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Friday, September 26, 2008
Popaganda. I just realized that my work lunch consisted of micro popcorn, Coke Zero and a poptart. Pop, pop, pop. I suppose this means popovers for dinner. Or Popadums.
Irritatingly small. Darn that "Nova," making me think so hard. This week's show was all about monster black holes, during which several physicists tried to explain infinite density, galactic collisions (which apparently happen all of a sudden--or 2 billion years, give or take, in space time), and other scenarios. Ow, brain hurt. Make stop. The Milky Way is pretty puny, galactically speaking . . . and our sun? Feh, a pipsqueak. So here I am worrying about condo renos and bank balances and all, which carries as much impact as, say, a similarly worried muon in a quark cloud in an electron of an atom's worth of lint in my navel. Sentience is wasted on the finite, I tell you.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The fun we have. Colleague, looking at a menu proof: "What the hell is a breakfast wrap?" Irrepressible clown: "There be scrambled eggs and bacon / all that shit we makin' / and rollin' in tortillas / like mofo cigarillos." Walking by, I overhear the attempt at gangsta speak and nearly fall down, laughing.
It is still a silly place at times.
Coffee is bad for the manners. Huh boy. Now I find out from Judith Martin, Miss Manners, that I am rude for showing up at a friend's house with my half-finished Starborgian dark roast. Why? Because to do so assumes that my host(s) cannot make coffee that meets with my approval (this is sometimes true, but not of my current friends), and because I have only brought a beverage for myself--so my hosts will have to make their own coffee if they want some. But-but- oh fuggit. I am one of those people who drink coffee in the evenings, long after the time when the majority of my pals will imbibe caffeine. I don't want to coerce a host into making a pot of coffee for little old me. I will now state that I choose to be rude where coffee is concerned--but will, of course, phone to make sure it's okay with my hosts and do they want anything from Starborgs? before I arrive.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Amends far too long in the making. Tonight I am watching some preseason NHL hockey, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins. In goal for the Leafs is their 2006 draft pick, Justin Pogge, who had previously played for the Calgary Hitmen, where he was a bona fide gem of a goalie. It's the first game I've seen him play as a Leaf, and it's 3-0 for the Penguins. Not Justin's fault, just the usual "throw the goalie under the bus" strategy perfected by the Leafs.
This is not the first time I've seen Justin. No, the first time I saw him was back in the late '80s, on a Calgary bus. He was a toddler, and his mother, Annet, introduced him to me. I met his mother back in 1975, when we were in the same Grade VII class in Fort McMurray. We were both social oddballs, but Annet had it worse than I: her parents had split up and she and her younger brother were living with their father in a company house on an un-landscaped lot during that horribly wet, muddy and cold fall. We had to take our junior high classes in the Beacon Hill Elementary school, because the town's one junior/senior high school was filled to overflowing.
As I say, Annet and I were both oddballs, so it really isn't all that surprising that we weren't friends. We had enough trouble being odd on our own. The drive to conform to the set of the good-looking and cruel led my oddball brain to seek out someone even slightly more out of kilter--someone I could be better than. I wish I could lie about this and say that I wasn't like that. But I was.
Still, Annet invited me to her 12th birthday party that fall, and I remember thinking how odd it was that her dad hung out with us for the entire evening. I knew Annet's mother was out of the picture, and with ignorant 12-yr-old scorn I thought it must have been because Mr. Pogge was kinda' weird.
Annet came in for more than her fair share of verbal and physical abuse from the schoolkids. Her brother, H., was a fairly gifted hockey player, a goalie, and was nowhere near the pariah that Annet and I were. She had one friend, another fairly oddball girl I'll call "Tip," who was the only child of fairly elderly parents (in their 50s by that time). By Grade VIII, Annet and Tip were constant companions, or so it seemed, and I had joined the dark side: I made fun of Annet at times on the schoolbus, and talked about her scathingly with other students, none of whose names I remember.
Years later, meeting Annet with her son, I wasn't all that surprised to hear that she was a single mother. I felt bad for her, even if only momentarily, and then she got off the bus and that was that. I read her dad's obituary in the newspaper some years after that.
