The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century Joey deVilla's Personal Blog Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:41:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 If you ever need to scare some gullible, superstitious friends, send them this… Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:03:34 +0000

spooky fact

Found via Porkbones’ Facebook account. Click to see the source.

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Accordion Bay report #4: Erika, area school says it’s okay to fail (and that’s good), man behind “Poonami” retires Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:46:04 +0000

Erika downgraded, but still may cause flooding

accordion bay flood watches

Erika, which has caused death and destruction in Dominica, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, has weakened from a tropical storm to a “low pressure trough” over the weekend, but it still means heavy rain in the area. Once again, Accordion Bay avoids another hurricane thanks to its fortunate locationA flood watch for central Florida is in effect today, and you should expect that traffic will be worse than usual today. With this summer’s wet weather, we’re poised to break some records.

It’s okay to fail

okay to fail

Sanders Memorial Elementary is a new magnet school in Land O’Lakes (where Edward Scissorhands was filmed!), and it has four core principles:

  1. Students first
  2. Learners have voice and choice
  3. Positive relationships lead to positive outcomes
  4. Failing forward

That last one may have jumped out at you, and not just because I put it in bold text. It also jumped out at district communication director Linda Cobbe when Sanders Memorial Elemntary’s principal Jason Petry announced them, but to his credit, he stuck to his guns.

embrace failure

Click the image to see it at full size.

The idea of embracing failure is a popular one the world of tech startups that I come from, where the risk of failure is high. While failure is unpleasant, we also know that it’s a good teacher. That’s why the startup world has slogans like “Fail fast!” and events like FailCamp. The idea is to deal with failure, take whatever lessons you can from the experience and try again, armed with that new knowledge.

If you take the opposite task and teach outright fear of failure, you get lessons like this classic one from Homer Simpson:

“Kids, you tried your best…and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.

Public works admin behind the St. Pete “Poonami” retires to “spend more time with the wife and family”

mike connors - st petersburg pwa

When someone decides to suddenly leave or retire from a job to “spend more time with the family,” you know that they’ve been “voluntold” to vamoose in the wake of a royal screw-up. This is most likely the case with suddenly-retiring Mike Connors, now former public works admin for St. Pete. A series of literally shitty decisions to discharge untreated sewage into places where it should not go, including Clam Bayou and Frenchman’s Creek, places where people boat and swim, is the most probably cause of Connors’ sudden surplus of free time.

As the folks at local paper Creative Loafing put it: “We’d also like to wish Connors well in whatever he does next, just as long as he doesn’t have any control over human waste or its final destination.”

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Video: My “Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need” presentation at Ignite Tampa Bay 2015 Sat, 29 Aug 2015 13:23:13 +0000

Here you go: it’s the video from my Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need presentation at Ignite Tampa Bay 2015!

My fantastic wife Anitra shot the video at the event, which took place at the Cuban Club in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood on Thursday, August 27. I was one of 20 speakers to make a presentation in the Ignite format, where you have only 5 minutes to get your point across, and you’re backed by a 20-slide presentation where the slides advance automatically every 15 seconds. It’s challenging, and for someone like me, who feeds off speaking to crowds, it’s a thrill!


We speakers didn’t know our order of appearance until 5:00 that evening, and that’s when I’d discovered I’d been scheduled to be second last. I took this as a great compliment — at a long public speaking event, you want a strong finish and should save a couple of really engaging speakers for the end. My thanks to organizers Sean Davis and Joy Randels for believing in me!

For the super-curious, I’ve posted my slides and notes in an earlier article on this blog.

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My presentation at Ignite Tampa Bay 2015: “Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need!” Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:11:12 +0000

joey devilla at ignite tampa 2015

Last night, I gave the second-last presentation at the 2015 edition of Ignite Tampa Bay, an annual gathering where people in Accordion Bay come to see locals take on the challenge of giving an Ignite presentation.

ignite tampa bayAn Ignite presentation is 5 minutes long, with 20 slides, each slide advancing automatically every 15 seconds. The format has been described as “the presentation equivalent of a haiku or sonnet.” They’re more challenging than your typical presentation, and require more rehearsal — and they’re also more thrilling to give!

My presentation was titled Florida Man and Woman: The Heroes We Need! Here’s the one-paragraph abstract:

“Florida Man” and “Florida Woman”, those staples of slow news days and internet memes are this state’s most valuable resource. They’re the products of Truth™, Justice™, and the American Way™, and the surest signs of a better tomorrow. I’ll explain how this can be, complete with Florida Man logic and a closing accordion number.

