mPulse

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Art of the Start: 10/20/30 Rule and Beyond Bulltes

I am reading the copy of Art of the Start I won in the inBubbleWrap draw on St. Patty's Day, and I am struck by the philosophical meshing between Guy's 10/20/30 rule and Cliff Altkinson's Beyond Bullets approach to Powerpoint.

In my work environement, I am occasionally called upon to produce, and sit through, Powerpoint presentations. I find myself trying desperately to use the Beyond Bullets approach: maximum message with minimum text. Adding the 10/20/30 rule gives me another tool to not only re-examine how I produce presentations, but to critique those that I sit through.

I may ask Guy if it is possible to buy and distribute the chapter containing 10/20/30 to all the people in my company. Worth a shot, as I can't afford 60 copies of the book.

Art of the Start is worth it, just for 10/20/30.


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Wordpress upgrade

Just upgraded to Wordpress 2.02. Let me know if any unusual weirdness ensues.


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Friday, April 28, 2006

Check Point Issue: What your security admins don’t want you to know

Earlier today, I wrote about my issues with a conflict between Check Point and Netscreen VPN software. Well, I figured out how to make them work together.

I had the answer in my hands the whole time. Check Point software binds to the network interfaces on your machine. Once you remove this binding, Check Point refuses to work at all, allowing you to use the Netscreen software. Re-enabling this binding then allows you to use the Check Point software again.

To do this, select your primary network interface, and uncheck the Check Point SecuRemote binding, as indicated below.



If you are one of the two people in the world who needs this, I hope this helps.


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A question on the “new” China

Rick Segal is in China at the moment, and is writing about his experience.

One question came to mind when I read this:

Next up, you run your bags through an X-ray as part of customs. I did this and the customs guy decided to open my camera bag, ignoring my computer bag and luggage. He takes my camera out (Nikon D200) studies it and says, in perfect english, “I have a Nikon digital and was thinking about upgrading, how’s this camera?” We proceed to have a ten minute conversation about Nikon digital cameras and at the end of this conversation, he smiles, and says “Welcome to China, enjoy your stay.” That’s two “welcomes” and 100% positive interaction with the government officials so far.
And the question is: How can a Chinese customs official afford an $1100 camera?


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Dueling VPN Software

As part of the work I am doing for a client, I needed to install the Check Point VPN software. So far so good.

Until I want to try and connect to my company's VPN, which uses Netscreen. It didn't work.

Seems that the Check Point software does something that I both agree with and find frustrating given the nature of what I need to do right now. Check Point binds itself to all of your computer's interfaces and refuses to allow other VPN software to work. Makes sense, after all, why are you trying to establish another tunnel on the same computer.

Then I got the bright idea to try and install it on another computer in the house and VNC into that box to do the work.

Well, Check Point blocks inbound VNC connections, effectively becoming an uber firewall. Strike three.

I am not a happy boy right now. This project was not supposed to be that difficult.


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Looking for Geek Dinners

Over the next few weeks, I will be hitting the road, bringing the Crazy Canuck roadshow to a city somewhere near you. As a result, I am looking for some geek dinners in Phoenix (May 8) and London (May 13-16). I know that there are a few bloggers out there who read this blog who love to get out of the house and eat occasionally.

Drop me a comment if you have some spare time in your calendar any of those nights.


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More Treos per square foot: Musings on a Mobile Workforce

As many of you know, I inherited an old, very well-used T-Mobile Treo 600 a couple of weeks ago. Well, I have become acutely aware of people who have them, much like suddenly noticing pregnant women when your wife is pregnant.

Today, I am on-site at a large client in the Philadelphia area, and the office is wall-to-wall Treos -- 600s, 650s, and 700s. It's just astounding to see them all. The comment from the client is that the entire company runs on Treos.

Many organizations have migrated to a seamless wireless/laptop/tethered workflow, to the point where it really doesn't matter where you are, you can get the job done. You can now get the e-mail out and talk to the client as effectively from the car or the airport gate or cube or home office. WIth IM, Skype/Yahoo Voice, work just happens.

With me, I can work in spurts between 06:00 and 23:00, spreading the traditional work day into manageable useful chunks, done when appropriate, when I am at my best intellectual effectiveness. The paranthetical workday is irrelevant to me. The structured office environment is irrelevant to me.

The other side of the coin is that it is important to realize just how mobile we have become, just as it is becoming more and more expensive to be mobile. Will $70, $80, $100 barrels of oil make the wireless revolution the only economical way to do business?