Back in 2006, when Justin was making a name for himself in goal for the Calgary Hitmen, and the news came that he'd been scooped up by the Toronto Maple Leafs, a local TV station interviewed him for a morning show. His first move, on being signed to the Leafs, was to buy his mother an SUV. He had nothing but praise for Annet, remarking how she'd managed to overcome her depression that had almost led to suicide, and had been instrumental in his success as an athlete.
Nothing I can say today can make up for the fact that I, dweeb extraordinaire, was totally obnoxious to a girl who had done nothing to me. But I tell you, Annet, I'm sorry for the asshole I was. And if ever anyone deserved praise for raising a level-headed, kind, talented kid, it's you. I salute you.
Even to a bear of very little financial brain, and yes, I am talking about myself, Robert Reich's Wall Street solution is brilliant. [And thanks to M. Baldwin of Defective Yeti for the link.]
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Oh, hello, early Sunday morning. As I just wrote to la Vin, it feels very odd to be wide awake at 5:30 a.m. and indoors, instead of out walking two idiot dogs. Well, it has been a different weekend--I've been in Red Deer at a community service business conference. My usual way of getting through long meetings that I'm chairing is to set out ground rules about not repeating points, being mindful of time, and remembering that if the coffee is finished before the meeting, you'll be wearing your guts for garters. The points about repetition and time were made at this weekend's meetings, and of course ignored by most.
Luckily: I've been watching, on and off, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival special on Aboriginal humour. I don't think I've laughed so hard at a comedy show in a long time. I've heard a couple of First Nations comedians in the past, but not enough, never enough. One guy tonight (whose name I've missed twice, damn it) had one of those dry, lightning-fast deliveries. "Eh, gotta' go . . . that land ain't gonna' claim itself." The audience, and one cranky old biddy in a Red Deer hotel room, convulsed with laughter.
Last week's follies included nutty work antics, a washing machine going tits up, the bad dog campaigning yet again to get kennelled during the day by dumping coffee grounds on a freshly shampooed carpet, getting a talking-to from a by-law officer because the obedient Riven was not on a leash --- all to be filed under "Life: wah wah wah." Time to put another envelope of coffee into the microscopic coffee machine and -- oh dear -- "If you go to an AA meeting because you're out of coffee at home . . . you might be a Redskin" -- this Dene comic is just warming up . . . damn. Funny is all.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
When you brainstorm with a bunch of agricultural gilligans about ancient Meso-American soil enrichment techniques, and your brain thinks that your new term, "Aztechnology," is kind of funny, don't be surprised by the lack of response. Reassuring them that you're only kidding, though, is probably a good thing.
I am John Hodgman. I am the slightly stodgy PC user who knows, even if unwilling to say so, that there just has to be a better way to arrange files, etc., than the longstanding Microsoft template. It hit me: Microsoft is Soviet Russia. Oh, sure, you can make it work for you, but it's illogical and unwieldy (or unlogical and illwieldy), and you have to know how it works before you start. Apple systems work instinctively, as though the programmers were able to access the human midbrain as well as the cerebral cortex when creating the interface. Apple machines work the way your brain works. But your brain has to figure out how Microsoft works in order to use it. Yeah, yeah, I know . . . deep like a paper cut, Farries. Let me now bitch about how Humvees are bad on gas.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
What Ah done now . . . Bought me a laptop. No, not the MacBook Pro of daydreams. Instead, a more economical craptop from Staples. A third of the price. Also done bought some software, some virus-vex, and the cheapest satchel in the store.
I should recognize the pattern by now. Back in 2001 during my househunting days, I absolutely knew I was going to buy a small bungalow with a yard. No more shared walls for me! Result: El Condo Non Grande, which has one shared wall and part of a shared floor, as well as a tiny garage and shared commons instead of a yard. And I love ECNG, so here's hoping I find the laptop bearable. And yes, yes . . . I will double-check that it is plugged in before I ever call Customer Service.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Well, tweak my tush and call me Tallulah. I've apparently been accepted as a Doping Control chaperone for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ya freakin' hoo! VanOC just notified me about attending a volunteer orientation session in late October, and the Doping Control people said hey, stick around another day and we'll orient yez, too. As blogmeister Derek Hannah once said to me, there's piss-taking and then there's INTERNATIONAL piss-taking. Now to make plans to take two weeks off in February, 2010. Faites-la pleine, kiddies!
