Tuesday, August 31, 2004

PC Patience

Maybe I'm not built to work in retail. Dealing with the public brings you into contact witht he lowest common denominator more often than not, and they can ask you the dumbest questions. I was chatting with someone who works in a local New Age shop and she was telling me about a woman who said "I was performing this ritual and after I lit my incense stick, I noticed that the stick got smaller and smaller and then it went out! Did I do something wrong?" or "I want my money back. This Book of Shadows doesn't work! Where's the magical writing that is supposed to appear whenever I open it?"


My family is a bit of the same way with computers. My parents bought an HP Pavillion a few years back (it's one of those combo computers you can buy at Bureau en Gros (Staples)) and it works only so-so, mainly because it only came with 64 megs of RAM.

I have tried and tried to explain how the computer works to them, going from technical explanations to metaphorical demonstrations, but the workings of personal computing is just too abstract. I've even written out the instructions step-by-step, but of course, they don't read the instructions...

I try to be patient and answer all their questions, but sometimes I dread going home because of the barrage of questions being thrown at me over and over (some of them are re-runs). Here's a selection of some of my favorites:

"Can I feed this sheet of paper into the printer and then fax it to Ireland?" -- We have an HP Deskjet, not a fax.

"I burned a CD with my favorite MP3s. Why doesn't my CD Player play the CD now?" -- You guessed it: she doesn't have an MP3 CD Player.

"When I try to start Outlook to read my email, it crashes. Should I call Sympatico (the ISP) to complain that the Internet isn't working?"

"When I click on the thing and select the doojigger, nothing happens. Why? What am I doing wrong?" -- A direct quote from my mother and she wasn't pointing at anything at the time, but looked at me expectantly as if I would instantly know what she was talking about.

"What is that? I didn't put that there. What does it do? Why is it blinking? It annoys me." -- My family tends to install stuff without really knowing what it is or what it does. Consequently, IE has about 6 new toolbars on it and when we connect to the Internet, 1700 pop-ups clutter the screen. I installed and ran Ad-Aware to look for spy-ware and found that there were over 700 spy-ware programs running on the PC. No wonder the hard disk chugged so much everytime we got connected.

Fortunately, my family tends to use the PC to get email and do some light surfing of the Web, so they are far from power users. But they so want to be Power Users, kinda like men wanting to be mechanics so that they can change their own oil and sparkplugs.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Honestly Patriotic... Now with a List!

I must thank Tal for this (missed you at KG buddy!), but I wish to dedicate it to The Admiral because he thinks he can be an honorary Canadian if he incorporates the word Aboot as much as possible. Sorry mate, but you watch too much South Park.

I can personally relate to most of these except for numbers 12 (I don't brag about Celine), 13 (I didn't know that), 19 (I was never in grade 12), and 24 (obviously not, being a Quebecker). I really relate to numbers 9, 10, 11, and 18.

Please let me know how many you do or do not relate.

You Know You're From Canada When...
  1. You're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk."
  2. You understand the phrase, "Could you pass me a serviette, I just dropped my poutine, on the chesterfield."
  3. You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.
  4. You drink pop, not soda.
  5. You know what a Mickey and 2-4 mean.
  6. You don't care about the fuss with Cuba. It's a cheap place to go for your holidays, with good cigars.
  7. You know that a pike is a type of fish, not part of a highway.
  8. You drive on a highway, not a freeway.
  9. You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.
  10. You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group.
  11. You get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.
  12. You brag to Americans that: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion and many more are Canadians.
  13. You know that the C.E.O. of American Airlines is a Canadian!
  14. You know what a touque is.
  15. You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced "Zed" not "Zee".
  16. You understand the Labatt Blue commercials.
  17. You know how to pronounce and spell "Saskatchewan."
  18. You perk up when you hear the theme song from "Hockey Night in Canada."
  19. You were in grade 12, not the 12th grade.
  20. "Eh?" is a very important part of your vocabulary and more polite than, "Huh?"
  21. Winter. Whenever you want it. And then some.
  22. There's German food, Italian food, Chinese food, Armenian food, American food, but NO Canadian food.
  23. You don't call a "mouse" a "moose".
  24. You like the Americans a little because they don't want Quebec either.
  25. Contests run by anyone other than the government have "skill-testing questions" that winners must answer correctly before they can claim a prize.
  26. Everything is labelled in English and French.
  27. Milk comes in plastic bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.
  28. Mountain Dew has no caffeine.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Only Children of the 80's will Get This

This certainly has been a year for losing people who have marked generations. The voice behind Gloria has faded away.

