”. Beyond my house. Beyond my street. And beyond my city.

I can gain perspective. Insight. Even wisdom.

Here is what I learned.

An al-Qaeda strategist condemns Canada’s fanatic adherence to Christianity. The signs are well hidden. Canada has a fanatic adherence to Christianity but no one is supposed to know. How did he find out?

Andrea O’Reilly, the founder of the Association for Research on Mothering claims that it is much, much harder to be a mother today than it was in the “oppressed” 1950s. I was born in the 1950s so I guess I must be oppressed. I wonder if it was any easier for people in the 1850s?

Sheil Taj el-Din Al Hilali, a Muslim cleric, was suspended from duty when he compared scantily dressed women to uncovered meat.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that to ban a Muslim veil would be politically dangerous. Apparently not as dangerous as banning a Muslim cleric from uncovered meat.

Kids will have to sweat to get the benefit of a tax credit for child sports. How much sweat? That is up to Dr. Kellie Leitch to decide. But lawn bowling, darts and horseback riding won’t qualify. Not enough sweat.

Justice Marshall Rothstein was appointed to the Supreme Court this year. He drinks six cups of coffee for breakfast. He starts work at 10am but not before he stops at Starbucks to get a giant cup of decaf. I always wondered how Justice Rothstein started his day. Good thing he gets a large decaf at Starbucks. Too much caffeine is bad for the system.

A superbug is lurking on five floors of the Centre hospitalier Honore-Mercier in Saint-Hyacinthe. And, just in case you were wondering about the superbug, it is Clostridium difficile. It erupts as violent diarrhea that often defies treatment. When it gets really bad, it explodes the colon and you die. How nice.

Members of the Assembly of the Church of the Universe in Toronto were charged with dealing pot. The church had over 2,000 members. Perhaps this is the evidence of Canada’s fanatic adherence to Christianity that the al-Qaeda strategist uncovered?

An Oshawa man, acquitted of murdering his mother-in-law because he was sleepwalking, is running for a seat on the Durham District School Board. Ken Parks is the only person in Canada ever acquitted of a murder because he was sleepwalking. I wonder. Is it any easier being a mother-in-law now than in the oppressed 1950s?

Belinda Stronach, concerned about being called a dog by her former boyfriend Peter Mackay, believes that the insult will have a chilling effect on women entering politics. She had nothing to say about Sheil Taj el-Din Al Hilali’s comment about scantily dressed women as uncovered meat. Every one has to dress up in Ottawa during the winter. This should have a warming effect on anyone entering politics. I am not sure whether it offsets the chilling effect one gets when called a dog by an ex-boyfriend.

And, finally, two Irishmen are selling Irish dirt to Irish Americans. $15 for a 340-gram bag. The demand, apparently, is absolutely phenomenal.

Reading the news keeps me informed. I have definitely found out what is happening “out there”. All in the front section of today’s National Post. A trusted source for news.

Identity Theft

I came across an interesting pump and dump stock-trading scheme.

Overseas hackers broke into customer accounts at two online stock brokerages, TD Ameritrade and E-Trade. The attacks were launched by identity thieves in Eastern Europe and Asia. They used keylogging software driven by Trojan Horses. Yet another reason to be careful when using a Windows PC.

The hackers bought shares in little-traded stocks which drove the prices up. They then sold the shares for a profit. The losses were estimated at $22 million USD.

Such events always make the news. However, most identity theft occurs through traditional means so keep your personal documents secure and, when you dispose of them, use a shredder.

Despite incidents such as the $22 million in losses suffered by E-Trade Financial Corp. and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. from online identity fraudsters, the problem of online identity theft is vastly hyped when compared with its more prevalent off-line equivalent, according to one analyst group.

The two leading online stock brokerages have admitted in recent days that overseas hackers used software to steal personal customer data to access and create trading accounts as part of a stock-fraud scheme.

While keylogging software, phishing e-mails that impersonate official bank messages and hackers who break into customer databases may dominate headlines, more than 90% of identity fraud starts off conventionally, with stolen bank statements, misplaced passwords or other similar means, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.

