Monday, February 26, 2007

Peer Pressures of the Fruit Ladies

On my current contract, I have lunch in the lunchroom with my colleagues. They are a pleasant group of people, always up-beat and fun to talk with.

They have a tradition going on for many years – some have been with the company for almost 20-years! Every day, these lifetime employees bring fruit, cut it up, and share it with everyone else – even those that didn’t bring fruit.

There is a smorgasbord of fruit on the table – apples (red and green), peaches, oranges, kiwi, grapes, bananas, pears – any fruit market would be envious of the selection.

They cut these fruit up with their own knives, and place them on paper towels in the center of the table for all to have.

It is a nice tradition. Fruit is healthy and the idea of anyone sharing anything in today’s “me” society is heartwarming. Problem is, we also live in one of the most germ-invested societies where even the smallest microbe can lead to death.

Usually, the fruit is cut right after eating – but no one gets up to wash their hands prior to cutting up their goods. So the same hands that were used to pick up and eat a sandwich, are the very same hands used to cut up a piece of fruit.

I am always offered fruit. I always turn them down, usually saying I’m full and can’t eat another bite.

Not good enough – they insist. They tell me how healthy fruit is, and that I should make room for some.

I know how healthy fruit is – I love apples, pears, peaches, strawberries – food of the gods. But when people don’t wash their hands, or place food on thin paper towels atop tables which may have never been washed, I question the health benefits.

Yesterday, one of the women cutting the fruit was sniffling and coughing. She left early that day because of her cold. Yet she was asking me to have some fruit earlier in the day.

I’ve been to many offices and in most offices, everyone looks after “number one.” Very rarely – if ever – do people consider others. So, this sharing of communal fruit is exceptionally sweet, kind and amazingly humanitarian. The thought of going out, spending hard earned cash on fruit (or anything for that matter) for someone else’s benefit is not a common thought.

But sharing germs isn’t something that makes me comfortable. I feel uncomfortable accepting these fruits of an other’s labor, because they can make me sick, or worse – dead.

So, when I get pressured to have some fruit, I am placed in an awkward spot. On the one hand, it is an amazing gesture of kindness. On the other hand, it scares me to take in someone else’s germs so easily into my system.

What to do?

If I stop going to lunch, my colleagues will feel that I am snubbing them. If I refuse the fruit, they just keep hounding me until I take a piece. What can one do?

Office politics used to be so easy – we were only after more money back in the old days. These days you have to worry about how others feel – especially when those others go out of their way to make you feel so welcome.

I welcome your thoughts on this sharing of fruit dilemma. What would YOU do?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ups and Downs of Elevator Life

Living in a high-rise apartment, I meet – uh er – interesting, yeah that’s the word – individuals all the time in the elevator.

There’s the nut bar of a neighbor I have across the hall. He’s pretty creepy, often waiting by his apartment door to talk to anyone who happens by. He really needs a life.

Then there is the pothead down the hall. I caught him once smoking up in the elevator. I was waiting for an elevator to go down and just as the doors opened, there he was, with a joint hanging out of his mouth. He quickly grabbed it and placed it behind his back hoping I didn’t notice. I didn’t say anything – I don’t care.

But sometimes I see other creepy characters in my elevator adventures. How do I deal with them?

Easy – I misdirect ‘em.

The elevators in my building are old and don’t have any directional arrows telling you if they are going up or down. As I live on the upper floors, whenever I catch an elevator it is usually going down.

But, when others get on, often they ask before getting on if it is going up, or down.

I take a closer look . . . hmm . . . is this someone I’d be comfortable in a small metal box with?

If not, then I tell them the elevator is going up – even if it is going down. They thank me (sometimes) and back out, waiting for the next one, leaving me in peace to proceed on my way.

If the person looks somewhat normal, I’ll be honest with them and tell them which way it really is traveling.

Misdirection – the tool to survival in a high-rise.

Especially with all the crazies out there.

Just got back and some bozo got on the elevator looking like a white man trying to be black. He was all “pimped out” with the white dress shoes, the white pants 10-sizes too large hanging off his ass, the oversized white shirt with some big number on it, and the backwards facing baseball cap, large fake gold chains and dark tinted sunglasses. Not sure why he needs sunglasses seeing as it is dark outside in the middle of the night, but I didn’t want to know.

Misdirection – works like a charm.

“Thanks dude, I’ll feel ya later,” he said as he left the elevator.

I think not – I don’t plan on appearing on Jerry Springer anytime soon.