The Latest Tally: Good vs. Bad!
  • Good: Chris Onstad's brain.
  • Bad: David Foster Wallace's brain, multiply footnoted, it seems, with "You're a genius. Better kill yourself."
  • Good: Taking one long-standing friend to meet another long-standing friend, that friend's boyfriend, dogs and horses, and getting to drive, ride, chat and cavort with various combinations of the foregoing on a warm and brilliantly sunny September day.
  • Bad: Letting the phoneco know that the line they worked on last week has suddenly gone dead again, and hey, where's that internet connection? Then letting the repair team into El Condo Non Grande where I hear the deathless classic: "Um, your phone jack is fine, but the electrical cord Was. Not. Plugged. In."
  • Good: Joking around with fellow Stupeystore cashier Cameron, a zygote of some 17 years who has an encyclopedic memory of cultural references, and who stops after one Monty Python recitation.
  • Bad: His name's Mike, bonehead.
Rediscovered a personality type I haven't come across in several years, since my early Carswell days in the late '80s, actually. The type of person who, when in a supervisory position, finds it more efficient to interrupt busy people to pick up a piece of paper from the floor--a piece of paper right by her friggin' feet--rather than pick it up herself. Mind you, it was a welcome reminder of how spoiled I've become by working for small, plucky companies for the last decade--"Everyone sweeps the floor here" may be a cliché, but I'm used to places where of course the president pitches in on clean-up days, duh. Meeting the old-style "That's for underlings to do" manager is a bit of a shock.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Confuse a Jane. I've had ongoing troubles with the home phone. Granted, some of these troubles were caused by my resistance to paying my account on time and in full, but that's all changed now, I swear it! Anyhow. I like paying my bills the lazy way, using the Berners-Lee protocol. A week ago I arranged to pay my current bill and get a DSL line so I can do a little work at home from time to time. A week later, nothing. But but but . . . oh, the hell with it, I call the phoneco again. Three phone calls later, I understand that I had an old account number registered on teh intertubes. I have been paying my phone bill (okay, on those rare occasions when I've been paying it) online for a long time. If the account number was screwy, how come phoneco still took my payments? Anyhoo, as of this afternoon, I have ended up paying the same bill twice. This is no good. Now I shall investigate the thrilling world of Cancelling Payments.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Spot the Error(s)!
As a native of Langley, BC, XYZ12 was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1974.
So: we have established that you do not know the meaning of "native." Or the difference between "immigrate" and "emigrate."
And while we're at it, J.N.S. of C.O.R., I always wanted to explain to you why voice students use the following verse as exercise:
Whether the weather be cold,
or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather, whatever the weather,
whether we like it or not.
Traditionally, the "wh" is an aspirated sound, a subtle, swift "huh" before the "wuh." So, for "whether," you'd say "(huh)wether", but for "weather" you'd just use the dubya sound. There's another verse re: the vowel sounds for "due" and "do", but you've suffered enough. To continoo would be stoopid.
It remembers the code for bananas. Last night I went live, serving actual customers aieeeeeeee . . . and you know, it was pretty good fun. I should mention that of the three trainees hired to be cashiers, I am the only one left. Apparently the prospect of having me as a coworker had the other two disappearing over the horizon. Or something. To celebrate my inaugural grocery-scanning, money-taking reincarnation, the store's debit system went tits up. The people who had been waiting in line at the checkouts now had to wait in line at the bank machine and then come back to wait in the cashier line again. And then . . . the horrifying sign is placed over the till: "Cashier in Training." Mwah hah hah.
Actually, what being a cashier reminded me of, more than anything, was volunteering at the cash counter of the Stampede Casino. Not in the sense that people who shop at Stupeystore are gambling with their lives or anything--just in the sense of seeing new faces, trying not to screw up, etc. It really was quite fun.
No, I can't believe I said that, either.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
For Vinnie the pest, whom I adore: AKA: Training for cashier status at Stupeystore. Well, not much to it, really, other than memorizing a couple thousand product codes and remembering to hit QTY/WT, not "enter", after you weigh something, dingbat, how many times . . .
