Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Seemingly Random Thought Process

I'm really trying to get back to the writing guys, I really am.

I started the year strong, and then it sort of tapered off. Then my real life work stepped up to the plate and said "Oh, did you want to play? I don't think so, back to the dungeon! You have a 2 o'clock whipping with burning poison ivy scheduled, and you wouldn't want to be late."

Thankfully, the job that pays the bills has become less of a hassle. Mentally, I'm still just coming back around to it though. It's funny how draining something like that can be.

The biggest challenge that I'm facing right now is that there are things that I REALLY want to write about that I can't for a variety of reasons. Don't get me wrong, if I was a journalist I wouldn't hesitate to publish it. And it's not like I'm exactly a closed book when it comes to my life - witness the poem I wrote for my sister's birthday.

But there are things that I won't write about because it affects people other than me. Like, for example, I'm not going to write about my friend who has been working as a contractor for a company for several years, always with a "maybe we'll be able to hire you full time next year" hanging over his head. I won't write that story because it could affect his livelihood, and if it affects his livelihood then it will certainly affect mine (i.e. when he hunts me down for affecting his livelihood). So I'll just say that if that situation were to theoretically happen to a good friend of mine, it would theoretically quite suck.

Also, it's not a very funny story. Theoretically.

Speaking of work stuff though: I had a couple of interesting moments in my job.

I was talking to a guy on the phone when in the middle of the conversation he asks me to say my name again.

Oh boy, this again.

I've been through this conversation about a thousand times and have written about it before. So I repeated my name.
Him: "What was your name again?"
Me: "Weh-Ming."
Him: "Weh-Ming? That sounds Asian."
Me: "Thank you?"
Him: "I'm just saying you don't sound like it."
Awkwardness ensued.
Why am I bringing this up? Because I have an incredibly racist theory. If I was to change the 'Ming' to a "deshon", would I get the same questions?
Him: "What was your name again?"
Me: "Wehdeshon."
Him: "Wehdeshon? That sounds..."
Me: "What? It sounds like what?"
I say it's an incredibly racist theory for two reasons: first, because I think it's true. And second, because I chose a name ending that sounds like the ending of a name that a certain group of people would choose to use. You know who I'm talking about. Those people.

Of course, I'm talking about people who are given made up names.

Out of curiousity, I did a google search of names that landed me on a site that tells you how popular a name is by year. Neither Deshon or DeShawn were in the top 1000 in the last hundred years. When presented with an option to graph the popularity of a name, OF COURSE I put in my name.

This is the response I received:
"Did you mean: whamming, whelming, whimming?"
Yes. Yes, those names are exactly what I meant.
"Mom, Dad. I want you to meet my fiance, Whelming. He's exactly average in every way shape and form."
And how about this great pick up? (Thanks to Scott for this!)
"Hey baby, how would you like to be over Whelming tonight?"
"Meh, I was under Whelming before."
"It's so true. Bitch."

The other interesting moment at work I had didn't involve me at all, but is a great political statement if ever I heard one. There I was, minding my own business, doing whatever it is that I do, and I start to overhear a conversation that is happening a few rows down from me.

I should mention that I work in a cubicle environment. A low-wall cubicle environment. In the evening, when most of the staff have left, sound carries. Not that this particular - completely unrelated to my job - group ever needs the environment to be silent for their conversations to be heard. I would say that I wasn't so much eaves-dropping as I was being eaves-carpet-bombed.

Now, for purposes that I shall call "legal", I shan't go into the details of the intense discussion that took place. I will simply say that there was some a task that needed to be completed on a particular day and none of the people that were trained on said task would be available to do it. It's a pretty common scenario in the world. Notice I said 'world' and not 'business world', because there comes a point in your life when you realize that stuff happens.

I won't bore you with the details of what was said by who. Suffice it to say that it was rather involved and went on far longer than I think it should have. I was chatting with a coworker through the magic of instant messaging about the ridiculousness of what I was hearing, when he wrote something that made me LOL. It was one of those rare instances when something that was said online actually translated into honest to goodness laughter in the real world, instead of just a slight increase of breathing out through the nose.

Immediately, upon hearing my laughter, the conversation stopped. It was at this point that I realized they did not know I was there. Despite the low walls and my total lack of stealth, they had somehow missed me sitting a few rows away. The argument that had taken more than twenty minutes of their lives away from them was resolved within minutes of my laughing.

Just like happens with politics sometimes, nothing gets done until somebody is paying attention.
Whoa, that got deep. What's that all about?

Here's a picture of a brain fart I found on Reddit.

There, that's better.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Sister

I have written the following poem for my sister.

Just to set the record straight, this isn't going to be one of your fancy rhyming poems.  I'm not up to that level yet.  And you can tell it's a poem because of all the semicolons and the margins are all wibbly-wobbly.

I have done this for two reasons:  first, I need to try to write outside my comfort zone as an exercise.  Second, it is her birthday and I cannot afford to send her things like wine or balloons or a card.  Okay, I could probably pull off the card, but her birthday was yesterday, and it's not like I can afford a time travelling card now can I?

So instead, dear sister, I offer you the following tribute (get your tissues ready, cause you're totally going to cry):

Happy Birthday to My Sister
-A Poem By Weh-Ming 

For all the times that you still wanted to hang out with me,
Despite me telling you distinctly "No, you can't come with us.";

For all the times that you tagged along when I finally relented,
But only if you agreed to pay my way too;

For all the insanely bad movies that you watched with me,
Thus warping your mind and imagination forever;

For all the weird music that I introduced you to,
No wait, I'm actually pretty proud of that;

But for all the times that I did what I wanted to
While you had to stay inside and practice the piano;

For all the really crappy presents that I've given you over the years,
Including a box of notebooks and pencils (but not this way awesome poem);

For all the times that I dated your friends,
Which, although this only happened with one of your friends, I totally would have done it more often if I had been given the opportunity because you had some pretty cool friends that were also cute;

For all of these reasons, I want to wish you a happy birthday,
And let you know that the world is a better place because of you.

And also thank you for not telling everyone that I used to make you hang out with me in the bathroom
Because I was afraid to poop by myself when I was a kid.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's it take to trace a phone number these days?

A while ago, I was watching the cinematic masterpiece that is Die Hard: With a Vengeance, and it made me think of something.  But then I forgot what it was.  Gripping tale so far, right?

Last week, I watched an episode of Fringe (I am not a fan of Fringe, but it's something that I can watch while not paying attention) and an episode of The Mentalist and it brought back all those memories about what it was that I forgot that I was wondering about earlier.

What does it take to trace a phone call these days?

There's always a guy with a metal briefcase filled with what I suspect are an oscilloscope, a few knobs and switches, and a map.  But we live in a world of caller ID and Google.  Reverse phone number searches are practically routine - I do them whenever we get a number that we don't recognize.  And while I'm usually only able to get the city that the number is from (and yes, I know that this can be spoofed), how much harder can it be to get the address?

In all shows and movies, there's always a suspenseful scene in which the Phone Call Trace Technician says "Keep him on the line as long as possible."  Therein follows a back and forth between the kidnapper/terrorist/thief/murderer/telemarketing victim during which we cut back and forth on the banter between the callers and the PCTT who says things like "thirty more seconds" and "ten more seconds" and "no good, we lost him". 

Ultimately, phone tracing never works and when it does it's only as a red herring.  The police/FBI/CIA/KGB/Tom Cruise break down the door of the suspect backed up by most of the military forces of whatever country it's happening in, only to discover that the phone line was jimmied (I don't get to use the word 'jimmied' a lot, and I'm not sure I've used it properly here, but I feel I deserve credit for getting it in) and the real criminals are laughing at them through telephoto lenses set up on the other side of the street and streaming the video to their underground lair/space station/website offering hot live police action 24 hours a day XXX.  

I have a theory. 

Tracing phones probably doesn't take any time at all. I'm betting that if the authorities ever did need to trace back a phone call, it could be done in a matter of moments - even while the call was ringing.  I think that the reason that the whole "phone trace scene" is always played out like it is is because they don't want us to know this.  That they would prefer that criminals think that they have sixty seconds before they have to hang up or get caught. 

Oh, did I mention that I also watched Conspiracy Theory too?  It's a good movie.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Science is... Wonderful

It is no secret that I'm a big fan of science.

