Wednesday, January 30, 2008

:: The Cruelest Season::

When you're a kid, snow is the greatest fucking thing on the planet. Better than jellybeans. Better than cuddly puppies. Better than cuddly puppies with jellybeans taped to their backs.

No weather pattern was better because it meant, at least in some places, there was the slight chance you'd get a day home from school. Every morning from late November until February at least one kid on every street in the country rushes to the window and peers out, hoping, praying, wishing that there's any hint of snow on the ground.

Hell, most of the time a heavy frost is enough to turn kids into the greatest salespeople this side of Ron Popeil.

"Let me tell you why I can't go to school today, mom. There's snow - SNOW! - and I could slip and fall on the sidewalk and crack my head open. Don't want to take that chance, right?"

" We won't learn anything anyways because nobody else will be in class. You don't want me to be the only kid there, do you?"

"I thought you'd agree with me - and because you did so in 15 minutes or less, not only will I stay home in my pyjamas all day playing video games, I'm also going to throw in a juicer and the Vego-matic slicer, all for just three easy payments of bacon, eggs, and juice. You can just bring it up to me in bed when it's ready. C'mon - it's a steal at twice the price!"

No two words outside of "Free candy" are as revered by children as "Snow Day." Sure, kids love the sun - it means water guns and shorts, and running through the sprinkler, and it means you might get to skip an hour of social studies in the afternoon in favour of going outside and playing kickball. But sunshine never sent no kids home from school, and a snowball made from the ice in the freezer just isn't the same as the real thing - even if it hurts just as much when you get pelted in the face with it.

But somewhere between elementary school and now, winter and snow got a lot less cool. Now I have to drive in it; people have to walk in it, work in it; freeze because of it.

And no amount of NFL snow games or hilarious side-of-the-road snowmen (I saw one with boobs this week...awesome) make up for it. But that said, I've always put up with it with little real complaint. Really, what am I supposed to do about it anyway? Fund global warming projects? Curse The Almighty? Punch Mark Madryga in the mouth? No, of course not.

So I'll sit down, shutup and take it when my car - moving as slow as ever - skids around a corner and smashes against the high sidewalk curb, sending me into a temporary tailspin.

And I'll not say a negative word when I slip on the steps outside a Whistler Boston Pizza, though the frosty concrete nearly sent me into a snowbank - and nearly caused me to pull every groin and groin-area muscle I have down there.

And I'll even bite my tongue when I'm forced to make a two-hour drive from one Northern Alberta outpost to a slightly-bigger, slightly-colder one, sans snow-tires, in the middle of a fucking blizzard. Then I'll zip it tight even when, once I get where I need to be, the cap on my engine's block heater cord is frozen so tight that it cannot be removed. Irony dually noted, winter.

However, after years of putting up with winter and all it's bullshit, I've had enough.

Earlier this week, both my parents were home mid-day. My mom is on night shift, and my dad happened to come home for lunch. After awhile in the kitchen, my dad was about to go back to work, and my mom - in need of a few hours preparation sleep before her first-ever 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift - was about ready to head upstairs for a nap.

Then, faintly in the background of the usual kitchen noise, my mom thought she heard something. A hurt animal, or something. Then silence. It must not be anything, my dad assured her. Then they both heard it again. Both then went to the window and gazed into the winter wonderland that had become the backyard. Off in the corner, by the old shed, my dad noticed a large, white puff, seemingly trapped between mounds of snow, barely moving, just standing still. Freezing.


My dad didn't even remember letting him out in the backyard, but he must have. No big deal normally - Diggers rarely stays outside long in his old age (he prefers to pee on the hardwood floors instead). But one thing about this old dog - he really loves the snow. Loooves it. He'll race around in it - full speed ahead - for forever if we'd let him. But this time, he'd rolled around in it too much - or some had fallen on him from the shed or something - because his fur was caked in large icy, snowballs. So much snow that his poor little legs couldn't even move, so he'd just been standing out in the yard, whimpering and yelping, staring at the shed. Freezing to death.