I am dressed in sage green and black. I am supposed to have "scan 30 items/minute" as my goal. I have already fielded three customer questions: no, we don't sell lottery tickets. Salt? I think it's in Baking Supplies? No? Oh! Spices--and pasta's in Aisle 3. I think.
I think I'm actually going to have fun doing this.
Why oh why, you ask? Well, when you live on your own and are not exactly hauling in the big bucks, yet you would like to have a renovation or two made to your beloved El Condo Non Grande, you must improvise. Yes, that's a large eggplant, not a small. I just know. That's taro, not yucca. Because I've cooked taro. Do you collect store points? Would you like to learn how to collect them? How many bags do you need? Yep, you get to bag your own stuff. It's the new cruelty.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Wow. Brillyunt! Thanks, Dani!
Yew done whut now? Yep. Done got a part-time job at the Stupeystore, me. Tonight I start training on things like how to say "Sorry, I'm going on my break" whenever a customer asks something, how not to comment on how badly people pack grocery bags, etc.
This is all in aid of the Great '08 project.
In answer to the three questions re: Abbie the wondermare: She's now owned by a family with horse-loving, 4Hster kids. I miss her.
In our end was our beginning, or: Up our Asses were Our Heads: The Myrmidons had two victories on Saturday's lawn bowling playoff, then met the Sod Busters for the "Woody" championship game. Fuckin' B side, anyway. I enjoyed the hell out of the first two games, but really had to watch my crabby old self during the third game, which we lost. I was skip for the Myrmidons, and the Buster skip was what I'd call overly helpful. One of our shots would roll 3 feet wide of the mark, and Buster would say, "Wow, that was really wide, eh?" A Myrmidon bowl would cough and die on the green: "Gee, you sure needed some more Wheaties on that one." In other words, harmless small talk. Only in Janeland are the broadaxes sharpened for sudden decapitation.
So, to mine own self being like totally true, I admit: I am a poor sport. Oh, and the A Side trophy was won by those dog-kicking, cock-punching East Coast Lawn Bowlers. My clapping for both trophy-winning teams was, shall I say, a crotch hair shy of spontaneous.
Yesterday I accompanied pal Nikki out to Spruce Meadows for the last day of the Masters show jumping competition. I was content to sit by Nik's booth and knit a garish sock, do a little shopping, walk around and talk to the grand cru of world horsery. I was scratching the sweet spot on the neck of a stunningly beautiful Peruvian horse, smiling as he stiffened and wiggled his lips with pleasure, then noticed that he was a stallion. I am usually quite respectful around stallions, since they can be unpredictable, but this guy was just goofy for attention.
Daily confabulation: While talking with the Peruvian's owner, we discuss the pros and cons of cross-breeding equine types. "Oh, well, I breed for disposition," I remarked, as Nikki stared. "That was some fine bullshit," she commented as we walked on. "I meant that when I breed horses, I will of course be breeding for disposition, not conformation," I said. Thirty years of friendship is why we can talk on this level without hitting each other.
Gaucheries de la semaine: I was told that I could read this real estate document, but could not make any edits unless absolutely necessary. How I longed to leave this alone:
“Like Franco Kernel’s grandparents, the romance of the Rockies will lure you and it is Some Mountain-inspired Condo that you will have you wanting to call this place home.”
Dangling modifier or lusty seniors? And, of course, "that you will have you wanting to call" should be "that will done have you fixin' to call, you." I am sure of it. Gaucherie La Deuxième: Nikki is reading about a highly sought after Warmblood stallion, that we'll call "Verdammt," whose stud services are extremely costly and for approved mares only. A multi-award-winning trainer's comment: "Verdammt is an excellent stud. He can come in my barn anytime."
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I used to hate, and now I love:
  • William Shatner. From approximately 1967 to 1999 he took himself much too seriously, and was a scenery-chawin', petulant tit as a result. In the intervening years he has learned to laugh at himself, and his recent work has been surprisingly great. I love his commercials for All Bran. I love the way he makes fun of his own stage mannerisms. William, I love you.
