Thursday, December 31, 2009

:: That personal touch ::

I like getting Christmas cards - which is weird, because I never actually send any out myself. I guess I'm just selfish that way. But the thing about them is that, because usually people are sending out numerous cards at once, the writing inside is pretty standard, boiler-plate stuff.

Dear so-and-so,

Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year,


Now don't get me wrong - these types of cards are still great, and I appreciate the thought immensely (even when they are addressed to somebody else) but sometimes there's a card that just rises above all the rest. This year, that card was from Meghan.

First off, on the cover of the card was a cartoon picture of a house, with Christmas lights on the roof spelling the word "Free Beer" and then trailing into an arrow, which pointed to the chimney. The cartoon's caption was "One sure-fire way to get on Santa's nice list."

Sometimes a card just speaks to you, what can I say.

On the inside, Meghan wrote:

"Nick, way to go and get laid and get a hot girlfriend this year, and still manage to rant about everything. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year to come :)"

If ever a card could sum up my 2009, this would probably be it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

:: Putting it in writing; a follow-up ::

Well, Canada announced its men's hockey roster for the 2010 Olympics this morning, and though I don't like to brag, my predictions from yesterday were nearly spot on. I mean, I only missed three players on the whole team – that's an 87% success rate, for those of you scoring at home.

Now, I know many of the roster spots were easy to predict – all three goalies, Iginla, Crosby, Pronger, and the like – but the only three I missed were Patrice Bergeron, Mike Richards and Brendan Morrow. In their place I had Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Shane Doan.

Morrow is essentially Shane Doan, so that's a wash, and to tell you the truth, the reason I had St. Louis on the team – aside from the fact that he's having a good year – was because I heard on TSN that he was gaining momentum with Yzerman's crew. If you read my predictions, you'll see that I had him as a possible replaceable player.

That said, I still picked him and was wrong. But 87% right, with all that talent potentially making the cut? That's pretty good. I'm especially impressed that I got a 100% perfect score when choosing the seven defencemen. I kept all three Calgary blue-liners off my team, even Bouwmeester, and it proved to be right.

I do really like the team that was chosen, although I'm a little bit bummed that Doan isn't there, and that Stamkos isn't the 13th forward. I mean, with scoring at a premium in the '06 disaster, you'd think they'd add an pure sniper as insurance. Instead, we've got more grit with Toews, Richards and Morrow, et al.

Might come back to bite 'em. Hopefully not.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

:: Putting it in writing ::

They say that predictions are a fool's game (Well, I'm not sure who exactly says this, but I've heard it before), but even so, I'm going to go out on a sports-related limb today. Canada announces its Olympic men's hockey roster tomorrow, Dec. 30, and such an announcement will no doubt stir all kinds of debate.

And by that I mean that, for the next 3-4 days you won't be able to find a radio station, internet site, or TV channel not talking about it. And I – like 30 million other general managers in this country - have opinions and guesses on what the team would and should look like. And while it's easy to say, after the fact, that "Oh, I knew that guy would/wouldn't make the team" I figured I'd put it in print beforehand. My team is listed below. The over/under on how much I actually get correct is about 65%.

Keep in mind, this isn't the team I would pick, necessarily. It's the team I think Steve Yzerman and his staff will pick. So here goes:


Jarome Iginla
Sidney Crosby
Rick Nash
Corey Perry
Ryan Getzlaf
Martin St. Louis
Patrick Marleau
Joe Thornton
Dany Heatley
Eric Staal
Jon Toews
Shane Doan
Steven Stamkos

Notable omissions: Jeff Carter, Vincent Lecavalier, Brendan Morrow, Mike Fisher, Patrick Sharp


Chris Pronger
Scott Neidermayer
Duncan Keith
Shea Weber
Brent Seabrook
Dan Boyle
Drew Doughty

Notable omissions: Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf, Mike Green


Martin Brodeur
Roberto Luongo
Marc-Andre Fleury

So there you have it. Of course, like I said, this team isn't the one I would pick. If I was in Stevie Y's shoes, I'd have Morrow on the team (for grit), possibly in place of Stamkos or Marleau, but in the predicated lineup, I suppose Doan figures into that role.

And on the blue line, I have Doughty in my top 6 (instead of the 7th guy) and bounce Neidermayer, simply because he's not playing well this season. He's a lock for the team though, because of his experience and leadership. Can't say I really disagree with that, either, which just shows you how tough these calls are. If the Olympics were on Olympic-sized ice, I'd put Bouwmeester on the team in a heartbeat, but I think Canada can get away with no having his skating ability, since it's NHL ice.

As for the goalies, well there really isn't much debate. Cam Ward had a shot to start the year, but he's been hurt and also playing on the league's most terrible team. Steve Mason too, was once a leading candidate for that third goalie spot, but he's been awful this year. The only other name I've heard is a darkhorse, St. Louis goalie Chris Mason, but he hasn't done enough to bump Fleury, who's been good all year and has a Stanley Cup ring.

Monday, December 28, 2009

:: I appreciate this kind of honesty today ::

"I feel like it's a huge waste of time for me to be here." - co-worker from another department, not shy about expressing her opinion on being back to work after Christmas.

Funny, usually it's me complaining loudly and showing off my poor attitude. I think I'm rubbing off on people.

That said, she's absolutely right. Less than half of our employees are working today. Two-thirds of the managers have left early. We have all day tomorrow to finish the projects we're "working on" today, and I've been trying – honest to God, trying - to find things to do, simply to alleviate the boredom. But it's all for naught.

This is even worse than working Christmas Eve, because there's no office wine and nothing to look forward to.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

:: Pao and Jerome ::

I have lived at my current address for four-and-a-half years. For the first two years, I continously received mail that was addressed to the home's previous owners. For about a year, I forwarded or returned-to-sender as much of it as I could. But after that, I just left most it. I mean, if you can't be bothered to change your address at your own bank or tell your relatives where you now live, well, that's not my problem.

But for the last couple years, it's mostly stopped, with the exception of a few non-important flyer-typer pieces of mail. This week, however, I checked the mailbox and found a Christmas card addressed to James and Shannon, coming from a North Vancouver address. 

In any other year, because it's a Christmas card, I probably would've done the return to sender thing, but, like I said, it's been more than four damn years. Enough is enough.

So not only did I not forward it, or return it, I kept it.

It's mine now.

Now, a lovely snowman-shaped card is sitting on my mantle with the rest of my other Christmas cards (you know, the ones that actually have my name on 'em), from a North Vancouver couple named Pao and Jerome.

I like it because – just judging by their names – it adds a nice bit of ethnic flavour to our Christmas card collection. Christene thinks it's a gay couple, but I'm on the fence – I have no clue is Pao is a male or female name. 

Either way, it sure was awfully nice of them to think of us this holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

:: We can't do this anymore ::

"I'm like a cannon - built for one shot." - Scott, during a discussion on the difficulty of having sex multiple times in a short period of time.

There was a time - a few years ago now - when getting drunk on both a Friday and a Saturday was not just an amazing, death-defying feat. In fact, it was quite normal. Pick up a case of beer on Friday after work, drink it at somebody's house, maybe go to Shark Club, drink some more. Pass out.

Wake up Saturday, hangover breakfast at Ricky's, then get ready for Saturday. Rinse. Repeat.

This is how it once was. It's not exactly like that anymore. Of course, even back in our halcyon days of alcohol abuse, there would often be one casualty from the night before - one person who went way too hard, and whose hangover was always a bit over the top, compared to the rest.

But this was a minor problem. Hey, sometimes people have to be sacrificed for the greater good, and since most of us survived any given night, we were all OK with it. Sure, you knew that sooner or later your turn would come, but that was seen as a cost of doing business.

But on Saturday night, well, I think Saturday night - Kyle's surprise birthday party - may well have been the tipping point.

