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Friday, December 19, 2003
What day is it? Home by 2:30 a.m. Back at the office at 8:30. Two days of work crammed into one. I don't even know what I'm writing anymore....something about luxury and indulgence, but what? Fur-lined iMacs? Wireless lobster bisque?
So tired...but the Karo Khristmas Party is two hours from now, and the band is said to be good (I heard its name once, but I seem to have died since then, so can't remember). Time to heave myself out of this crypt/office, top up the embalming fluid and paint a lifelike appearance on my face.
One of the funnier things about yesterday's Segway appearance was that there were people in the office who had never heard of a Segway. One of them works in our web department: hey! read a damned Wired mag every now and then, toots. Stay awake.
Tomorrow, without ceremony but with far too many presents for other people, stuffed into my luggage, I shall board a plane to Vancouver Island. There I will raise mooching to unheard-of levels and become a hissing and a byword with the extended family. There are computers where I'll be, so I'll try to keep everyone up to date with the endlessly fascinating details of my Yuletide trip. Will she successfully cram the bounteous hips into a Westjet seat? Will she need forceps to be extracted from the seat upon arrival? The first of our adventures awaits.
Actually, cooking and serving dinner at the Mustard Seed Street Ministry was totally cool in its own way. I'm not going to pretend that I bonded with the homeless, or felt compelled to devote the rest of my days to easing their sorrows. But it just felt right to be doing something with an immediate payoff, for once -- getting my hands into the actual cooking and serving, rather than sending a cheque off to some anonymous charity. The Karo volunteers appeared to have a good, though strenuous, time. The staff at the Mustard Seed were friendly and helpful, and I was delighted when the kitchen manager told us that we were excellent workers. Once again, I have to thank my old friends over at Veer: if they hadn't sponsored a dinner last year, and if Sean hadn't blogged about it, I would never have thought to attempt it this year. As it stands, it was an unqualified success. And our chicken cacciatore was pretty damned tasty, if I do say so meself.
Of course, as always happens, the timing that seemed so perfect when we booked the dinner in September totally sucked for me tonight. Which you can see by checking the time of this post. Yep, Janey's at the office, writing about golf courses for the unfairly rich. Quite the contrast to tonight's crowd.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
I just rode a Segway. Just now. In the office. I fear my day cannot get much cooler than this. [The Segway was won by my colleague's husband, who ultra-coolly brought it to his wife's workplace to give her pals a thrill.]
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Why AM I still alive? I shouldn't be. If I'd driven as I normally do, I would probably be in a few sticky pieces by now. And the irony here is that I happened to be driving late at night, while dangerously tired -- yet that's what saved my life. Because when the light turned green, and there was no oncoming traffic, I was slower than usual to react and make that left turn across the intersection. And the car missed my van by about two feet as it came from the adjacent lane and burned through the red light.
Well, it's high season for drunkards behind the wheel; Christmas, you know. It must have dawned on the drunk that whoa, that was a red light he just went through, because he slowed down in the classic inebriated overreaction --put his signal light on a block ahead of his turn and drove 20km under the limit. I caught up with him easily, and stared incredulously at him as I passed. He rolled his face around to squint back at me, which caused him to swerve towards me. I left him behind just as easily, but phoned a description to the police when I reached home. Here's hoping.
Monday, December 15, 2003
Make that "I WAS feeling pretty good about life": I have just been informed that I will be expected to produce three weeks worth of work by this Friday, which is making me want to text-message Saddam for details on hiding in holes in the ground. This is the same week I am busy 3 nights out of 5. I also filtered the lovely news through a head that had less than four hours of sleep and a two-hour highway drive on its clock. And did I mention that my van is liberally smeared with dog blood? The incredible bonehead Carbon's penchant for wildly dashing after tennis balls, regardless of obstacles, resulted in a dog paw/aluminum siding slashfest and plenty of gore. Not a deep, stitches-requiring wound, but a messy one nevertheless, and it was a 45-minute drive back to town. Good thing I wasn't stopped by cops, or I'd probably still be spluttering explanations.
Once again, through mildly weird coincidence, J. and I managed to get each other the same number of gifts: I gave her the book "Red Dog" by Louis de Bernieres, a bag of spiced tea and a horse-themed page-a-day calendar. She gave me a book about cats, a picture of me with two of her horses, and a horse-themed deck of cards. [Confessorial note: Shame be upon me for saying this, but even though I have a cat, I am not a cat person, if that means someone who likes cat-themed gifts. But I know that I'm a terrible person to buy for -- no one ever believes me when I say "Really, give me socks." The cat thing is a handy contingency for well-meaning gifters. For the record: I am congenitally unable to appreciate cat books, cat calendars, cat statues, cat-print clothing, cat candles, cat posters, cat-shaped clocks, cat cartoons or cat's-eye glasses. Of which I already have far too many specimens, packed away in a forgotten box, to be sworn at when uncovered years hence.]