I’ve posted the presentation on SlideShare…

…and I’ve also posted a transcript, complete with reference links, below (they’re copied straight from my slide notes). Enjoy!

Anitra shot video of my presentation, and I’ll post it soon!

Slide 1


I’m going to come right out and say it: Florida Man and Florida Woman are NOT embarrassments to the state. They’re superheroes, and they can inspire us to make make the 21st century the Floridian century.


  • Wikipedia entry for “Florida Man”:

Slide 2


According to Merriam-Webster, the word “superhero” was coined in 1917. That’s the same year that the United States entered World War I, a major step in its becoming…a superpower. This is not a coincidence.


  • “Superhero” definition on from November 5, 2014:
  • Wikipedia entry for “American entry into World War I”:

Slide 3


In 2013, the “Florida Man” Twitter account was created, highlighting the wacky antics of Floridians. The account’s description calls Florida Man “the world’s worst superhero”. I don’t believe in the “worst” part, but I can argue in favor of “superhero”.


  • “Florida Man” Twitter account:

Slide 4


Florida Man has already done one great thing for us: he single-handedly changed Florida’s reputation from a sleepy retirement state – “God’s waiting room” – to “America’s drainpipe for weirdos”. A little later on, I’ll explain why this is a good thing.


  • Slate article, “Oh, #Florida!”, where I found the phrase “America’s drainpipe”:

Slide 5


Consider the first superhero, Superman. He’s not from here. He came from somewhere else on a rocketship for a fresh start. Florida Man and Woman are no different – most of them also aren’t from here. They likely came on a Greyhound bus.


  • [Video] WatchMojo’s “Superhero Origins: Superman (REDUX)”:
  • Orlando Sentinel article, “They’re preserving a special breed: The Florida native”, a 1998 article that says that even back then, native-born Floridians were outnumbered by more than 2 to 1 by people who migrated to Florida:

Slide 6

Superman’s journey to Earth is a small representation of The Hero’s Journey, and we get to see all of it: the origin and promise, the challenges and despair, then the triumph and promise fulfilled. Unlike Superman, we only see a tiny part of Florida Man and Woman’s journey in the news stories: the worst part.


  • The Writer’s Journey: “The Hero’s Journey”:’s_journey.htm
  • Wikipedia entry for “Monomyth”:

Slide 7


According to this book, whose influence you can see in way too many movies, Florida Man and Woman are in the “long dark night of the soul” part of their story. But you know what comes after that part? Hope and redemption.


  • Amazon page for Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need:
  • Slate article, “Save the Movie!”, which explains why a lot of movies “feel” the same:
  • [Video] On story structure and how Save the Cat ruined Hollywood:

Slide 8


Superman isn’t Superman without Earth. It’s our yellow sun and lower gravity that give him his amazing powers.


  • Superman Wiki entry on his powers and abilities:’s_Powers_and_Abilities

Slide 9


Like Superman, Florida Man and Woman get their powers from their environment and the sun. Florida’s sub-tropical and tropical climates mean that there isn’t winter, giving them an extra few months in which to cause mischief (and because it’s warm, nudity is often involved). Just as Superman takes advantage of Earth’s low gravity, Florida Man and Woman benefit from Florida’s lack of hills, which is useful when you’re pushing around a shopping cart full of all your belongings.


  • Wikipedia entry for “Climate of Florida”:
  • National Geographic: “The Flattest US States? Not What You Think”:

Slide 10


That same climate and topography also works for us, making this a pretty nice place to live, work, and play. The eternal spring/summer means we can get out more often, and have things like open air markets, resorts, amusement parks, and general outdoor fun. It also allows for places like small beach towns and quirky spots like St. Augustine. No winter means shorter construction times for megaprojects ranging from Downtown Disney to Jeff Vinik’s Channelside project.


  • Tampa Bay Times – Jeff Vinik hires urban planners to start designing $1 billion downtown Tampa project:

Slide 11


Florida Man and Woman are also powered by a different kind of sunshine: sunshine laws! Since 1909, Florida’s been governed by the principle that
government business is public business, and therefore should be public knowledge.

This includes arrest reports, which are posted promptly and made widely available, which makes us the news reporter’s best friend on a slow news day,
and are the motherlode of “someone in Florida did something weird again” stories.


  • Miami New Times – How Florida’s proud open government laws lead to the shame of “Florida Man” news stories:

Slide 12


These sunshine laws also mean that records created by public agencies need to be generally available to the public, and any meetings where public business is discussed – even unofficial ones, like over lunch – need to be open to the public. Other states wish they had our sunshine laws, and would even put up with exposing embarrassing locals as a side effect.