My dad scooped him up quick-like, and brought him instead, where him and my mom spent the next half hour doing their best to warm him up with blankets and towels, all the while doing their best to brush all the snow off of him. I'm not veternarian (Hell, I can barely spell it), but from what my parents told me, he probably wouldn't have lasted much longer out there on his own.

It's just a damn good thing somebody heard him out there before going off to different parts of the house, where his quiet whimper would've fallen on deaf ears.

Yes, Digby is an old guy, and there's a good chance he won't be with us that much longer. I know that, much as I hate to admit it. But regardless of how much time somebody or something has left, freezing in the snow, cold and alone, is no way to go out.

And because of the coldest of seasons, Digby almost did.

So fuck you Winter, and the snow saucer you cruised in on.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

And the Montgomery Burns Award for Oustanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence goes to....

Yes, me. You heard that right. I won something. Two somethings, actually.

I've written on this blog since 2003 - my final year of university - and in the beginning I paid little heed to names, details, etc. A quick Google search would've given you all manner of information - names, friend's names, school, etc. However, after hearing of people getting fired from their jobs for making certain remarks on their personal blogs, I decided to play it a bit safer, so in the last 8-10 months, I've went to great lengths to clean this place up.

My name at the bottom of this month is now but one letter. Nearly all mentions of my last name, current employer, and occupation are gone too (well, most of 'em). I just figure, with so much incriminating evidence of me already on Facebook, I didn't need to pad the ballot box, so to speak, in the event that any higher-ups from my work find me online. I have something of a (quickly-slipping) reputation to protect.

Why am I telling you this? I'm not sure - sorry, this post has sorta gotten away from me here. But back to my original point - I won a couple awards. If this was in the full disclosure period between 2003-07, I'd probably have all kinds of details on here - in large fonts, too - about what exactly I've done. But since we're not, all I will tell you here is this, and those of you who know me can fill in the blanks yourself.

In my profession, there are a number of levels of annual awards: Company awards (small, but come with cash), provincial/state (pretty big), nation-wide (large), and North American (covering both Canada and the US). So through your own powers of deduction, I'm sure you can figure out how tough the last awards are to win.

Personally, I've never won anything better than a 2nd place at company awards (and promptly spent my winnings at the blackjack table). Nobody in my office has won a provincial award in at least 3 years, and no one in my office has won a national or north american award in my four years with the company and beyond.

'Til now.

On Friday afternoon, only 20 minutes before I was about to leave for the weekend, I received an email that I'd won first place in one category of the North American awards. And then the kicker - I'd also won third place in another category, for something I've been doing less than a year.

I was, needless to say, pretty fucking blown away. It was even better than that time I was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

Also, after some online searching, we discovered that a co-worker - who's become somewhat disillusioned/disinterested with awards in the last five years or so - won first place for something, herself.

It was quite a score, and quite a coup for our little office, which takes its fair share of shit and abuse from the "head office" because we're not quite like our big brother office up the road.

Many times in the past four months I've comtemplated quitting my current job - either getting out of the business altogether, or just switching to another company. And I know when it comes to many things, I'm all talk, but this was one thing I was seriously considering. It's amazing though, how much a little recognition can do for your psyche. Now, because I guess I'm pretty good at this racket, I'll stick it out for awhile. At least 'til my plaques arrive in the mail.

So just to recap: In my chosen field, I am No. 1 at what I do, continent-wide* for 2007.

*Not entirely true, as there are all kinds of divisions and breakdowns, but still....

Friday, January 18, 2008

:: Regarding a bet ::

Dear Kelsey's money,

Although you likely haven't been informed yet by your current owner – not surprising, as she clings to a faint hope of continuing her ownership of you – you will be packing up and moving soon, from Kelsey's pocket to mine.

You'll be leaving as early as Sunday night, in fact, so pack up your nickels and dimes ahead of time. You see, Mr. Twenty-Dollar Bill, you've been wagered in a foolish bet pitting the New England Patriots – whose coach is a cheater and star wide receiver is an alleged woman-beater – against the saintly San Diego Chargers, whose star running back went to a good Christian university, and whose placekicker looks like an innocent 12-year-old boy.