I didn't catch the opening ceremonies, but the closing ceremonies for the Games were certainly spectacular. I really must make a point of catching the Winter Games in Whistler in two years.

I'm sorry I didn't catch the marathon race where that crazed priest attacked the race leader. What an ass. At least the runner was talented enough to get back into the race and win the bronze, but he certainly deserved his own gold medal. Olympic athletes shouldn't have to spend half their concentration on wondering who is going to jump out from the crowd to assault them.

Go Canada Go!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Scum Scam Call

I got the weirdest call yesterday. Recently, I applied for a Mastercard from my bank and I still hadn't heard back from them. Then yesterday, I get a call from a fast talker offering me a Mastercard. At first, I was confused, thinking that it was my bank calling me, but in the stumbling, rambling diatribe that came out of the phone, I realized it wasn't my bank but MBNA.

This guy was trying to be smooth, but I was left with the mental image of this guy trying to juggle 4 open cans of paint while rollerblading on the road. You've seen the potholes in this city, you know that crazy windmilling will be involved and it's far from graceful.

Here's what the conversation was like:

Him: Hello Mr. Hoobbes. IamcallingfromMBNA and I have your pre-approved credit card ready for shipping. I just need some final details from you.

Me: Wha--? Who are you?

Him: How do you spell your name Mr. Hoobbes?

Me: Er-- H-O-B-B-E-S. Hobbes. But what--?

Him: Ah! Hobbes! My mistake Mr. Hobbes. We'll just fill out the rest of this application and you'll have your new Mastercard card in no time.

Me: Who are you? Where are you calling from?

Him: MBNA. How long have you been living at this address?

Me: Er-- Since December. Listen... Are you with the Bank? What's MBNA?

Him: MBNA are the people who have selected you to benefit from this great Mastercard! How much rent do you pay?

Me: Wait wait... I don't feel comfortable giving you all this information over the phone. Just send me the application form and I'll fill it out and send it back to you.

Him: No no Mr. Hoobbes. That's not how we do things now. We are very modern here. You give me the information over the phone and I'll fill out your application. It's much faster.

Me: But I don't feel comfortable giving my personal information over the phone like this. Can't you just send me the application form?

Him: Sir... We can't send you the application form, because we do this by phone now. I have my computer and a headset and we sit in a new Call Center. Very modern. We can't be retyping all your information into our database! That would take too long!

Me: (amused) Are you doing this for free?

Him: What?

Me: Are you getting paid for doing this job? If so, you can still make your money by retyping my appliation form into your computers, 'cause I'm not giving you my info over the phone.

Him: Ah well then sir, you won't be able to take advantage of this great one-time offer. Goodbye.

Me: Wait wait... First you say that you can't wait to send me this card, but because I'm cautious in this age of identity theft and phone scams, I no longer qualify?

Him: Uh--- Um--- How much rent do you pay?

Me: I've taken note of your phone number and now I'm calling the cops. If this is a scam, you'd better start looking for new work in robbing little old ladies.

Him: But Mr. Hooobes! This is a great honour to be selected for a Master--*CLICK*

It turns out, the call was probably legit. I called MBNA today and they said that they had a phone drive on yesterday to get new customers, but the customer rep I spoke to said that the guy should've offer to send me the application form or told me about the website.

I instantly get suspicious of any salesguy who speaks too quickly and gives me short answers before asking more questions.

It's a big scary world. Take care.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Dark Corridors and my BFG

Note: The Nav bar that appears at the top of the blog allows you to search for stuff in my blog. Yay!

I finally got a hold of D3 yesterday. We were supposed to go downtown for some illicit drinking, but we never got the call we were waiting for. The others went to watch a Woody Allen flick while I locked myself in a dark room and loaded D3 up.

The industry has come up with a graphics card that can handle D3 yet, but it's still very playable and creepy. One thing I love about it is that the corners are shrouded in shadow that is completely black until you shine your flashlight onto it. A couple of times, I looked into a shadowy hallway and was surprised to see two glowing eyes turn and look at me.