There were no survivors.

We started drinking at 6 p.m., which should have perhaps been the first warning sign - it was a little early, and we continued on into the wee hours of the morning (except for Christene and I, we left at 12:30 because we're old). But upon waking up Sunday and surveying the battlefield, there was some pretty serious carnage:

I woke up at 6:30 to the sound of Christene puking. I woke up again about an hour later to this very same sound.

When I eventually crawled out of bed at 10, I felt as bad as I've felt in weeks. I still have the remnants of a headache, and it's Monday morning.

Kelsey and Scott slept the next day until 2:30 p.m., then Kels was up just long enough to yak twice, before heading back to bed at 3:30.

Was Sean hungover? His response on Facebook: "Oh God yes."

And then there was Chris, who arrived home at 5:30 a.m. sans Jenna (who obviously didn't want to stay up that late) and woke up three-and-half hours late for work with blood all over his face. Asked how he came to acquire such injuries, his response was this: "Well, that's the question. I don't have a clue."

And let's not forget our good friend Bobby, who didn't even drink Saturday night because doctor's orders prohibit him from doing anymore damage to his liver. Seriously.

And I haven't actually seen or heard from Ian, Jeremy or even the Birthday Boy himself. Maybe they didn't make it.

God save us all on New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 18, 2009

:: Me fail English? That's unpossible, Version 2.0 ::

In my day-to-day life, I'm surrounded with pretty smartpeople, supposedly*.
That said, twice yesterday one person I know said the following word:

Ambliance. As in, "The man had a heart attack, so somebody called the ambliance."

I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. I mean, one cursory glance at the word, and it's clearly obvious that there's a god damn U in there, not to mention the lack of an i.


Ambulance. Ambulance. Ambulance.

Not that tough to pronounce. Say it phonetically and it's even easier**. But instead, this person chooses to pronounce the world as though he or she is four years old.

This is the kind of person who probably still says they're having p-sghetti*** for dinner.

*For the record, and while we're on the topic, people who pronounce this word as "suppose-ubly" are among my greatest annoyances. They rank just slightly higher on the list than people who pronounce the i in Detroit (De-troy-it). Drives me nuts.
**I just had a flashback 25 years to when I learned how to read, write and speak. "Now, just sound it out...."

***I have no idea how one would actually spell this word, if it were to actually exist. Psketti? Pasghetti? I have no idea.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

:: No hiding ::

Every December, I make the same damn mistake.

Each year around this time, we gather everyone in the office for a large staff photo. This photo is used in the paper during the Christmas season – usually in some sort of ad, saying "Merry Christmas from the staff at...."

The trouble is, more often than not, I forget that picture day is coming, despite getting at least a couple days warning. And because I forget, it usually means I show up to work looking like a scrub – instead of a button-up shirt and nice pants, the picture is usually taken on the day I'm wearing jeans and a hoodie, or something. (The worst was last year, when I forgot – again – and wore a toque to work because of a blizzard. Had I remembered, I'd have brought some hair gel to fix my mop of hair. Instead, I had terrible "hat-head". Plus a hoodie.)

On the plus side, there's usually about 20 people in the photo so I'm able to hide behind bodies and stay out of the way. Which is my usual plan of attack when I forget to look presentable.

This year, however, not only did I forget, but I also threw out any chance of blending into the background. That's because, when I got dressed for work this morning – completely ignorant of the forthcoming photo op, remember – I chose from my closet one of my better golf shirts. Which just happens to be blindingly bright orange, with thin white stripes.

We took the picture this morning, and though I tried to hide in a middle row, and behind some people with large heads, I am still the brightest thing in the frame. By a fucking country mile.

And speaking of country miles, you can probably see me from that far away, so bright is my shirt. Or if you can't, just check the paper in a week or two.

Can't miss me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

:: A real jerk (that isn't me for a change) ::

My company's office is on the second floor of a building we share with other companies. It's a new building, and therefore, not all the available space is leased yet. Our office is on one side of the building, and the bathrooms are on the complete other side, down a fairly long hallway.

On the walk from our office door to the bathroom, you pass one of the large unoccupied spaces – it looks like a huge unfinished basement. No doors, either. Because it's not being leased, this space serves as a storage unit of sorts – the contractors and construction guys sometimes store things there, and we also keep two large blue recycling bins in there, too. About three weeks ago, I noticed that two Tim Horton's cups were sitting on the floor next to one of the blue bins.

There they sat on the floor for days and days. Nobody goes in that room, so they were undisturbed. I just assumed they were empty paper cups. No big deal. Then this morning, I happened to glance at them as I passed, and they were both tipped over. Coffee had spilled everywhere – I guess they weren't empty after all.

The only reason this is even vaguely interesting is because, in order for these cups to spill, somebody would have had to walk into this room and kick or knock them over intentionally. Nothing else in this room has changed, and nobody has been in it for days. And the cups certainly wouldn't fall over on their own – there's no wind and they weren't perched precariously on a ledge. They were on the floor.

Now, this isn't exactly the world's biggest problem. Nobody owns or leases that space. Nothing was ruined. It's about the most inconsequential thing to have happened today, probably. But my point is still that somebody willfully decided to walk in and kick over a couple of three-week old coffee cups.

Maybe there's a ghost in the building. Or maybe the asshole population of this place extends beyond me, after all. Who knew?

Monday, December 14, 2009

:: Me fail English? That's unpossible ::

As some of you know, I have started scouring the MLS listings for houses, because I would like to – in an ideal world – sell my townhouse and buy a house in the spring or summer.

Over the past month or so, I have spent far too much time reading all the listings, and after awhile, the descriptions all begin to blend together and sound the same. It seems like every house is in a "great neighbourhood" or has "wall-to-wall laminate" or has a "great backyard for entertaining."

And while all these different blurbs are not exactly original, at least they make sense. I know what is being offered. As opposed to this one listing – for a delightful little rancher – that I found today. This realtor (or whoever wrote the blurb) describes the house in the following way:

"Quiet street, hardwood floors and big lot blend together for a very good time."

Really? That's your sales pitch? Really?!

Let me get this straight. This house is on a quiet street? Excellent. That's good – I'm with ya. But it also has hardwood floors that - and correct me if I'm wrong – blend together with the lot?

Are there no walls to this house? Are you selling me a circus tent? I don't understand. If I'm about to fork over $474,000, I better get some damn walls, that's all I'm saying.

And one more thing. This hardwood-to-lawn-because-there's-no-walls concept makes for a very good time? This statement is truly the most baffling of the bunch.

I don't get it – I thought I was buying a house. I don't necessarily want a good time, I want a nice place to live. You know, a spacious backyard, updated kitchen, maybe a nice deck. Advertising a house as a "good time" just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Are you selling me an event? Are you telling me that I am going to have a lot of fun buying this house? Or do you mean that I'll have an excellent time in the specific area where the hardwood meets the grass?

You've got a lot of questions to answer, real estate agent.

For starters, you can start by telling us why your MLS posting reads like it's a classified ad for an escort service that's been translated from English to Mandarin and then back to English again.
:: A difference of opinion ::

"I just don't like my chicken wings with a side of tits." - Christene, on why she hates Sammy J. Peppers, and refuses to go there.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

:: Shovel your own damn driveway ::

After a few days of Mother Nature attempting to snow (You'd see a few flakes and that was it, then a few hours later, a few more), it finally snowed for real today. Still is, as a matter of fact. It's nothing to get worked up about yet, and I'm sure when it stops there will be nothing more than 4-5 cm on the ground (knock on wood).

This new snowfall, however light, means that our strata unearths all the community snow shovels and the big bag of salt for the walkways and courtyards. In previous years, people have just grabbed the shovels when necessary, and I've only ever used them last year, when the snow in front of my garage door was too much to drive over. And once or twice I used them when I was feeling generous, and I shoveled a path through the snow so people could get to their front doors.