  • Miami New Times – How Florida’s proud open government laws lead to the shame of “Florida Man” news stories:
  • Wikipedia entry for Controversy and criticism of Jersey Shore:

Slide 13


Speaking of other states, consider California, long considered to be one of the most successful states. It’s got a lot in common with Florida:

  • Warm climate
  • Orange groves
  • Disney presence
  • Major military bases
  • Aerospace industry

And an important natural resource…


  • Yahoo! Answers – “What are some similarities between California and Florida?”:

Slide 14


Weirdos! From the Gold Rush to Hollywood to rock and roll to Silicon Valley, California has been a destination for weirdos, and they’ve used their “weird power” to great effect, making the state the creative and economic powerhouse that it is today. It’s where the iPhone, Google, and Tesla come from!


  • Peter G McDermott – Why Weirdos Rule the World:

Slide 15


Lots of other places know this, which is why they have campaigns to attract weirdos. They know that weirdos are a key part of the Creative Class, a concept created by one Richard Florida. See what I did there?


  • Wikipedia entry for “Keep Portland Weird”:
  • Wikipedia entry for “Keep Austin Weird”:
  • [Video] Keep Asheville Weird (Part 1):
  • Wikipedia entry for “Creative Class”:
  • Wikipedia entry for “Richard Florida”:

Slide 16


These places have learned the lesson that swim coaches have been teaching for years: Winning isn’t normal. It’s a lesson that Florida needs to embrace.


  • Amazon page for Winning Isn’t Normal:

Here’s the key excerpt from Dr. Keith Bell’s Winning Isn’t Normal:

Winning Isn’t Normal

Winning isn’t normal. that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with winning. It just isn’t the norm. It is highly unusual.

Every race only has one winner. No Matter how many people are entered (not to mention all those who tried and failed to make the cuts), only one person (or one relay) wins each event.

Winning is unusual. As such, it requires unusual action.

In order to win, you must do extraordinary things. You can’t just be one of the crowd. The crow doesn’t win. You have to be willing to stand out and act differently.

Your actions need to reflect unusual values and priorities. You have to value success more than others do. You have to want it more. (Now take note! Wanting it more is a decision you make and act upon – not some inherent quality or burning inner drive or inspiration!) And you have to make that value a priority.

You can’t train like everyone else. You have to train more and train better.

You can’t talk like everyone else. You can’t think like everyone else. You can’t be too willing to join the crow, to do what is expected, to act in a socially accepted manner, to do what’s “in”. You need to be willing to stand out in the crowd and consistently take exceptional action. If you want to win, you need to accept the risks and perhaps the loneliness… because winning isn’t normal!

Slide 17


Superheroes attract supervillains. The funny thing is that the best superheroes have villains just like them. Thor’s enemies are other Norse mythic figures. Captain America fights other nationalistic super-soldiers. And Iron Man, Tony Stark? His bad guys are other rich white egomaniac nerds. Superheroes and supervillains are often two sides of the same coin; they just made different life choices.


  • Thor: In his movies, he fights Loki, the Destroyer (an Asgardian automaton), and Malekith the Dark Elf
  • Captain America: In the first movie, the bad guy is the Red Skull, in the second movie, it’s the Winter Soldier (Bucky, who’s been brainwashed and super-soldierized by the Russians)
  • Iron Man: In the first movie it’s Iron Monger (business partner Obadiah Stane in a suit). In the second, industrialist rival Justin Hammer is pulling the strings. In the third, it’s humiliated and out-for-revenge Aldrich Killian.

Slide 18


So who are Florida Man and Woman’s supervillains? They’re also weirdos in Florida, but they made different life choices. Better, more productive life choices.

Slide 19


And now we come to the true purpose of this talk: it’s a recruiting call for supervillains for Florida Man. As Ignite attendees, you’re the perfect candidates. You embrace weird, and you can make better life choices. “Normal” is staying at home and watching TV. “Weird” is getting involved in creative community events like this one, and making change as a result. Go out and be the best damned Floridian supervillains to Florida Man and Woman that you can be!

Slide 20


And now, the song (sung to the tune of the original Spider-Man theme):

Florida Woman
And Florida Man
Do whatever a Florida can
Are they weird?
Listen, bud:
They’ve got greatness in their blood
Look out!
There goes the Florida Man (and Woman)!