Is having more Treos/Blackberries/Windows Mobile devices per square foot a good thing? Or is it the only thing that will work until we wean ourselves from oil?


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mac Switching: Obviously, I haven’t whined enough…

Stefan of the Help me become a switcher blog has raised nearly $1000 toward getting himself a Powerbook.

Obviously I am just not motivated enough, cause I have been begging for donations to get one for over a year; so far I can afford a new Apple sticker for my Moleskine.

Stefan, I applaud your gumption...and success!

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Booked for Canada

The flights have been booked. We are going home to Canada for 3 weeks from June 26 to July 17.

United turns out to be worth something -- I got two of the four tickets to Seattle on Mileage Plus points, which cut the cost of the trip almost in half.

Plus $400 for the dog. Yes, Miss Wiggles is joining us on this 3-week adventure to the West Coast -- mainly BC and Alberta.

Should be interesting. I haven't been back to Victoria since September 2003, and Samantha (who just returned from there) said that it has changed a lot.

But travel with children -- and pets -- is always interesting.


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Mmmmmmm…your coffee tastes like weasel vomit!

This sounds gross, but read Rick Segal's post to understand that the world is indeed stranger than my psychotic mind can dream up.

And yes, I would love some Weasel Coffee, if only for the adventure! And you can add some Civet Coffee as well!

All of this from edible.com, purveyors of epicurean delights guaranteed to curl the toes of any of your more squeamish co-workers.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Family’s Home…and they brought chcolate

The family arrived back tonight...and they brought Canadian chocolate!




And for those in the know...the red ones get gobbled down with all of their other unfortunate brethern. There is no need for separation; I swallow 'em all, and let digestion sort 'em out.


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World of Warcraft: C|Net notices availability issues

On Slashdot today, they note that C|Net has an article on the recent issues that the World of Warcraft site has been experiencing.

World of Warcraft Availability -- 21 days
WoW Web Site Success Rate -- Last 21 Days

Old news for readers here.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

GSM Phone Addict.

I will admit it.

I have a problem.

I am addicted to GSM phones.


From L to R: Samsung R225m, Motorola V188, Treo 600, Sony Ericsson K700i

Ok, I admit my problem. But it is not as bad as Russell Beattie's issue.


©2005, Russell Beattie


Ok, maybe I don't have a problem...just an issue.


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My Jimi Wallet

My Jimi Wallet arrived today. And it is exactly as advertised.

Small. Compact. Solid.



It forces you to seriously consider the items that you need to take with you on your everyday. I narrowed it down to exactly what I thought it would in this post.

What I am waiting for are the hacks that are sure to appear from the hardcore GTD freaks. Likely they will be able to turn it into a dayplanner, notetaker and laptop computer with a paper clip and folded paper.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the gift bag the Jimi comes in is a great carrying case for my Sony Ericsson K700i!

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Weirdness with GTK+ 2.8.9

I installed GIMP for Windows this morning, along with the GTK+ 2 Runtime Environment (Version 2.8.9). As soon as I did that, GAIM went crazy. No more AIM, no more MSN, no more Gtalk.

The lightbulb just went on a few minutes ago, and I downgraded to GTK+ 2 (Version 2.6.10). Bingo! Everything works again.

Just a heads up for everyone.


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Skype Me!

If you need/want to chat with me, you can now get me on Skype as well: stephen.pierzchala

UPDATE: Just talked to Ian Holsman in Australia. Other than some speakerphone-like reverb, it was like he was down the street. Ok, I know, I'm late to the party again; but Skype ROCKS!

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Gtalk rocks!

Ok, I decided to try this Gtalk thing. Called a friend of mine and it smoked! Sound quality was superb, with no lag. I will have to set Samantha up with a headset and mic for when I go to Europe!

PS: I am spierzchala on Gtalk.


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Sunday, April 23, 2006

T-Mobile: How I love thee…

Scott Johnson writes about how we all want to drop our mobile provider every once and a while. [here]

I have the same provider that Scott does: T-Mobile.

I am a complete T-Mobile lover. The coverage is great, and the use of GSM makes it so perfect for my travel needs, which includes the occasional trip to Europe. T-Mobile has been a great provider, and the fact that I never have to think about it should tell you how good they are.

I will say that their selection of phones is limited. But guess what? That doesn't matter. You can buy unlocked GSM phones on the net, and have a phone that is so much sexier than what the provider gives you. I have a Sony Ericsson K700i that I bought and it is so very hot!