The common areas - walkways, court yards, etc - in each "pod" of townhouses have usually been cleared by one or two people. In my pod, it's the strata president usually. This is because a) many of the people who live in this pod are elderly, and b) because he's the fucking president.

Lately, this guy has been driving me crazy. He was first elected strata president because he's sort of the complex handyman anyway (He is a very "handy" guy, so it's a position he voluntarily takes, and seems to enjoy) and also because at the time of the strata elections, he was unemployed so, no matter his other faults, he was deemed the best choice because he'd have, presumably, all kinds of time to devote to the strata cause.

The last few weeks, I've seen him around the complex fixing things, and each and every time, he has to make a point about how "I'm just volunteering, you know" and "I don't get paid for this."

Listen Bucko, we know you don't get paid. You do the work because you're able to and it saves the strata money. We fucking get it. And while we certainly appreciate it, I don't need to be reminded that I should be appreciating it. If you didn't wanna do it, you shouldn't have signed on to the god damn president, and at this point, I'd just as soon pay somebody to come fix the roof, or shovel the snow, or whatever. At least that way I'd seen some tangible benefit to the $224 I pay in fees every month.

But if you want to do it, that's fine. But don't make the rest of us feel guilty. Because I don't tend to feel guilt about these things - I just get pissed off and annoyed.

Today, however, was the breaking point. We arrived home from grocery shopping and Mr. President was shoveling the area in front of his garage, and the three ajacent spaces (four people all share one common garage). My garage - and the garage that three or four fellow residents share with me - is not a part of this area.

Still, the guy feels the need to tell me that he's got the shovels and salt out, and they'll be by his front door again all winter.

"Thanks," I said. "I'll remember that."

Then I started to go inside, but he spoke up again.

"Yep, just by the front door.... I'm just sayin'."

Yeah, I get it. You're saying "Hey, you should shovel this area that you don't even use, because I'm always the one doing it." Or, more accurately, he's saying "Hey, you should volunteer to do help out."

And you know what? Maybe I should. Maybe I even will when I have the time or the inclination. But don't fucking guilt me into it. You aren't doing it out of the goodness of your heart. You are doing it because you only work 20 hours a week and oh, have I mentioned this before? You are the fucking president. (I know shoveling snow isn't actually written into the actual presidential duties, at least I assume it isn't, but the position does carry with it, by default, more responsibility than the average resident. That's all I'm saying.)

After this conversation, I immediately hopped in my truck to take it for a spin around the block (I'm having 4-wheel drive issues and wanted to see what was up with it), and unfortunately this meant driving right past Mr. President/Volunteer Shoveler again.

I notice that he has finished about half of what he was shovelling.

Of course, he waves me down. I roll the window down, and then he asks, "So... do you want me to just leave the shovel here for you?"

"Yeah, fine, whatever," is my response, and I drive away. He leaves the shovel leaning against a post and goes into his nice warm house.

And in the five minutes I was driving around, I just got angrier. For starters, I'm fucking driving away - how do you know when I'm coming back? Maybe I'm going to work and won't be back for 9 hours. Maybe I'm leaving forever. Or maybe I'll be back in five minutes.

The point is, he had no idea.

Secondly, he already guilt-tripped me once. But that's apparently not enough. So not only is he telling me "Yeah, do some of the work I volunteered for, and shovel the driveway" he's telling me also, "Oh yeah, also do it right now."

Fuck. You.

So I came home, parked the truck, went inside and got some gloves. And then I came back out and begrudgingly grabbed the shovel.

And then I cleared my own God damn driveway, and - because I'm so thoughtful and nice - the driveway of the old war veteran who parks next me. That was it.

Mr. President's side is still only half finished. He can fucking shovel it himself.

Friday, December 11, 2009

:: One for the Grammar Police and English majors ::

Yesterday, my boss asked a colleague which project/assignment he could expect from him by the end of the day. His response is a bad (ie: just not funny) attempt at humour made worse by, well, see for yourself...

Colleague: You've got the one on the nine-year-old philandstrafer – as opposed to a Tiger Woods philantherer, hahahaha.
Boss: You mean philanthopist and philanderer.
Colleague: Yeah... whatever... you get it.

Yeah, we do get it. Unfortunately.

Somewhere, Noah Webster's head is exploding. (Or would, had he not died in the 1840s)
:: A bad day to be pants-less ::

Me: Wow, minus-40 today up there, eh?
Kelsey: It's fucking terrible.... It's -46 with the wind, apparently. And I didn't wear pants today!
Me: It's way too cold to be pants-less.
Kelsey: I know. Real smart.

I know over the last 15 months I've taken more than my fair share number of shots at the city of Fort McMurray, and more specifically, shots at the people who voluntarily decide to move there. And each time, whether it's Lanette, Kelsey or sometimes others (Amanda, looking in your direction), I get an passionate retort about how I'm wrong, how the city isn't that bad, how the money's good, or about sometimes you gotta sacrifice, etc etc.

And, all joking aside, I can respect that. I really can. I mostly bash the northern experience because a) I didn't like it when I was there, and b) it's fun to be a "pot-stirrer" as Lanette called me a week ago. But truthfully, I understand their responses to my criticism. I'd expect you to defend the place you live, your home. Hell, I do the same thing when people bash Langley (But really, why would they? It's lovely.)

But having said that, sometimes I think you get to a point where any response you can muster in defence of your fair city is rendered impossible. And I think that point is about -46.

At that point, no matter how much you may like certain aspects of your town, I think you just have admit to a small part of yourself, "Yep, this really sucks."

It's like my old buddy Carlos – who grew up in balmy Mexico City – once said to me when I told him how cold it was when I lived in Peace River:

"I don't see the logic in building a city in uninhabitable conditions. It would be like building a city underwater. It's just not meant to be."

But if you absolutely must build a city there, I'd recommend a sweater and a snow suit – at least. Not wearing pants is just, well, stupid.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

:: Batting stats and flamethrowers ::

"This is great. I'm batting one-hundred here." - random woman at Superstore tonight.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that batting .100 is actually piss poor ("Gregg Zaun," according to Chris) and that she probably meant "batting one-thousand." Instead, I simply took small satisfaction that, in this instance, I was much smarter than her and carried on with my shopping.

Also, tonight I was sorting through my list of blog posts (700 and counting!) and found about 8 drafts - basically, posts on a variety of subjects that were in some form of completion, from paragraph upon paragraph to simply a half sentence or a title. One of them was even from 2005.

None of them were publishable, but I did find one quote from Meghan from 2007 (I think) that I thought I would salvage and publish here, considering we are smack in the middle of holiday mayhem. Maybe it did get printed in another post, but maybe not. Either way, it seems fitting.

"Christmas shopping would be far more acceptable if I was allowed to fight through the crowds with a flamethrower and had a constant IV hookup of Ativan. Or Moonshine."

I whole-heartedly concur. (I really could've used that flamethrower last weekend at Best Buy when I watched from about 60 yards away as some middle-aged assbag decided to launch his empty shopping cart randomly through the parking lot. Of course it smashed into the back of my parked truck. Of course I yelled the shit out of him. Nothing more came of it because he ran away. Probably for the best.)
:: Welcome to the Future ::

"What's PVR? I've never even heard of that." - co-worker, with compete seriousness.

I can understand not being that up on technology, and I can certainly understand if someone is not exactly sure how a PVR works, and if you don't want one, that's cool too. But to have never even heard of it, even in passing? You've really got to go out of your way to avoid technology, pop culture, the news – you've really got to ignore life – to have not even heard of this product.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

:: Yes, we're talkin' 'bout practice ::

The best part of my day – best part of my week, actually – came about an hour ago, as I talked to a basketball coach on the phone. Now, I haven't met this coach in person yet, but – and excuse the generalization – he sounded like he was black. He had a distinct twang in his voice, and some of the slang/expressions he used led me to assume this. (In essence, he basically just sounded way cooler than anybody I know).

