PET CHOW... PET CHOW... PET CHOW...
...Rat PoisonFrom Mark Johnson of the Associated Press via the Guardian.
"Rodent poison has been found in pet food blamed for the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Agriculture and Markets said Friday.
Spokeswoman Jessica Chittenden would not identify the chemical or its source beyond saying it was a rodent poison.
State agriculture officials scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon to release laboratory findings from tests on the pet food conducted this week.
The deaths led to a recall of 60 million cans and pouches of pet food produced by Menu Foods and sold throughout North America under 95 brand names. There have been reports of kidney failure, some fatal, in pets that ate the recalled brands. The company has confirmed the deaths of 15 cats and one dog.
Menu Foods last week recalled ``cuts and gravy'' style dog and cat food. The recall sparked concern among pet owners across North America. It includes food sold under store brands carried by Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and other large retailers, as well as private labels such as Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba."
Reminds me too much of the Saturday Night Live
"Petchow Rat Poison" commercial starring Will Ferrell for me not to post this:Petchow Rat PoisonAdd to My Profile
| More Videos
The past weekend, I discovered some (almost) magic freeware called AutoStitch
, created by a University of British Columbia student named Matthew Brown. It's a full-fledged program, not a Photoshop/GIMP plugin, that assembles a set of single images taken from a single vantage point into a panorama, and it's completely automatic.
Here's a panorama that I assembled last year of the corner of Sainte Catherine's and Stanley streets composed of photos that I took in downtown Montreal last July.
I used a Photoshop plug-in that sphere-izes the individual component photos very slightly in order to make the edges match up a little better. It looks okay, but it's far from seamless, and it took hours of work.
Here's a Autostitch panorama comprised of the same source photos.
Click on the picture to see it full-sized and the improvements are instantly noticeable. The architectural components of this photo are as close to being seamless as you'll ever get from photos taken from this particular vantage point without using a fisheye lens. You can see some slight bending in the lines beyond the usual vantage point curving, but you have to really, really look to see it. This is because the software uses pretty sophisticated AI to not just attempt to match up edges as close as possible, it blends for total continuity between the pictures, almost as though the program recreated the entire scene in 3D.
Not everything on a city street is motionless, so the program rendered some of the pedestrians from the overlap areas as motion-blurred "ghosts", but that doesn't really detract from the image. In the middle of the intersection, there's also a chopped-off portion of a bicycle wheel, but that's the sort of detail you'd only notice if you go over the full-size panorama of the corner of Sainte Catherine's and Stanley Streets in downtown Montreal
with a magnifying glass.
And the best part is that all I had to do is change the options to render this picture at 100% size and upload the photos into the program, and the program did the rest. It took a few minutes for the program to render the final image, but the important thing for a lazy guy like me is that the computer did it all. No cumbersome cutting-and-pasting, no "feathering", no "masks", no messing around with control points. Just simple "put photos in", "get panorama out" action.
AutoStitch is truly TEH BESTEST THING EVAR! Thank you, Matthew Brown, I'm going to take a lot more photos with panoramas in mind from now on.Here are the Autostitch panoramas that I've already done at Flickr.
Speaking of photography, I'm going to the Ottawa-Gatineau Autoshow
at the Ottawa Congress Centre (in the bowels of the Rideau Centre/Westin Hotel complex) this evening, so check out my Flickr account
over the next few days for, hopefully, some cool car photos, and I'll probably post a few highlights here.
ANIME FANS IN THE NEWS!
It's time once again for my very, very, very occasional feature, "Anime Fans in the News", where I showcase fellow anime enthusiasts who have had some kind of impact on society at large.
Meet Mike Dobson
, a freelance Canadian animator with an extensive resume
, including working as an assistant animator on children's cartoons such as Little Bear
, Pippi Longstockings
, Anne of Green Gables
, and more, as well as working on animation aimed at a slightly older audience, like the Teletoon Detour series Sons of Butcher
and the live-action/animated hybrid film Osmosis Jones
Mike Dobson also has his own animation studio, Evil Clown Animation
, whose main purpose seems to be trying to shop around to animation production companies a character concept called Siobhan
), a scantily-clad, nimble, athletic warrior lady who seems to have cut from the same cloth as Aeon Flux
, except in a swords-and-sorcery fantasy setting rather than a cyberpunk dystopia setting.