White trash aside, there are some people that are okay to ride the elevator with.

There’s a sweet little old lady that always has a smile on her face. There’s the property management and supers. Knowing who to call when something breaks is one thing, being on a good buddy-type term with those who you call when something breaks is even better.

There are kids, which come onto the elevator, throwing their ball against the doors. I always tell ‘em I’m going up, usually that works. Though I guess they play with other kids in the building too, because sometimes they say “cool” and get on anyways.

Funny, they don’t seem to notice when we go down, despite me telling them that we were going up. And they say children are our future . . . sheesh.

So there you have it – when stuck in an elevator, you know how to ensure you don’t get stuck with the wrong crowd. Just use a little misdirection.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What's Your Addiction?

So, What’s Your . . .

. . . addiction?

Shhh. . . can’t talk now . . . playing online games at

Faster! Tighter! HARDER!


Now look what you’ve made me do. . .

Online games are addicting. When I have some time to kill, or I’m on my computer and I should be doing something else, I can often be found playing some online game.

People used to line-up and pay mega-bucks to buy the latest games at some store. Some would spend hours downloading them off the net. Others would use them as excuses to hang at a friend’s place.

These days, all you have to do is surf on over to one of the many online game websites and play these things for FREE.

Yeppers – you heard that right. . .


As in no money, no problem.

You’d think you get what you pay for – wrong!

Some of these online games are very well done – you’d swear they were put out by the big gaming companies. I’ve played flying games, car games, arcade games, puzzle/mind games, even adventure games – all online – all free – most amazingly put together.

Makes me wonder why people still stand in line at 2am to be the first to drop $300 a pop on the latest Xbox, PlayStation or other such gaming system. Who wants a computer with the sole purpose to play games? Why spend hundreds on a gaming system, when you can get comparable games – even better ones – online for FREE?

Most games sold in stores allow you to play over the Internet with others with the same game – for a fee. A lot of the free online games allow you to all of this – again for free!

Yeah, I know, owning the latest gaming console is a lot like owning a Porsche – it says something about you and your status in society.

But I bet you’d save enough to buy that Porsche faster, if you played the free games online.

Vrooom! Vrooom!

We’ll see who has their Porsche first.

Let the races begin.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Young N Dangerous – Mum’s the Word

I see a lot more young, single mothers out there than in the past. Maybe we live in a more promiscuous society, or maybe these young women just got involved with the wrong man. But with all the stupid things I see these young mums do – you’d swear it was because they couldn’t figure out how to use birth control.

I saw one young mum today park across the street from a daycare centre, pick up her toddler, and run across an icy field. Yeppers – she and the toddler went flying. The toddler probably bore the brunt of the fall, as she was literally tossed into the air, and the mother came crunching down on top of her.


Saw another young mother with a couple of kids and she was letting them run around a busy fast food restaurant. People around didn’t think it was cute – one lady almost lost her tray of food when one of these kids whipped around her like a dog chasing its tail.

I think they ought to pass a law – if you’re too stupid to have kids, tough. If you can’t pass a basic parenting 101 type of test, then get a dog, a cat, maybe a fish is more your speed. At least when you mess up a fish’s life, you just flush it. It is a lot harder to mend a broken childhood.

There have been stories in the news of parents leaving their kids unattended – some as young as three-months-old – in the backseat of a car, while the parent went shopping. One person even left the engine running so the car wouldn’t get cold. Cool – some car thief not only will get your minivan, but your child too.


Parenting isn’t an easy job. But it is a job – and you really have to want that job to do it well. If you had an “accident” – do your children a favor and give them to someone who wants to be a parent.

Seriously, it is one thing to quit your job at McDonald’s – it is quite another to just slack off as a parent.

Poorly raised children end up on the fringes of society. They have bad role models at home, and they pick up those bad vibes and act on them later in life. Axe murders are not born, they are created by slacking, stupid parents that don’t give a rat’s ass.

Society would be better off if those not suited to be raising a kid, were sterilized. That’s the solution – pass me my knife!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Where’s the Your Spine?

I occasionally participate in an online forum discussing The Simpson’s. It is a great place to talk about the latest episodes, the upcoming movie – opening worldwide on July 27, 2007 – and other things related to the television show.

Recently, I noticed an alarming trend – lack of backbone.

People would flame others for disagreeing with them, and others in fear of being flamed would post corrections to their previous comments.

Get some backbone people!

If everyone agrees, what the hell is left to talk about?

