Monday, March 30, 2009

:: Delay ::

I know you're all waiting for stories from our trip to Arizona and Las Vegas, and I also know you're anxiously waiting for hundreds of pictures to appear on Facebook, too. And they will. But not yet.

Ever since last Tuesday - our second night in Vegas - I have been getting sick. It's a combination of the flu and some severe dehydration. As a result, I'm constantly either feverishly hot, or cold and clammy - sometimes both within minutes of each other. Also, I can't sleep, and have not slept for the last four nights. Maybe an hour, tops, but thats it.

It's terrible and I hate it. So you'll just have to wait.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"It'd be rad if I was black." - Christene

"In (high school gym class) square dancing, you basically got an A if you smiled and looked like you were having a good time. I was always good at it, because back then I was a naturally sunny person. That was back before life handed me some shitty cards." - Christene again.

:: Random Childhood Memory #58: Vacation Edition ::

Growing up, we used to go on one "family vacation" per summer. Once in awhile we'd mix it up – a big camping adventure or Puerta Vallarta (we went when I was 13) – but for the most part, we rotated between three main spots - Edmonton, to visit my uncle and go to West Edmonton Mall; Southern California, to go to Disneyland; or Northern California via the Oregon Coast, to see the sights and visit family near San Francisco.

While each vacation had its charms, as kids, we obviously like Disneyland the best (I think we went two or three times), because, well, because it's fucking Disneyland, and it's basically part of a kids' DNA to like Mickey, Space Mountain and those giant pickles they used to sell for three dollars. Any person under the age of 13 who doesn't like The Happiest Place on Earth is basically a Nazi. But I digress...

Though Disneyland was the most anticipated trip, my most memorable was a journey we took to San Francisco when I was 9 or 10. Though today I'd kill to spend some time in NorCal, back then I'm not sure my brother and I fully appreciated it. The year before we'd been to Disneyland for the first time, and it was very tough for our tiny little elementary school brains to understand why we'd come alllll the way to California again without going to see the Big Mouse and his friends. Sure, the distance between San Fran and Anaheim is 601 km (I checked) but still – WE'RE ALREADY HERE! C'MON LET'S GO!!!!

As we did in those days, we hopped in the Volkswagen camper van that we had purchased from my grandparents earlier in the year, and set out on our two-week trek. Being that I was 10 and Chris was 7, we were not the most easy-going travellers – especially when those travel days are 8-9 hours long. We would have been completely unbearable if my mom had not planned ahead for this situation.

At the time, both my brother and I collected baseball player stickers. They were great – essentially they were baseball cards that you would peel the back off and stick on the designated team page/rectangle.

Before the trip, my mom purchased an entire box of these Topps Baseball stickers, and every hour or two, when we were getting restless, she would reach into the box and toss a pack or two of these stickers at each of us. We would then be kept occupied for the next five to 10 minutes, as we found places in the book for our new Mark Langston or Hubie Brooks sticker.

It was also during the early parts of this trip that we became acquainted with the rock 'n roll stylings of Steve Miller, the Beach Boys and Bobby McFerrin (my dad purchased a Road Trip Tunes mixtape).

But things went bad around Sacramento.

The temperature was about 40 degrees celsius out (or something close) and the old VW van started to fizzle out. Eventually, it just died by the side of the road. While my dad tried to flag down some help and call a tow truck, the rest of us sat in a nearby air-conditioned McDonald's for hours, drinking orange pop and eating fries. Though the ensuing details have been glossed over by time, the end result was this: Eventually we moved out of our new home at McDonald's and into a local hotel, and the van got a new engine put into it for the low, low cost of $3,000 (USD).

Once that was finished, we carried on with our trip, visited our family and the wonderful city of San Francisco, and also ate an Earthquake Sundae at Ghirardelli Square, much to the disgust of the other diners (They were just jealous).

It was, without question, the most expensive family vacation we ever had. But they say you can't put a price on a memory, and if that is indeed the case, then it was money well spent, because to this day, every time anyone in my family (including extended family) sees a Volkswagen camper van driving down the highway, they say the same thing:

"Uh oh, they're in trouble."

I felt compelled to write this long-winded, mildly amusing (at best) story because less than 48 hours from now, I will embark on another holiday. And although it won't be a family vacation in the sense that my parents aren't coming, I will be going with my brother.

We realized today that we've never been on a vacation together since the old family vacation days. He went with Jenna to Disneyland a couple years back. I went to Cancun a couple Octobers ago, but he did not. Then Jenna and him went to the Mayan Riviera for a wedding that I did not attend, and my previous two trips to Vegas were with mom and/or dad.

