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all the misterben news you can shake a stick at

shots from my moms garden - part 2 shots from my moms garden - part 1 ben playing with his new toy one of the crazy things my moms yard ben getting a lesson on fish from grandma playing in the dirt getting their hands dirty following ben on his travels the yard - a view from the truck almost out of milk

permanent pictures

This is one of my favorite pictures of Ben.  He is not unplugging the VCR or throwing up.  What an angel. Lorrie in Lake Superior Provincial Park.  My sweetheart. My dad.  I may be insane, but it is through no fault of my own.  It is purely genetics. My mom.  She was giving me static about not having a picture of her on the web.  This'll teach her. My Mom and Dad - after a lifetime of embarassing me as a kid, it's payback time. The Lensers (Shaney, Amy, Lenny, Niecy) - One of the nicest families around.  They are our surrogate family here in Ottawa.

insightful comments

June 12, 2002

So, why did we get married? Tough question. Lorrie and I spent 10 years together before we got married. For the entire 10 years, we might as well have been married. We shared all of our money, we shared all of our stuff, we shared all of our secrets. We never had any intention of being with someone else and were not looking for an easy out in the event of us breaking up. For years we endured subtle pressure to get married from family and friends, but still remained unmarried. We talked about the practical benifits to getting married. One example is in the case of one person dying. Common-law relationships are not considered legally binding, no matter how long you are together. If one person dies and someone contests the relationship, it is easy for half of the surviving persons' assets to be taken away. Also, it is easier to say "husband" or "wife" instead of "live-in life partner" or "(girl/boy)friend who I am in a long term relationship with and to whom I might as well be married". But all these things aside, it is hard to define why we got married. I think the timing was right. For years we were convinced that getting married was silly. Following the establishment. Professing our love with a legal document. And this did not encapsulate us at all. But one day, out of the blue, we started talking marriage. And it was fun and exciting. We had originally planned a big, backyard wedding at my parents, but once it started turning into a organizational hassle, we decided to elope. We got married in our apartment in the presence of some of our friends. We organized a party under false pretenses and when everyone arrived, we announced we were getting married right then. It was a wonderful and nervous time. Surprisingly, even after being together with Lorrie for 10 years, I was still very nervous and excited the day of the wedding.

So why did we do it? Not for the presents (no engagement party and no wedding gifts). Not to have a big ceremony. We did it for fun. We did it because it would surprise our friends. We did it for the memories. We did it because it felt right at the time. I know this isn't the magic answer that Chad is looking for, but it the best answer I have.
6:59 AM - Comments [4]

June 11, 2002

12:55 PM - Comments [2]
At this very moment Lorrie, Ben and Amy are driving out to look at our new house. Of course, the present owners still live in it, so they wont be able to go inside. A long drive, in the rain, to look at the outside of the house. What a silly bunch.
11:58 AM - Comments [0]
It's Ralph!
:: link courtesy of Raymond ::
11:06 AM - Comments [0]
Grandma Niecy sent some gifts along last night when Amy came over for dinner. This included some Canadian flag socks for Lorrie, an animal pillowcase for Ben and a potato ricer for me. I mean, how fun is that? Pretty fun indeed.
7:24 AM - Comments [2]

June 10, 2002

Over the weekend something strange happened to our computer at home. It froze up in the middle of one of my many internet sessions which required a hard reboot. Upon restarting Internet Explorer 5.5, all of the graphics on all webpages would not display correctly. Not one to spend a lot of time figuring things out, I decided to simply install Internet Explorer 6.0 on my machine in hopes that it would solve the problem. Now, I had been hesitating installing IE6.0 on my machine because I had formatted this site up in IE5.5 and was happy with the way it looked. But, since I needed to fix my browser problem, install I did. Then it came time to fix my stylesheets so that this page displayed properly in IE6.0.

Surprisingly, I am not the web programmer/designer that you all think I am (I can hear the collective 'AS IF!' from all of you right now). The majority of my code is produced by example from sites I have seen and enjoyed. And as it turns out, sometime in the past I copied a piece of HTML code that addressed my IE5.5/IE6.0 problem perfectly. Here is the tag that is used to form one of the boxes within my pop-up comments.