On the whole, I would never go back to a traditional US CDMA phone provider, as it is so old school, so, clunky, so...1995.

T-Mobile, keep up the great work!


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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why I love Canada: Sports Trophies

Canada is a great country because...the trophies that have been handed out to the professional teams in our leagues where granted us by members of the English peerage.

LORD Stanley's Cup.

LORD Grey's Cup.

The US pro sports leagues just don't have that level of je ne sais quoi.


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Friday, April 21, 2006

Spokane River Falls

The Frog Blog brings us a link to a slideshow highlighting the Spokane River Falls.

Our family visited Spokane often as I was growing up, but I have never seen the falls at full throttle. In fact, it's damn impressive without water. This amazing outcrop, obviously shaped by water, with only a trickle dribbling over it.

Reminds me of one of those places that we went as a family, when we were still family.


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Hardware sucks…at least for me.

I remember now why I got out of the hardware support business.

I am converting Samantha's old desktop into a computer for the boys. It took me nearly two hours to get it to boot properly. Then it hung trying to install Windows XP. So back to Windows 2000 Pro.

That appears to be working. Once I get Win2KPro installed, I will try to update it to WinXP.

I hate desktop support.


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Happy Birthday Liz!

Tom Mahon reminds us that Queen Elizabeth turned 80 today.

I'm a little less formal than Tom, so: Happy Birthday, Liz! Phil, give the lady a peck on the cheek!

PS: As a Canadian, she is still officially my head of state.


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fight The Bull: My god it smells in here!

Usually I classify this sort of mail as complete nonsense, and delet it. But this one was such a classic, I had to post it.

The letter is from the new CEO of the joint Borland/Segue. He is announcing that he thinks that Segue and Borland customers will be able to find cool ways to use the products of this new company...at least, after I translate it, it seems like that is what he is TRYING to say.

...

This is a great move for both of our organizations as we come together to tackle what we all know to be a key development challenge and the biggest opportunity for our industry — software quality. Borland and Segue have long shared a common belief that the challenge of software quality reaches far beyond testing and QA. Together we will approach this issue holistically, providing value at each stage of the software delivery lifecycle.

Our focus now is on the development of a comprehensive Lifecycle Quality Management solution — bringing together our unparalleled process improvement expertise with proper skills training and a true end-to-end quality technology offering. Our goal is alignment of people, process and technology, proactively driving higher standards of software quality while systematically reducing costs associated with rework and maintenance.

While continuing to enhance Segue’s quality and application performance technologies, we will also focus on delivering even tighter linkage with Borland’s broad portfolio of Application Lifecycle Management technologies. As part of a complete solution, these technologies will address quality across the entire lifecycle, eliminating quality issues at the root cause.

...

Chaucer and Shakespeare just rose from the dead, and they are looking for the marketing people who wrote this.

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GrabPERF: Database Update to MySQL 5.0.20

I updated the GrabPERF database to the latest version of MySQL. Please let me know it you notice any unusual behaviour...

...from GrabPERF.


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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Pierzchala Boys Take Europe

Looks like my brother Dave and I will be in different places in Europe at the same time. He is going to be in Warsaw (Ah! the ancestral homeland of our Family Name!) and I will be in London and Hamburg.

For those of you who track these things:

London - May 13 - 17 (evening)
Hamburg - May 17 (evening) - May 19 (evening)

For readers in those cities, leave a comment if you want to ply me with the local fermentation or distillation products!


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The Jimi Wallet

I read about the Jimi Wallet on 43 Folders today.

I immediately ordered 2: one for me and one for Samantha.

We have both pared ourselves down to the bare essentials already, and this is one more step in that direction. I can see it being especially useful when you are travelling, when all you really need is:
  1. Bank Card
  2. Drivers License
  3. Credit Card 1
  4. Credit Card 2
  5. Medical insurance card.
Now I will likely take the money clip out most of the time to hold my office key card, but put it back in for travelling.

A damn fine idea. Means I can stop carrying this 5 year-old Dell business card holder I have convereted into my Wallet.

The only question: does it hold UK Pounds?


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Monday, April 17, 2006

Soundtrack: AC/DC!

Ok, I look like a refined suburban husband and father. But I grew up in a small town in the British Columbia interior.

Now, for those of you who grew up in small British Columbia towns in the 1980s, you know that the hair was Mullet-extreme, the car was a black Firebird "ThunderChicken", and the music was a mixture of pop-metal, led by those Australian bad boys, AC/DC.