  • [Video] The original theme song for Spider-Man:
  • [Video] The Ramones’ version of the Spider-Man theme:
  • [Video] Timbaland featuring Missy Elliott and Magoo’s Here We Come, which takes the Spider-Man theme to weird and awesome new hip-hop heights:
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That’s a sweet deal Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:55:40 +0000

sweet deal

I’ll take the 2014 Dodge Ram, and because I’m in a generous mood, I’ll even throw in a couple hundred extra bucks above the asking price!

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This is my kind of first aid Thu, 27 Aug 2015 14:54:57 +0000

outside wound inside wound alcohol

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8 ways that Asian-Americans can stand up to racist presidential candidates Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:16:34 +0000

In response to recent campaign statements by Jeb Bush on Asians and “anchor babies”

(which seems to be a turn-around from an earlier statement in a Fox News appearance a couple of years ago, when he said that the Republicans’ problem is that they’re effective telling Asians “We want your vote, but we don’t want you on our team”)

…and by Donald Trump pulling a “ching chong”

…the Asian-American/Pacific Islander PAC CAPA21 has published this article, which they encourage people to pass along.

8 ways

Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump this week unleashed a string of racist insults against Asian Americans and Latinos.

Trump pulled a “ching chong” at a rally and earlier called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. He then threw out a renowned Latino journalist from a press conference just for asking questions. Bush said “anchor babies” was an immigration problem caused by the “Asian people” and then said today he would “quadruple down” on his position.

We just got a terrific preview of how a President Bush III and President Trump would treat Americans who are not White. In a more perfect Union, these idiots would have been forced to end their candidacies by Americans of all colors who believe that our President should at least be a decent person.

What to do? For one thing, forget about apologies. Genuine contrition by candidates and elected officials can only be proven by actions. In the context of a high stakes political battle, a well-crafted apology is often used simply to counter a news cycle, and not reflect the person’s true feelings.

Here’s eight suggestions on what Asian Americans can do to hold Bush and Trump accountable.

  1. Strengthen alliances with Latinos and other people of color. These candidates don’t discriminate when it comes to racism against Americans. They’re equal opportunity racists. Asian Americans are in the same boat as Latinos. Bush and Trump see us as The Other, not as Americans. Let’s stand up for our Brown and Black brothers and sisters, because we’re all in this together. Don’t know where to start? Here you go: and #BlackLivesMatter.
  2. Find pressure points and make them hurt. Asian Americans may not have the largest numbers, but we have buying power. Let’s identify a Trump business that depends on Asian Americans and boycott the hell out of it. With Bush, we can comb through his FEC records and identify his Asian American donors to contact and ask them to hold their candidate accountable.
  3. Ask our organizations to step up. Many Asian American groups quickly responded to the racist insults. Other organizations have yet to respond. Understandably, many 501(c)(3) organizations are leery about weighing in to political situations because of IRS restrictions. But certain groups, like the Asian American Journalists Association, have watchdog roles that would be helpful in this situation. Let’s nudge them into action.
  4. Join in ongoing actions. The most notable response to this situation has been a hashtag campaign by Jason Fong, a 15-year-old student in the Los Angeles area.#MyAsianAmericanStory was started on Monday evening and has been used more than 6,500 times.
  5. Share your voice in the media. Write a letter to the editor, or an opinion piece. Write a blog post. Throw something up on social media. Staying silent is the worst thing we can do. Search for your favorite ethnic media or mainstream media outlet; most have easily accessible information on how to submit letters or opinion pieces.
  6. Ask the political parties and other candidates to weigh in. The Republican and Democratic parties seem to be watching this from the sidelines. If they oppose racist rhetoric in campaigns, we need to hear from them. We need the other candidates to demonstrate their opposition as well. Here’s contact info for the Democratic and Republican parties and a website listing the variouspresidential campaigns.
  7. Share this blog post. This one is pretty easy, right? The share buttons are below!
  8. Do the one real and tangible action to influence this election. If you’re not registered to vote or if you don’t vote, you’re giving up the one essential tool you have to ensure that we elect a President who can advance this country by caring about all Americans, not just some. Register today.

Let’s elect a President who is, well, not racist.

We’d love to hear your ideas on how we can respond to these racist candidates.Share your comments on Facebook or email

Found via Angry Asian Man.

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This needs to be the opening shot of the next Spider-Man movie Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:35:25 +0000

spider-man at the texas roadhouse

Just skip the origin story and open with this shot. The scene practically writes itself!