I don't play the "If you could live in any other time" game.  Science is an amazing, wonderful thing and I salute the people that discover new and incredible things every day.

The best part about writing about how awesome science is in this format is that nobody can dispute me.  Literally, not one single person who reads my blog can say to me "science is a terrible thing".  Why?  Because no matter what argument is made, I can always respond with "how did you read it without science?"

Okay, yes, there are things that science gets used for that aren't great.  But overalll, I'm still a big fan.

Big, big fan.

Go future!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to All My American Friends

It's Thanksgiving in the US today.  A magical time of the year for shopping and watching handegg on TV.  I think there's a parade involved too, but I can't be sure.  And also eating a lot of food.

At the risk of offending my dear friends to the south (it isn't wise to offend people who have a lot of guns, that's just one of the many rules that I believe have allowed me to achieve the happy and healthy and extra-hole-free lifestyle that I have become accustomed to), I am thankful that our Thanksgiving was a month ago.  

A November Thanksgiving is just too darn close to Christmas, which means that you only have a month to gear up for another giant turkey dinner.  It's just too soon.

Our Black Friday/Thanksgiving Thursday/Mauve Wednesday shopping experience included getting a new front door.  We bought it a while ago, it just didn't get installed until today.  It looks really awesome, though compared to the flowery design with gold trim door we had before, anything would look pretty good.

We also bought some groceries.  I don't mean to put any Thanksgiving feasts to shame here, but there are fajitas, a meatloaf, and quite possibly some meatballs in our near future.  Not at all once, that would be insanity.  Or...would it? 

Speaking of food, I discovered something interesting that I wasn't aware of.  Gatorade tastes pretty good!  I've only ever had it when I was really sick, so my impression of it has always been less than awesome.  Now that I know this, I'm ready to start my exercise and body building regime.  Mah ha ha ha... I couldn't even type that with a straight face.

Anyway, Happy American Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just Thinking About Parents...

A question that someone posted on Reddit got me thinking:

I remember this rule, and it got me thinking, so I responded.  Then, remembering how fickle the internet can be sometimes, I realized that there was a very good possibility that what I had written would disappear into the void.  So here it is:
This was the standard rule in our house, and I plan on doing it with our kids too.

The way that my mother described it was that if we were at school we wouldn't be allowed to play video games or watch TV, so we couldn't do it while we were home during school time either. On the other hand, we were allowed to read whatever books we wanted - but they had to be books, not comics - because we would be reading in school.

I do remember feeling a personal sense of triumph when I successfully argued that I should be allowed to watch He-Man at lunchtime, because my normal schedule was to come home for lunch and watch it.

The upshot of it was that we learned that if we were going to stay home from school, it wasn't going to be a fun time. If we were genuinely sick, then it didn't matter that we couldn't play video games or watch tv, we were too busy throwing up or sleeping.

Other rules that seemed to make no sense but ended up being awesome:

  • Homework had to be done by Saturday night. - While this was initially a religious thing (no work on the sabbath), and it was a giant pain for us because none of our friends did any homework until Sunday, it took away all of that Sunday night anxiety of rushing to get projects done/finish reading/write essays. It made Sunday's really relaxing, and meant that we could always watch whatever movie was playing on the Wonderful World of Disney.
  • Sugar-free Tuesday and "Two cookies each": It is what it sounds like. No sugary treats on Tuesday. Worse thing ever: Halloween on a Monday or a Tuesday. Gah. The two cookie rule was also what it sounds like - we could have two cookies for dessert, no more. No amount of begging, pleading or attempted trickery would get us any additional dessert. These rules helped establish a respect for snacks and desserts - they were something special, they weren't good for you, and we had to share.
  • Birthday parties only happen on even-numbered birthdays - I should clarify that by this I mean only birthday parties with friends. On odd numbered birthdays, we would get a party but only with family. We were sad about the lost opportunity for additional presents, but having just attended my niece's sixth birthday party with something like 20 five to seven year olds (there may have only been six of them, but they sure sounded like three times that many), I completely understand the logic behind this now. Also, if we only invite a few kids (oh, we also had a maximum of like three friends at our parties), then that means that the parents of only three kids are probably inviting us to their parties - that alone probably saved my parents HUNDREDS of dollars in birthday presents.
  • No computer on Sunday - man, I nearly forgot about this one somehow. We didn't have an Atari or a Nintendo, we had a C64, and it rocked. But we weren't allowed to use it on Sundays. This forced us to play with other kids (gasp - real human interaction!) and even got us outside (horror of horrors). Man, I hated that rule, but it did help keep us active and build social skills. Not that it's kept any of us from spending all our lives staring at screens now that we're adults, but we at least have happy memories. 
I don't know your situation, or your parents' motivations, but generally speaking all parents want what is best for their kids. I'm guessing that your parents were more interested in making sure that you weren't just faking sick to stay home or to keep you from thinking that being sick meant all-day play time. Plus, despite all appearances, our parents had things that they had to do during the day when we were at school. Staying home to take care of a genuinely sick child is one thing, staying home to watch a child that just doesn't want to be in school is a whole different ball game.

Judging from your comment history, I can see that video games and personal electronics mean a lot to you. And by "a lot", I mean it looks like every reddit you've ever posted to/commented on is a gaming related one. Is it possible that your intense love of gaming is somehow colouring your perspective?

No offence meant, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of the crazy messed up stupid rules that our parents had for us growing up will make a lot of sense looking back on them. Also, you could just ask your mom why she did that. It's a great conversation starter, and helped me relate to and view my parents in a whole new way.

TL;DR - Parents usually have your best interests at heart, give them the benefit of the doubt and you'll find out some pretty surprising things.

Upshot of the story, be nice to your parents. They were doing the best that the could with you, and face it, you  were probably a little turd when you were a kid.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Never Thought It Could Happen To Me...

I have a confession to make.  Something that I'm not proud of, but I still do it regardless.

I make fun of people with high cell phone bills.

There, I said it.  It's out there.

It's not that I don't think that cell phones are necessary (they aren't) or that cell phone companies are greedy (they are), but the amount of money that people pour into their cell phones is, quite frankly, ridiculous.  Do you REALLY need to be in touch with everyone THAT badly that you're willing to shell out over a thousand bucks a year for it?

I have a theory: nobody is really that popular, but cell phone (and smart phone users especially) overcompensate to justify the amount of cash they shell out on a monthly basis for it.  Kind of like the first people to have a fax machine: nobody else had a fax machine, so you were pretty much just sending faxes to everyone you knew that had one just so you could justify having bought the darn thing.

I used to work in a customer care centre for a cell service.  All day, I would field calls from people calling to complain about their phone, the service, their bills.  Oh the bills.  People with phone bills in the thousands of dollars - and this was at the end of the 90's when thousands of dollars were worth something! - all because they couldn't stop themselves from being as popular as they thought they were.

It's definitely worse these days.  Now that we have text messaging and data plans, the opportunity to go overboard is much, much higher.  If the cost of the phone itself doesn't do you in, your monthly bill sure will.

Now that I've said all that, I should also admit that I have a smart phone.  I've been using cell phones for over a decade now, and I like having one.  Not because I'm so popular that I need to be connected all the time (I am) or because I'm made of money and feel like I can fritter away my future children's college funds (I can't, but I'm going to steer them toward community college or a technical school so they can get a trade and support us in our old age so I'm only looking at two years instead of four plus graduate school for something foolish like a major in Theatre Studies).  I just really like the convenience of not having to find a public phone whenever I want to make a call.  Also, "public" is one letter too close to a word that makes me giggle and feel uncomfortable with when standing in an enclosed space.

Because of my experience in handling irate customers who just can't understand how they could possibly have gone over their included minutes or text messages, when all they ever do is talk and type on the damn things all day, I have always been extra cautious with using the cell.  So much so that we eventually switched to a prepaid service because it was a fraction of the cost of having a contracted monthly plan.  (I've never been comfortable with that saying - a fraction of - because when you think about it, it could be a dollar cheaper and that's still a fraction of the original cost.  Think about that the next time you hear about government savings.)  In our case, the fraction was somewhere around 30% of what we were paying on a monthly plan, so it was a good fraction and I like good fractions.  Fraction.  Just wanted to see if I could use that word one more time.

We had saved so much money by having one prepaid phone that we got another.  Our bill doubled, and we were still ahead from where we would be if we were using a monthly plan on just one.  Go prepay!