The Internet is a wonderful way to share ideas worldwide with complete strangers. And being afraid of some stranger not liking your ideas is beyond childish. Not too mention it takes away from the whole purpose of sharing ideas, commenting on ideas, and having some sort of dialogue.

If the majority of the conversation revolves around correcting yourself because of fear – then there isn’t much to really talk about.

I was actually surprised that people online would be so pussy-whipped. With all the “evil” online, you’d figure we’d all at least have some backbone.

With child predators, lurkers, and other nastiness online, you’d figure even those that are relatively normal would at the very least, be able to take a stand on something and stand by that very stand.

Maybe that’s part of the problem – we’ve been beaten down so much in society that we back down the second someone says “boo.”

I enjoy reading and commenting on opinions – and I don’t beat anyone down. I express my thoughts and welcome comments and feedback.

Maybe this is why I get so few comments on my blogs? It is okay to post comments in here – I like reading comments. I may even comment on your comments – but that’s good – it means your comments moved me in some way.

And if you can move the creator of the thoughts, then chances are you’ll move others with those thoughts.

So go ahead – post comments, tell me what you think. Stand up for your own free speech – speak and forever be spoken.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Shaken From The Past

Recently in the local news, there has been a lot of talk about a double-murder in the mid-sized town where I grew-up.

Two women were found dead – one had been stabbed in the neck, the other was found hanging, bound and tied.

When the newscast mentioned my hometown, I immediately paid closer attention. Then the shock and horror sunk in. Hey! I know these people!

I went to high school with Julie Crocker and Chris Little – Julie and Chris were high school sweethearts. They started dating while I was in high school and later in life, got married and had two little kids.

Julie was one of the murder victims, and her husband has been charged with both murders.

Julie was in my grade 10 accounting class way back in high school. I remember her clearly, she sat one row back and right across from me.

Chris I actually knew quite well back in high school – he was in my year and he was in the drama club when I was in that club. We even did some skits together.

Apparently, Chris and Julie were in the process of separating – their marriage had floundered and they were now living separate lives. Julie was even dating the ex-husband of the second murder victim.

I hadn’t talked to either Julie or Chris in a very, very, VERY long time. Not since high school most likely.

But to hear about two people I once knew, one now in jail, the other dead, was still very disturbing. It made me think about the past, and wonder about the future.

High school is so very long ago, and your head is in a very different headspace while in high school. But when you think about, you spend more time in high school than the average person spends at one employer. High school is usually about five-years. Most people spend only three-years at any one employer, before moving on to a bigger pay cheque elsewhere.

So, when you spend that long in one place, the people around you become special. Even the ones you just vaguely associate with as you pass them by in the halls.

I guess that’s why I’m still feeling uncomfortable about my old high school buddies. I didn’t hang out with either while in high school. One was in one of my classes, the other a club I belonged too.

Still, as I sit here and think about their images on the evening news, I can remember back to those days long ago, when Julie sat across from me in grade 10 accounting, and Chris and I hammed it up in drama club.

Spooky thoughts, of happier days gone by.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Place For Everything and Everything in its Place

T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts – I have a lot of shirts. Actually, I have many shirts – plain white t-shirts, grey t-shirts, shirts with logos, shirts without logos, colorful shirts, bland shirts . . .

Then there are socks. . .

My drawers were getting crammed with all of the various items of my wardrobe. So much so, that some of the doors weren’t closing fully, because items were sticking out.

I had organized my drawers before, but I guess when things start to overflow, it is time to do it again.

So I did.

Now, all my white t-shirts are in one pile, and all my grey t-shirts in another. But it is more than organizing the shirts, socks, pants, whatever – there’s more here at play.

Now that everything is organized, I know exactly where everything is. So, when I need something specific, I can go right to the source. No more hunting through all my shirts, to find the one shirt I want.

This may sound like overkill, but it really works.

I remember years ago, in a movie with William Hurt called The Accidental Tourist, Hurt’s great grandmother had organized her kitchen in much the same way. All the soup cans were sorted alphabetically by type of soup.

Then, the dog got into the cupboards, and ate all the labels off the cans.

“What’s for dinner?”

“I dunno, it is either chicken soup or cream of broccoli.”

Okay, alphabetizing your soup cans may be going a tad too far.

But organization isn’t always a bad thing.

Back to my wardrobe, now all the drawers open and close with ease. I know where everything is, and more importantly, I feel good knowing I managed to tame the beast that is my wardrobe.

Now, if only I could do the same with other aspects of my life. . .