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“No, the school doesn’t have a uniform. Why do you ask?” Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:55:13 +0000

school uniform

Apparently, this is a photo taken at Cypress Ranch High School, Cypress, Texas on Monday by @cyrichbitch. A time traveller from 1983 Connecticut would feel right at home here.

Now I know why the traffic was so heavy: Unlike Canada and in the northern parts of the US, where Labor Day marks the end of summer vacation, school started this week here and in much of the south. The first day of school in Hillsborough County (which is my neck of Accordion Bay), happened yesterday.

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Sith lord in North Carolina leaving raw meat in playgrounds Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:45:49 +0000

nc sith lord 1

In Gastonia, North Carolina, there are reports of a cloaked figure wandering through a playground near an apartment complex, leaving bits of raw meat along the way. The photos above and below are supposed to the be Sith lord in question.

nc sith lord 2

The director of operations for the apartment complex’s realty company has made this more-amusing-than-he-intended statement: “We don’t know if it’s one of our residents with an interesting way of presenting themselves, or if it’s a trespasser.”

Perhaps it’s time to call in the Jedi.

emperor palpatine

Emperor Palpatine, Sith lord from Star Wars.

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I’m impressed. Tue, 25 Aug 2015 02:49:35 +0000

accordion horse mask heels

I’ve played accordion in Central Park (the lamp posts and fence in the photo above are a dead giveaway that it was taken there). I’ve played accordion while wearing a unicorn mask. But to do both while wearing high heels? I tip my hat to you, sir or madam.

In case you wanted to see me in a unicorn mask playing accordion:

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“Of all the shirts I could’ve chosen to wear today, I had to pick THIS ONE…” Mon, 24 Aug 2015 02:14:59 +0000

bad cop no donut

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Who’s still wearing cargo shorts? Sun, 23 Aug 2015 13:31:47 +0000

whos still wearing cargo shorts

Click the graph to see it at full size.

The original version was done by Distractify, but I redid the typography because (a) it was terrible, and (b) They Insisted On Capitalizing Every Damned Word For No Good Reason in their version.

Thanks to Jen Woltemade for the find!

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Hang on…WHO’s ruining the sanctity of marriage again? Sat, 22 Aug 2015 12:55:12 +0000

38 million people

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Here you go: the Margaret Atwood piece on Stephen Harper’s hair that the National Post killed Sat, 22 Aug 2015 01:11:31 +0000

nice helmet jackass

If you’re Canadian like me, you’ve probably heard through the internet grapevine that Margaret Atwood wrote an amusing piece on the hair of the contenders in this year’s federal elections, particularly the coiff of Canada’s dickish, control-freaky Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. It was published in the National Postthen suddenly unpublished.

The explanation, as put in an email from the Post’s senior vice-president Gerry Nott:

“The column was taken down because the necessary fact checking had not been completed. Senior editorial leadership at Postmedia [the media network to which the National Post belongs] also had not concluded whether the column was aligned with the values of the National Post and its readers.”

The likeliness of the Post publishing anything without fact-checking it is practically zero; fact-checking is part of newspaper operations 101. Furthermore, Atwood says that the Post’s editors received her article nine days prior to publishing, which is plenty of time to review an article that doesn’t even cross the 1,000-word mark.

The more likely occurrence is that — to use Gerry Nott’s own words — the column wasn’t “aligned with the values of the National Post“, especially when you consider their track record for endorsing terrible conservative candidates.

Jeet Heer, senior editor at The New Republic, said it well on Twitter:

Since then, the Post has republished the article, with a couple of sentences mentioning millionaire donors to Harper’s campaign removed, for reasons I will leave to the reader to deduce.

For the benefit of those of you who haven’t had a chance to read it, here’s the original, unabridged article, posted as a public service. Enjoy!

Margaret Atwood: Hair is in the election-season air, but is it crucial to the question of your vote?

justin trudeau

The caption for this photo in the National Post read: Liberal Leader Justin Trueau speaks to the media during a federal election campaign stop at the annual gay pride parade in Montreal, Sunday, August 16, 2015.

Hair is in the election-season air. I didn’t put it there – those attack ads on Mr. Trudeau introduced the subject, with “Nice hair, Justin” – but now that the hairball has been coughed up, so to speak, let’s consider it.

Hair is a big deal. People spend a lot of time worrying about their hair and a lot of money altering it. Some sculpt it, some dye it, some shave it off. Some hide it under scarves and hats because God, in his or her many forms, has taken a serious interest in hair – telling people to grow it, conceal it, cut it, refrain from cutting it, wear a wig in place of it, not let Delilah hack it off, and so on. Some are born with hair, some achieve hair, and some have hair thrust upon them through laws and customs. Some hair goes missing, leaving either a Mr. Clean macho look or a bowling-ball one, as with Mr. Duffy. Some hair is curly, some is straight. Luck of the draw.