And then the penny dropped.  And it took almost 10,000 of his friends with him.

The smartphone that I bought is an incredibly powerful piece of technology.  It blows me away when I look at it and realize that this is the stuff that Star Trek episodes are made of.  It's my favourite kind of technology to buy.  My phone would have been INSANELY powerful and crazy... five or six years ago. It would have blown the socks off of almost everything else on the market, and it probably would have cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars to buy.  It would have made more sense to sign up for the three year contract and get the phone for "free" than to try to purchase it outright.  But technology advances.  What was once huge and expensive becomes smaller and cheaper.  My phone is smaller than most of the phones you'll find out there today, but it also only cost $100.  For that amount, if something horrible happens to it, I can afford to replace it with something else with nothing more than a "aw, man, I can't believe I dropped my phone in the toilet!  Why would I do that?  I sure hope that I don't blog about this later..."

To set the record straight, I did not drop my phone in the toilet.

We have our prepay accounts set up so that when our balance reaches $5, it automatically hits our credit card and tops up the account.  This prevents us from having to track down prepay cards at stores and/or deal with an automated system all the time.  It's worked out well for us.

I did not pay any attention when I got the text message last week that my account had been topped up.  I never pay it much attention.  It's something that happens once a month, and it just means that I can keep using my phone like I've paid to.  Woo woo.

I didn't really pay any attention when I got another text message three days ago saying that my account was automatically topped up.  I sort of remembered getting one before, but I didn't really think about it that hard.

I continued to not pay attention when I received the top up text message two days ago.  "That's funny," I thought, "There must be something glitchy with my phone saying that this is a new text message."

Later that day, my feeling that there was something glitchy with the text messages was confirmed when I received yet another text thanking me for allowing them to remove money from my credit card.  "Ha ha," I thought "I shall think no more of this while I continue to sit here and knit and watch tv, for I know that I have not used my phone and therefore this is not something that needs my attention."

I did, however, pay attention when My Lovely Wife asked me "Weh, why has the credit card been charged four times for your phone?"  Then I was all action.  Checking my account, checking my phone, being all angry with customer care.

It turns out that something on my phone was using an active connection to the data network, beyond what my data plan gives me.  And boy oh boy, is it ever not cost efficient to go over your data plan on a prepay service.

I should clarify that when I said I was all angry with customer care, what I really meant was that I was angry and I was on the phone with customer care.  I like to think that I was that customer that the rep talks about with her co-workers later.
"So I ask how can I help you, and he said 'Oh, man, I really screwed up and I've gone over my data plan and I must have set something up on my phone to auto-connect or something and I wasn't paying attention and I know I went over my data plan so it sucks to be me, but can you help me turn off my data for now so I can figure this out?' And I say, sure, and I turn off his data so it won't charge him anymore, and I suggest he go in to one of our stores so they can show him how to use his phone, and he says 'I know where the store is and I'll head over there tomorrow.' And I ask if there's anything else he needs, and I'm totally sure he's going to complain about wanting credit or something so I have my speech all ready and he says 'nope, that's it, thank you.'  Seriously, he just got charged more in a week than he's paid in four months and he's thanking me!  And he had a really sexy voice and I bet his Lovely Wife is super happy that she married him and I wish I could meet a man like that someday.  Sigh."
It may not go exactly like that, but I'm pretty sure it did.

In conclusion, what I'm trying to say is that while I used to make fun of people with (what I would consider to be) outrageous phone bills because I thought I was better than they are, I am now going to make fun of those same people because I know I'm better than they are because I am one of them.  Not really one of them, because you know, those people will just never get it with their crazy iPhones and whackadoo bills every month. But still, it will be from a place of love and understanding.

Anyway, I'm off to run some errands which include getting a lesson in how to keep my cell phone from being a jerk to me and having lunch with My Lovely Wife.  Despite being really bad and racking up huge charges, she's still letting me take her to A&W for lunch today.  She's the best.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dear TLC

To Whom It May Concern:

Do you know who Philo Farnsworth is? Philo Farnsworth invented the television.  He is, therefore, indirectly responsible for everything that you watch (the medium is the message, and so on and so forth).  

If, through some incredible science fiction technological meddling, Philo Farnsworth was to be brought into the present day and given a tour of all that his miraculous invention has produced - news reports from around the world, Sesame Street, computers, medical advancements - he would probably call the whole thing off if some poor intern accidentally let him tune into TLC.

"What's this?"  He would ask in his old-timey voice.

"Oh, that's TLC."  The hapless intern would reply.


"Yeah, it's The Learning Channel."

There would be a long pause while Honey Boo Boo happened on the screen that he invented.

"Tell me," Philo would say at last, breaking the silence.  "Tell me: what exactly would someone learn from this?"

I'm not suggesting that all programming on every other network is better.  Remember when A&E was just World War II and Law & Order re-runs?  Or when MTV decided that what its viewers needed was less music?  You are not the first to lose your way, and you won't be the last.

But. and this is a pretty big but, so it's going to get its own paragraph before I continue with my thought in the next paragraph.

But you have LEARNING right in the name of your network.  It's right there.  In the middle.  A&E got around it by saying "well, we're about arts AND entertainment.  Technically, acting is an art, and Law & Order is entertaining, so..."  Even MTV can say "well, okay, no, we don't necessarily focus on the music itself anymore, but EVERY show we have has a theme song and then there's music playing in the background, and some of the commercials have jingles, so..."

I have a theory though.  A theory that helps me to understand why it has come to this.  It's amazing that nobody else has figured this out, but that's because you hid it right in plain site.  Your network is called The Learning Channel.  Up until now, we've all assumed that this is because we will all learn something when we watch it.  That's not the case though, is it?  It's not The Teaching Channel.  It's The Learning Channel. 

All this time that Discovery and PBS have been doing shows on advances in technology and the search for intelligent life and the creation of artificial intelligence... and it's right there in HD.  You've got some kind of Artificial Intelligence that has been learning over the years.  You started off high brow, with programs about home improvement and science and animals and nature.  Then gradually, it became about fashion and flipping houses.  Now it's about something that I don't know what it is, but I know that I get a headache watching it.  And yet, it keeps going, so I assume that people are watching it and advertisers are paying you to do it.

Shut it down.  Please.  For the love all that's right in the world, turn off the experiment!  It's not worth losing an entire generation for!

Either that, or may I suggest changing your call sign to TLCD (The Lowest Common Denominator)?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Live Reaction to Watching "Abduction"

Warning, this is going to include spoilers, but only if you think that there is a way that this movie could be ruined further.

9:40 AM

I'm home alone right now, so I'm doing what most guys do in that situation: I'm watching stuff on Netflix while knitting.  Cliche, I know, but what can I say?  I'm a manly man.

But my fingers need a bit of a rest and it turns out that at some point I picked up an extra stitch so I think maybe my mind wondered a little too far.  Which leaves me just watching Netflix.

The movie that I am watching right now is "Abduction" starring the werewolf guy from that movie and Snow White from that other movie.  I guess watching may have been too strong a word.  I'm about 20 minutes into it and I only sort of have an idea of what's going on.  I don't think I've missed anything too important.  It's still playing while I write this and so far the dialogue has been incredibly engaging.

For some reason that I don't understand and don't really care about, the guy and the girl have a love/hate relationship because they live across the street from each other and are in love but don't want to talk about it?  I don't know.  Could I care less?  Possibly, but only by not watching the rest of the movie.  And what does it say about you that you're reading about a bad movie?  It's like you're reading the novelization of it, and really, this is not a movie that needs a novelization.

I had to pause for a moment because both the laptop and the mouse battery were dying.  Laptop was easy to remedy, but why can I never find a working AA battery?  We have like 10 rechargeable batteries at any time, and none of them are ever charged.  You'd think that we'd have figured out the cause/effect relationship a long time ago, but nope.

Anyway, he just found a picture of himself as a kid on a missing children's website.  I think this is the plot, but I can't be sure.

I should probably mention that his friends are pretty stupid.  And poorly written.

They are doing a live chat or something on the website for the missing kids.  Surprisingly, people on the internet may not be who they say they are.  Thankfully, Internet searches are easily done with graphical interfaces.

Oh hey, it's the guy from the Girl Who Played with Fire movies I think.  He's a good actor.