.comment-box {
position: relative;
    top: 0px;
    left: 0px;
    margin: -1px 7px 0px 10px;
    padding: 10px 0px 0px 0px;
    background-color: #ffffff;
    color: #000000;
    border-left: solid 1px #000000;
    border-right: solid 1px #000000;
    Z-INDEX: 2;
    width: 423px;
    voice-family: "\"}\"";
    voice-family:inherit;
    width: 426px;
}
html>body #comment-box {
    width: 426px;

}


Originally I had found that the comment boxes did not display correctly across browsers. But making the appropriate changes within the red text, the boxes now display correctly in IE6.0. Don't ask me why. You could try to explain to me how the values above are "inherited" through some bug in IE6.0, but I wouldn't really understand what you were saying. All I know is that this piece of code I grabbed works well. Good thing that that there are good coders out there.
12:58 PM - Comments [3]

June 9, 2002

I had no idea, but as it turn out, this page was the subject of a contest. I have never felt so special. Thanks Daniel.
12:46 PM - Comments [5]

June 7, 2002

Chad seemed pretty angry about the hair makeover I did of him. To make it up to him, I decided to showcase his angry character a la South Park. Hopefully this will make things all better.

:: generator found through Dan ::
12:18 PM - Comments [4]
So we went to finalize our mortgage last night and I learned something. There are lots of secret charges that no one tells you about until it comes time to make the final arrangements. Prepaid taxes, PST, dispersions, encumbments, blah, blah, blah. It all amounts to thousands of dollars you had no idea you were going to have to fork over. Sigh. I am starting to fondly remember those university days when Lorrie and I moved every four months (I was in the Co-op program). Everything we owned could fit into a two-door hatchback. Rent was cheap, food was cheap, commitment was minimal and you only planned four months in advance. Being a grown-up requires a lot of commitment and planning. And money.
7:16 AM - Comments [1]

June 6, 2002

Oops. Amy is giving me a taste of my own medicine. Friggin' internet...
2:13 PM - Comments [5]
Chad was laughing about the hair makeovers I had done on Ben. He found a similiarity between the picture of Ben as Sarah Jessica Parker and an old picture of me. He also said that I should point out the frightening similarities between my cruel father and Ben's cruel father. I don't think that was called for. If I was really all that cruel, would I have taken the time to make over Chad to look like Sarah Jessica Parker? I think not.
12:04 PM - Comments [6]
Geeze louise. Daniel starts a survey with my URL in it and suddenly you find a whole bunch of weblogs you may have or not read before linking to your site.
11:43 AM - Comments [4]

June 5, 2002

Father's Day is approaching which has me thinking about my Dad. Growing up, I always knew my Dad was a bad dude. While attending fishing weekends with my Dad, my grandfather, and my uncles, I would hear stories about my Dad as a kid. Him getting kicked out of high-school because he stuck a paint-brush full of wood stain into a guy's mouth. How he flipped the principal's desk over when he was 14. How he blocked off downtown traffic by starting tire fires on two separate railway crossings. I also heard stories from my Mom. Like in the early days of their relationship when, during an encounter at the local hockey arena, she was horrified to see the front of my Dad's shirt full of blood. "Don't worry" he said, "It isn't mine". It turns out he had punched someone's two front teeth out.

But my Dad never told these stories himself. My Dad's tough-guy youth wasn't something he appeared ashamed of or proud of. It was simply the way he spent his youth. In my early days of the civil service, I was fingerprinted by the RCMP in order to give me certain security clearance. Never having a run-in with the law and therefore never being fingerprinted, it was a novelty. When telling my Dad about it I asked him if he had ever been fingerprinted. He said yes. And that is all he has ever told me.

By no means is my Dad the strong, silent type. Like my Mom, he is a 53 year old little kid. He acts like a goon and enjoys life as much as possible. As a kid, I remember feeling safe around my Dad. He carried himself with an air of invincibility. He never flaunted his ability to mix it up, but that ability was always there if needed. And the other kids seemed to be able to pick up on that. Most of my friends were afraid of my Dad.

At the same time, my Dad has a very huge heart. Currently my Grandfather (his father) is not doing so well after a couple of major surgeries. He is doing all he can to help his Mom and Dad during this difficult time. As well, he does all he can to help out my brother and myself. He loves my Mom, he loves us kids and he adores his grandkids.