I asked the coach what he thought of his team this year – a local senior girls high school team. His response was priceless – he went on a good rant about how he didn't even know what his team would look like because more than half his players were still playing volleyball ("You tell me how my team looks. You're covering the volleyball, so I bet you know better than me!), and then this led into a diatribe about how the two high school sports' seasons overlapped too much (he's right) which made it impossible for him to coach, and for his team to get off to a good start.

Just yesterday, he told me, he only had five girls out to practice. For the next five minutes, he said the word 'practice' approximately 15 times (ex: "I can't even get half the team out to a practice?! How we s'posed to play games, man... I mean, only five girls at a practice! A practice!)

Of course, considering the bemused yet frustrated tone of his voice, not to mention his twang and accent, reminded me an awful, awful lot of another famous practice rant. In fact, it was almost identical, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. That's how awesome it was. He is definitely my new favourite interview.

:: Costco has brought shame to my family ::

Last night there was a family dinner at my parents' house to celebrate the numerous December birthdays in my family. There were three – my grandpa (Dec. 1), dad (12th), mom (14th), and now as of this morning, there are four, because my cousin Tracy had a baby girl early this morning, McKenna Caylin. Which is awesome.

To celebrate, my mom ordered a large cake from Costco and told the Costco bakery she wanted the cake to say "Happy December Birthdays!"

So when I saw the cake last night, you can understand my disgust when I read the cake and it said "Happy December Birthday's"

There's a difference there, I assure you. And though I was the only one who cared, it really bugged me, which likely comes as no surprise to my fellow members of the Grammar Police.

Still tasted delicious though.

Monday, December 07, 2009

:: There are no words for this ::

"This is my favourite Black Eyed Peas song. It's so unlike anything else they've ever done." - said by a pub-goer at our table Saturday night, with complete and utter sincerity. 

(No, I don't remember what song it was, but does it really matter? This is perhaps the douchiest thing I've ever heard. And really, calling it douchey isn't even quite right, but like I said in the title, I'm at a loss for words here. Unbelievable.)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

:: Tiger ::

Perhaps by now you've heard, but a few Fridays ago, Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac into a tree and a whole bunch of women fell out.

And as one might expect when scandal hits the world's best golfer, richest athlete and sports' up-until-now Golden Child, there's been plenty spoken and written about the situation. But for any of you living buried beneath a sand trap, here's the quick breakdown as far as any of us can tell:

Rumours of Tiger cheating with some broad come up in the news. Wife Ellin (editor's note: She's the only woman in this story who doesn't look like she's been rode hard and put away wet. Tiger, what were you thinking? If you wanna cheat, that's your business, but c'mon pal - pick better) gets angry and the two have a fight. Tiger leaves the house. Ellin chases after him, and smashes the back window of the Caddy with a golf club. The incident then causes Tiger to crash into a fire hydrant followed by a tree.

Cops come. Rumours and stories swir. Enter TMZ.

And then all the ex-mistresses come out of the woodwork. Now, there's plenty of angles to tackle in this story - starting with the fact that one of his ladyfriends kept 300 voicemails and text messages simply so she could sell them to US Weekly (like this wasn't her plan the whole time), or we could debate the privacy vs. celebrity debate that's raged ever since Eldrick pleaded via his website for people to let his family deal with the situation in private.

However, I'd rather write about something that's been bugging me every since the alleged cheating stories came to light. I have a real problem with those people who are eulogizing this moment as the end of humanity, as if Tiger was the last bastion of Good in the world of sports, and their lives are now lesser because of Eldrick's wayward use of his putter. (Or maybe it's a Driver, you'd have to ask Rachel Uchitel).

I'm talking to you,

Rich Lerner writes about it being an "end of an era" and how there is now a grieving process for all of us, when in reality, I think the only people grieving is the Woods family and likely the Golf Channel itself, since Tiger is its bread-and-butter and if not for the massive spike in popularity golf has enjoyed since Tiger arrived, the channel doesn't likely exist.

So grieve for your ratings, sure. But this isn't going to affect the common person's life. And if it does, well, I feel sorry for you.

Tiger Woods is not your brother, best friend or personal deity. He is a golfer on TV. And if he makes and mistake, well, that's too bad of course, but it probably should not affect your outlook on the world. He's just a man. A sometimes people make mistakes.

I had a quick conversation with Lanette the other day about this very situation, because she thought I was pinpointing her as one of these "oh-no-the-world-is-ending-how-will-I-go-on-now? types. But I'm not. Lanette, like thousands of others, simply like Tiger a little less now. And respect him less, too.

And that's fair. He deserves that, I'm pretty sure.

But my point, aside from the fact that the world is not in fact crumbling all around us, is that this doesn't affect Tiger the athlete. Unless his personal life gets inside his head so much that he suddenly starts shanking every tee shot, he's probably going to go out there and win 7 tournaments and at least one major next year, and the year after that and the year after that. Because Tiger Woods, when it comes to golf, is a robot. He's the best player on the planet, and that hasn't changed in the past 10 days.

And for all the Pollyannas out there who are crying into the hot dogs they bought at the turn, well, I hate to break it to you but sports hasn't been pure and untainted and good for about 15 years, at least.

(Some quick examples off the top of my head: Barry Bonds, Tom Cable punching his fellow coach, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Todd Bertuzzi, the whole Tour de France, Charles Barkley, Michael Phelps and oh, and in a near-exact situation as Mr. Woods is the man who was the World's Greatest/Richest Athlete before that mantle was Tiger's - Michael Jordan.)

To hold Tiger to a higher standard than other superstars isn't exactly fair. I mean, how is he different? He's a guy who made a mistake, and though some people will forgive him (as if he actually needs the forgiven of strangers, instead of just his family) and some will not, I doubt very much that, six months from now, when I see him birdie 18 to win the Masters, I'm going to shake my head in disgust and turn to somebody and say, "Yeah, that was a pretty good round, but remember the time he slept with that chick in New York?"

No, I'm much more likely to say one thing and one thing only:

"Nice putt."

Friday, December 04, 2009

:: Open up the 'Stick with your Wife' barrel ::

As far as relationships go, the last year or so has been a bit of a roller-coaster for a lot of people I know, and even more that I do not.

I mean, two pairs of my best friends have gone splits-ville earlier in 2009 – and a third occurred just recently – which has surprisingly turned out OK for all involved, or so it would seem to an outside observer. At the very least, nobody took a nine-iron to the back window of somebody else's truck.

And speaking of nine-irons, we've all been inundated with the "news" of Tiger Woods crashing his Escalade and allegedly cheating on his wife. I'll get on a rant one day soon about how this isn't exactly earth-shattering news (Cole's notes version of rant: If Tiger's infidelity has actually profoundly affect you as a golf fan or just a person, I feel kind of sorry for you. Focus on your own life, because Tiger is just a guy on TV.)

The point is, there's been a lot of bad relationship mojo floating around lately, and I don't like it. I mean, there's nothing anybody can do about it - things happen – but it's just bumming me out, man. Even last night, I settled in for a good night of TV watching, and what do I see? Larry David trying (successfully, for a change!) to get back with his ex-wife on the season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and then a divorce-centric episode of Parks and Rec.

I'm no expert on relationships here (shocking to you all, I know), but unlike Tiger Woods and every single person I seem to see on TV this week, at least I've went 11 months (editor's note: Holy Shit, 11 months!) without any domestics, car crashes, TMZ reports or angry fights.

That's something, I think.