Friday, December 12, 2003
The usual: Gave blood. Astonished the large athletic male who had been siphoned ahead of me by filling my 500ml bag faster than he filled his. The coffee ladies made a big to-do about my 56th donation, until a man who'd donated 78 times arrived, whereupon they clustered around him and forgot to bring my apple juice, damn them.
Beeg beeg BEEEG stuff workwise is on the horizon. That week off I'd planned over Christmas? Good thing my pa has an Internet connection, because I'm going to need it.
Up too late last night baking gingerbread humanoids for the office decorating frolic scheduled for this afternoon. As a result, I slept sketchily and found myself wide awake at 5 a.m., just in time to catch "Real Sex" on Showcase. This episode's oddity was sploshing, i.e., sex with food. Sex with people in food. I held out until they played the footage of a woman in lingerie pressing baked beans and creamed corn out of her bustier, at which point I began to retch. I'm looking after tiny small Lief tonight, and should he explode into his sleeper as he occasionally does, it won't be half as bad as that freak on TV.
The gingerbread decorating was fun for the first five minutes. The people who organized the shindig bought enough decorating doodads for about 5 tons of gingerbread, so I amused myself by putting nipples on about 15 cookie people, before hiding out in my office. Other people were enjoying themselves greatly, so my absence wasn't felt too keenly.
Tomorrow is the day: the day I must do my niecely and nephewish Christmas shopping. If only they were all of drinking age.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Before I forget: Best New Term, as said by Vinnie La Vin: "To be thrown under the bus." Definition: At a social gathering, crowded bar, etc., coming to the rescue of someone who has been cornered by a crashing bore/crying drunk/ranting maniac, etc., whereupon the rescuee suddenly vacates the scene, leaving you in the clutches of the undesirable person. Use: "Mavis totally threw me under the bus last night with that religious nut."
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Today's great accomplishment: The office de-gunk. Some of the stuff on my desk hadn't seen the light of day since 2001, and some of it (particularly the bits relating to exasperating clients) was a great joy to throw out. Yet I have my Grant moments, too, in that it kills me to throw out anything that has even the slimmest chance of being collectable, camp, or just plain inexplicable in the future. Like Travel Alberta brochures that are just so darn nice.
The first rule of office cleaning: Once it leaves your office, it is No Longer Your Problem. "Who left all those battered file folders on the light table?" "Why are there two wire baskets on the coffee room table?" And the copywriter's office is as silent as the tomb.
Monday, December 08, 2003
Uncontrolled dopery. The World Cup speed skating match has come and gone, and this year it was oddly subdued. Last January we hosted a championship match, but this weekend was a regularly scheduled World Cup event -- no one was being crowned Speed Skating God(dess), and there just wasn't the same level of excitement.
That, and the first day of Doping Control was a total tap dance on rollerskates. The Doping Control Officers were new to the Int'l. Skating Union procedures, and everything from the random draw to the actual chaperoning was different this year. Instead of testing the winner of each event and one randomly drawn skater, we were following three randomly chosen skaters for each event. If their names were drawn for the 500-metre race, but they were also skating in the 1000-metre race three hours later, we couldn't notify them until after the second race. Coaches who expected to see the usual list of names on the Doping Control Door after the 500-metre race were surprised to find nothing posted. In fact, everyone was confused.
Most illogical of all, the doping chaperones weren't allowed to go onto the infield during the races, but had to wait in the Doping Control Room until the official results were delivered. So we couldn't see whether skaters had left the cool-down track and gone to their changing rooms. I was assigned a 17th place Netherlands skater from the 1000-metre race, and had no luck finding her. I finally ran into one of her coaches; he told me she'd already gone back to her hotel. So much for that legendary Doping Control Vigilance. I had to ask the coach to phone the skater and have her return to the Oval, much annoyed with me and the Doping officials. The Doping Control officials couldn't even nail down procedure once the athletes had reported for testing: one allowed the chaperones to witness the "delivering of sample," while the other insisted that she do the witnessing herself. No one was much impressed.
When I arrived on Day 2 at my appointed time, I was almost not surprised to find the doors locked and all the chaperones milling about in the halls. I thought, "Oh, no, not again," but, thankfully, the second day proceeded smoothly. We finally convinced the race officials that the chaperones had to be on the infield in order to spot their skaters, and by this time the coaches knew that all the draws were random. Even the doping officials got their act together, so all went well. During the first race I bumped into the Netherlands coach from the first day. "So, have you guys figured out what you're doing yet?" he asked, smiling. I nodded. "That's good, because we fly out tonight, and I don't want to send someone back from Salt Lake City."