Fashion can be a cruel taskmistress, hair-wise. Many are the photos of us with odd hair from former times that we presently seek to conceal. (Ducktails? Beatles bangs? Flowing hippy locks?) My own hair can be interpreted as “Pre-Raphaelite” or “frizzy” depending on the hostility level of the interviewer. I’ve lived through those 50s smoothening adventures with a product called Dippity Do as well as the nightmare straight-hair Twiggy years of the late 60s, which involved other failed processes. After that I gave up.

But back to the hair-strewn attack ads of the Conservatives. What’s the point? Women will recognize “Nice hair” as a pickup line, so I suppose addressing it to a political opponent is a way of girlifying him: the Conservative ad-writers would see girlification as inherently demeaning, their view of girls and women being what it is. But “Nice hair” makes them sound a bit envious, too: no one has ever accused Mr. Harper of having “nice hair.” It also makes them sound trivial. Hair, an election issue? Really?

But let’s suppose that hair is indeed crucial to the question of your vote. Is hair the measure of a man, or woman? Is character destiny, and is hair a clue to character?

Let’s try this hair quiz:

Of the three national male leaders, which one travels with a personal grooming assistant – lavishly paid for in whole or in part by you, gentle taxpayer – so that none of his hairs will ever be out of place, supposing they are indeed his and not a wig, as some have supposed? (Hint: Initials are S.H.)

stephen harper

The caption for this photo in the National Post read: In the name of all that’s decent: can’t the press at least let Stephen Harper grieve a little?

Which leader, on the other hand, doesn’t need such an assistant because his hair is “nice” enough already? (Hint: initials are J.T.)

And which one wouldn’t know what a personal grooming assistant was if he fell over one? (Hint: Initials are T.M.)

Yes! You got it right! Smart you!

Next: Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for the micromanagement of Harper’s hair? Is his hair in the public interest? Is it crucial infrastructure? A matter of national security? Or is the pampering just a matter of narcissistic vanity?

Maybe it wasn’t altogether wise for the Conservatives to bring up hair: it focused the hair spotlight. Start with one candidate’s hair and we can’t help thinking about the topside garnishments of the others – not only what they might signify, but also what they might be costing us.

Will the Conservatives now lay off on the personal-appearance attack stuff? Doubtful: they’ve got a thing for it. Jean Crétien’s paralyzed face, laugh a minute! Trudeau’s hair, woo-woo! Who’s next? “Nice tits, Elizabeth?”

Wait! I can see it coming! Mulcair’s beard! The Conservatives will have trouble with a straight-out character attack on Mulcair because they regarded the guy so highly they tried to hire him themselves, so they’ll have to fall back on the beard: “Thomas Mulcair. What’s he hiding behind that beard?”

Don’t go there, Cons! Because then we’ll all start thinking about “hiding.” Why is Harper still coyly hiding the two-million-dollar donors to his party leadership race? Don’t we have a right to know who put him in there? Who’s he working for, them or us?

Why is he hiding his campaign events from the public? Is he running for Prime Minister of the whole population – those whose taxes pay, in whole or in part, for him and his hair – and if so, why isn’t he talking to all of us? In his earlier quoted comment, “I don’t care what they say,” who are they? Aren’t you agog to know if you’re on Harper’s hidden “enemies list”?

Why is he hiding what he knew about the Duffy cover-up, and when he knew it? He’s given four mutually exclusive answers so far. Is there a hidden real answer?

And if he’s hiding all this, what else is he hiding?

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This morning in St. Pete Fri, 21 Aug 2015 14:48:43 +0000

Once a week, I like to get out of the home office and work somewhere else. Today is that day, and I’m in St. Pete.

st pete 01

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Downtown St. Pete is really bike-friendly, complete with a number of dedicated lanes for cycles and nearly non-existent traffic (especially when compared with Toronto, so I took my bike with me and did a quick run near the water before getting to work this morning. My route took me past the Dali museum:

st pete 02

Click the photo to see it at full size.

The museum holds the largest collection of Dali works outside of Spain, and it’s worth checking out. There’s an Escher exhibit that opens tomorrow — I’d love to check it out.

The rest of my route took me along the water…

st pete 03

Click the photo to see it at full size.