The lesson here? There isn't one, really. Except maybe try to be more like me, if you can (But I've suggested this idea before, on a number of different fronts, and it's never really taken off).

As for the rest of you – Chris & Jenna, Scotty & Kels, Jer & Katie, etc... – just try to keep it together, will ya? This whole splitting up stuff this is depressing me.

Oh, and Buchs and A-Scrams, you try your best, too. (Good luck, Amanda).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

:: And you thought I was a jerk... ::

Today marks an exciting new day in the world of blogs (Yes, there is such a thing), for today marks the return of a well-respected, obnoxious blogger after a lengthy hiatus. Two obnoxious bloggers, actually.

Finally, at long last, a blog that speaks to me.*

By gar, it's been awhile.

*Don't worry other blog friends, your blogs also speak to me and I love them, but this particular blog in question actually yells at me, rather than speaks, and that's something I can get behind.

Monday, November 30, 2009

:: Adventures in Text Messaging ::

Minutes ago, my office phone rang. I picked it up, and instantly heard a recorded message. The pleasant-sounding robo-voice told me that I had received a text-message from a Rogers Wireless customer. This was weird, because not a lot of people have my work number, and those that do are not likely to send me a text message.

But I pushed 1 anyway, to listen to the message, and then the Stephen Hawking-esque voice told relayed to me the following message:

"I once sliced a piece of deli meat so thin it was invisible."

This is the text message some random person – with a number I didn't recognize – deemed necessary to send to my desk. I was baffled, to say the least.

I instantly began trying to figure out who this message-sender was, and my first suspect was Mike (as it usually is when weird, random things happen). Also, years ago he sent a voice/text message to my house at Christmas time.

I then Googled the phrase, to see if it was some long-lost quote or inside joke from our Kamloops days. I thought maybe it was from Space Ghost, or Strong Bad, or something similar. The search came up empty though.

I then realize the number was 604 area code, so Mike was quickly ruled out.

Turns out it's actually a Seinfeld quote – when Kramer gets the meat slicer. And after quickly scrolling through the numbers in my cell phone, the culprit was, in hindsight, a likely one:

Kyle. I should've known.

"Oh, that was meant for your cell phone," was his response.

Ya think?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

:: Small Victories ::

"This one guy, a goalie, keeeps bitching that his stats are wrong because I missed the shots on goal in two of his games, which throws off his goals-against average and his save percentage. He actually emailed by fucking boss to make sure it gets done. They're fucking men's league stats, for Christ's sake! Anyways, I pulled all his team's gamesheets and entered all his stats properly, sort of. I divided all his shots in half, so now his save percentage is so low it's ridiculous." - Chris, on how to deal with problems at work.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

:: How to get fat and stay that way ::

With Christmas officially less than a month away, now is the time you'll start seeing all kinds of Christmas-related magazine and newspaper articles, and watch all types of holiday-themed segments on TV. Over the past few years – as America gets fatter and fatter, and people's hearts get more cholester-ific by the day – the one story I've seen with increasing regularity is the one telling people how to avoid gaining weight during Christmastime.

"Stay thin for the holidays!" magazine covers shout from the checkout stand at Safeway.

or, "How to keep Christmas Dinner healthy!"

Listen. Nobody wants Christmas dinner to be healthy. That's not how it works. It's supposed to be fucking terrible for you. Thirty-pound Butterball basted in its own fattening fat. Enough gravy to float a sailboat on. Wine up the wazoo. Eggnog. And as much pie, cookies and Christmas pudding as you can god damn handle.

If the Christmas Day comes where I find myself eating Tofurkey and eating nothing but beans, brussel sprouts (editor's note: Blegh!) and some sort of vegan dessert (Sorry, Tina), well, that's the day I put on a yarmulke, change my last name to Greenowitz and start learning all the words to The Hanukah Song.

Look, I know it's easy to gain weight over the holidays – God knows I have in previous Decembers. And while I don't necessarily want to gain weight this time around (mostly because I've spent the last 7 weeks losing weight....down 15 pounds, thanks for asking) I've come to grips with the fact that it will likely happen.

And if it's going to happen to me, it damn well better happen to the rest of you, too. So with that in mind, I present to you the antithesis of all those stupid magazine covers:

10 Simple solutions for packing on holiday pounds:

1. Invent a fourth meal. Got some days off over the holidays? Great - good for you! Now, with all the holiday hubbub – shopping, baking, wrapping presents, visiting – you are going to want to make the most of your days off. Therefore, you probably won't be sleeping much. And since you will be awake likely 20% more than usual, you'll need to eat 20% more food. I suggest you go with the new meal, Slupper – which is held daily between dinner and sleep. Suggested traditional Slupper fare: leftover pie; large sandwiches; corn chips; bacon; candy canes.

2. Make as many trips to Starbucks as possible. Ignore the fact that Starbucks is constantly filled with pretentious douchebags, and forget that "tall" is actually "small." And also disregard that fact that even the cheapest coffee costs approximately $14 plus a required donation to help some African school's music society. The good thing about this place is that A) Decorations and atmosphere-wise, Starbucks is always Christmassed the Fuck Out. And by going there, it will get you – or keep you – in a cheery, holiday mood. And that's good. And B) Pretty much every drink or baked good there will run you about 900 calories. Go ahead, order two.

3. Two words: Egg. Nog.

4. Three words: Chocolate. Egg. Nog. I mean, seriously. Sometimes you see a product and it seems as though it's been created just for you. God Bless you, Huge Faceless Grocery Conglomerate. God Bless us, everyone.

5. Leave the carrots for the reindeer. Have you ever seen a reindeer? They're fucking enormous. Let them be healthy – they're much bigger than you, tubbo.

6. At all times, ensure that you are full of Christmas cheer. And by Christmas cheer, I mean booze. Lots and lots of delicious booze.

7. Eat Christmas baking with every single meal. Butter tarts. Sugar cookies. Nanaimo bars. Those peanut butter-marshmallow squares everybody loves. Be sure to eat at least one for dessert after lunch, dinner and Slupper. And I know there technically shouldn't be any dessert after breakfast, so if you must stand by that rule, I suggest simply substituting any of the above desserts for your Oak Flakes or Fibre 1. C'mon, breakfast is no time to fuck around – it's the most important meal of the day.

8. Gravy. Is what you are eating dripping in gravy? Can it be?

9. Leftovers. This one usually goes without saying – there's usually plenty of leftover turkey, ham, duck or goose at any holiday meal. And if your family is anything like my family, there are going to be leftovers. Every. Single. Time. And around 8 or 9 p.m., when things are winding down, somebody's Grandma (hopefully yours, or else who the hell is that woman in the kitchen?) will walk out into the family room and ask: "Who wants leftovers to take home?" You do. You want them. Always. And if you have a big family and end up attending more than one of these events, well, all the better.

10. Don't move. Try to get as little exercise as possible. Family going caroling in the neighbourhood? That's nice, but there's probably a football game on. Going ice-skating? Oh, you better go on without me – I've got presents to wrap. And sure, you could get up off the couch to grab another beer, or take the empty plate to the kitchen which has been resting on your enormous gut for the last two periods of the hockey game, but your house is full of people during Christmas! Don't you have some gullible little cousin who you can con into doing it for you? (Suggested method: "C'mon kid. I'll time you!") Or if you don't have a cousin present, I suggest finding your sweet, old grandmother or great aunt – you know, the one you only see twice a year – and getting her to do it. Usually, they're so happy to see their sweet, kind grandson/nephew that they'll offer to do your dirty work without you even having to ask.

So, there you have it. Go ahead and get fat. You don't have to thank me – although if you want to send me some cookies, I won't turn 'em down.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

:: We're sorry, the number you have dialed cannot be reached ::

About a year or so ago, my company's phone system changed. We went from having one main number and a series of extensions to each of us having our own direct lines to our desk. This change eliminated the position of receptionist.