His parents are the guy who has a hilarious interview about working with Jackie Chan on "The Tuxedo", and his mom is the hot mom from "A History of Violence".  Have you seen that movie?  It was really good.


His friends are still super stupid.  I wish I could live in this place, wherever it is.  Everyone has a iPads and Macs, designer clothes, and crazy huge houses.

And yet I'm supposed to believe that in this neighbourhood of multi-million dollar homes, his father fixes his own lawn mower.  Although, to be fair, "fix" means having it turned upside down and hitting it with a hammer.  How crazy is that?  Rich people fix their stuff the same way I do!


OH SNAP!  He just confronted Hot Mom with what he's found!

And I feel nothing.  Should this be a rather emotional sequence?  I'm pretty sure that she's acting with a cardboard cut out.


Action sequence!

Hot Mom kicks butt.

Girlfriend coincidentally gets involved.

Dad can fight too!  Not as well as Hot Mom, maybe, but he does kill a guy.  Go team family.

Oh, darn, his fake parents just got killed.

That may have been a spoiler.  Watch out.


I think he's supposed to be angry or sad about his parents getting killed.  I think I'll call this emotion sangry.

Big bomb explosion.  Like, way huge.  Bigger than you'd expect from the size of the bomb itself.

Yeah, the house is completely gone.  Thankfully, they made it into the pool before they could be killed.


Okay, so I think the guy from Girl Who Played with Fire is supposed to be the bad guy.

They are now on their way to the hospital cause girlfriend got ingjured.

And they just passed the slowest fire truck in the world.  Seriously, I don't think the guy driving the fire truck knows that when the lane is completely open in front of them and they have their sirens on that they're allowed to step on the gas.


Oh hey it's Doc Oc!  He's a CIA agent now apparently.

Ooooh man, the kid is trying to be a badass.  "Trust has to be earned."  Ooooh, he's badass.

And Sigourney Weaver- I forgot she was in this.  She's a doctor or something.  It was while I was knitting.  I guess she's here to help.


Car chase.  Oh, and Ripley is a CIA agent too.  And she's in trouble.

Oh, so many twists and turns.


Okay, this line doesn't make any sense.  Cardboard says "I need answers!"  And Ripley says "You've been looking for answers your whole life." or something like that.  I'm not rewinding it.  No he hasn't, he only just found out that he was abducted as a kid.  Maybe they're referring some way to him acting up in the past.  It has to be in the past, because he sure isn't acting now.

And yes, I may have paused the movie just so I could make that joke.


They are now going to get into the river and float away on a convenient bundle of branches.

Cardboard doesn't seem to care very much that she has fresh stitches from the hospital.

And now he's stealing stuff off clotheslines from campers.  Someone is going to be very sad that the quilt their grandmother made has been stolen.

Oh, I get it.  This was just so we could get the two of them cold and wet and under blankets.

Oh, nope, no nakedness. They just wake up spooning.  I guess this isn't a teenage sex comedy.  Though now that I think about it, there really isn't that much that would have to be changed to make it one.  His friends are stupid, the girl next door is really hot, they live in a really nice place where everyone is simultaneously on a sports team and good with computers...


Cripes this is bad.  Cardboard is pretending to cry now.  WAAAIT, that's it!  He's not a bad actor!  He's a not very good PRETENDER!

"Okay, Cardboard, in this scene, I want you to pretend that you're just waking up next to Hot Girl and instead of being a real boy and being all 'I just woke up next to this hotness! I need to take a pic on my phone!', you're going to pretend to cry.  And ACTION!"


He wants to send her home.  And it turns out that her parents are in Italy.  Further proof that this is Movieville.

And she's convinced Cardboard that he has to trust her, because they can only trust each other.


It turns out that his father is a Black Ops agent. I think.  Maybe.

Somebody mysterious just told Doc Oc CIA guy to get things under control.


Cardboard and Hot Girl just got picked up hitch-hiking... on the wrong side of the road.  In the middle of town.  By a truck driver.

Hot Girl:  Can you take us to Virginia?
Driver: Get in.

Seems legit.


CIA is going to go after all his friends now.  Good thing they're losers. Terribly acted, poorly characterized losers.

They arrive at the safe house.  Stopped to pick up groceries after getting dropped off by the truck driver who didn't kill them on the way.  He's really the unsung hero of this movie.

He found a picture of his mother.

He just figured out the safe house is his real father's place.

Hot Girl just called her uncle from the landline.  Cripes.  Nobody can be that stupid, can they? Way to compromise the safety of the place.  And completely disregard the "don't talk to anyone" message that Ripley gave them.

They found a nice car.

They're practically in the middle of a cemetery before Hot Girl realizes that the address is odd.

Cardboard is trying to be emotional about his dead mothers. Sorry, I mean he's pretending to be emotional about it.

Good thing that Hot Girl can use the power of Hotness on nerdy looking cemetery guy.

Hotness, the kryptonite of nerds everywhere.

They are CARRYING CELL PHONES. And NOW Cardboard is concerned about driving the car for too long?

Can we just talk about the cell phones for a moment? UGH.

Oh, great, stupid friend is here to save the day.

They got fake ID's and went to the train station.  Who takes trains in a getaway in the US?

They sprang for a private compartment.  And just made an allusion to "good thing it's only one night".  Teenagers on the train, on their own, in a private compartment.  There's probably going to be boobies coming up soon.

And she just asked if they were going to die.

Boobs are definitely coming up.

This is the part of the movie that my Mom will start reading the review at.  Great.

Phew, they're going to take a break to get something to eat.  She's going to go get some food and give a secret knock when she comes back.

Such a good plan to split up like that.

Wait, how is she paying for this?  What kid carries cash these days?  I haven't carried cash in forever, and I don't live in Movieville where money just comes out of the taps.

Who would have thought that her going to get food by herself could end poorly?

And now he gets concerned about her missing.

"Now pretend that you're walking down the hall to the room."


Cue fight sequence.

Hot Girl is all tied up, but is trying to escape I think.  She's somehow managed to break a glass by knocking to onto the carpeted floor of the train.

Meanwhile, Cardboard is beating the experienced bad guy by having flashbacks to his adopted father.

And he just kicked a train window.  I'm pretty sure that train windows don't break like that.  I've never done it, but I think they are probably made of plexiglass and aren't supposed to shatter into shards like that.

Hot Girl: Hold on, I need to take a breath!  (Pause for three seconds)  Okay, let's go.

Cardboard's trust can be earned with a burger and a milkshake apparently.

Here comes the exposition about what's going on.

I just realized that Cardboard is the male equivalent of Twilight girl.  He has one facial expression.

Bad guys are here.

Oh, dear, the bad guys may already be here and these are just different bad guys.

Oh, the cell phone is his father's phone.

But he stole the phone from the guy that attacked them on the train.  How can they be so stupid about their phones?  Doesn't everyone know that cell phones are pretty much designed to be tracked and used as bugs?


They just called him by another name that I don't remember them using before.

His really stupid friend is apparently incredibly loyal.  Whatever, they were just the tickets to the opening game that he was incredibly excited about earlier.  Just give em away.

His father just called.  Cardboard is apparently the son of Wood.

Bad Guy is looking for Cardboard in the stadium, is incredibly anxious to get the information he has, but stopped to buy popcorn along the way.  I'm sure the concession lines were very short ON OPENING DAY IN A PACKED STADIUM.

Wait, how'd he get a gun in here?

Oh thank goodness a phone call.  I have to walk away.

Since I've got the movie paused I thought I'd take a moment to thank everyone that's made this experience possible.

Thanks everyone.

There's only 16 minutes left, so here goes.

The Bad Guy just admitted to killing his birth mother.  That's pretty sad.

Again, how'd he get a gun in here?  They had to go through metal detectors.

Is Cardboard Canadian?  He keeps apologizing to people he bumps into as he runs away.

Why is he still carrying a cell phone?

His birth father just called him to give him the plan and now everything is going to be good.

I'm pretty sure that what he just did would result in security being called.  All over the place.

Another call!

Only 13 minutes left in the movie.  I'll take this moment to say that I think it would be a great twist if it turns out that the truck driver from back at 10:35 actually did kill them and this is just him imagining what things could have been like if they hadn't gotten in the truck.

I doubt it will be anything that cool though.

Okay, back into it.

Wait, there were hundreds of people around, then there were none, now there are hundreds again.