  • John McEnroe. I used to watch his tennis matches and pray that he would lose. I would exult in the referees and his opponents telling him to can it and grow up. John, however, has become the kind of commentator I love: still a blowhard, but a blowhard who raucously loves the game and doesn't care who knows it. Also, amazingly, willing to admit to mistakes or to not knowing something. Love ya, Johnny.
Somebody's going to die for this, you realize. My Myrmidons did not make the "A" division playoffs. We're in the wooden-plank-as-trophy "B" section, not to be confused with a consolation round, because there just is no consolation for how badly I, Jane, have been playing. The lads are sterling. I am pinchbeck. The fucking "B" side, indeed.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Om. Knee. Fer. Us. [Swiped from]
Very Good Taste posted a list of 100 Things Every Omnivore Should Eat. You're supposed to go through it and mark what you've eaten, to see where you stand when compared with the ideal.
Huh boy. Ah have done me some EATIN’. Here’s the list, with my feeds enclosed in asterisks:
  1. *Venison*
  2. Nettle tea
  3. *Huevos rancheros*
  4. *Steak tartare*
  5. *Crocodile*
  6. *Black pudding*
  7. *Cheese fondue**
  8. Carp
  9. *Borscht*
  10. *Baba ghanoush*
  11. *Calamari*
  12. *Pho*
  13. *PB&J sandwich*
  14. *Aloo gobi*
  15. *Hot dog from a street cart*
  16. Epoisses [Huh? Oh. Cheese handwashed by monks.]
  17. *Black truffle*
  18. *Fruit wine made from something other than grapes*
  19. *Steamed pork buns*
  20. *Pistachio ice cream*
  21. *Heirloom tomatoes*
  22. *Fresh wild berries*
  23. *Foie gras*
  24. *Rice and beans**
  25. Brawn, or head cheese
  26. *Raw Scotch Bonnet (and lost the power of speech for 20+ minutes)*
  27. *Dulce de leche*
  28. *Oysters*
  29. *Baklava*
  30. *Bagna cauda*
  31. *Wasabi peas*
  32. *Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl*
  33. Salted lassi
  34. *Sauerkraut*
  35. *Root beer float*
  36. *Cognac with a fat cigar*
  37. *Clotted cream tea*
  38. *Vodka jelly/Jell-O
  39. *Gumbo
  40. *Oxtail
  41. *Curried goat*
  42. Whole insects
  43. Phaal
  44. Goat’s milk
  45. *Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (I'll never forget it, McD!)*
  46. Fugu
  47. *Chicken tikka masala
  48. *Eel*
  49. *Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut [no screaming hell]*
  50. *Sea urchin (bubbly snot, anyone?)*
  51. *Prickly pear*
  52. Umeboshi
  53. *Abalone*
  54. *Paneer*
  55. *McDonald’s Big Mac Meal*
  56. *Spaetzle*
  57. *Dirty gin martini*
  58. *Beer above 8% ABV (duh)*
  59. *Poutine*
  60. *Carob chips*
  61. *S’mores*
  62. Sweetbreads
  63. *Kaolin (only if Kaopectate counts)*
  64. Currywurst
  65. Durian
  66. Frogs’ legs
  67. *Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake*
  68. *Haggis*
  69. *Fried plantain*
  70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
  71. *Gazpacho*
  72. *Caviar and blini*
  73. Louche absinthe
  74. *Gjetost, or brunost*
  75. Roadkill
  76. *Baijiu (tastes exactly like bread mold)*
  77. *Hostess Fruit Pie*
  78. *Snail*
  79. *Bellini*
  80. *Tom yum
  81. *Eggs Benedict
  82. *Pocky*
  83. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
  84. Kobe beef
  85. *Hare *
  86. *Goulash*
  87. *Flowers*
  88. Horse
  89. Criollo chocolate
  90. *Spam*
  91. *Soft shell crab*
  92. *Rose harissa*
  93. *Catfish*
  94. *Mole poblano*
  95. *Bagel and lox*
  96. Lobster Thermidor
  97. *Polenta*
  98. *Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee*
  99. Snake
Omnivorous happy as when surrounded by food. Heh.