I grew in musical tastes and listen to so much now that to say I have a single musical taste is insane.

But I still have a weakness for AC/DC, as it was the subconscious soundtrack to my teenage years. So right now I have Back in Black, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and High Voltage blasting through the living room. This is the one advantage to being home alone this week.

I think the dog has gone into hiding...


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Long weekend

It's been a long weekend. But not in the three-day or holiday way.

Samantha and the boys have been in Victoria since Thursday. And Wiggles and I have been having a very relaxing time. I have finally recovered from a long cold.

I know remember why I don't live alone anymore. It seems like a great idea, but it is also a very lonely time.

Makes me appreciate the madness that my children bring to the house.


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

They made it.

Samantha and the boys reached Victoria safely...

...and Kinnear promptly threw himself in the fish pond.

Yes, I am living la vida lonely this week, but neither the boys nor Samantha haven't seen Victoria in a very long time.

Just me and the dog.

Second-Hand Treo 600

It turns out that my boss had an old Treo 600 lying around the house he wasn't using. And it turns out that it was a T-Mobile Treo 600, not the Verizon crud that the company provides. And since the company upgraded him to a Verizon Treo 700 (which doesn't work in Europe, much to their chagrin), he was gracious enough to allow me to use this device.

I say gracious. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I will restrain my comments on it's appearance to this: I have seen objects that have been dragged down the freeway behind a car that have fewer nicks, dings and blemishes than this Treo 600.

But it works. Well.

I now understand how powerful the PDA|Phone combo can be, and why it's so addictive.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gmail: Strike 2!

Dear Gmail:

This is unacceptable.



So much for the massively scalable and redundant architecture theory.

I still have my Yahoo! Mail account....


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Motorola.com — OFFLINE!

Motorola made some site changes today.

The name servers they have listed at the TLD servers are:

ftpbox.mot.com. [129.188.136.101] [TTL=172800] [US]
motgate.mot.com. [129.188.136.100] [TTL=172800] [US]

The Authoritative name servers that Motorola list are:

ftpbox.mot.com. [129.188.136.9] [TTL=59719]

motgate.mot.com. [129.188.136.100] [TTL=59719]

Ummm...DNS is a vital thing. Screw it up, and YOU TAKE YOURSELF OFF THE INTERNET!

If you can get to Motorola's site...let me know.

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Bloglines: Ouch!

Can't read your feeds?



You're not alone.

UPDATE:



Even the plumber is confused.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

SF Technorati #2 offline temporarily.

I have taken the SF Technorati Agent offline temporarily, as there appears to be a routing issue with the hosting provider. When this is resolves, I will bring the agent back online.

UPDATE: This event appears to be affecting routes to hosts on the Globix Network.

Monday Morning…Zevon, Caffeine and Viruses

His comrades fought beside him, Van Owen and the rest
But of all the Thompson gunners, Roland was the best
So the CIA decided they wanted Roland dead
That son of a bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head

There is always something something soothing in the words of Warren Zevon, even when they describe the wandering ghost of a Biafran War veteran. They make the human condition, well, more human.

And the human condition is an important thing to remember on a Monday morning. With headlines shrieking of suffering, you have to sit back and wonder why; why are we still here?

I called up my friend LeRoy on the phone
I said, Buddy, I'm afraid to be alone
'Cause I got some weird ideas in my head
About things to do in Denver when you're dead

The virus I have in my system right now has a greater chance of surviving into the next century than the human race does. And sometimes I wonder if Zevon and Gunter Thompson always knew that, and used this knowledge to fuel a life of what we see as madness. In fact, their madness has a stronger truth than the artifical and virtual lives so many of us (including your author) lead.

It's not melancholy that drives this rambling rant; it is a smiling realization that we are all the same, and in the end, for 99.99% of us, life is pretty darn empty in the end.

Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand

Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

The words of a strung out junkie can ring more true in this world than the pronouncements of great people. The battles we, the 99.99% unwashed masses, face everyday are what keep societies working. Without our willingness to get up and battle every day, the great people would drown in a wave of chaos that makes today's world seem like a tea party.

Viruses have it easy. The dead have it easy. It's the living who stare down that dark tunnel every morning, and walk toward the deeping darkness (humans who say they see the light are more deluded than the rest of us).

Embrace viruses; embrace pain; embrace love; embrace every breath you take.

In the end, that's what you take with you.