“An insignificant portion of identity fraud actually starts with the Internet,” said James Van Dyke, president of Javelin, who pointed out that many firms still rely on simple security questions such as one’s mother’s maiden name. “The Internet always grabs the headlines, but it is individuals who are close to the victims, such as family and friends, that are doing most of it,” he said.


Fresh Baked Woods

I had posted a few days back about the private studio used by Barenaked Ladies to record their latest CD. And I have some background as well as a few pictures of the studio.

The studio is located in Blackstock, Ontario in the Oak Ridges Morraine. Steven Page, one of the band members, built the studio. It looks like a refurbished barn however the construction techniques used to build the studio are state of the art.

I cannot see the console from Le Studio in the photos. I do see a Digidesign Control 24 desk so I assume the studio contains a Pro Tools HD system.

A lovely recording space. And a great looking control room.

Fresh Baked Goods

Fresh Baked Goods

Fresh Baked Goods

Jeff Skilling

Jeff Skilling, former CEO of Enron, received a 24-year sentence.

After a 56-day trial ending with a jury verdict on May 25, 2006, Skilling was found guilty of 19 out of 28 counts: conspiracy, insider trading, false statements to auditors, and securities fraud.

He is 52 so the sentence is pretty much a life sentence. I read Eichenwald’s book, Conspiracy of Fools, last month. The book is an intriguing presentation of the rise and fall of Enron. I was quite upset as I read the book. How could such people rise to the top leadership ranks in a corporation?

Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and Andy Fastow. Terrible leaders. Even worse managers. And no character other than pursuing their narrow personal agendas of self-enrichment and self-promotion.

After reading the book, I think both Skilling and, in particular, Fastow, got off with light sentences. Both men should have been jailed for life. Ken Lay was convicted but died of a heart attack. His conviction was voided.


Xbox Saga Epilogue

A new Xbox 360 arrived last night. Faster than expected. Longer than necessary.

I admit to being a bit ticked off with Microsoft when this whole process began.

I was running a beta of Vista under Microsoft’s Customer Beta program and I had only ever received one build.

When I asked Microsoft for the RC 1 build, they provided me a copy. Unfortunately, the product key had already been used. I asked them for a new product key over two weeks ago, before the encounter with the Xbox customer support calls, and to no avail.

Zip. Nada. I guess the folks I deal with at Microsoft do not honor their commitments anymore.

So, my PC was awaiting product deactivation. The Xbox encounter, and subsequent delay to ship out a cardboard box, seemed indicative of an unresponsive, uncaring company.

I still do not have a product key from Microsoft. No big deal. A friend had a 10-license beta of RC 2 and he generously provided me with one of his activations.

We had already received a new Xbox from Microsoft last year so getting a replacement for the original unit that died was a bonus.

I had some other issues with the company and it may just be isolated to a few people on a few issues all at the same time.

Regardless, the Xbox folks asked me for feedback on the process. And I will give them feedback.

Rae Days

I do not often post on political items however a recent Ekos Research Poll has Bob Rae as the number one choice of Canadians to lead the Liberal party.

Bob Rae’s track record in Ontario was simply bizarre. Let’s highlight some of the key achievements.

Ontario accumulated $20 billion in debt in the 40 years prior to Bob Rae’s government. The NDP administration took only four years to add up another $40 billion of debt. I cannot recall even one lasting investment that the NDP made during that time. Sorry. There was one. Their government did approve casino gambling for Ontario.

Bob Rae’s NDP government cut health care costs by reducing the number of doctors graduating from medical schools. The legacy of such a move? A severe shortage of physicians.

Anyone earning more than $67,000 a year was considered rich. And, under his government, those individuals had to endure the highest marginal tax rate in all of North America.

Remember the public auto insurance fiasco?

In looking at the devastation that the NDP had wrought to Ontario, record debt, record deficits and record job losses, Rae’s government hired over 100,000 more public servants and gave out large increases to most of the public sector. And then?

The NDP government ordered a wage freeze and told the public servants to stay home two weeks a year without pay.

Rae Days. Perhaps the most enduring legacy of Bob Rae’s handling of government.