The Bad Guy is being arrested, but they still just let him walk around without handcuffs or anything.

His birth father is a better actor than this.  Sad.

"Now pretend that you just saw your father in the distance and he disappeared."

And Ripley came back!  She wasn't actually dead.  That's exciting news.

Oh, man, this is... boring.

Wait, they just missed the entire game?  It was still going on when they were outside... But the stadium people just let them hang out in the TOTALLY deserted grandstand?  What?

That movie was not very good.

I'm glad that you could be here with me for it.  Sort of.  If you actually read through this, I feel for you.

I'm not going to sit through the credits to see if they set this up for Abducted 2: Abducted Back To the Streets.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

...And That's How I Knew I Was Dreaming

The other night, I had one of those moments where you realize that you're dreaming while you're dreaming.

I was back in high school.  No, that's not what tipped me off.  I was back in high school, only it wasn't the high school that I went to, it was some sort of strange conglomeration of different schools that I'd been to, up to and including university.

Then there was this gang of bullies.  I knew they were bullies, you could tell just looking at them that these were a group of teenagers that were bent on just making things difficult for those around them.  Some of them had leather jackets, some of them had golf shirts with popped collars, some of them were jocks, some of them were those guys that hung out in the smoking area that you had to be 19 to get into but were still in grade 9.  Basically, a cross section of stereotypical people that have made me wish I had stuck with those karate lessons I started in my imagination when I was six.  A group of people that separately would make sense, but couldn't exist together.  This, too, did not tip me off that I was dreaming.

Then something bad started happening.  Someone, or something, was picking off the gang of bullies one by one.  Every time they'd come by, there'd be one fewer of them and the remaining ones were beginning to look more and more stressed out.  They started acting out more, trying to seem tougher than they really were, while at the same time they were scared out of their minds that one of the people that they were picking on was actually the person that was...well, I can't say for sure that they were being killed, but they were definitely being removed.  Still, made perfect dream logic to me, so this was okay as well.

It got pretty cool after it came to light that the bullies were disappearing because that's when Willow showed up.  You know, Willow.  The character from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.  She was there to investigate what was happening and, I imagine, report back to Buffy as to what kind of evil it was that was plaguing us.  She was pretty cool, but distracted, which was understandable because she was rather busy trying to pick up clues and detect who the culprit (or culprits! Dah dah DAAAAAH) was.  Were.  Was/were.  And that didn't do the trick either.  It made total sense for Willow to be here.  I mean, Buffy would be off fighting, I don't know, the main bad guy or something.  I think I was happy that we got Willow and not the slightly more goofy if not much less effective Xander to help us out.

It was around this point that one of the popped collar golf shirt bullies had had enough.  He jumped up on the pool table (did I mention there was a pool table in the hallway/classroom that I was standing in?) and challenged the mysterious entity that was hunting them down to come out and face him.  He was pretty ripped, he had these huge muscles and stuff, so I was pretty sure that there was no way that he was going to survive this.  The fact that I was seeing him do this from his perspective?  No dream clues there.  I always inhabit other people's bodies during times of intense anger and/or frustration.  Or at least I did here.  Apparently.

Suddenly, he was knocked to the floor by a mysterious rush of shadows and air.  He got up and there was a flurry of arms and legs and dodging and bobbing and weaving with this shadowy creature thing.  The creature thing - yes, just your every day run of the mill creature thing that happens so often that you don't even think twice about it not possibly being real - kept coming at him, but you had to give it to that douchebag bully, he was fighting back.  For some reason, maybe it sensed defeat or maybe it was just playing with its food, it disappeared.  One moment it was there, the next it was gone.  Disappearing monsters?  Nope, still happily ignorant of my dream state.

The bully was out of breath, but pretty stoked about having beaten the monster.  He was flexing his muscles and bragging about how awesome a fight it was, and that we didn't need Willow here because he'd beaten the monster.  Then he leaned over to me and whispered "Do you know why I could beat the monster?"  And then he stood up straight and started flexing his overly-muscled arms and shouted "Because I used Aikido-lasers!  That's right!  I had my arms shot with Aikido-lasers, so that's why I'm so great at it!  Go Aikido-lasers!"

Aikido.  Lasers.

AAaaaaannd that's when I realised I was in a dream.

Aikido lasers.  Come on.  That's just ridiculous.  Who's would believe that?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Locked out

Nothing puts your life into perspective like getting locked out of your home.
Oh, I'm sure some would argue that there are bigger things to worry about. Like our friends who are interested the middle of giving birth to their first child. They probably have a slightly different perspective on my current situation. Something akin to "ha ha" , "who cares", "why are you texting us this now", and "we don't care we are having a baby right now and are very selfish and uncaring about our friends".
In other words, my friends are jerks.
But they do put up with me on a regular and personal basis, so I have to cut them some slack.
To recap, I'm still locked out of the house.
My neighbor is walking his dog. I would say hi, but that would take me away from you my precious precious readers. There are only about five of you now, and I need to make sure that you know everything I'm going through.
Thank god I decided to use the bathroom before going out. The nachos we had for supper are starting to talk to me though. At least there's a pleasant breeze to carry away the... Never mind.
Still on my porch. My Lovely Wife is still at the mall. Getting a little cramped in this position. Better move around a little.
I wish I had the remote. I can see my tv. I wish that app I downloaded to use my phone as a remote had worked. But it didn't. So there's that. Or not, I suppose.
The cats are looking at me funny. As though to say "just claw at the door and cry until someone lets you in dummy." I hate my cats sometimes. So smug. With their eyes and fur and scratchy tongues and their insidedness.
No word from friends having baby, but I'm keeping everyone in the loop with this post. Who's the bigger jerk?
Yay! Robyn's home! Hope she lets me in... And good luck to my imminently expecting friends. ;-)

Edit: 10:31 PM - Welcome to Baby Colquhoun!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Hi everyone.

I know, I know, you're as surprised as I am that I'm still alive, right?  Stupid real world with its stupid real day job that brings in steady paychecks... Someday, I'm going to punch it in the face.  But not today for two reasons:

  1. We did not win the lottery last night.
  2. I would like to continue receiving paychecks, and I don't have it in me to pull a Fight Club.
So, how are you?  Everything going all right?  What have you been up to?  Really?  Twice?  I admit I'm shocked, I didn't know you had it in you...  Well, congratulations and I hope it doesn't get infected.

A few months ago, I received an email from out of the blue (blue being the colour scheme of my GMail account) from a nice lady who wanted to know if I would be willing to sing a release that would allow a nice man to use my snowblower ad in a book.  Being the unabashed popularity whore, I immediately said yes cautious sort of person that I am, I only agreed after I knew how it was going to be used.  And also only if I could get a copy of the book so I could show my mom that I'm in a book and it's a real book by a real person and I didn't have to pay to be in it and also that people like me.  Still working on that last part.

The book arrived this week!  And it's real!  And I'm in it!  And it's TWO books in one!  

"The Book of Business Awesome" and "The Book of Business UnAwesome" by UnMarketing guru Scott Stratten, is a darned good read.  It's one of those rare books that tricks you into learning something while being entertained. It won't take you long to understand why I like his style either - there's a particularly good section on RoboCop.  

The first book is all about the little and big things that businesses can and should do to stand out from the crowd. There are lots of examples of how potentially bad situations are turned around and made into amazing opportunities. And, without giving away any spoilers, Chapter 38 is a masterpiece.

Flip the book over and read all about the big and little things that business shouldn't do or risk standing out from the crowd...for the wrong reasons.  While I enjoyed the first book, there is something delightfully horrible about this section. It's like watching a really obnoxious drunk at a wedding reception falling over, in slow motion, into a pile of dog poo.  Can you call it schadenfreude if you aren't personally involved?  

Either way, both sides are educational and easy to digest.  Scott Stratten is a big name in the world of marketing (and he's Canadian to boot!), so check it out.  If you're not in the mood for shelling out cash for the book or going to your local library for a copy, check out his website or his twitter.  He's a funny guy and he works hard for the money (so you better treat him right).

In more personal news, I have started a job that will have some demands on my time but will not swallow my soul.  That is a pretty big deal.  I'm enjoying work for the first time in a while; it's amazing how much having an opportunity to do little side projects makes me such a gruntled worker.  I like being gruntled.  It gives me satisfaction.