The great thing about Half-Life was there weren't always critters hidden in the shadows. You'd be walking down a corridor rather confidently and then... Yikes! Some critter with teeth in the nastiest places would jump out at you.

In D3, it gets a bit predictable because almost every shadow and corridor has some kind of deformed critter in it. Granted, they are creepy and grotesque critters, but they seem to be having some kind of discussion just before you show up. I am reminded of a recent posting in Penny Arcade (The Other Side strip).

Do you think that means I won't purchase my own copy of D3? Are you kidding me?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Look out Leonard Cohen... Westmount has arrived (again)

You don't really expect me NOT to have this in my CD collection? How could I possibly resist? Thanks Bill for letting me know that my train has arrived.

And thanks to Lightspeedchick, I can now fold a shirt (it took a few tries).

Today has been very edumacational. And I still have two appointments to meet which involve scraping my teeth and poking at my eyes.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

City of Gold didn't Make the Money

On my travels yesterday, I picked up a VHS copy of The Road to El Dorado (read the overly Christian Review). This wasn't a huge hit for Dreamworks, but the story of the making of El Dorado is history-worthy in the world of animation.

I've searched for an article about this on the web, but I can't find anything about it. When this movie was being made, I was working at Toon Boom, so I was a bit more plugged in to what was going on in the animation world.

It seems in the making of this movie, Dreamworks had to go through three to six directors (I thought it was six, but the movie credits only list three (unless the other three took the Allan Smithee route)). When you watch this movie (which I think is alot of fun despite the obvious problems), you can almost spot it to the second on when the director will change. The behaviour patterns of Miguel and Tulio seem to morph from time to time, reflecting the changing of the directorial style. It's interesting to watch.

This movie is really not meant for children since it does contain some pretty bad stereotypes and a few pretty adult scenes. Rent it if you get a chance, but watch it after the kids go to bed.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I, Robot

Yep, I went to see it last night. I'm not a Asimov fan, so I have no real understanding on how this movie is nothing like the book (but then again, I understand that movies are not books, and movie screens cannot compare to your own imagination)..

That being said, I thought it was a fun movie to watch. Ye Gods... It's Will Smith. That should be enough for you to know that the movie isn't going to be hugely thought-provoking. Although I think Smith is a great actor and I'd like to see him do something a bit more dramatic (like Robin Williams did in Awakening and Dead Poet's Society).

When the ads for I, Robot came out, I didn't realize it was Asimov-inspired (or suggested, as the credits say). My first thought was that it was an extension of the Matrix storyline (check out The Second Renaissance Part I at the Animatrix). I have the Animatrix on DVD and the more I watch it, the more it makes me think of I, Robot.

Anyways, if you haven't read Asimov and won't be distracted by how much this movie isn't Asimov, go see it. It's fun.

(PS: I need to make a point of blogging everyday. I realize it's been a week or so, but I'm trying to spend as little time in front of this PC as I can in the summer.)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

List Time and Telemarketing Scams

Nathalie over at I'd Like To Fly has the best telemarketing story I've ready in awhile. I usually know how to deal with telemarketers, but I've never had anyone call me up asking for my banking account number. If it ever happens, I'll be reading from this script.

And now for tee list. Feel free to copy and paste to your own blog:

Last Cigarette:: don't smoke
Last Alcoholic Drink:: Alexander Keiths (bottled)
Last Car Ride:: about 12 hours ago when Maggie offered to pick-up Ms. Carrote and bring her to a late-night game of Cranium with friends.
Last Kiss:: about 10 minutes ago
Last Good Cry:: I can't remember the last time
Last Library Book checked out:: That's way too long ago. The last book I perused at the MPRC was Jewish Folktales
Last movie Seen in Theatres:: Spider-man 2 (blah)
Last Book Read:: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm
Last Movie Rented:: Radioland Murders
Last Cuss Word Uttered:: Fuck, repeatedly
Last Beverage Drank:: Lady Grey tea with brown sugar
Last Food Consumed:: French toast with Maple Syrup and Velveeta
Last Crush:: Ms. Carrote
Last Phone Call:: To Ms. Carrote saying we were on our way over to get her and could she pack all the beer in the house into a box?
Last TV Show Watched:: a very fuzzy W5 (I need to get my cable reconnected)
Last Time Showered:: yesterday at 10 am
Last Shoes Worn:: sneakers
Last CD Played:: Oddly enough, it was my own self-published story CD, but before that, It was Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham by Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet.
Last Item Bought:: Haagen Daas Ice Cream: Vanilla, Caramel, Brownie
Last Download:: X-Men Evolution: Cajun Spice episode
Last Annoyance:: a group of friends who couldn't be quiet enough to let the baby sleep (not my baby)
Last Disappointment:: A client who has decided not to continue with the contract (dammit)
Last Soda Drank:: President's Choice Club Soda
Last Thing Written:: this blog entry
Last Sleep:: from 2am to 9am
Last Weird Encounter:: a man who spotted my pentacle asked me if I knew any gnostic groups still operating in Montreal
Last Ice Cream Eaten: Haagen Daas Ice Cream: Vanilla, Caramel, Brownie
Last Time Amused:: When we realized that The Rear Admiral was trying to rearrange the wrong word on the Cranium card to come up with Free Trade Agreement (he was fixated on the word HINT).
Last Time Hugged:: about 13 hours ago
Last Time Scolded:: about 10 hours ago
Last Time Resentful:: i plead the 5th
Last Chair Sat In:: my office chair
Last Underwear Worn:: the grey boxer shorts
Last Bra Worn:: this one does not apply (yet)
Last Shirt Worn:: my green Rayon shirt
Last Webpage Visited:: Before I'd Like to Fly, I was checking to see if there was a new episode of Breakup Girl. Sadly, there wasn't.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Let's Go Over This Again...

After talking to a few people over the last few days, I feel compelled to go over this again. Pens at the ready? Is the water warm enough? Then let's begin.
  1. When dating someone new, never diss the ex, even if he/she has the worst things to say about the ex, don't join in on it. Just listen and nod your head, but don't add your own two bits.

    Why? Because your new beau spent sometime with this person and felt something for them at one time, so if you start saying bad things about the ex, your beau will have a knee-jerk reaction and actually start defending the ex.

    It's illogical, but it's there, so don't go there.

  2. This is related to Point #1, but try not to talk about your ex to your new beau as much as possible. Good or bad, if you're talking about your ex, this tells your new beau that you haven't gotten over him/her yet and will send up warning flags.

    If you must talk about your ex (because after all, that person was a significant part of your life at one point), keep it short and focus on the event rather than your ex. And afterwards, shower your beau with compliments (don't go crazy) to show him/her that you're so happy to be in this new relationship.

  3. When your new beau asks you questions about you, answer truthfully and with some passion, but don't go on for too long. And somewhere in there, find something to ask your new beau about. These conversations should be a dialogue, not two sets of monologues.

    If you're not aware of this now, it can become an instinctive thing, but it's a good start to just be aware of how long you prattle on for (said the long-winded guy with the blog).

  4. The whole money thing can be confusing, especially since so many guys are taught that we're supposed to pay and then the girls get miffed because they perceive this as being a statement against the weaker sex.

    So on the first few dates, go dutch. Each of you pays his/her own way, or if you feel it's going well, buy each other stuff on an altering basis (I'll buy the movie if you pick up the popcorn). Be reasonable about it, but don't nickel-and-dime it to death. It's the gesture that counts.

    And anyways, it's a good habit to get into 'cause it helps you both feel like your contributing your part as the relationship grows.

  5. There is no point #5, but there's just something so damned sexy about having 5 points in a list.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Net Maturity

Some people cannot take criticism of any kind, especially when they know they screwed up.

But for some reason, it's worse when it's written down. I'm on a dozen or so elists on various topics and for various organizations and when it comes to using good judgement on when to use the Send button, most people screw up at least once.

The biggest list I've joined is TechWR-L (with 4000+ members) . I regularly sign on and off of it whenever I need something (it generates about 100 messages a day). And when I sign on, I usually get involved in some thread, say the wrong thing, and get booted off the list, all within the first month of my membership. When I acknowledge my error, the moderator lets me back on. It's that simple.

But my point is that we do screw up. We break Net Etiquette all the time: sometimes it's because we don't think fast enough before we click the Send button, sometimes our passions get the better of us. What's important is that we acknowledge the mistake and learn from it.