I look to my Dad as a model of what kind of father I want to be. I want to provide a home where a kid can be a kid. I want to provide a place where he feels safe and secure. I want to be a father who will do everything in his power to protect his kids. I want to be like my Dad. I may not measure up in the tough guy department, but I think that I can probably measure up on the caring and compassionate side.

That being said, I am sure I can get my hands on some wood stain if you piss me off.
12:15 PM - Comments [2]

June 4, 2002

Ethics/Personal Life:

Has a blog post ever got you into trouble?
I wouldn't say trouble. I spouted off on my page about someone Lorrie had worked with. A lot of unflattering things were said and he sent his wife to get mad at me. After realizing that using logic and reasoning wasn't penetrating the fog, I gave up and removed the posts to make them go away.

How many people do you know face-to-face who read your weblog?
I know Chad, Glen, Raymond and John (who stopped posting). I have never met Amy face to face, but she is one of my closest friends. My family reads it, a bunch of friends read it, some co-workers read it.

Have you met any of your regional (or even remote) bloggers?
Sadly, no. But Amy and Daniel are welcome over anytime.

Do you modify or delete posts? How often? Why?
Sometimes. Usually whenever I discover spelling mistakes. Other than that, they are usually permanent.

How much is your weblog a part of your personal identity? Do you feel like people who don't know about your blog don't really know you?
A huge part. I have started assuming that if you know me, you read my page (as well as Ben's). I am always surprised when people ask what is going on in my life because I assume that they would have gotten updated from my site. Sadly, I am usually wrong.

How has blogging changed your life?
It is a creative outlet I had no idea I would enjoy. I have always wished I was the type of person to keep a diary or journal for someone to find and read after I am gone. Now, I can write a journal and have people read it now. Plus, it gives me a chance to learn new things (coding, design, software, etc). Plus, it is like being part of a community.

Technical/Design:

Do you know how to code at all? Did you learn how to code by blogging?
Yes. I can do the coding thing, however not very elegantly. When I see something I would like to incorporate on my site, I steal it and bash it until I figure out how it works. Then I change it enough so that people can't tell I stole it. Without my blog, I would have never learned to code at all.

What weblogging tool do you use and why?
Moveable Type. Why? Because all of the cool kids are using it. And it is very easy to customize and operate. And I can have all of my weblogs controlled with one installation of the program. And Ben and Mena (the developers) are great.

Does the design seem like something that is just something that has to be dispensed with in order to be able to write publicly, or is your design an integral part of your writing and presentation?
I put a lot of thought into my design. I am not a designer by any means, so when I decide to change my design, it is a grueling task. Plus, my coding abilities are not that polished, so a lot of time is spent trying to figure out how to make my page look the way it does in my head. There is NO attempt at cross browser compatibility.

How many times have you changed your weblog design entirely (or nearly so)?
At least 5 or 6.

Readership/Motivation:

How many people would you guess (educated guess based on hit counts/logfiles) read your weblog on a weekly basis at least?
My sitemeter says I have had over 550 hits this week.

What have you done to get more people to look at your site?
Monthly I use this script to submit my pages to the major search engines. I have experimented with webrings and still have a few on my site. I have joined nerd.com and woogoo. I also started my own list called misfits but it never really took off.

What one or two characteristics make a blog really popular? Are there things that you could do to have more people read your weblog that you consciously do not do? Why?
Popular? It takes too much work to be popular. You attend the shows. You link the A-list weblogs on your site. You comment all over the place in an attempt to gain popularity. You try to join metafilter. Stuff like that. I don't think that I could drive people to my site because I don't make much of an attempt to popularize myself.

What really popular weblog do you think most deserves it...and/or least deserves it?
I don't know what weblogs are really popular. N/A.

How do you feel about your readership? What makes for a quality readership to you?
My readership is great. I think that a lot of my hits come from the sheer fact that I have a lot of text on my site which gets indexed on search engines. The few people who I know read my site are the same people whose site I read. I am more interested in setting up a personal relationship with my readers by being interested in the stuff they write. I have a long sidebar, but there are only a handful of sites who I read very frequently. These people know who they are.

Influence of Other Bloggers:

What other blogger is most responsible for you starting your own weblog.
Even with all my nay-saying about A-list bloggers, I will say that I started weblogging because of Jason Kottke. The idea of having a weblog never really struck me until I came across his site. I have stopped reading it since, but occasionally I head over to look for free fonts or redesign ideas.

