Thursday, July 31, 2003

Has the Matrix taught us nothing?

My love of gadgetry and my disdain of housework has found a new love: Roomba: the robot that cleans.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Summer Hiatus

I'm finding that with the summer sun and all this time on my hands, I'm finding less and less to blog about. Oh, I'll exclaim every couple of days "I'm blogging that!", but when I get home I can't remember the juicy bit of insight I captured earlier that day. I need to carry a notepad about with me.

Thanks to the generousity of Anastasia, I was able to spend a couple of days in the Laurentians and spend some quality time with the pine trees. We collected some crabapples and then found a cluster of horses to feed them to. I always forget how enormous those beasts are! Beautiful creatures though...

They each had distinct personalities. One of them followed us around constantly once he saw we had the apples. Another was more aloof and waited for us to appoach. Anastasia warned me of another who was a bit of a bully and might try to headbutt me if I didn't do as he expected. I avoided that one.

We then continued on through the woods, enjoying the quiet and serenity of it all. We found some rapids (which I very nearly took a suddenly dive into unexpectedly. Damn slippery rocks...) and then made our way back home.

That night we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean (with Johnny Dep). If you want to see a swashbuckling romp, go see it on the big screen. It's fun, funny, great SFX, and the battle scenes (both sword and ship) are definitely worth the price of admission.

Anyhoo... I'll be blogging a bit less nowadays, but I hope you'll stayed tuned. Have a good summer!

Friday, July 25, 2003

Sneaky Ma Bell

I just got off the phone with one of Ma Bell's evil minions and if it wasn't for the fact that I was paying attention, I would've had almost 10-15 dollars of extra services added to my bill and they didn't even ask if I wanted them!

The boy who called me asked a few questions and then said "Starting Monday, you will be benefitting from services X, Y, and Z for free for two months and after that you will be paying for them."

"Whoa whoa there," I interjected. "I don't want these services, free or otherwise. I don't want you to add anything to my bill."

"But sir," he replied perkily. "They'll be free. Don't you like free stuff? In two months, you can call us back and cancel them if you like and if you forget, we'll be calling you anyways in three months and so you can just cancel them then and you'll only have paid once." I'll bet that makes alot of sense in Ma Bell's Customer Service Brain Re-wiring Centre.

"No. I don't want to be bothered. No extra services. No charges. Nothing."

"But sir, if you get Call Waiting, you'll never have to miss a call. If a caller doesn't leave a message, you'll never know they'll call back." Call Waiting... the bane of my existence. I've had people put me on Call Waiting for so long that I just hang up and let them call me back. I refuse to submit others to that annoyance.

"If my friends don't want to leave me a message, they can just call me back. I don't want that service..."

He didn't even miss a beat. "Very well sir. Bell Canada values the quality of their customer support, so I would now like you to evaluate this call. Did you find it helpful?" Helpful? I had to defend myself against the telephonic hoardes for five minutes and he thinks it might have been helpful?

"No, I didn't find it helpful," I replied, just as perkily. "You assumed I wanted all these services when really, you should be asking me if I want them."

"But 90% of our subscribers, after we explain the services and how great they are, say yes to the subscription," he spluttered. "Assuming you want them just saves time."

"Are you getting paid to call me?"

"Er... yes. Of course I am."

"Then whose time is getting wasted here, yours or mine?"


"And I'm the jerk in that other 10% that doesn't want the services," I continued, fuelled by my own indignation. "No free stuff. Not now. Not ever. I don't care what your statistics think about my needs."

"Very well sir. You won't be benefitting from our free services. Good-bye." *click*

I was shocked... That was damn aggressive and more so that I'm used to from Bell Canada. Imagine if I was slightly meeker and afraid to ask quesitons... That boy could've added over $15 worth of services to my bill and I'd still be spinning in my seat.

Hard to believe I come from an old Bell Canada family (my Dad worked for Bell for over 40 years and I worked for Bell for over 2 years).

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

My date with Antonio Sabato Jr.