So Thursday morning when we embark for our trip to Phoenix (and later, Vegas!) for some Mariners spring training baseball, it was be a first. We're gonna drink some beers in the outfield bleachers, hob-nob with minor-league players destined to spend another year with the mighty Everett Aqua Sox, and heckle opposing teams' outfielders from our seat on the stadium's grass.

And I'm gonna check if they sell baseball stickers, too.

(Hey, it's a five-hour drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas.... gotta stay entertained).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

:: 411 ::

There is a gentleman I work with in my office who is, to put it lightly, old-fashioned. He's 50 years old, and very classy. Always wears a suit to work - usually a vintage suit from the '40s. Hell, I've run into him in the mall on a weekend and he's wearing a suit, decked out to the 9s. He also used to drive a big old Mercedes until it broke down last year.

So yeah, he's an old fashioned chap. Nothing wrong with that - it just makes him quirky. However, it has its drawbacks. For starters, he is utterly clueless and lost when it comes to computer technology - which is trouble considering that's a signficant part of our job. But somehow, he manages to get by.

But on Friday, he did something I could not understand. He needed to find a phone number of a local restaurant. For starters, I'm sure this number was in the phone book. However, if it wasn't, the most logical next option is to look it up online, especially considering that he's sitting there with a computer in front of him.

But no, instead he decided to pick up the phone and dial 411 for directory assistance. I didn't even know this service still existed - or that anybody used it, but knowing this guy as I do, I have to believe that using the Internet never even occurred to him.

I clued into what he was doing when I overheard him talking to the automated system.


"White Rock."

"West Beach Bar and Grill."

"No, West Beach..."

He had to repeat himself a couple times, but eventually I heard him get through, and he got the information he was seeking. As soon as I realized what was happening - about midway through his 411 call - I thought I'd find the info for myself.

First I went to Google. Then I typed in the restaurant. Then the website came up. The phone number was listed on the main page (As was a full listing of the weekend entertainment, which is what he was calling for the in the first place).

The whole thing took, oh, maybe 11 seconds.

His phone call took five minutes. And cost 75 cents.

It was also during this debacle that I e-mailed Kristyl, whose desk is right next to our old-fashioned co-worker:

" he actually dialing 411? What is this, 1998? Some people are just so technologically stunted it's baffling.

"To quote Garth Algar, "Live in the now, man."

Friday, March 13, 2009

:: Random Childhood Memory #42 ::

When he was a teenager, about 15 years old if I recall correctly, Ian left Walnut Grove and spent most of the summer with his cousins in St. Catherines, Ont. Why he voluntarily chose to stay for an extended period of time in Ontario I'll never know, but that's what he did.

He finally returned later in the summer - thus bringing an end to the saddest, most boring summer of Chris's life – and he brought with him a fairly expensive skateboard that he had purchased back east. I guess his cousin had got him into it or something, I don't know.

We all laughed at him because, let's face it, Ian with a skateboard is akin to me with gang tattoos. What a waste of money, we said. But Ian – who always boasts that he never gives in to peer pressure – was adamant that he was going to use his new board, "like, all the time."

For a couple weeks he'd bring it over to our house, and try channelling his inner Tony Hawk by doing ollies and kickflips at the end of the driveway.

Then the summer ended, school began, and we never saw the skateboard again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

:: The desert calls ::

I worked a 14-hour day today, in three different cities. It started at 8 a.m. at my office, doing my usual job. Now, this wasn't too bad to begin with - minus the fact that we had to skip our usual walk to get coffee because it was too fucking cold out - but it got worse.

I won't bore you with the details, but just say this: budget cuts have made a certain part of my job a living hell. I spent three-quarters of my day today talking to colleagues on the phone about said problem, trying to find a solution, dealing with complainers, then complaining myself when no solution could be found. Good times.

In between these phone calls, I did a minimal amount of real work, and also traded phone calls back-and-forth with my bank, as I am in the process of trying to secure a car loan. This was the worst part of my day, but again I won't bore you with details. I'll just break it down quick:

- I own my own place. It is assessed at $244,000. I could sell it for 260.

- My credit is perfect. So perfect, in fact, that last Saturday a car dealership approved me for financing - for an amount far greater than I needed, as a matter of fact - in less than fifteen minutes.

- I make a good annual salary, and have a second job which in theory would cover the entire cost of a monthly car payment, were I to get one.

- I have no other real debts, except for my mortgage (which many people driving nice new cars despite modest salaries have and can easily afford) and a few hundred bucks on one credit card.

