Saturday, January 31, 2004

Tall Tales Indeed

I went to see Big Fish last night and my friends were right: it was a movie that was made for a storyteller like myself.

Before the movie started, there were the obligatory previews for various movies and products, but there was one in particular that made me pause.

It was an interview with a Stuntman and he was talking about the perks and perils of his particular trade, how a movie is a collaboration of a multitude or hardworking folks, and then how downloading movies off the Internet was damaging to all the people involved. The ad was putting a human face to the evils of movie piracy.

Sure piracy is wrong, but it's nothing compared to the highway robbery inflicted upon the public when you slap 15 explosions together to a soundtrack, add a light sprinkling of some big name stars, and then charge 13$ a person for a movie that would get an F in film school. No money-back guarantee there, eh Gigli?

Personally, I don't download films mainly 'cause it takes too long and I don't want to exceed my download cap with my ISP. If I think a movie is quality, then I will gladly pay the 13$ for the movie and then later, the $40+ for the DVD. It's money well-spent.

But please Mr. Hollywood... Don't whine to me about how pirates are stealing your "art" when your bottom line was all that ever mattered in the first place. Spend more money on the story instead of the pyrotechnics and then maybe you'll be able to keep my $13.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Science of Steeping

In order to cut some extra sugar out of my diet, I've been putting my new tea set to good use. I picked up some Jasmine tea in Chinatown a month ago and it makes a fine tea.

Of course, it's all in the steeping. The Jasmine tea is loose and my tea pot has a strainer. I can only let it sit there for a 1 minute or so and then I must extract the strainer for a second steeping. Leaving the strainer in the water makes the tea waaaay too strong, enough to sending me into a wincing fit.

Delicious and healthy. It's the way to go.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Look

There's a moment that occurs between friends, friends that know each other really well. Each person has just had a thought, he knows that his friend has just had the same thought, both friends turn their heads at the same time, share "the look", and then turn back to the matter at hand in the next second. Nothing more needs to be said, nothing more needs to be done. But the "look" has just transmitted volumes of information.

I have to say that the contents of this "look" is usually not complementary. Someone will have said something stupid or intellectually dubious. The two friends share a look to mark the moment and then continue along their merry way. Maybe the two friends will talk about what had happened later, maybe not. But it's a great little moment between friends, that private little joke.

The most memorable look I had was with my cousin Aaron a few years back. We were down at the pub chatting with a friend's girlfriend to whom we had just been introduced. She was talking to Aaron about his girlfriend and what she was studying at the time.

When Aaron told her that his girlfriend was studying Biology and teaching part-time, the girl's eyes went wide and she said "Wow.... she's smart."

While she took a sip from her beer, Aaron and I shared the look. It took a second and nothing else was said.

Several hours later, after we all said our good-byes, Aaron and I were crossing the parking lot in silence. And then one of us (I don't remember who) looked up, smirked, and said "Wow.... she's smart. Hunghh... Fire bad!" And we fell apart in laughter.

That was almost 10 years ago and we still talk about that one every once in awhile.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Time to take some pics

Thanks be to Nika for finding this site: Photoblog!

I've setup my own site and I'm uploading a new pic every day or so. This might get me motivated to keep my digicam batteries charged up and take more pictures. I don't know the number of times I've cried out in exasperation "Y'see... THIS is why I should carry my digicam with me all the time!"

Although my digicam has been frustrating me lately. It takes great picture in the daytime, but not at night (the light adjustors aren't sensitive enough), and not in the cold (I've gotten blurry pictures).

In my new pad, I've got a large basement where I could potentially setup a darkroom. I took a photography class back in my university days and I used to develop and pint my own pictures (black and white). But when I moved away from my old neighborhood, I lost access to a darkroom (at a local community centre), and I dropped the hobby.

But with the latest advances in digital photography, I'm thinking I should just transfer the money needed for a darkroom to a really good digital camera. A camera that has all the manual doo-dads, but can also go automatic when I need it to. Armed with Paint Shop Pro, I can do all the effects I used to achieve with light exposure and photo chemicals.