Who was the first other blogger (that you know of) who put you on their sidebar, and how did you feel? How did it influence your blogging?
I have no idea. I remember seeing my name on Julie's and Amy's page a long time ago, but I can't be sure if they are the first. I have a sitemeter and referrals installed on my page for the sheer purpose of seeing where people come from. It is easier than searching the web for interesting content. I wait until it (hopefully) comes to me.

What other blogger do you most admire for her writing skills?
Vix has some pretty good style going on.

What other blogger do you most admire for her design skills?
Amy hands down. She will say that her designs suck. The fact that, if pressed, she can produce a new redesign a week proves otherwise.

Who is a blogger that you think is really good but doesn't get nearly the attention they are worthy of?
Me. I friggin' rule. Where you been?

Do you feel obligated to have people on your link lists/sidebars that you never read?
Not obligated. More like, too lazy to decide which to remove and which to keep.

What one or two characteristics define a really quality blog (in your humble opinion, of course)?
Good design and good content. Simple design and quality writing. Good layout and interesting stories.

Bonus Question:

Do you fear The Booge?
I do not. He holds no power over me.

:: the tinyblog webloggers survey ::
12:55 PM - Comments [5]
It's official. Lorrie and I own a house. Less than a month from deciding that we should start looking until we own something. Pretty scary indeed.
6:53 AM - Comments [7]

June 3, 2002

I have no scientific proof to support or refute what I am about to say. I am simply postulating. You can give me your two cents if you would like.

Look at the graph on the left. I drew this while sitting in a chair when I was away at the cottage. I was thinking about children and education. I was thinking about how short childhood is. I was thinking about how nice it would be to be a kid with little worries and little cares. I was imagining having nothing but time to sit and enjoy learning new things around me without any pressure to succeed or any fear of failure. I was thinking that learning for the sheer enjoyment of learning would be nice.

I started thinking about intelligence and when it starts to bud in kids. I would guess that the period from birth to puberty is the period in which most of the intellectual leaps and bounds take place. After that, the personality is firmly rooted, most of the hardwiring is done, and the human being simply refines this for the remainder of their life.

Consider the cyan (light blue) line on the graph. This is my representation of the average development of intelligence with age. There is a sharp increase from birth until 12 years or so, then there is a quick, albeit lesser increase from 12 until 25-30 when most education and job training takes place. After that intelligence does not rise all that rapidly for the remainder of the lifespan. Seems reasonable.

Now consider the dark blue line. It follows essentially the same pattern, but at a higher level. This is my representation of the gifted individual. That person who is born with their wiring set up a little more efficiently. Patterns are clearer, understanding comes easier, learning comes quicker. There are some people like that out there. The problem I find with a lot of parents is that they all think that their kids fit into the gifted category. More often than not, they are probably wrong.

And then there is the third category represented by the red line. I am calling this the "accelerated" kid. I am not talking about the kid who does his homework and gets acceptable grades while maintaining a social life and an enjoyment of the process of learning. I am talking about the kid that gets outside tutoring to improve their already acceptable grades. This is the kid that the parents want to turn into a gifted kid. This is the kid that is pushed hard to learn, fast tracked through school and bombarded with as much "educational" time as possible to ensure that they accelerate past their peers.

I often wonder about these kids. My wonder is represented by the red line. I wonder if pushing your kid early does indeed give them a slightly better intelligence when compared to their young friends, but this difference then becomes negligible or non-existent once they reach early adulthood. If my red line is accurate, it is quite possible that all of the pushing and prodding and driving of children to perform at a higher level actually does not do them any good later in life. If anything, it could do damage to their enjoyment of living.

As a kid I was not pushed to learn. My parents knew I had potential but told me that as long as I did my best, that was good enough for them. In highschool, I didn't try that hard, but got away with acceptable grades. When I did not hand in a report or failed an exam, I learned that it was my own fault. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my best was something that I had discovered for my self. I realized that with some hard work, I could accomplish many things. In the end, I feel happy with where my intelligence level has developed to. If my parents had pushed me harder, would I have ended up happier/richer/more successful than I am now? Or would I have developed a distaste for learning and yet still ended up as intelligent as I am now. It is a tough call.

::Also showcased at Raising Hell::
5:14 PM - Comments [6]