Having read Nick's foray into the dating world, I'm suddenly taken by the memories of bad dates from days gone by. I'm still dating now (at 34 years old... sheesh. It's a whole different world), and it ain't getting any better. Now I have to add children, divorce, and exes still hanging around. I never should've returned that Russian Mail-Order Bride. Her tank-piloting skills may have come in handy...

Anyhoo... When I first arrived in Montreal ever so long ago, I decided that a good way to meet people (before I discovered the pub scene) was to try a Phone Dating Service. Through this service, I started chatting with Debbie, a girl studying to be a ambulance-type medic (I'm sure they have some term for that, but it escapes me).

One day, after two weeks of chatting on the phone, Debbie phones me up to invite me to the car show that was taking place at Palais des Congres near Old Montreal. I heartily agree and offer to come pick her up in my badass Honda Civic Wagon. Oh... how I miss that car.

This was the first time Debbie and I met in person and I must say, what a cutie! Petite, long curly brown hair, and a charming smile. This was shaping up to be a good first date.

We walk around a quarter of the showroom floor, checking out the cars and the booth babes, when we come upon a stage in the corner of the room. We were in the middle of a conversation when Debbie suddenly breaks away, makes a beeline for the sign, checks her watch, and then attaches herself to a guardrail that is closest to the stage. Puzzled, I look at the sign.

Antonio Sabato Jr.
will be appearing in the Montreal Auto Show
at 4 pm
to sign autographs and answer questions.
Don't miss it!

I checked my watch: it was 1 pm. "You're not really going to stand here for three hours, are you?" I nudged her, taking her arm. "He's not showing up until 4 pm!"

"I don't want to miss him," she replied, gripping the guardrail tighter. "I want him to look at me. You go ahead and check out the rest of the showroom if you'd like. I'm staying here."

I tried to stick around for a bit, but conversation becomes limited when your date becomes starry-eyed and trying to develop X-ray vision so that she can look through the stage for Mr. Sabato Jr. I decided to walk around the rest of the showroom to check the cars out, but the thrill of the day had diminished somewhat now that my date had opted for an afternoon stakeout.

Trying to kill time until 4 pm, I finally had checked out every car in the lot before returning to Debbie at 3 pm. Her fingers were starting to press into the metal in her anticipation. By now, a small crowd of eager women were starting to assemble, complete with a line-up to the autograph booth.

Looking around quickly, I noticed I was the only guy in the area. Though this concept sounds good on paper, it's difficult to appreciate the feminine beauty around you when they all have their necks cocked at 45 degrees, looking at an empty stage.

Finally, after an hour of waiting, Antonio Sabato Jr. appeared on the stage and a series of estrogen bombs went off in a flurry of squeals and coiffed hair. Debbie was using her beloved guardrail to propel herself upwards in a mad attempt to get closer, hoping Antonio might somehow notice her. He stood there with a smirk and a wave, signing autographs and shining that million dollar smile at the crowd.

"Okay," I leaned into Debbie, trying to catch her eye. "He's here, you've seen him. Can we go?"

"No!" she cried, climbing up on the guardrail, trying to stand out amongst the 40 other screaming women behind her. "I want him to look at me! Antonio! Over here!!" She waved her arms frantically, like a woman drowning in a kiddie pool.

I had had enough, but thanks to some left-over chivalry (which has never served me that well), I figured I couldn't leave here without Debbie since she had invited me and I had driven her here. Yeah, yeah... I know.

So I realized that if I wanted to leave, I would have to orchestrate this glance somehow, but how do I get Antonio to look over here with all these screaming ladies already vying for his attention? I decided that I had to throw in a new variable, something he wouldn't expect.

So I started shouting in my own St. Leonard Italian accent "Yo! Tony! It's me... George! Where's that 50 bucks you owe, eh? Yo! Tony.... Over here!"

You may laugh, but it worked. Startled, Antonio looked over to me, but since Debbie was standing in front of me, she thought he was looking at her. I grinned, shrugged my shoulders, and pointed down at Debbie, rolling my eyes. Antonio chuckled and gave me a thumbs up. He understood... we had just shared a guy moment right then and there, and then it was gone.