He posted a four-minute-long Siobhan pilot animation at YouTube
. You can also see various other clips on his YouTube channel
, including one where he boasts about Siobhan being a feminist hero
, and another one where he talks about the general hand-drawn animation process
(he neglected to mention one crucial part of his own personal creative process, but I'll get to that later).
In the description for Siobhan at YouTube
, Mike Dobson talks about wanting to capitalize on the niche popularity of anime by blending the elements that make anime popular with a westernized animation style.
"As well, Japanese animation (anime) has gained a significant hold on the world animation-viewing public. There is still a vastly under-exploited North American film and TV industries response to the stylistic elements that have made anime a success.
Siobhan takes the best elements of the North American and Anime filmmaking traditions and molds them into cult classic material. The result will shock and entrance the animation-viewing public. We can make a character that the world will hear about."
Eh, looks like crude fanart. Siobhan doesn't really stay "on model" from shot to shot, and I doubt that's intentional like the way John Kricfalusi does it. Also, the stylistic elements don't remind me of any of the sorts of anime I watch
, though I suppose that's largely because the most violent sorts of things that happen in animes like Ichigo Mashimaro
are pillow fights.
But that's all neither here nor there.
Dobson also mentions his future hopes for Siobhan
"Siobhan is an adult animated series concept with strong potential for videogame, comic and merchandise tie-ins"
Well, looks like Dobson will have to put his Siobhan merchandising plans on ice for a while as he'll be taking a hiatus from his animation career that will last up to fourteen years
From CityNews Toronto:
"A Toronto animator who runs a company called "Evil Clown Animation" has been convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl and could face a 14-year jail sentence.
Thirty-seven-year-old Michael Dobson was found guilty of four counts of sexual interference after having a five-month relationship with a 13-year-old girl in 2002.
"It took a lot of courage for this young woman to come forward with these allegations. She spent most of her teenage years dealing with this court case and these incidents," said Crown Attorney Cara Sweeny.
"I know that she is relieved and pleased to have some closure in this matter, and that's certainly what this verdict is for her."
Currently the legal age of consent in Canada is 14 years old. Dobson met the young girl when she was only 12.
Despite her youth, the judge took note of her maturity.
"This young lady is 13 going on 19. I don't condone his behaviour in any respect. I found she was precocious beyond her years," he said during his ruling.
Dobson will be sentenced on May 18th."
The CityNews article doesn't mention this, but Global National
mentioned that the sex acts occurred within the animation studio itself. So, evidently, one technique that animators can use to relieve stress is to diddle twelve-year old girls under the drawing table.
You do have to wonder how much of this Siobhan character is based on his lolita-esque girlfriend. Maybe the judge is right and the girl really is "precocious beyond her years" in more ways than one.
The most important question is, should they ever make a live-action Siobhan film, who would direct? Roman Polanski
or Victor Salva
? Maybe Gary Glitter and Michael Jackson will do the soundtrack? And Jeffrey Jones
can make a special appearance as the tentacle monster.EDIT (2:30 p.m.):
Somewhat predictably, the prosecution isn't seeking anything even close to the maximum sentence
From The Toronto Star
"While I don't condone his behaviour in any respect, I found that she was precocious beyond her years," Gans said as he rejected a Crown motion to have Dobson assessed for pedophilia or other sexual illnesses.
She had in her makeup "more of the punk rock/Queen St. crowd than her years would suggest," he said.
Gans said Dobson was guilty of "abject stupidity" but there was no evidence of mental disorder.
Dobson denied having sex of any kind with the girl. The judge concluded it was his word against hers and "There were too many gaps in his recitation of events."
A prosecutor said she would seek a jail term of up to two years.
Dobson's lawyer will ask for a conditional sentence, often served as house arrest."
I guess Mike Dobson doesn't want to be anyone's "bitch" in the general population of a federal prison.
THE RETURN OF SHOULDER CAT...