And if I need to print the pictures, I just need to get some photopaper and run it through my inkjet.

And photophiles out there? Any thoughts on this?

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Marketing is Everything

What's with the spam I've been getting lately? What doesn't get picked up by my various filters, I have to delete it manually. So all I get is a glimpse of it's contents and into the trash it goes.

But the last few, I gotta wonder who is writing it. This is copied directly from the email I received.


Our 2 pcodruts will work for you!

1. #1 Spupelment aavilable! - Works!


2. *New* Enahncement Oil - Get hard in 60 seocnds! Amzaing!
Like no ohter oil you've seen.

the 2 prdoucts work gerat togteher

Like I want to trust my health to a company that can't even write their own marketing material properly. The odd typo here is and there is one thing, but this stuff looks like it's been written by the product's test subjects.

Okay, okay... I know it's misspelled on purpose so that the email can get by the spam filters, but it still amuses me.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

12 Monkeys: Jobs I've done...

Blork's into Monkeys. I never knew.
Nika into Monkeys because of Blork. THAT I suspected.

I'll say I'm Monkey-curious, so here's my entry for the Jobs I've Done:

- Technical Writer/Editor/Manager (my job for the last 10 years)
- Frameman for Bell Canada (this job is now computerized)
- Actor in a Murder-Mystery troupe (one of the few times I was paid for an acting job)
- Lunch supervisor at my old elementary school (something to get me out of the house when I moved back with my parents after University)
- Summer Camp Counsellor at the YMCA
- English Second Language teacher for adults
- English Second Language teacher for kids (Engliish Immersion summer camp)
- Bagboy at Provigo (lost that job after a week)
- Storyteller (I've done a few professional gigs)

Hmmm... not that many really. I've always been worried that I'm a one-trick pony. If techwriting didn't work out, I'm not sure what I'd do.

I've always thought I'd enjoy teaching kids at the elementary level, but not in the city system. Maybe a little school house in a rural area.... Yeah, that would be good.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Papa needs a new pair of boots

I haven't owned a pair of boots in about five years. I've always just worn my shoes everywhere I go and most of the time, it's not been a problem. In an unrelated vein, I also haven't owned a hair dryer (French pronunciation: "Hi aven't honed ha air dryer") in 15+ years, but that's another story...

Last Friday, I was heading home at 2 am after a few pints in my local pub. The city was still in the steely grip of the Deep Freeze, so the soles of my Doc Martins were frozen hard after about two minutes of walking on the hard snow. They might as well have been wooden planks for all the flexibility they were offering me.

I was walking gingerly along the sidewalk and its hard-pack snow when I suddenly flipped over.

Yes, flipped over. This wasn't a slow-motion slip with the wild windmilling of arms and gentle descent upon my bum and maybe an elbow or two. Both feet shot forward and then up and I landed on my shoulder blades, hard, knocking the breath from my body.

I lay there on the sidewalk, stunned and gasping for breath, but not really hurt. I was alone in the area, so no one rushed to my aid (although the thought of Copie Express boy did come to mind). Moaning, I picked myself up and made a mental note to walk down my street on the pavement rather than chancing it on the sidewalk. I usually do this anyways because the sidewalks on my street tend to slope slightly towards the street. I'm going to dislocate something eventually, I just know it.

Once I reached my street, I moved to the middle of the street and started walking down to my house. I kept an eye out for oncoming cars (it's a one-way street) while huddling down the street as quickly as I could. I figured that the pavement provide better purchase than the sidewalk did.

I was wrong.

I must've hit a patch of Black Ice, that insidious invisible element that plagues Quebec roads and highways. It is stealthy, it is sneaky, and it is beyond detection. This imperceptible patch of ice once again made me revaluate my relationship with the perpendicular. Before I knew what was happening, my feet shot out and then up, and once again I hit the pavement with my shoulder blades, hard, knocking the breath from my body, and smacking my head slightly on the road. Fortunately, my toque is quite thick on the brim and cushioned my noggin'.

I lay there, stunned, gasping, and moaning. I knew my position was way more precarious than before, being right in the middle of the road, but I needed to take stock of my situation before attempting another move.