You'll like it better here, I promise.

No longer will you be alone in a wallet, with no other dollars and cents to keep you company – you'll now be surrounded by friends of all currency, even a few American visitors (I hear that Andrew Jackson fella is a real hoot!) And, even better, you will no longer have to put up with the kind of high-brow, snooty remarks which I'm assuming can only come from a Starbucks Visa card.

"Oh, look at me - I'm worth a triple grande hazelnut. misto, no-foam, extra hot latte," I can imagine it saying. "And look at you – you're just a dirty, used up piece of parchment."

What a bitch. That can be hard for any honest, hard-working $20-bill to put up with. I understand.

It's OK though – you're beer money now. Long may you prosper in the cash registers of seedy pubs, and in the apron pockets of overworked, sexy-in-a-beer-googles-kind-of-way waitresses.

It will be one helluva run, I promise you that. So come on over – you know you want to.

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008: A Good Start, or something like it

Close your eyes.

Now, I want you to imagine 12 people shoehorned tightly into a two-room ski condo in Whistler. There are clothes, booze, and food strewn about. Some people have been up since 8 a.m. Others have been up since 8:03, when the people (person) who awoke at 8 started making a lot of uneccessary fucking noise.

Imagine still that at least a few of these people in the two-room house have volatile tempers, especially while drinking. Now, imagine these people beginning to drink at 4 p.m.

Imagine now that it's 11:58 p.m.

On the small TV in the corner of the room, Carson Daly is counting down the minutes to midnight, while thousands of New York City revellers yell and scream like idiots in the background. In the kitchen, visualize Sean and Ian yelling and screaming like idiots, because Ian grabbed Rachel's ass. Imagine Sean yelling some more.

Then picture drunken Ian making things worse: "If I'd known you were gonna get this mad about it, I'd have grabbed her cooch."

Keep your eyes closed. Now visualize Sean charging Ian, grabbing his collar, and throwing him up against the fridge. Queue shock and laughter from most in the rest of the room. Queue tears and yelling from the two girlfriends.

See Carson's countdown hit 11:59.

Now, in the final 60 seconds, I want you to picture the following things:

Ian and Sean screaming at each other in the hallway.

Brad falling down between the couch and the kitchen island for the second time that evening (conservative estimate).

Rachel trying to break up Sean and Ian's fight.

Bre trying her best to hold back the booze-induced tears, and then apologizing for crying in the first place.

Derrick's beard.

The veneer on Jenna's front tooth breaking off.

A half-finished game of Memory, sitting on the counter.

Kelsey's nose beginning to unexplainably bleed.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how we rang in 2008 - with a little extra Kung Pao! than usual.

Happy Fucking New Year. (Surprisingly enough, however, it was a fantastic trip. Go figure.)

And now, for some quotes:

Derrick, shitfaced: I'm going nowhere but up!
Scotty: At best, sideways would be good.

Chris: Hey Sean, wanna play memory?
Sean: I honestly don't know how.
Chris: Are you serious?
Sean: You've got to remember, I had no friends as a kid. I had one friend - myself - and I played masturbation.

"The reason nobody is doing it right is because nobody is doing it right." - Scott

"What did one snowman say to the other snowman? Do you smell carrots." - Scott

Derrick: I'd take it in the ass for $50,000.
Sean: I'd do it for a million.
Rachel: Only a million?!
Sean: That's 2 million Euros, Rachel!!

Sean, lowering his price....
"I'd let David Bowie have a go at me for free."

"A penis is shaped like a cock." - Derrick

Chris: Molson Dry is fucking terrible.
Ian: Oh yeah? Well you should hear what it's been saying about you!

Then, a few new post-New Year's ones...

"Don't you hate when you sit on an old couch, and the old farts jump out of it and punch you right in the face?" - Bucholtz, asking one of life's eternal questions.

"A slow cooker is like having a wife - you come home from work, and dinner's already made!" - Kristyl, a girl I work with. (Yes, a girl said this. Not Bucholtz. Not Jeremy. A girl.)