Too often, I'll see some elist member (usually someone who has contributed quite positively) make a mistake, get called on it by the moderator, and then leave the list in a huff. As if they are above such things and the perfect revenge is to deny the elist of their pearls of wisdom.

Dude... You're not leading hunger strike against an unjust government. It's an elist, fer Gods sake! Relax! There are more important things in life to get upset about.

Net Maturity is getting better, pixel by pixel over the last ten years or so. It's just amazing how long it takes common courtesy and sense to translate over to the electronic world.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Sarongs and Bare Feet

I just got back from a four-day pagan festival (KG) in Ontariariario and I needed a couple of days to recover from it. Quite honestly, I didn't want to come back to civilization; there's just something about being able to wear a sarong, walk around in your barefeet, and not be rushing here and there.

This was my second time at KG and already people were recognizing me from last year. It's nice to hear someone say "Oh yes... I remember you. You're Hobbes the storyteller!" I was camped out with the folks from WIPA and they took very good care of me, including a touching show of support when I performed in the Saturday night Bardic (a pagan talent show). They offered plates of chocolate and a bottle of chocolate/mint mead to the judges, hoping to sway their favour towards me. It didn't win me the Bardic, but it gave me a huge boost of confidence when I told my story.

I attended a few workshops and rituals, but I didn't want to be running anywhere. It was relaxing to just head off to see friends, go for a dip in the pond, or hang out at the campsite. I even got to play with some Legos with the KG kids (albeit with a bit of a hangover from the previous night of fire-dancing).

I don't know what it was like in your part of the world, but the Quebec/Ontario region was hit with a bone-chilling rain storm. Parts of the campsite were flooded in no time (including my tent, which forced me to sleep in the car) and it put a bit of a damper on the activities and the people, but we kept right on festing.

Some people were more depressed than others, but this is the price you pay for being closer to nature. You can't take the sun without the rain.

One of my favourite parts of the fest was a Norse Sauna ritual we did Saturday morning. Auz had a small, six-person sauna tent set up near the pond and led a Norse ritual, complete with some Norse mythology. The ritual was very enlightening (it cast a surprising light on a part of my life I need to work on) and the runs from the sauna to the pond and back again were surpisingly refreshing.

Of course, there were the nightly drumming circles around the bonfire and moonlit walks along the beach (we were blessed with a full/blue moon).

Update: I almost forgot to mention (thanks Erin!) that I finally got to do some storytelling for the KG kids. I was supposed to tell tales at a camp-out last year, but just like this year, the night of the camp-out was rained-out. Fortunately this year, the camp-out was rescheduled to Sunday night, so I was able to do it this year (although it meant we had to leave a bit later than expected, but it was still worth it).

I want to give a big shout-out to the folks from the Inner Light coven ('specially Moonlynx, Nathalie, Sandee, Patrick, Luc, and Willow) who filled my evenings with laughter, Belladonna juice, and good company. Loved festing with you folks!

But for now, back to the real world.... *sigh*

Monday, August 02, 2004

Unpacking and Great Reviews

I just got back from KG last night and have started to unpack slowly. I'll have more to say about it later, but all that rain we got on Friday/Saturday was even more unpleasant than you may have believed. My tent got so flooded, I was able to open it as a water park with slides and dolphin shows. Friday night, I slept in the car.

I just noticed that the Fringe guys have put up all the Buzz we received from the show, so here's what people were saying about us during the Fringe:

  • Great show. Great storytellers. Go see it. Kids too.
  • Bright-eyed and optimistic. Our two storytellers dish up a load of beans and blarney.
  • Great stories! Take your kids!
  • A wonderfully charming, funny and engaging show! Great for kids and adults! See it!
  • **** Wonderful, entrancing and well-told. Hilarious.
  • Great concepts. Fresh ideas.
  • A funny, whimsical storytelling show. The two tellers draw in their audience. Well worth seeing!
  • Great show. Go and see it. Great storytellers. Yea!
  • I really liked this show a lot. I recommend these Jack tales storytelling to everyone. I would like to see more storytelling shows & more Dylan & Dave telling. Bravo. Thanks.
  • Great show - funny - good for kids, too (school age). Go see it.
  • Very fun storytelling. Must see. Don't miss this shows. Jack Goes A-Wanderin' for older kids, too.
Nice to know. Now... time to do the laundry.