Here's to hoping for a nice, long, new string of creativity!  If' I've ignored you for a while, please know that it wasn't your fault.  Although, if you had been paying me lots of money I wouldn't have had to keep my day job.  So, in a way, it kind of is your fault.  Collectively, not individually.  Unless you are an individual that could have been giving me loads of cash, in which case we should totally hang out because I think you are the bees knees and I'd love to have a chance to get to know you better...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good News America - Your Children Are Safe Now

Your children will continue to be safe from this great menace, this harbinger of doom, this wolf in chocolate sheep's clothing... The dreaded Kinder Egg.

According to this CBC report from July 18, two men were detained at the border for attempting to bring Kinder Eggs home for friends and family.  Yes, Kinder Eggs.

At the risk of getting all political, really?

In lighter news, we are officially on vacation!  Let the good times roll!

And even better?  When I come back from vacation, I'm starting my new role at work in a different building, which is going to take some getting used to.  Officially, my last day on this job was Thursday as I had Friday off.  Unfortunately, My Lovely Wife did not.  For the last three years, we've worked in buildings next door to each other, so when I drove her to work my autopilot kicked in and I started to turn into my building's parking lot.

"Oops! I forgot I'm off today! ...And I don't work in this building anymore!"

It's going to take some time to get that one straight.

I'll try to do some blogging from the road.  This is the start of a happy week for us!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nerding Out

This weekend has been very special for a variety of reasons.

First, we bought some plants.  Two different varieties of roses actually.  These roses will be part of what will eventually be the new flower bed in front of our house.  That new flower bed is phase one of the general landscaping that we're finally getting done.  It's been, oh, five or six years since we last had to dig the house up, so I think it'll be fine to do now.

Secondly, we really nerded out.  Like, full on nerd raged out.  Since Saturday morning, we've watched about fourteen episodes of Doctor Who.

I was a pretty big fan of Doctor Who when I was a kid.  Wait, no, let me correct myself.  Like most people my age, I was a pretty big fan of Tom Baker as Doctor Who.  He was the first Doctor I saw, and all Doctors were to be judged by how well they wore an impossibly long scarf and how many offers of Jelly Babies they made to strange monsters made out of paper mache, rubber hose and spray paint.

When I was about twelve, I made a special trip to the United States just so I could have a chance to visit the travelling Doctor Who museum (I'm pretty sure it was sponsored by PBS).  Do not let the fact that I grew up on the border and said journey to the Kings parking lot across the street from the McDonald's only took about twenty minutes to complete take away from the scope of what happened.  I met K9.  I almost touched a real Sonic Screwdriver.  I saw a Dalek.

There were pictures and labels and everything you'd expect from a real museum, only this one was somehow better because it was full of stuff I was really interested in, and yet also worse because it was in the back of a trailer.  And it was in Calais, Maine.  At the risk of possibly losing literally one, maybe even two of my nearly faithful readers, nothing good happens in Calais, Maine.  There's an old story about how St. Stephen was going to change its name to Dover in honour of the whole Calais-Dover relationship between England and France.  I like to imagine that there was a heated debate to discuss the proposal, that lasted long into the night, and then the janitor came in and said "that's a really dumb idea" and then the entire council got really quiet and by mutual unspoken agreement, everyone decided to pretend it never happened and went home to their families and were happy about how much they didn't live in Calais, Maine.

But it's not like I have strong feelings about it or anything.

I was quite excited about watching the new Doctor Who series when it came out, but I was also suspicious.  The Doctors after Tom Baker were not really my cup of tea.  And also, they were made by a BBC that gave it exactly enough budget that they had to reuse the tapes for each new show - and thus almost all of the earliest episodes are completely gone.  We ended up watching a few episodes, but then life got in the way and we stopped watching it.  We did watch a few episodes out of sequence that friends and family told us were amazing, but otherwise we left it alone.

This weekend, we started to catch up.  Words cannot adequately describe the emotions I feel when, at the end of each episode they play the "in the next episode" teaser, My Lovely Wife says "let's watch another".  It was after midnight and we were still watching.  My goodness, I love her.

In other good news for me and for the masses of you, I am moving to a new/old position at work, starting July 16.  This is very good news for me, because this job has been rather taxing on my creativity reserves.  I remember a time when I used to think how nice it would be to at least have the option of working paid overtime... Fingers crossed, in a few weeks, I'll be back to my regular thrice weekly updates!

Friday, June 29, 2012

You Like Contests? Of Course You Do.

Waaaaay back in time, back in an age when things were simpler, My Lovely Wife and I won a contest.  It was 2002, the last palindromic year we'd have for another century.  Sure, we were all still trying to understand why things weren't getting that much better with Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, but there was still a sense that everything would come together in the end with the last Star Wars movie that was already being made.

Yes, a simpler time.

My Lovely Wife entered a contest after buying a toothbrush, and low and behold, we won a week in Whistler, BC!  It was an awesome vacation.

Fast forward a few more years, and this time I entered a contest after buying some VH Honey Garlic Sauce.  Boom, won a week in Los Angeles, CA.  That was also an awesome vacation.

What do these things have in common?  That's right, I quit my job just before taking them.  But that's not what I was going for here.  No, I'm referring to the fact that we entered contests.

My Lovely Wife and I are contest enterers (holy cow, that's a word!  I thought I was making it up to be cute, but no. The world is an amazing place...).  We go through phases where we'll enter every contest we see, and then we slack off, then we repeat.  It's just a thing we do.

Why am I bringing all this up now?

Because it looks like Dara isn't the only creative person in that relationship.

The Talented Mr. Fox has created a website to bring people who enter contests together into a community.  If you like contests, I highly recommend it.  You can submit contests that you've found to the site so others can enter, and sort through contests that other people have submitted to find ones that you're eligible for.  And when you do win something (because OF COURSE you're going to win, it's inevitable!) you can share the story of your win with others.  He's even set up awards, so even if you go through a dry spell and don't win anything for a while you can still keep that feeling that you're getting somewhere.

Oh, and he's also got some actual prizes for members - so just by being a member you're already in a contest!

Check it out at www.winnersunited.com, and give Mr. Fox some love.  The site is just starting, so this is your chance to get in and create a community!  You know like what it must have been like when Mr. Main built his house on a road in what would eventually become your home town and said "I'm going to name this street after me"?  Well, that's what it'll be like for you.  And maybe you can win some stuff too.  I like winning, you like winning, who doesn't like winning?  

Why are you still reading this?  Go on now.  Skidaddle.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


The last month at work has been... busy.

On the upside, my next pay will have something close to a million dollars worth of overtime on it.  Or, at least, that's how it feels.

After many late nights and many weekends, the big deadline for what we were doing was Thursday morning.  And wouldn't you know it?  It actually all paid off.  Everything was pretty darn okay as a matter of fact.  Thankfully, what happened next happened next instead of before.  Because if what happened next happened before this would be a different story.

I didn't sleep very well on Wednesday night, so I was going into Thursday feeling off.  Chalked it up to work stress and getting stuff done.  So when I started to feel less than stellar after lunch, I assumed it was just me coming down off of all the stress and nerves.  Kind of like back in school when I would push through exams, and then get that kind of weird hollow feeling when it was all over.  Though, come to think of it, that hollow feeling may have just been my brain releasing all that knowledge that I'd been building up as I wouldn't need it anymore.  Stupid quadratic equations, I'll show you!

At 4, I had a bit of acid reflux.  I bought some Tums, which helped, but didn't really make it all better.  I practically ran to the bathroom when we got home.  It was kind of like getting all the side effects of lactose intolerance without the deliciousness of ice cream first.  Robyn went to the store and I fell asleep on the couch around 5:15 or so.  I got up later and had a small amount of soup, which did not go well.  Went back to sleep.  Then I got up to go to work, because it was Friday.

Again, I figured that my upset stomach and insane fatigue was a result of coming down off of work stress.  The grogginess I was feeling on Friday morning was probably just because I had overslept, pushing my internal clock off balance again.  Stomach was still pretty rough, but I'd felt worse, so I went to work.

I made it all the way to lunch.  I know that because I went to the lunchroom with a co-worker, took two bites of a delicious pork chop My Lovely Wife had made for me that I couldn't eat the previous day, and declared myself unable to eat anything more.  I don't just give up on meals.  It's not something I do.  I've pushed mealtimes back, and I've only had light snacks instead of full meals, but I don't give up on them.  It's very un-Cho-like.

