J.J.’s Complete Guide to Canada

J.J.'s Complete Guide to Canada

J.J. McCullough’s Complete Guide to Canada launched today. While J.J. did all of the real work researching and writing all the content, I proofread and copy edited every single word (more than 90,000 of them!), as well as fact-checked a lot of names, dates and other data. It’s a great resource and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about Canada.

In reading every page of J.J.’s exhaustively informative site, I learned more about Canada than I’d ever known before. In fact, I’d say that I probably have a better grasp of Canada’s political system than America’s at this point. The favorite thing I learned from the site is that I was actually born (in Canada, of course) on a Canadian federal election day, right in the middle of John Turner‘s glorious tenure. The very election day that swept the Liberals from power in a massive landslide, and sentenced Turner’s ministership to be the second-shortest in Canadian history.

After several months of fairly dedicated work on the site (it was almost a part-time job at times), I’m happy to see it publicly launched and available to everyone else. I’m also glad to forget all those crazy Canadian style rules, like adding U’s into words such as behavior, color, favor, honor, labor, rumor…


My month minus meat

I went vegetarian for the month of January.

I really just wanted to see if I could do it. Turns out, it was surprisingly easy.

This was not done with political or moral convictions on my mind, as I have no problems with consuming meat and entered the month knowing it was not to be a permanent conversion. Still, it was an eye-opening and educating experience and I feel like I’m the better for it.

For example, seeing restaurants through the vegetarian lens was quite enlightening. Suddenly, I had to actually pause and think before heading out to make sure that the location of choice was accommodating enough. Not that this was a huge dilemma, since Austin, it turns out, is an incredibly vegetarian-friendly city and I didn’t suffer through the month feeling like a martyr, because I most assuredly was not one.

I didn’t even bother telling most people about my little personal challenge, although my friends and coworkers inevitably found out. There was a lot of expected teasing, and both my omnivorous and vegetarian friends were intrigued that I would dare to attempt such a feat with my infamous appetite.

I did feel hungrier than usual at the beginning of the month, but that feeling quickly went away as I ate smaller portions more frequently. Toward the end I felt perfectly normal. One thing I liked about this month was that it forced me to better plan my meals ahead, and I had to cook for myself almost every day. My consumption definitely became healthier, since I didn’t fill up on carbohydrates and ate a lot more raw vegetables. I took a few pictures of things I ate through the month, but I just decided it’s not worth posting them here because I was a poor documentarian and forgot to take pictures of the more interesting things I cooked. Oh, well.

Despite this, I don’t think I lost much if any weight through the month, though I forgot to weigh myself at the very beginning of it. I didn’t work out less, and I didn’t notice an appreciable change in my energy levels.

The question I got most from “meat-eaters” was something along the lines of “Aren’t vegetarian diets dangerous because you might miss some nutrients you can only get from meat?” Most people I heard this from didn’t even know what those nutrients are. Being essentially raised by two nutritionists made this easy for me, since I was already aware of these potential issues going in. I compensated by choosing specific foods and taking some dietary supplements.

The question I got most from vegetarians and vegans was “So are you going to eat meat again after this month?” The answer to that was always yes, and I doubt anything would have changed my mind. Sorry, folks. Meat is just too dang delicious.

I just ate my last vegetarian meal for the month: An omelet with peppers, onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. What, you think I was going to give up eggs, too?


road kill

Today, I hit a pigeon while driving on the highway. I watched in the rear-view mirror as it spun fluttering to the ground, as if in slow motion. It landed in a crumpled feathery heap.




This guy was hanging around outside the house.


Disable store links in iTunes 8 Windows version

I wrote this because I couldn’t find clear instructions for disabling the annoying store links in the Windows version of iTunes 8.

  1. Close iTunes.
  2. Browse to the iTunes application data folder.
    • In XP: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes
    • In Vista: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes
  3. Back up and edit iTunesPrefs.xml with your XML editor of choice.
    1. Search for the following code:
      <key>User Preferences</key>
    2. After the <dict> tag in the previous step, paste the following:
  4. Save iTunesPrefs.xml.
  5. Open iTunes.