Soon after the reception position was axed, we also lost someone in our department. 

The vacant desk, however, still remains, as does its dedicated phone line, which people still occasionally call.

This phone still has voicemail set up. The original voicemail greeting – from the since laid-off employee – has been erased, leaving a generic message instead. But the voicemail password is a mystery to all of us.  It was originally changed from the former employee's code to some default series of numbers, but this was done by some phone tech guy, and none of us here know the password or even how to get it. (Well, I'm sure we could get it, but that takes work, and we're busy, busy people).

Over the past seven months, I have sat at this desk (it's got a specialized computer/computer program that I need for part of my job) and watched the little voicemail light on the phone blink.

First it was just two new messages, then four. And by the end of the summer, we hit seven.

Over the past two days, that number has reached nine. Nine people trying to call us with, presumably, news.

Now, this could be huge, life-changing news – maybe a meteor landed on the beach, maybe the mayor is having an affair or perhaps the coach of the local sports team just took his Toyota and mowed down a family in a drunken rage.

Then again, it could be a crazy, senile old people calling with "news" which is in fact, nothing. Or it could just be PR/communications people calling to pitch stories that we'll inevitably balk at (sorry, Lanette) because a) they're not that good and b) we don't like being told what to do. 

Yep, those messages could be anything.

But I'll never find out because I don't know the password. And I doubt I'll bring it to anybody else's attention, either.

Not until the number reaches 10, at least.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

:: Social skills ::

Just in case any of you were wondering, saying "So...?" casually as someone walks by your desk – when they otherwise have no reason or desire to speak with you – is not an acceptable conversation starter. 

And after your target walks past and into the lunchroom – ignoring you, in case you were unsure –it is not acceptable to get up from your desk, corner them in said room and start inane conversations about whatever pops into your head at that given moment, apropos of nothing. 

I don't care that you are starved for attention. All they want is some fucking coffee. 

Leave them be.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

:: 10 Things I don't understand ::

In light of Christene's excellent 101 Things List, I decided I needed to come up with a new list of my own (I've already done the 101 Things). Now, this list is definitely not going to reach the century mark, but I figured 10 was a good place to start.

So, here I present to you, a list of things that continually baffle me – in no specific order.

1. Vegas vs. Vancouver
For some suburban-types, a night – or a weekend – on the town in Vancouver is a fun thing to do. Maybe you go to a concert or some kind of event or casino, grab some dinner, then go for some drinks. Then maybe you stay at a downtown hotel. Seems fun, right? Well, Vegas – the city I'd call the undisputed champion of fun – is gonna hurt the bank account no worse than that, and maybe even less. (Assuming, of course, that you don't bet your mortgage on the wrong colour while playing roulette).

Forgetting for the moment the cost of whatever show/event you've chosen to see downtown, the cost of a room at a hotel in Vancouver is going to run you about $200 a night, sometimes more. So for a weekend, you're lookin' at $400 right there. Factor in a night of drinking for two people (well over $120 if you're any good at it) and two dinners dinner (another $150  at least), and you're suddenly at $670 without entertainment. 

Conversely, to fly to Las Vegas (out of Bellingham) on a Friday evening and stay at a middle-of-the-road hotel right on the strip, then fly home Sunday night, is only about $300-$350 a person. Sure, you need gambling money and everything, but if you hit up a Vancouver casino on your big night out, it's no different. 

Basically, my point is this: Even if Vegas is maybe $100 more expensive, what would you rather do on your weekend? The fact that the prices between the two are so close absolutely astounds me, considering Plan A includes a 45-minute jaunt on a SkyTrain that likely smells like urine, whereas Plan B includes flying 2,255 km into another country and staying at a nice hotel.

I'm not complaining, I'm just saying it's weird.

2. Women
I think this one is one the list for pretty obvious reasons.

3. Work productivity
Now, I don't want to jinx anything here, but for the last few years it's always amazed me how I can waste so much of my work day without getting noticed. There are more than a few days where I go into work knowing that I have very little to do and that I'm going to have to occupy my time by any of the following: making multiple coffee runs, checking Facebook, browsing Deadspin and the numerous other blogs and websites at left, and, you know, writing blogs. 

I've thought about it, and I think the reason I'm so bored and the reason I'm never caught is the same thing: I'm very productive. I get more work done than most – and quickly. Therefore, my work ethic is never, ever questioned, and in the past, it's actually been applauded. However, like the super smart kid in elementary school who works too fast and then becomes a disruption because he's bored, I find myself with time to kill. 

Now, I could understand if nobody noticed this situation for a week or two, maybe a month. But this has been the case now for a very long time. Just now, for example, about six people have walked behind me and, I assume, seen me typing this on the screen. Not a single person asked me what I was doing, or even offered a glance in my direction. 

Therefore, if they don't care, I refuse to feel guilty about it. (Besides, is it considered slacking if I still get all my work done?)

4. Those new Levi's commercials.
It's a Walt Freakin' Whitman poem! Used to sell jeans. Seriously, what the fuck? 

5. The E-Trade baby.
Where does a kid that age get so much money? And where the hell are his parents while he is puking and/or squandering the family fortune on penny stocks? And in that one commercial, how did that one black baby get there? Public transit? So many plot holes.

6. Fort McMurray
More specifically, I don't understand people's facination with it as some sort of get-out-of-jail free, pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow kind of place. But I've complained and argued this point many times before, so I digress. Still makes my list though.

7. Parsley
There was some in my fridge last month. I can't remember what recipe called for it, but I can guarantee to you that it didn't make a difference. There's a reason it only costs 42 cents a bushel – because it's pointless.

8. Major League Baseball's Gold Glove Awards
By now, the problems with this award have been well documented by people smarter than I, but how nothing ever changes is beyond me. They're becoming a bigger joke than the Oscars (I still stand by my long-held view that American Beauty is among the world's most terrible movies ever made).

9. The legions of teenage Twi-Hards.
My head nearly explodes when I try to wrap my brain around how fans of Twilight think, act and conduct themselves. I get so aggravated by them that I cannot properly express my true thoughts – which are a combination of anger, annoyance, and overall bafflement (and an urge to kill). These fans are this generation's Dungeons and Dragons' kids – huge, huge nerds. For further proof, go to YouTube and do a search for a user named Megster1992. I dare ya.

10. How people afford houses
This is right at the top of my list these days, as I make vain attempts to figure out how I'll ever be able to live in a real house – by real I mean one that has a yard and no strata. I have probably $75,000 in equity in my townhouse and make a mildly-above-average salary; Christene makes decent money, too – and has two jobs. Yet I still can't make the numbers work. 

Yes, I could complain – and do – about how real estate in this city costs way, way, way too much, but other people I know, in similar situations, seem to make it work. I just imagine going to the bank and them saying I can't have any money, because that seems to be what happens to me in such meetings. I just don't know how some folks make it happen. If you have any secrets, lemme know. (Please).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

:: What a day ::

As any longtime reader of this blog knows, I've spent many a month (or six) trying to drop some pounds and get in shape, with varying degrees of effort and success. I know I've written about this plenty, and I'd link to those accounts if I could find 'em - I took a quick look, but I'm busy watching the Lions/Ti-Cats game, and I don't feel like putting any more effort into it.

Let me break it down for you: When I was 19, I decided to lose some weight. I was going to Kwantlen at the time, and also working a couple days a week. I still lived at home, so every day on my way home from school/work, I met my dad at the gym. I also watched what I ate pretty closely, and by Christmas of that first year I was down to 223 pounds - it was the lightest I've ever been in my adult life.