I went home shortly after that (which was kind of sucky because there were still things that I had to get done that I had to leave with co-workers) and slept for most of the afternoon.  Well, I slept when I wasn't otherwise occupied.  And by occupied, I mean releasing the demons that had moved into my guts.  I may be painting an awful picture here, but I had to live through it so I feel that you should suffer too.

And that's how I spent Friday.

This morning, I woke up a little before 6, unleashed an unholy fury, and called Tele-Care, for those of you that aren't aware, is a service offered in New Brunswick (and elsewhere too I'm told) that allows you to talk to a nurse over the phone to help you determine the severity of how badly off you are.  If you've never called Tele-Care, let me make this perfectly clear: it is a service that I believe is worth the tax dollars being spent on it, and I tip my hat to the staff that answers the phones 24/7.

That being said, it is also the most awkward experience I've had in a long time.  When I talk on the phone - which is as seldom as possible - I give as little information out as possible.  I mean it.  When I participate in customer satisfaction surveys, I'll only give a "thr", "fo" or "fi" on a scale of 1-5.  So I had to crush every impulse to say "no" when the nurse was asking me for personal information, which is very hard to do at 7:00 in the morning.

The upshot of that call was that she suggested I should probably see a doctor within the next 24 hours.

I got my stuff together to go to the emergency room, though some members of my family who shall remain nameless tried to convince me that I should just wait and go to the clinic later.  I said that I'd go to the ER and if the wait time was super long I'd leave and go to the clinic.

The waiting room was practically empty, though the triage nurse said that they'd been super busy all night.  Only waited for about 30 minutes or so before I saw a doctor.

My view on Saturday morning
I'm feeling better now, thank you.  Not great, and not normal, but better.  Diagnosis was some kind of stomach bug. I now have some pills which give me a headaches, drowsiness and dryness of the mouth.  Other side effects include a general curbing the demonic possession of my intestinal region.

What I've learned from this situation is that I'm becoming a fan of the show "The Glades", which I may re-watch some day when I can stay awake through an entire episode.  

Oh, and also that Dolly Parton's boobs are huge.  My Lovely Wife started watching "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" when I fell asleep during "The Glades".  All things considered, not a bad way to wake up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Victoria Day Weekend!

The holiday that doesn't sound right unless you add "weekend" to the end of it.

It's been a great weekend.  We met up with my siblings and their spouses and/or children, as well as my parents.  A good time was had by all, and there were tears when we left.  To be completely honest, those tears were from our niece, and her cries were actually "I want an iPad!"  Before you judge her for being spoiled, she did just start getting into the Toy Story matching game that my sister downloaded when it was time to leave.

If there's one thing you should know about young Holly, it is that you do not mess around when it comes to Toy Story.  It's her entire world.

When I was a kid, I was really into Superman.  When I was a little older than Holly is, I had the BEST pair of Superman pyjamas that any kid could hope for or want.  I told my parents on more than one occasion that I wanted to grow up to be a midget so that I could always wear those pyjamas.  I was heartbroken when the top basically fell off me.  No, heartbroken doesn't quite build it up enough.  It was apocalyptical in size.  I don't know how long I cried, but I'm guessing it was long enough that my father eventually sat down and made me a new Superman top out of a sweatshirt and a piece of felt.

Did it matter that the top was red and the "S" was green?  Given some of the other things that I'd flipped out over (white tube socks with different patterns on the top) you'd think I'd be reduced to tears again with the realization that what I had was gone and that it could never, ever be replaced.  Nope.  I was happy with my replacement Superman pyjamas.  I couldn't believe that my father had made it for me.  I think it is the only article of clothing that he'd ever made for me.

Speaking of the end of the world though, I'd like to talk to you about what this day really means, why it is especially significant to all our lives, and why we should all take a deep breath and chill out.

Today, May 12, 2012, marks the one year anniversary of the end of the world.  Yes, one year ago today, the end of the world started.

Oh, it might not seem like it has. We've all been going on about our daily lives like nothing has changed.  "Oy, but Oim alive!" you might say in a strange Cockney-style accent.  No, maybe you aren't dead yet, but that doesn't mean that the world didn't end.

Nah, you got me, you're still alive.  But I had you going for a moment there, didn't I?

May 12, 2011 was the day that Harold Camping predicted as the beginning of the end of the world, and paid for a massive advertising campaign to let everyone know about it.  Well, he didn't actually pay for it, all of his followers kept giving him money and he used that money to pay for it.

Harold was just your average, run of the mill, crazypants who used numerology to decode the bible and determine the exact date of the end times.  He used his radio show to let everyone know about it - take that people who say that radio isn't relevant anymore!

And if you didn't think his followers were anything less than completely and totally committed to the cause, they were giving away their possessions and life savings, content that none of that would make any difference at all once Satan was wandering around stabbing people with hot pointy sticks.

My favourite story from that time were the people selling rapture pet insurance.  See, pets can't go to heaven (sorry kids, they go to a nice farm where they have fun all the time instead).  For a small fee, these fine folks would give your pet the best possible care when you had been taken away to heaven.  No word on how they would be able to do that, given the plagues and eternal torment that they'd committed themselves to as being unsaved.

"Can we hurry this up a little?"
"You dare make demands puny mortal?!"
"Right, it's just that I know how long it takes you to boil my soul in oil and I have to get back to the house to feed Princess and Mr. Bilbo."
"Princess and... Mr. Bilbo?"
"My neighbours dogs.  They got taken up to heaven - my neighbours, not the dogs obviously - so they left them with me to take care of.  Princess is fine waiting for a little while, but Mr. Bilbo just pees on everything when he gets upset,. And, no, you can't smell it that much because of the sulphur and brimstone, it leaves a stain on the carpet.  So I'd appreciate it if we could just move this along, okay?  Thanks." 
"Oh, sure.  We can do this later.  I have an opening at 2:00 tomorrow, if that works for you?"
"Darn it, we have an appointment with the groomer at 1:30.  How about 3:30?"

Please note that the preceding was intended for humour only, and is in no way an indication that I personally believe that all dog groomers will be left behind in the rapture.  I mean, come on, it's not like I have to come out and say it, right?  We're all thinking it.

Interesting side note - despite the fact that the end of the world was ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY NO DOUBT ABOUT IT happening, Family Radio didn't shut down on May 11, 2011.  You'd think they would have cancelled all of their broadcasting licenses since they weren't going to need them anymore.  I think that should be the true test of any and all predictors of the end of the world - you get to choose the date and time  of when you think the world will end, but you have to give up everything - including any and all broadcast licenses, and all your assets are to be liquidated and the money given to fund science programs - if you are wrong.  It's put up AND shut up.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the end of the world is coming folks.  It is, really, honest and for true.  There's no way to stop it.  No Bruce Willis to set off a bomb on the asteroid or Will Smith to generate a cure for the disease that turned everyone into zombies or Ed Begley, Jr. to pedal us all to safety on his bicycle.  Nope, the end of the world is going to come one way or another, and we don't get a say in how.

But I think we do get a say in how it doesn't happen.  So let's clean up the environment, stop shooting missiles at each other, and maybe figure out a way off this planet so when the end of the world does happen we can all watch it from a safe distance.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

It Doesn't Count As A Repost If I Didn't Post It Here

The company that I work for is very concerned about the safety of all employees - ridiculously so, some might say (but not me, because I love collecting a regular paycheck!).  This week, a safety reminder email was sent out and it just made me wonder... would there be a time when these safety rules could be bad for you?  I wrote this and sent it to a few co-workers who got a kick out of it, so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and post it here too.  (Note: no birds were killed or injured in the writing of this post, expression used for metaphorical purposes only.)

Here is the text (identifying info redacted to protect, well, me) with my comments in italics.