It’s a fantastic day for a bike ride. I need to get out here more often:

st pete 04

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I have to unlearn my Toronto navigation instinct that equates “water” with “south”. In St. Pete, the water is to the east.

st pete 05

Click the photo to see it at full size.

You can see The Pier in the background of this shot. The inverted building is being demolished and there’s some kind of “goodbye” ceremony taking place later today:

st pete 06

Click the photo to see it at full size.

There’s was little traffic in the area at 9:00 a.m.. It’s as if I had the whole place to myself:

st pete 07

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Here are some people who are having an even more laid-back morning than mine:

st pete 08

Click the photo to see it at full size.

…and then it was time to get to work. I’m camped out for the morning in a very quiet Starbucks by the stadium right across from the street from this cab with a clever slogan:

st pete 09

Click the photo to see it at full size.

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I’ll be presenting at Ignite Tampa Bay next Thursday! Fri, 21 Aug 2015 02:19:30 +0000

ignite tampa bay 2015

Ignite Tampa Bay takes place in Tampa next Thursday, August 27th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Cuban Club…and Yours Truly will be one of the speakers!

Ignite is a quick presentation format with the following constraints:

  • The presentation is exactly five minutes long
  • The presenter is accompanied by 20 slides, which advance automatically every 15 seconds

Olivia Mitchell, who teaches how to make effective presentations, describes the Ignite format as “the presentation equivalent of a haiku or a sonnet”. If you’ve seen a lightning talk, an Ignite presentation’s a little longer, and if you’re familiar with the Pecha Kucha presentation format, it’s similar, but a little shorter and simpler.

If you need to see an example of an Ignite talk, why not take a look at one of mine? This is the one I did at Ignite Toronto 4, which took place waaay back in September 2010, which for me was practically a former life. It’s called Go Busk Yourself, and in it, I tell the audience to become street musicians, because it’s life-changing:

Here’s the first slide from my upcoming presentation:

first slide

That’s right, I’ll be talking about our local superheroes, Florida Man and Florida Woman. Here’s the abstract, which I had to keep short:

“Florida Man” and “Florida Woman”, those staples of slow news days and internet memes are this state’s most valuable resource. They’re the products of Truth™, Justice™, and the American Way™, and the surest signs of a better tomorrow. I’ll explain how this can be, complete with Florida Man logic and a closing accordion number.

Tickets are still available for Ignite Tampa Bay, but they’re selling out quickly! Make sure you don’t miss out on one of the city’s most thought-provoking and entertaining events put on by its most engaged citizenry.

Recommended reading

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Fun whisky/whiskey facts for tonight’s party Sat, 15 Aug 2015 15:09:05 +0000

Enjoying a nice scotch at my friend Adam’s place.
Photo by Adam PW Smith.

I’m attending a whisky/whiskey tasting event at my friend Erinn’s place tonight, which makes it the perfect time to share some topical information.

whisky vs whiskey

There’s a difference between whisky and whiskey. It’s academic, and generally distills down to the country of origin:

  • Countries that have E’s in their names (UnitEd StatEs and IrEland) tend to spell it whiskEy (plural whiskeys)
  • Countries without E’s in their names (Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it whisky (plural whiskies)

ricard paterson - very serious whisky guy

When it comes to matters pertaining to scotch, my go-to guy is Richard Paterson (he’s @the_nose on Twitter), Master Blender at Dalmore and Whyte and MacKay. If you’ve got four minutes to spare, check out this quick intro to whisky tasting vide that he did with

He gets a little more in-depth in this six-minute video, which includes his coffee and chocolate pairing suggestions:

Also worth reading: a 2010 article in Wired titled This Nose Knows Whisky: A Spirited Talk With Master Blender Richard Paterson.

Yours Truly at a Bombay Sapphire rooftop party in Toronto.
Click the photo to see more pics from this party.

When this technology fad blows over, I’d like to stop being a tech evangelist and become a “brand ambassador” for some wine or spirit, like Bombay Sapphire’s Merlin Griffiths (ignore the fact that it’s not as good gin as it used to be; pay attention to the fact that the accordion gets you invited to his shindigs), or Randy Adams, who’s The Macallan’s brand ambassador:

If you’re in the mood for some longer viewing and have an hour to spare, watch this documentary — Whisky: The Islay Edition…

There’ll be bourbon at this party too, so this video is appropriate…

…as is this photo with one of my alco-heroes, Tom Bulleit, of the bourbon of the same name:

And while this event will be about drinking our whiskys/whiskeys neat or with a little water, I have to share this recipe for Bourbon and Branch, one of the favorite cocktails of none other than Commander James Bond himself:


Each guest is expected to bring a whisky/whiskey to this party, and Anitra and I are bringing something a little offbeat (as you should expect we would). We’re bringing Corsair Distillery’s Quinoa Whiskey, and yup, it’s made with that lovely high-protein South American grain (along with malted barley). Complex lists it among the 10 Best Spirits You’ve Probably Never Tried, Distiller gives it high marks, and Ryan the whiskey blogger gives it a four stars (out of five) rating.