It went down hill after that, however. When I moved to Kamloops, I was busy with school, adjusting to a new town, and also adjusting to having to cook for myself. I also drank a few beers. As such, my perogy/beer/nacho/Wendy's diet did very little for my waist line, and this similar trend continued during my 9-month sojourn in Alberta (although you'd have to substitute A&W for Wendy's).

So when I moved home from Alberta six years ago (six years already... Jesus Christ!) I weighed a solid 285 pounds. At the time, when I first weighed myself, I was shocked - I had no idea I had gained that much weight. And I must've hid it well, because still to this day nobody believes me when I tell 'em I weighed that much. But I did.

The moment when I saw that number on the scale is still among the crappiest moments of my life.

For the next 8 months, I stopped eating fast food altogether, drank less and went to the gym 5 days a week. Eventually, I got down to 240, which I was pretty proud of - I mean, 45 pounds is pretty good for a guy who never really had a lot of willpower with regard to being in shape.

And that's pretty much the same place my weight has sat ever since - although I've yo-yo'ed up to about 250-255 from time to time. But by and large, 240-242 has been about average (or so I've assumed, because my clothes always fit. I actually stopped weighing myself years ago).

In the last three-four years I've tried many a ways to get that number down even more. On two occasions, I gave up beer for between 2-5 months. I didn't quit drinking though (I mean, c'mon!) - all this did was introduce my friends to Drinking-Wine-Straight-From-The-Bottle Nick, and Let's-Drink-Some-Gin-and-Black-the-Fuck-Out Nick.

And once there was also Drink-A-Bottle-of-Captain-Morgan-And-Puke-On Derrick's-Floor Nick. (Full disclosure: I don't remember this night at all. I also blacked out, and only heard of the puking story later that week. Apparently Katie cleaned it up - Sorry Kate.)

I also tried running - at the gym and outside - and I also did the no-carbs thing for 2 months, which didn't bring with it great returns.

Nothing worked. Until about 6 weeks ago, when I tried again, with a new program and plan. Over the past month or so, I noticed my clothes getting looser, and more than a few people have commented on how skinny my face looks. So, because of this, I decided for the first time in years, to step on the scale and see what I really weighed. I was pretty shocked at the number.

It was good.

In the two weeks since then, I've knocked the number down a little bit more, and yesterday, the scale displayed a number I had not seen since I was 20 years old.


Yep, a pretty good day.

Friday, November 06, 2009

:: Yeah, I'd eat that* ::

"I had a dream last night that Kristyl and I were making sandwiches, but instead of bread, we used cheesecake." - Christene.

*editor's note: That's what she said.

Friday, October 30, 2009

:: Last-minute Halloween costume ::

With a nod to the Kurtenbloggers, who mentioned it on their TEAM 1040 appearance Wednesday, I present to you an easy, last-minute Halloween costume for your party tomorrow:

Go as John Gosselin.

All you need to do is wear an Ed Hardy shirt and leave your kids at home.
:: That time I was a jerk at Subway ::

Waitress: Have you decided?
Mr. Grotti: I'll have the linguini, red sauce on the side. If the sauce does not come on the side, I will send it back. I want garlic bread. Toasted. Not burnt. If it comes burnt, I will send it back.
Michael Scott: I will have the spaghetti. With a side salad.
Waitress: OK.
Michael Scott: If the salad is on top, I send it back.
- The Office, season 5 "Mafia" episode

It's often hard to tell because I'm such a sarcastic asshole most of the time, but the truth is that I really don't like confrontation – especially in restaurants, or places of that ilk.

I hate returning things to the mall, for one example, and this dislike for confrontation is also one of the main reasons I won't go out for a meal with a certain friend of mine – because he (his whole family, really) ends up having problems with everything, making a big scene, and eventually demanding free food etc... Through the years, we've stormed out of more than a few restaurants – him in a huff, me just trailing behind.

If I get a subpar meal at a restaurant, I'm more apt to just suck it up, shrug my shoulders and tell myself, "Well, they can't all be good." Because it's true – throughout your lifetime, it's next to impossible that every single meal you ever eat is going to be perfect. This doesn't mean I won't complain about said meal for days after – because trust me, you'll hear about it until you wished I'd choked and died trying to eat whatever it is I'm whining about – but I just don't waste time demanding that my meal be re-cooked/free/served to me with complimentary bread/dessert/appetizer/sports car.

It's just not worth it.

But earlier this week, I hit my breaking point.

After work the other day, I went to Subway to pick up some dinner. I ordered a foot-long roasted chicken sub, on white bread. For starters, the woman behind the counter grabbed a loaf of the parmesan oregano bread – apparently she just didn't listen at all, because the two types of bread do not sound remotely alike – and I had to correct her. No big deal, I guess, but I should have known it was foreshadowing what was to come.

Next, she cut open the correct bread with the skill and precision of a six-year-old, essentially tearing the bread in half, rather than cutting it. And again, I let it slide.

But then it began. She put tomatoes on it when I never asked for any – so she had to remove them. Then she put peppers on it, which I also didn't ask for – so she had to remove them. Then came time for "a little bit of mustard and a bit of ranch, please." (Notice, I was still polite at this point).

She then proceeded to empty nearly the entire damn mustard container on the sandwich, followed by so much ranch dressing that it looked like somebody jacked off an elephant onto my dinner (Nice visual? You're welcome). This was the last straw.

"Oh c'mom, I asked for a little of each. That's waaaay too much. You wanna scrape some of that off, or something?" I asked.

I got a baffled look, followed by a lame attempt to scrape the sauces off with a paring knife, which ended up a) tearing the bread some more and b) smearing a lovely mustard and ranch combination all over the outside of the bread.

"You know what? You've ruined the whole damn thing. Just start over, I want a new one."

This did not sit well with the person behind the counter, and she seemed bewildered at such a request. Her co-worker, who came over, was also reluctant.

"It's fine," the co-worker said. "What's wrong with it? We can't make a new one, unless you want to order two."

It was at this point that I informed said employee that since I hadn't yet paid for the first one, they'd better restart the process – and not fuck it up – or else I'd just walk out altogether, paying for nothing.

"Either way, you're gonna be out the cost of at least one sandwich," I said.

I should also mention that, by now, there were a few people behind me in line, no doubt wondering what the hell my problem was. Normally, I would have resorted to my usual "Aw, shucks" mentality (see above), but this is not the first time this Subway has fucked up my sandwich. In fact, more often than not, the employees at this particular location have ruined, in some way, my meal.

Now, you may wonder why I continue to return if they suck so bad, and my answer is two-fold. First, it's close to my house and convenient. And second, I always go back with the assumption that "It can't be that bad again, right?"

I would have likely also given this woman a break if she had a trainee sticker on, like many there often do. Hey, she's new, she's learning. That's cool – I get it. But I've seen this woman there before many times. And for somebody dubbed a "Sandwich Artist" you'd think you wouldn't suck so hard at it.

I mean, seriously, your only job is to make sandwiches. If you can't do that, maybe look into a new line of work. I mean, if I am a bad writer, I probably don't get to keep the job I have. If Bucholtz was a dangerously incompetent subpar electrician, he wouldn't be one. If Jeremy couldn't plumb, he wouldn't be a plumber, and if Kelsey didn't do... whatever the hell it is that she does, well she'd probably run away to Fort McMurray try something else.

In the end, you'll be happy to know that I got what I wanted – a remade footlong, roasted chicken sub, on white bread.

And the best part was, they couldn't even spit it in – such is the benefit of having them make it right in front of you. I'm sure they wanted to, though.

I can almost guarantee it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

:: Anonymous sources ::

Just in case any of you were wondering, calling my office and beginning a phone conversation with the phrase, "I'm not going to leave you my name or my number because this information will get me killed," is a surefire way  – and I mean 100% lock – to ensure that whatever you have to tell me will not be taken seriously, nor will it probably ever appear in print.