- I asked for $32,000 (Whether I need this much or not is debatable, but considering all the above points, I thought it was more than a reasonable request).

- The bank said I could only have $25,000.

- Then the following things happened: I got really mad, and yelled at the bank folks, calling their offer "insulting." Then said I was taking all my money out and going to a different bank. Then I hung up. Then they called me back four times, all of which I sent straight to voicemail. In the messages they left, they said they'd "try to work something out." Their second "offer" was pretty much the exact same thing. I called back and yelled some more.

- I still have no new truck.

I don't know what else to say about this really, except that it really, really pisses me off. When I was 20-years-old and jobless, I got a $21,000 loan from the same bank with no questions asked. Why they've now decided that a stable person with a good job and a house is not to be trusted with anything more than a $400/month loan is beyond me. But whatever.

Sorry, I know I said I wasn't going to bore you with details and then went ahead and did exactly that, but I do that sometimes... stories just get away from me.

So where was I? Oh right, my stupid long day. After bitching at the bank for another little while, eventually I had to drive downtown to cover a basketball game, which just happened to overlap with two other things I normally would have covered. I watched the game, took pictures - even got hit in the side of the face by a ball on its way out of bounds. I was sitting courtside on the floor, camera to my eye.

With four minutes left in the game, I had to race back to Langley, grab some dinner en route, and then watch the Canucks game, so I could write about it and file a story by 10:15 p.m. In between stoppages in play, and in the intermission, I worked on my basketball story, and did interviews over the phone from the dining room.

Then the game went into overtime, which meant I had even less time to file a story. I made it on time though, like I always manage to do, and now I'm sitting here, way past when I should've gone to sleep, especially because I have two more nights like this between now and Saturday.

The only thing currently bringing a smile to my face is the Bud Light Lime that is sitting in front of me, ice cold and half-full. It is the last of the Lime beers I brought back from Vegas when I was there in the fall. Somehow I made 24 of them last five months.

This particular beer is making me happy because it reminds me of sitting at the Stratosphere Las Vegas, playing Super Jackpot Party for about three hours straight, getting fucking bombed off this particular beer. Then, at about 3 a.m., I stopped by the hotel gift shop/store and bought three more for the elevator ride to my room.

I woke up hungover with one unopened beer in my bed next to me, and an empty bottle still in my hand.

And in a little over a week, I'll get the chance to do that very same thing again, only this time with the addition of four days watching spring training baseball in Arizona.

Can't come quick enough.
:: I have a nautical-themed Pashmina afghan ::

For the first time Monday night, Chris viewed the SNL/The Lonely Island I'm on a Boat video. He's a little behind the times, but we'll give him a break just this once because his response to it was so awesome:

"Oh, so that's why everybody's Facebook statuses lately have said they were on a boat! I just kept thinking, 'Why the hell are so many people going on cruises?'"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"It did not get cool until I got here."

I woke up this morning to this text message from Fort McMurray:

"You posted quotes yesterday and not a word about my birthday... gone r the days of birthdays shout-outs, apparently.... Hurtful."

Jesus Christ. A person gets all this shit for her birthday - and 24th birthday, for that matter (not exactly a milestone to begin with) - and she's still fucking complaining about the lack of a mention on a crappy, 25-readers-a-day blog.

Some people are just so ungrateful.

But as I've often said - it pays to complain, so in honour of Kelsey Lundquist's 24th birthday, I will repost what is probably my favourite Kelsey quote of all-time:

"If I fold down the seats in the Cougar I could have sex with like four people at once!"

So there's your damn shout-out. Happy Birthday - you asked for it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Just a couple quotes for ya...

"I look like Lindsay Lohan's mugshot." - Christene, the morning after a night of drinking.

"I'm trying to make it so I don't get drunk all the time." - Christene again, after the aforementioned night o' drinking.

"You know, if we hadn't broken up, we'd still be together." - this guy Joel, logical as ever.

"We should start our own gang that eats nachos and goes to the Walnut Grove Pub." - Kristyl's answer to the increasing gang presence in the Lower Mainland.

Monday, March 02, 2009

:: How to know when it's time to take a vacation ::

I just got back from a four-hour, double-overtime playoff hockey game. I am exhausted, but somehow still quite energetic and cheerful.

I don't know if it's because I just saw a very entertaining hockey game (which the good guys won, too) on an otherwise drab Monday, or if it's because I have a fantastic lede already written in my head for when I sit down at my desk early tomorrow morning and pound out the story on deadline.

I'm not exactly sure, but I think it's the second one.

That frightens me.