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Accordion Bay report #3: #FailureFactories, reward for info on deputy shooting, food scene, Channelside development, a geeky double bill, and Bud lost Fri, 14 Aug 2015 14:12:18 +0000

Failure Factories: Pinellas County’s terrible schools

failure factories

Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo, and Melrose are elementary schools that occupy a six-square-mile zone in one of Florida’s most affluent counties. They’re also among the worst schools in the state: in standardized tests, eight in 10 fail reading, and nine in 10 fail math. They’re worse off than they were ten years ago, which was before the school board ended integration. This Tampa Bay Times piece on these schools, which they’ve dubbed “Failure Factories”, is both informative and heartbreaking.

$3,000 reward offered for info in Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy shooting

A $3,000 reward is being offered for information to help catch a man who shot a Hillsborough County deputy on Thursday morning. The deputy is going to be all right, but the suspect is at large.

Travel + Leisure loves our local food scene

fodder and shine

Citing wonderful examples like Fodder and Shine and The Refinery in Seminole Heights, and Ulele closer to downtown, Travel + Leisure are fascinated with the new restaurants popping up here in Tampa.

While we’re on the topic, I’d like to plug Sea Salt in downtown St. Pete, where we had dinner last night before heading to the Weird Al concert. Their 5 p.m.-to-6 p.m. prix fixe gives you an appetizer, main, and dessert for $28 and provides a lot of tasty bang for the buck. Here’s a video of the dessert we had: a strawberry panna cotta covered with mango sauce on the side. The sauce is applied by pouring it into a container on the side, which has a couple of pieces of dry ice in it:

Proposed mega-development in Channelside

proposed channelside development
Channelside is the home to Amalie Arena (formerly the Tampa Bay Times Forum, formerly the St. Pete Times Forum, formerly the Ice Palace), the Aquarium, cruise ship docks, the History Center, the SS American Victory, and somehow, in spite of all this, a whole lotta nuthin’.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is trying to change that with a big development plan to create an actually walkable hub in the area, and now Port Tampa Bay has announced their “vision plan” to develop the area. It includes wavy 75-storey buildings and looks interesting; will it bring people to hang out?

Star Wars fandom’s ying and yang were here

kevin smith - weird al

If you like geek culture and Star Wars, this was an exceptionally good week to be in Accordion Bay, as both the good-clean-fun and potty-mouthed yin and yang of Star Wars fandom were here. Kevin Smith did his “Evening with Kevin Smith” schtick at the Tampa Improv on Wednesday, and Weird Al’s 82-city world tour played at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday. Anitra and I caught both of ’em, and both were geektastic.

Smith is smart: he knows to play to the locals whenever he does his monologues. When he comes to Toronto, he always talks about his love for the Degrassi Junior High, which is set on Toronto’s Degrassi Street (the street exists, but there’s no school on it). For the Tampanians, he told us that he wrote “half of Chasing Amy” here in Tampa for his then-girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams while visiting her when she was here shooting Second Noah.

He also talked about his friendship with Johnny Depp, whom he said considers himself a “failed Floridian musician”. Depp was enjoying some success with his Florida-based rock band, The Kids, when they decided to move to L.A.. The band didn’t do that well, but he went on some acting auditions and ended up having to leave the band to focus on a gig for a then-new show called 21 Jump Street.

Weird Al put on a great show last night and even broke out the accordion to play some of his hits from those heady Dr. Demento days in the 1980s, including Yoda. In all this time, I’d never seen Weird Al live before, and it was great to finally do so.

“Clean up on I-75!”

This happened not too far from Tampa when the driver was distracted by his dog. At the very least, we can take comfort in the fact that no good beer was lost:

crashed bud light truck

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Whoever designed these probably didn’t go there Fri, 14 Aug 2015 11:51:05 +0000

There’s always a chance that the designer was going for “ironically funny” and that the spelling mistake pictured below is intentional:


Otherwise, the manufacturer deserves to be haunted by the hepped-up-on-goofballs ghost of John Belushi…


…who most certainly wouldn’t let this sort of offense go without a response:

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