Left eye, right eye
Take a look around
Everybody's heading
For a hole in the ground
And it's the Dance of Shiva
It's the Twilight of the Gods
Thunder and lightning
'Til the break of dawn

Monkey wash donkey rinse
Going to a party in the center of the earth
Monkey wash donkey rinse
Honey, don't you want to go?


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Saturday, April 8, 2006

We are all sick, again

We are all hanging around the house, sniffling and snorting and hacking, a truly wonderful sight.

Kids and school: the true spreaders of the plague.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

New Toy: Creative Zen MicroPhoto

Ok, I finally bought myself an MP3 player, a Creative Zen MicroPhoto...in orange!


I like it because:

  • FM Radio
  • Microphone
  • Photos
  • 8GB for the price of a 4GB iPod Nano
  • It comes in ORANGE
Still learning the controls...but it's great to have a new geek toy.

UPDATE: Well, the headphones that came with the Zen Micro have gotten the boot. My Sony Fontopia earbuds still kick everything else off the map...and no, I can't afford a nice set of Shure e2c's.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Gmail Error Message

Ya know, this is getting really tiresome...



Is it time to move back to Yahoo! Mail? Does Google care that they have performance problems?

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Monday, April 3, 2006

Archeology on the Homefront

Samantha decided to re-design the stone path alongside our house this weekend. When she tried to position one of the stones, she encountered what she thought was a large buried rock. This would not be surprising in New England.

Being a good husband, I offered to try extracting it for her.

An hour later, we were staring at the outline of the 6' X 3' X 2' deep concrete fish pond.

We knew there had been a fish pond on the property at some point, we just weren't expecting to encounter it right there.

Needless to say, we are going to re-bury it until the boys are older; right now it is on their bike raceway, and I don't feel like adding a water obstacle to the raceway.


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Looking for a new Unlocked GSM Phone

I have been shopping around for a new, unlocked GSM phone. I live in the US, so these are not as readily available as they are in the rest of the civilized world.

The criteria I have can be summed up easily:
  • Candybar/brick: I have learned to hate flip phones
  • Tri-Band: 900/1800/1900 (no 850 for me!) for largest range of coverage
  • Keypad for easy text messaging
So far, I have narrowed the search down to three options:
  • Sony Ericsson J200i
  • Motorola C650
  • Motorola T68i
  • Motorola L6 (A boy has to dream!)
If anyone knows of any other candidates, or has domments on my shortlist, they would be appreciated.


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Sunday, April 2, 2006

Dell redeems itself…eventually

It took 3 calls, 6 people, and 90 minutes to resolve the problem with Samantha's new Dimension 3100.

And what was the fix? A secret squirrel hotfix for Media Center.

Still wouldn't buy another Dell.


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Saturday, April 1, 2006

Changes here on the homefront

I am writing this from Toronto. I am in shock that I am here, as the events over the last 24 hours seem like a bad dream. It appears that the US media has not picked it up on this crisis. In fact, I am
having difficulty getting to US news sites and blog servers from Canada.

Yesterday, representatives from DHS arrived at my office and took me into a conference room along with the CEO and COO. The COO (a Canadian with a permanent resident status) and I were told that we and are families were being taken to Logan airport and placed on a flight to Canada. They then handcuffed us and took us out through the back door to an unmarked bus, with about 20 others onboard. There were guards in paramilitary uniforms I could not identify.

After three or four more stops (it was a blur, I can't remember it all), we arrived at logan. I was re-united with Samantha and the boys in a abandoned hangar, where there were 200-300 of these unidentified paramilitary guards. There had to be 2-3,000 people in the hangar.

We were herded onto a series of C-5 cargo planes and flown for about 90 minutes. Off the plane, and left at what turns out to be an abandoned airfield just outside Toronto. AFter about 20 minutes, OPP and RCMP officers appeared, looking as stunned as we were.

Does anyone know what's going on?



Sound scary? Well, I would say April Fool's Day, if it weren't for the fact that the current xenophobic ranting going on in the United States makes me feel that this scenario is not so far-fetched. I am here legally on an H-1B, but could be deported at the whim of the US Government. And these whims appear to engulfing the American psyche.

Right now, the targets are the "illegal immigrants". This is white, middle-class code for "latin immigrants, regardless of status". But will it stop there?

As the US fortunes are matched by other growing economies, will this xenophobic and racist tendency lead to all immigrants being targeted, regardless of status and origin? Is the tradition of US isolationism rearing its head in a world of crumbling borders and economic barriers?

Is the US really ready for the world?


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