Such action does, however, provide me with an afternoon's worth of good stories to tell co-workers (and blog-readers, apparently).

Thanks for calling.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

:: Sean's reputation ::

During warm-up before our playoff game last night (It was chilly out)...

Chris: Hey, nice pants - I thought you said you didn't have sweatpants anymore.
Sean, excited: Yeah I know, but the other day I found two pairs!
Sean: Found them at my house...
(pause...Chris skeptical look)
Sean: They were mine... I'd already purchased them... then I found them again later... God, I can't believe I had to qualify that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

:: I'm thankful for hot wings, high-def TV and cheap flights to Vegas ::

Since it's Thanksgiving here in Canada (which means the official end of our prolonged summer... it was 2 degrees at 9 a.m. today), and everyone and their blog seems to be posting about what they're thankful for, I figured I'd follow suit with a holiday-themed post.

This was the first year in...well, ever, that I was prepared for the dual-holiday feasts - the usual one at my parents' house, and also this year, at Christene's (which is third in a row). However, in addition to the second dinner, it was also decided this year to have a "Friends-style" Thanksgiving on Saturday. About 15 of us were there for dinner (minus those at work - Chris, Ian and Sean) and while there was no football game in a random New York park, and nobody tried to put the turkey on their head, it was still quite a night.

We ate too much, drank waaaay too much (I drank about 16 beers and Jeremy drank three bottles of wine, just for a couple examples), and it all culminated with Kyle passing out before we even ate pumpkin pie (he was loaded when he showed up), rousing games of flippy cup and Guesstures, and me getting a mysterious cut over my eye that nearly required a stitch. In fact, I've been woozy for the last day and a half, so a mild concussion isn't out of the I incurred this injury is still beyond me.

Anyways, here is the Turkey-Day recap in quote form, leading with T.O.'s heartfelt, touching, Thanksgiving toast....

"I'd just like to say that I'm thankful for good friends, for our health... and for Budweiser finally coming out with 8-packs, and 20-packs too. So thanks to Katie and Jeremy for having us all here tonight, together...Go Cannons!" - T.O.

And now for the rest:

"This song just makes me want to get on a plane and fly to Colombia... who wants to do some drugs?!" - T.O., who liked a particular song which I now forget.

"This song makes me want to do drugs too... so I can kill myself." - T.O. again, not liking the next song, obviously.

Buchs: I'm way better than Terry Fox.
Jeremy: What?! What are you going to do in your life that is even half as good as what Terry Fox did?
Buchs: Live past 23. (editor's note: awesome)

Dan: My babysitter let me touch her boob once.
Somebody: What? How'd that happen?
Dan: I just asked.

When Buchs showed up loaded...
Me: What the hell were you doing all day, drinking by yourself?
Buchs: I think it's pretty obvious that I was.

After Kyle passed out before dessert...
Me: Shotgun on Kyle's pie!
Jer: Hey dude, that's my sister!

"Alright, pants-off dance-off!" - T.O. enters the room.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

:: Mixing metaphors ::

Memo to woman I just overheard:

The phrase is "a fine kettle of fish," and not, as you suggested in your recent conversation, "quite a kettle of worms."

Nobody has kettles full of worms.

Conversely, and for future reference, it's a "can of worms" that can be figuratively opened, not a "can of fish."

Just in case you were wondering.
:: It's okay, I'll just eat a sugar packet or two ::

It's just after noon right now, and I am starving.

However, going into the lunchroom to retrieve my lunch from the refrigerator is a difficult task, as two of the most notorious talkers are currently in there, eating lunch. I have, as you've probably guessed, absolutely zero inclination to speak with either or them – especially one, because the conversation always ends up being about her somehow.

Also, once any type of food is put on display – my lunch, for example – the conversation with inevitably turn to one of the following topics: how said person only eats organic food, how she ate just the most marvelous tomato from a hillside market on her recent trip to Central America, or the local farmers' market.

She's a self-proclaimed "foodie" (chief ingredient: pretentiousness!). Meanwhile, I'll be microwaving a panini sandwich that came frozen in a cardboard box (From Wal-Mart no less, which is really nothing more than a global farmers' market, when you think about it).

Had I brought a sandwich or something similar to work, I would likely be able to swoop in while the two were engrossed in conversation, and slink out without being noticed. But unfortunately my lunch today, as mentioned, is of the microwave variety, and there is absolutely zero chance that I can prepare it, wait for it to cook, and run away without getting trapped into a conversation about the healing power of asparagus, or how smart it is to cook 7 meals on a Sunday afternoon, then freeze them, thus freeing up your evenings for the rest of the week.

Thankfully, I've been eating far less the last few weeks as part of my latest weight-loss infatuation ("Hi, you may remember me from failed fitness regimes such as"Carb-free January 2007" and "Yo-Yo dieting attempts 1 through 6.").

And as such, my body has gotten used to always being at least a little bit hungry. My willpower is at an all-time high, which is why I am content (sort of) to wait out "the talkers" in the lunchroom, even if it means eating lunch way later than I'd like to.

My appetite is no match for my hatred for awkward, boring conversations.

Friday, October 02, 2009

:: Workin' hard, or hardly workin'? ::

There is very little work-related banter that I enjoy. That's not to say that I don't like talking with the people I work with – because I usually do – but I just despise the usual, cliched workplace topics of conversations (ie: My rant in an earlier post about people complaining that it's Monday).

And aside from that whole Monday thing, there are few things I hate more than somebody who greets you with a "Working hard or hardly working?" After which, they almost always chuckle to themselves with glee. Now, I admit that the phrase was probably funny the very first time somebody said it – Oohhh, I see what you did there, you flipped the words around! – but that was probably some time ago, in the 1950s.

I imagine that soon after that, the hilarity died considerably. And now, three-quarters of the way through 2009, the phrase is essentially Michael Jackson.


Anyways, the reason for all this is because, about 20 minutes ago while meandering through Wal-Mart across the street from the office (I was, during this time, "hardly working" for those of you keeping track), I overheard a guy talking on his cell phone.

And how he greeted the voice on the other end of the line was, essentially, a re-working of the "hardly working" question:

"Killin' time or is time killing you?"

Uhhh, what?

After I gathered my thoughts – my initial one being that this guy was the world's biggest idiot – I began to dissect this ridiculous phrase.

First off, it has absolutely no meaning. How does time kill you? How is that possible. After careful consideration, the only two ways in which I think that time could in fact be murderous in nature are 1) Dying of old age, and 2) People who are so busy they say that "There aren't enough hours in the day."

As for Way #1, it's pretty self-explanatory. You're old. You've been alive for a long time, and when that time is up, you die. Technically, it's time that kills you.

As for #2, well, these people are apparently so busy that they are being "killed" – figuratively speaking – by having a limited amount of time in which to complete a number of required tasks.

I get it, and I'm pretty sure that's what the intention of the "is time killing you?" line is all about. However, that does not make the sentence any less stupid, nor the speaker any less retarded.

It's no different that the original phrase – which is lame to begin with, as I said – and by trying to make a new version of said phrase, he just looks like a huge douche. You can usually get away with spouting lame cliches – Hell, athletes who are always taking it one game at a time and giving 110% do it every day – but who is this guy to try and coin a new phrase?

He's just some wahoo shopping at Wal-Mart in the middle of a work day and therefore likely unemployed**. And while it can be argued – pretty easily, I might add – that I, too, was in the exact same situation, there was one big difference: I wasn't coming up with asinine new twists on old phrases, thus making myself appear totally unhip and out of touch.

Nope, I was just killing time before it killed me.

*Yeah, I went there.
**A crass generalization, perhaps, but that's what why I'm considering changing this blog's title to Classic Times: Judging books by their cover since 1981.