Debbie went wild and turned to me. There were tears in her eyes, "Did you see that? He looked at me and laughed!"

"Great Debbie... you got what you wanted, so can we go now?"

"No..." No? "I want him to look at me again!"

That's it, I thought. He won't fall for that again. I'm so outta here. I picked up my bag and started making my way to the front door. Halfway across the room, Debbie joined me. On the way home, she apologized for her behaviour and promised to make it up to me.

I never heard from her again. Or Tony, for that matter. But what about my 50 bucks?

Saturday, July 19, 2003

I'll have an Order of the Phoenix with a side dish of Skrewts

I just finished Order of the Phoenix and I fear that, with all the hype surrounding the Harry Potter franchise, Mrs. Rowling may be losing her focus. It's not a bad story, but it takes forever for the story to really get rolling.

This won't give anything away, but I find the story finally starts picking up speed when they meet Lockhart, but that's half-way through this tome. If I were the editor on this book, I could've removed about a quarter to almost half of the book and the story could've stayed intact (and might have even been better).

Mrs. Rowling has always said that this series would be seven books, no more, no less. However, I'm sure that Warner Bros. will find some loopholes in her contract to produce such timeless classics as:

Harry Potter and the Chamber Pot of Secretions
Harry Potter and the Dirty Old Wizard Who Followed Him at the Mall
Harry Potter and the Night of the Undead Elvis Impersonators
Harry Potter and the Mexican Gulag
Harry Potter and the Dursley's Disappearance
Harry Potter and the Attack of the Clones
Harry Potter and the Night That Went Horribly Horribly Wrong
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Forest of Pleasure
Harry Potter and the Wonderful Therapist Who Really Loves Me
Harry Potter and the Christians That Can't Read
Harry Potter and the Copyright Lawyers from Voldemort
Harry Potter and the Summer That Was Pleasantly Uneventful
Harry Potter and the World's Worst Drivers Caught on Tape
Harry Potter and the Host of the Juno Awards
Harry Potter and the Order of the Fluffy Bunnies

Any others come to mind?

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The things I get in the email...




British Constitution
Passive-aggressive disorder


Thanks, but I don't want to have sex
Nope, no more booze for me I'll just have a Perrier
Sorry, but you're not really my type
Good evening officer, you're doing a great job
Oh, I just couldn't, no one wants to hear me sing
No, I don't want curry sauce with that
Yes I would like you to help me walk

Monday, July 14, 2003

'puter Blues/Weekend Round-up

The home computer's on the fritz, so it's in the shop for this week. Drat. I'll try to keep up with my blogging duties by begging, borrowing, and stealing time from other computers. There are a few topics I've been meaning to cover on this blog... In the meantime, here's an interesting article I found on Harry Potter's home being for sale.

I just had yet another installment of Live Action Role Playing (LARP) at the Domaine du Createur. With a subtlety that has now made her (in)famous, Miranda blessed my character with The Gift of Nosferatu, turning me into a blood-sucker, which lasted for all of Saturday night/Sunday morning.

There's a great shot of me growling and hissing, looking absolutely evil beyond belief, but it'll have to wait until the computer is fixed up again. Drat.

At the end of the game, I came thiiiiiiiisss close to winning Best Roleplay for my bloodsucker character. I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever decide to create another character to act out. And a big hug and kiss to Janice and Apricot for giving me sparring lessons. They really helped in my combat situations!

Although the game ran a bit slow at times, there were many really cools scenarios, characters, and costumes running about. But there were several key people missing this weekend and we all noticed it. Come back to us!

I'm bruised, I'm sore, but it was loads of fun.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

A Child's Logic is Rock-Candy Solid

I was out taking in the sights and sounds of the Jazz festival with Sasha and her son Paddy (about 8 years old) last week, specifically the kids show that took place in Complexe Desjardins. The humour was definitely kid-oriented, but the music was top-notch.

As we left, I took out my box of Gobstoppers (a Willy Wonka confection) and offered one to Sasha and Paddy. Paddy's eyes lit up at the prospect of candy and he jumped up and down in anticipation. Every 2 minutes, Paddy and would take the Gobstopper out to see the latest color change. Eventually it dissolved to powdery goodness.