Participating in XXXXX Start-up activities may involve travel or a shift in your normal routine.
Whether you’re walking between offices or walking to dinner, you [sic] XXXXX Team invites you to keep these safe behaviors in mind :
•        Do not run – Unless you are being pursued by zombies, werewolves, cyborg assassins or are trying to catch a train that the love of your life is about to get on and leave you forever without knowing that it was only a series of misunderstandings that just made it look like you weren’t interested in him/her.
•        Walk carefully and be alert – unless you are on fire, in which case you should stop walking and stop, drop and roll.  You probably don’t want to be that aware of the situation come to think of it.
•        Approach blind intersections cautiously – they are blind and may not be aware of your presence and tend to lash out when surprised.  Make lots of noise.
•        Hold handrails in stairways and on escalators – especially while you are planking, as you may fall when you get punched.
•        When walking outside be alert for hazards (steps, curbs, ice, etc.) – it is a well-documented fact that people from Hazzard County are reckless drivers, moonshiners, and fire arrows with sticks of dynamite on them.
•        Look both ways before crossing streets – unless you want to be truly safe, in which case you should not ignore danger coming straight at you or from behind. Furthermore, do not ignore the possibility of danger coming at you from the ground or the sky.  Finally, be sure to look both forward and backward in time, as renegade agents are always looking for a way to disrupt the time stream and prevent you from becoming the rebel leader / savior of all civilization / cause of extinction event.

Stay safe everyone.  There are only a few of you that read this blog on a regular basis, and I can't afford to lose any of you.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Use the Force, eh?

A few weeks ago, I wrote this piece about our Maritime Master of the Force.  Shortly after it went up, I received this comment on the blog:
Where to start. First of all, thank you...I think.
I mean, that you took the time to post about me, Jedi Master Brad Doucette, is absolutely an honour, my amazingly gorgeous wife Maria will find this hilarious, and believe me, she is hot. We had already been married for a couple years before my "hobby" really surfaced and turned into a full-time (ok, part-time) job. Let's just say I never embraced the geek in me until after I secured the girl, lol.
But now, I do what I love, I have alot of fun, I get to spend all my time with my two amazing boys...AND I GET PAID TO PLAY WITH LIGHTSABERS DUDE. COME ON...who wouldn't want this job?
Well, what do you say to that...other than "we need to talk".

A short email conversation later, and I have an interview with the only Jedi Master who might say "Use the Force, eh?"  Mr. Doucette, or Brad as I like to think of him, is not your typical Star Wars Nerd.  No, while some aficionados of the Lucas-verse are content to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in storm trooper or Darth Vader costumes, Brad's doing something that not many would: bringing light saber battles to life.
In public.  For reals.
To answer the obvious question: yes, he is married.  But I'll get back to that.

Though he claims that he doesn't have a favourite, if pressed his choice was not what I thought it would be: Return of the Jedi.  Why that one, when almost all hardcore fans choose Empire Strikes Back?
I have a certain emotional attachment to it as it is the first movie I can ever remember watching and it reminds me of my favorite uncle.
That's fair.  When I think about it, RotJ was the first Star Wars movie that I saw in the theatre too.  I can't remember why my parents agreed to take us to see it, but I remember we were in Saint John.  The only reason I know we weren't home when we saw it was because we stayed at a hotel after - one of perhaps three times in my life I can remember my father agreeing to pay for a hotel instead of staying with friends - and I remember waking up in the middle of the night absolutely dead certain that Jabba the Hutt was waiting for me to try to go to the bathroom so he could eat me.  It turned out to be curtains (which as absolutely nothing to do with why we have blinds in our bedroom...but why risk Jabba?).

Which character does he feel closest too?  Obi-Wan, of course.
I feel I relate most to Obi-Wan in many aspects like I have been thrust into this position but will ultimately succeed, I instruct others in the ways of the Force, Im not the best Jedi, but I am among the greats(lol), and I have a good heart....and this is all good and everything...but I secretly want to be Darth Maul, mwa ha ha...ahem, sorry.
Clearly, he has a sense of humour.

For those of you that aren't aware, Star Wars isn't just about the movies.  It's not even about the toys (though it's a LOT about the toys).  There are books, comics, cartoons, a television show that's been in the works for quite a while, video games... You won't catch him favouring one over the other:
As for the different media, I enjoy it all!!! The entire Star Wars story and everything about it. I dont limit myself to say I enjoy one triology above the other because I enjoy them all as part of an even bigger story from the Rakatan Empire, hundreds of thousands of years BBY(umm...google it), to the birth of the Sith civilization and the formation of the Republic,  leading to the beginning of the Jedi, their evolution and the evolution of the Lightsaber. All the way to Lukes ancestor Cade Skywalker. Ill read or watch anything.
It was at this point in our exchange that I started feeling like a kid that has bragged once too often about knowing Batman personally and gets called out on it.  Rakatan Empire?  BBY?  For the record, I did google it.  That's when I discovered the Wookieepedia, which houses pretty much everything you'd ever want to know about Star Wars.  How big is it?  It has 92,488 pages.  As a point of comparison, I have 164 posts (including this one).  That means that I am almost 2% of the way to being as big as Star Wars, which is saying something considering my budget.

It also turns out that the day camp is not his first venture into bringing Star Wars to life.  Brad's primary passion is for East Coast Sabers, a group he started that has been growing in popularity since he started it last year.
I started East Coast Sabers in January 2011 and its been a slow start. It was a weekly class to come and swing your saber, a few kids, some adults, $5each...covered the cost of the gym. Bounced around trying to find a cheap location to hold this class, all while advertising any way I could and also while trying to come up with an actual class outline. With the help of Kijiji and Facebook things started to take off...oh ya, the camp....skip ahead a year, 12 brthday parties, a Fredkid Fair, school activity periods, a class of 20 kids and adults, I get a bunch of parents asking if we offer a summer camp?....*BING*....and ECS: Jedi Training Camp was born.

And in case you thought that they might be using, I don't know, plastic swords from the dollar store, nope.  No, they don't have lasers.  But they do use carbon fibre blades.  When was the last time you used a light saber with a carbon fibre blade.  I thought so.

As I said earlier, Brad is married to a woman who is in his words "amazingly gorgeous".  Not only does his wife accept his geeky self, she fully supports it.  Really!  She does the blog for his club and she let him name their youngest son Lucas.  I did not inquire into gold bikinis (I know we're all thinking it, but there's only so far I'm willing to pry).

What is his secret for getting the girl and still being able to embrace his passion for Star Wars?  Did he wave his hand in front of her face and say "I am the nerd you are looking for"?  Did he show her his midichlroian count?  Did he say "I am happy to see you, but that's a light saber in my pocket"?  Take heed, young padawan, for if there is one thing that Jedi Master Brad can teach you it's this:
Let's just say I never embraced the geek in me until after I secured the girl
You can check out more of Brad's pictures and videos at eastcoastsabers.ca.

Monday, April 23, 2012

An Explosion of Creativity at Work

The following exchange with a co-worker definitely didn't happen on company time.  No sir.  And if it did, which it didn't, it couldn't have happened any time in the last four months, that's for darn sure.

I can't remember the details of how this conversation started, or why we were talking about living on another planet, but I believe that it went something to the effect of my friend asking me what it was like living in my own world.  At least, that sounds like something that people would say to me.

In case you can't read the image, I've transcribed it below.  Because I like typing.

Text (including all the spelling and grammatical errors, and possibly adding a few new ones)

so what kind of laws are there if any, for living on another planet ? are they free for the picking, are there taxes to pay ? and if so any laws for pets...growups ?

By international agreement, no country can claim another celestial body as their own. i.e. no country can claim that they own the moon.  Many nations have laws that state that as a property owner, you own the ground and the air directly above your property.  However, this has been challenged multiple times in court, and there are exceptions to even this law for certain things like airlanes for planes around airports, etc.. Therefore, no person could claim that because another planet was above their property that they own that planet as well.

In terms of laws for living on another planet, I assume that you are referring to living in a colony of some sort.  Typically, colonies are established by nations, and usually follow the rule of law of the founding country.  In the case of a colony developed by a company, since it is more and more likely that we'll see a corporate colony than a national one, the colony would follow the laws of the nation in which the "home office" was located.
There may be laws that may be added or stricken based upon feasability or realistic expectation.  for example, if you are living on a colony on a water planet, traditional methodology for marking off territory for ownership may not be applicable, in which case local law would supercede the imported laws.
Furthermore, laws pertaining to certain things may not be applicable due to those items not being available.  i.e. a law governing the ownership of pets may be nixed if no such animals exist.
laws regarding pets may also have to be re-written to include both pets of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial origin (proof that the latter is not sentient would be required to avoid questions vis a vis slavery).
I hop that i have helped.

[expletive deleted]