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.