As soon as his was done, Paddy turned to me and asked for another. "I can't," I explained. "I gave you my last one."

Oooooh... that didn't sit well with Paddy. He crossed his arms, put on his best pouting face, and pulled down his cap. He began walking with giant steps, pounding the pavement with every step.

"Paddy," I bent down to look at him, "It's not that I don't want to give you any... the box is empty, see? I shared my last one with you." I pulled the box out and shook it.

He pouted for a few more minutes, but I could see the gears grinding away inside his noggin. Then he propped up his cap, but on his best salesman smile and announced "I've got an idea!"

"Really?" I replied.

"Yep! This is what we can do," he wrung his hands together in anticipation of his grand plan. "You can buy me a box of Gobstoppers and I'll give you one."

"Let me get this straight... *I'll* buy you a box of candy, and you'll give me *one*?"

"Yep," Paddy grinned in satisfaction. He believed his plan was foolproof, but he wasn't prepared for the quality of fool he was dealing with.

"But what's in it for me?"

Paddy blinked and looked blank. Why was this fool not getting it? He took my hand and repeated his plan slowly so I would get it this time: "You go to the store and buy a box of Gobstoppers, give it to me, and I'll give you one.... Okay, how about this: I'll give you two. How about that?"

He smiled up at me, confident that now I would understand and sweet Gobstoppery goodness was on its way. Sure, he would have to give up two bits of candy, but these small sacrifices are necessary to achieve the greater good, especially when dealing with henchmen.

"Tell you what," I replied, smiling at Sasha who watched this whole exchange with bemusement. "How about I buy you a box of Gobstoppers and you buy me a box. And then we can give each other two. Does that sound better?"

Paddy threw up his hands in exasperation. This plan was spiraling quickly out of control. "No, no, no, no! I can't afford to buy candy. All my money is in the bank and I need to save it for when I grow up. Your idea doesn't work for me."

"Paddy... why would I buy you a box of candy so I can only get two? Where's my benefit?"

Paddy straightened his cap, planted his feet down, and prepared to make his stand. "You just don't get it. This isn't about you. It's about me."

And that was it. The whole horrible truth, being succinctly delivered to me by a pint-sized Angel of Truth. Standing there on Ste. Catherine street, surround by Jazz emanations and holding an empty box of Gobstoppers, I was gobsmacked by the reality of it all.

I need to buy more gobstoppers. Life is just too interesting.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Just One Cloudy Day

Okay... so I've spent the last week building a nest in my apartment. I had clothes strewn everywhere, my kayaking stuff still in bags, and the dishes were just not getting done.

And tufts of cat hair are on tour from room to room. Like tumbleweeds.

I had such plans... such plans for this week. But it's depressing to clean house when it's so nice out there.

Just give me one cloudy/rainy day to get my house chores done. Please?

Thursday, July 03, 2003


Pardon the silence, but I've been recovering from a plethora of events, some pleasant and some not so pleasant.

I know what I'm doing!About the kayaking weekend, this was my second time white water kayaking and both times was with H20 Adventures. I can't say enough good things about this company. They treated us exceptionally well, their instructors are bright, positive, and motivating. It took a little practice and coaching, but I eventually remembered the techniques I had picked up from the last time I went.

If you'll recall, I was in an exceptional amount of pain after my first day. I realize now that this was due to the fact that immediately after getting out of the kayaks at the end of the first day, we hopped into a car and drove for 1.5 hours (without stretching). At the end of that, our muscles clenched up and hurt something awful.

But this time, we went for a swim after the day's kayaking, we walked around, took a nap, did some stretches. The next morning, although my joints were a bit stiff, there was virtually no pain! Yay! It made the second day much more enjoyable.

I'll probably be going back in August (July is already booked!), but I won't do the course again. It's pretty cheap when you don't take the course (with camping, food, and equipment included), so I'll just be going up to practice my Eskimo roll and get into the rapids.