Fortunately, the street was deserted. I was able to get up and continue making by way home, using baby steps. I need boots that can really grip the road. Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Interview Wit

I was chatting with my old school chum Lewis about interviews and all the ridiculous questions we get in them. I was surprised at some of the answers Lewis had given, especially when he decided in mid-interview that he didn't want to work for these boneheads after all.

Then we started coming up with all the answers we'd love to give but don't in the interests of monetary gain. Good for a therapeutic giggle.

Q: Describe your work ethic.
A1: Da. We work until communist party is strong again, comrade.
A2: Define "work ethic". Your words are strange to me.

Q: What is your best quality?
A1: I have the uncanny ability to hide my true feelings about a person when they ask me dumb questions. By the way, I think you are just the bees knees. Really.
A2: My best quality is that I strive to deliver the best product I can possibly produce. Of course, I'm never given enough time or resources to do that, so out comes my worst quality. Damn them for not recognizing my unbridled genius!

Q: What is your worst quality?
A1: My therapist says that I shouldn't live in the past, so I refuse to dredge up old incidents. We both need to move on. Next question please.
A2: When some moron won't let me to my job right, I develop this stabbing twitch in my right arm. Fortunately, I've channelled that murderous rage into the design, construction, and ritualistic burning of voodoo dolls. It appeases the growling voices. They are pleased.

Q: Why should we take you over the other candidates we are interviewing?
A1: I'm the only one wearing knickers. Want proof?
A2: I've had a look at the other candidates and frankly, they are not sexy enough. You'll have to deal with me everyday, so some sex appeal is needed. Do yourself a favour: hiring me will be good for morale.
A3: You are interviewing others?!? I feel so betrayed! I thought you *liked* me, you two-timing tramp!

Q: Describe a bad situation that happened at work and explain how you dealt with it.
A1: Five years ago, I found out that one of the team members was spreading rumours about me throughout the company, so I borrowed a page from Oscar Wilde who said "Revenge is a dish best served cold". (Q: So how did you deal with it?) *evil cackle* I'm just biding my time...
A2: I'll just say this: nothing ends an argument quite like swinging a board with a nail in it. I usually get my way in the end.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Mad Cow can lead to better Pet Health

I just saw a report on the news that stated that there could be a shortage on pet food due to the Mad Cow scare down south. One worker at a local pet shop said they had enough pet food for another week and then they would run out.

I usually use Medi-Cal cat food, which I can only get at the Vet, because it doesn't use animal by-products or 4D meat (diseased, dying, decayed, dead). But when I can, I try to make my own cat food or feed Newton chicken or turkey necks.

Chicken/Turkey necks are great cat and dog food. It's got meat and cartiledge, which is great for their teeth, and it's much closer to what Newton would eat in the wild (a more natural diet). To make it more complete, I would need to mix it with vegetable patties (click here for the recipee).

My friends always freak out when they see me feeding that to my cat, but I remind them that the acid in a cat's stomach is much stronger than ours, which is why cats don't need to cook their wild game before eating it. As for the cartilidge, this only becomes a problem when you cook them because it becomes too brittle and it'll splinter.

So if the city does run out of pet food due to the ban, don't be afraid to start looking for some real game to feed your pet. Turkey/Chicken necks are usually sold in packs of 4 and cost about 99 cents or so. You can also get a box of frozen chicken breasts, thaw one out, cut it up into smaller chunks, and serve it up raw for your pet.

I've been varying Newton's diet with a mixture of raw meat, canned food, and kibble for years. Anyone'll tell you he's a happy healthy kitty (including my vet).

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The Vacation is about to End


January is going to be heavy. Work is starting up again in an intensive kind of way and my extra-curriculars will be picking up steam again. The way things are going, it looks like St. Valentine's Day will be quiet this year and it's just as well: by February 14th, I'm going to need the night off.

I've got training all this week at the client site, which can mean only one horrible, terrible thing: I'm going to be fully-clothed by 9 am.


Thursday, January 01, 2004

Here we go again

Happy New Calendar Year everyone. I hope to see you all soon.