Eh, I never got around to auditioning on Canadian Idol
. My mother didn't want me to embarrass myself. I can't say that I have an aversion to that, but I do have an on-again, off-again aversion to being in huge shoulder-to-shoulder crowds AND even though they said that they were guaranteeing that everyone who would show up would have a chance, I didn't want to wait in line for hours upon hours as though it was May 1999 again and I wanted to get to the (now-closed) Faubourg Sainte-Catherine Cineplex-Odeon cinema in downtown Montreal for 6 a.m. in order to wait 10 hours just to get tickets for one of the early Wednesday afternoon showings of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
(which I did, though that was actually an exercise in redundancy as I managed to get midnight screening tickets to see the movie, in English, at the Cineplex-Odeon Carrefour-Dorion cinema without waiting in any kind of line) AND I managed to find other things I wanted to do this weekend, most importantly sleeping well into the afternoon.
I'm sure they'd have considered my performance bad, but not in the intentionally bad way I would have intended, just "boring bad" without any "train wreck" value that would make it worth putting it on the "Worst of" specials. The kind of bad when they'd just videotape over your performance after you're done rather than preserve it as the pinnacle of wretchedness.
Anyway, last week, my brother used Spring Break to visit his girlfriend in Toronto, but it would have cost too much to rent a car in which he could have brought along his kitten, Reginald (Reggie), so he just went by Via Rail and got me to make near daily trips to his apartment in eastern Ottawa just to "catsit", meaning I fed him and fussed him, and Reggie used me as a scratching and a biting post (just a little, not that much). But at least I got to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf
on the Gamecube.
I swear, that cat can't seem to get enough out of climbing on my shoulders. And I mean, he jumps straight up from the ground. I don't put him up there. Our own cat, Ember, only did that once, the day we got her in 1996, and that was to gain my confidence, and I seem to remember that I was sitting on the carpet playing the Sega Genesis (presumably Dune
). She never did the shoulder thing again and I can count the number of times that she voluntarily jumped on my lap with one hand (mostly for warmth during the week-long power outage after the 1998 ice storm).
Here Reggie is hiding behind my brother's TV unit, between a pile of VHS videotapes and the Nintendo Gamecube.
I like this shot, I caught him mid-meow.
Here he is climbing my leg. You can see that he's a long-haired cat, though I couldn't figure out the exact breed even using Wikipedia (probably a mixture).
And he's "shoulder cat" again, this time getting me just as I was about to leave.
He's like a furry black-and-white parrot.
His favourite perch, other than on my shoulders, seems to be on the radiator, especially on unseasonably cold days like we've been having in Ottawa this past week.
I think the shutter just snapped at an unfortunate moment, but Reggie looks really pissed in this photo. It looks almost like someone flattened his nose. (I don't know who that is on television in the background, I think it was a commercial.)
Reggie has a new favourite toy, the strap on my Kodak C643 EasyShare Digital Zoom camera.
And, finally, here I am fussing him. All-in-all, I had a cuteness-saturated week (topped off by my purchase of volume 3 of the Strawberry Marshmallow
) manga, which I'm actually writing a review of since this volume really "pushes the envelope" in some respects).
In absolutely unrelated news, my Vancouver brother, John, was in a minor car accident the other day, when his Ford Mustang got slammed into by a minivan running a red light. He's okay, but the car, while still drivable, has significant damage to the passenger side door, which the minivan driver will have to pay for. I'd almost be willing to wager that the minivan driver a) was talking on a cell phone, and b) had a "Baby on Board" sign in the back.
I've taken quite a few pictures of Via Trains over the past week, which can be seen in Flickr
in my Via Rail Trains set
, but, since train photos always get me a couple of dozen views an entry, here are a few.
A Via Rail train with a General Motors F40PH-2 diesel locomotive in an unusual green livery, advertising the cellular telephone and communications company, Telus.
Another Via Rail General Motors F40PH-2 locomotive, this time in the usual yellow, silver, and blue livery, just pulling out of Ottawa Train Station on the way to Toronto.
Okay, not exactly a Via Rail train, but the Canadian National Railways #6200 steam engine on permanent display in front of the Canada Science and Technology Museum.
A Via Rail train with a General Electric P42 Genesis locomotive just out of Ottawa Train Station, passing by the OC Transpo St. Laurent bus yards on its way to Montreal. Taken from the St. Laurent Boulevard overpass (the Ottawa St. Laurent, not the Montreal one, duh).
And, last but not least, a very fine shot of another GE P42 Genesis locomotive cutting through the freshly-fallen March snow as it approaches Fallowfield station on the way to Toronto.
Labels: cat, photos, train photos, VIA Rail