A lovely comic moment: A first-time male chaperone, all of 18 years old, did not realize that he was going to have to watch his skater urinate into a specimen bottle. He flushed deep purple when the doping official told him. "It's all right," said his skater (who was also from the Netherlands), "Just pretend we're at school and it's the showers." This, it must be noted, did not help one bit.
Friday, December 05, 2003
Layer like a butterfly! Filter like a bee! For those who enjoyed the antics of Photoshop Tennis over at, you'll probably also dig the pugilistic action of Lightboxing over at Veer. The premise: one lightbox filled with six graphic elements (images, fonts, etc.). To be used by two designers. For the first match, Jim Coudal squares off against Armin Vit. Is either one punching above his weight? Only the Veer judges can say. [Their comments alone are worth the link.]
We put the "wee" in "weekend": The doping control action starts at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. Drink lots of juice, kiddies.
Speaking of nice guys: I just never know which one of my posts is going to resound more than others, so I was curious to see three messages in my in-box about the previously mentioned Mr. Set-up. Permit me to clarify: no, I haven't written him off completely, since I'm not absolutely sure he's bigoted. One stupid comment does not necessarily a bigot make. But a warning flag went up nonetheless and, as I said, I'm not so desperate to be in a relationship that I'd start overlooking racism in a person, no matter what other sterling qualities he may have. Racism is a deal-breaker, period. As are cannibalism and talking in movies.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
I'm here all week, folks! Scene: Pet food store, checkout counter. Cashier (handing me a 5kg package of dry cat food): Are you okay with it as is? Me: Well, actually, I prefer it with milk and sugar. Cashier (stunned for a second, then): No, no! Do you want me to put it in a bag? Me (shamelessly snorting away): Sorry, no, it's fine.
There's trouble in Set-up City... I've been aware for some time now that a friend of mine is trying to set me up with a single friend of hers. We've met on the occasional weekends when I've driven to my friend's farm for the day, since my friend and her boyfriend have the weekly ritual of hosting breakfast for their friends and family. (That's right, I'll drive any distance for a free meal.) Anyway, Mr. Set-up seems to be a really nice man in many ways, hard-working, generous with his friends, and so forth. He's originally from the Netherlands, having come out to Canada when his employers bought farms in Alberta.
There's nothing overt about this set-up: no sudden vacating of the room to leave the two of us alone, or anything. It's just rather obvious that I get invited for breakfast on those weekends when the single male friend will be there. And his name gets brought up in conversations a little too often for sheer coincidence. "Well, what the hell," I thought, "might as well see what develops."
Last weekend was another breakfast invite, and all was going pleasantly until Mr. Set-up was asked if he'd been able to renew his work visa the previous Friday. "Oh, yeah, nothing wrong there," he said. "But you should've seen the place: Pakis and diaperheads everywhere you looked."
Everyone's "deal-breaker" is different, and in fact, I'm reasonably sure that Mr. Set-up's remark was said purposely to get a rise out of my friend J., who's as put off by racism and bigotry as I am. Hanging out with people who work in agricultural industries, you know you're going to be hearing more conservative and reactionary points of view than you would elsewhere. And while J.'s become annoyedly resigned to such lame attempts at humour, she never fails to tell the speakers off.
I, however, am not used to it, do not find it funny, and think it both ironic and exasperating that Mr. Set-up conveniently forgets that he, too, is an immigrant to Canada, no more or less special than anyone else in the immigration office. But, just as I wouldn't indelibly label a man as sexist for sharing a few stupid jokes in a locker room, I'm hesitant to call someone a capital "R" racist simply for making stupid remarks. Actions are what're important. What I will say is this: I'm extremely accomplished at living on my own, so I have no need to compromise my standards for the sake of establishing a relationship.
Anyway, I don't think there'll be a problem. Later on, in a discussion about television, I said that I'd always been bored by "Seinfeld," finding the characters self-obsessed and whiny, and just too damn loud. Apparently it's Mr. Set-up's favourite show of all time, and what I said was the equivalent of drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Right back atcha', Dutch!
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Confession is good for the soul, so that means the Bad Man and I have committed some soul improvement today. At the start of November we signed up for the NaNoWriMo. This afternoon we admitted to our mutual bone-splintering, ligament-shredding, entrails-mincing defeat. Call it NoNoWriMo instead.
Sigh. My creative ebb is starting to look like more of a hideous drought. Not the happiest of situations when you work in advertising. I haven't fallen so far that I've considered using "Got Snow?" for a skiing ad or anything...I just wish the hope would come back. Garrison Keillor once said, "the only way to write it is to write it." Annie Dillard says writing is better than "living in mere opacity." Several generations of my peasant forebears say, "Och! If ye wrote as much as ye whined, there'd be nae ink nor paper left for the rest of us!" Sound of hobnailed boot against head: I'm shutting up now.