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Laundry Hogs

I live in a large, high-rise apartment. On-site, there is a large laundry room with probably about 40-washers and 40-dryers.

I go down to do my laundry on weekends, as many do. In my building, there are one, two and three-bedroom apartments. So, you figure, there ought to be more than enough machines for us all to share.

So long as you don’t have a laundry hog.

There is one woman I’ve had the displeasure of encountering numerous times in the laundry room. She takes practically all the washers at once! All 40 of ‘em!

Now, when I was a kid growing up, we had a family of four and my mom often did everyone’s laundry. We had a washer and a dryer and my mom would do maybe four or five loads for all of our clothes. So, in theory, for a family of four, you should only need a max of four washers.

I’m starting to wonder if this laundry hog woman is running some sort of illegal scam. Maybe she’s got a bunch of illegal immigrants in her place or something, because she’s using 40 machines.

And it isn’t just the washers. Nope, this woman is sneaky-clever. She comes down just before her laundry is done in the washers, to secure all the dryers. I’ve been there and she’s actually told people not to use empty machines because they are “hers” – even though she hasn’t actually put anything in them yet!

The nerve of some people – to take ownership of something just like that. It is as if she owns the laundry room and we mere peasants have to ask – no beg – for her permission to use the machines.

F*ck that – if she ever does that to me, I’ll give her a piece of my mind. She doesn’t own the machines, we all pay equally for the privilege to use them through our rent.

Maybe next time, I see her take all the washers, I’ll wait until she is gone, and spike her washers with permanent neon purple magic markers – with the caps off. When she comes back to take procession of the dryers, she’ll see all her clothes have been color-coded a nice bright purple.

Yeah, that’ll teach her. And it will cut down on her laundry usage – she’ll have fewer clothes next time she comes down to do the laundry.

I love purple magic markers!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Keeping Up With the Boss

One of my clients really loves their employees – and it shows. Every month they do something fun to keep corporate moral up. Sometimes it is a potluck lunch, sometimes they have a catered lunch, and coming next month a formal dinner at a posh exclusive executive club.

Next month, they are holding their annual winterlude. A fancy suit and tie affair, complete with fancy food, fancy dancing and prize give-a-ways – last year they gave someone a 42-inch plasma TV!

I’m only a contractor, but I’ve been invited – as I often am – to my client’s corporate functions. And I’m going – hey, who knows, maybe this year they’ll give away an even bigger LCD TV.

Although I usually have a great time at these corporate functions, I also go because it is a corporate function. It is important to show up, to network with the client and others in the company. You never know when you may need to call on them for a resource, or they to call on you for more work. It is a bit of corporate schmoozing, but it is done lightly and in fun.

Where else can you have a couple of drinks with the powers-that-be and still be respected in the morning? So long as it is just a couple of drinks – drinking to the point of getting drunk, or even slightly buzzed isn’t cool. You want to have your wits about you around your colleagues.

Interesting though, I was chatting with others at this company and many just aren’t interested in going.

“Oh, I went the second-year I was here,” said one colleague from this company. “I haven’t gone since and I’ve been here six-years.”

“My husband says he was bored last year, but he still wants to go this year,” tells me another.

“I never go to those things – I like to keep my work life separate from my home life,” says another.

As a consultant, I see all sorts of employers. Most don’t do anything for their staff. So, when I see an employer that actually cares enough about their employees to go out of their way and do something nice – I think the employees should go.

It’s like that saying goes – you don’t know what you’re missing until it is gone. As these employees move to other companies in their careers, they’ll learn.

They had it good.

Sure, it is goofy and might even be silly at times to get into the corporate fun spirit. May even take you away from something else you want to do.

At least you’re at a company that does these things for you. Most companies don’t do squat. Most companies see their employees as slave labor. They get you for the lowest possible price you’re willing to accept in terms of salary, give you the least amount of time off (usually the maximum they are required to by law) and often don’t give you any decent benefits.

Yes, there is the whole schmoozing up and networking aspect to the corporate function. But that doesn’t last all night. Usually only over cocktails and at the start of the event -- the rest of the event is yours to enjoy.

Besides, it is fun watching the executives in a company relax. So often they are tight-asses at the office, always towing the corporate line. You might even get to know your boss, or a company vice-president or president better.

So, next time your employer tosses you a shin-dig – GO!

You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll even have some fun.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Where’d the Weather Network Go?

As many of you know, I have digital cable with the movies package. I have over 500-channels to choose from.

Last month, I got a notice with my cable bill telling me my cable provider was re-structuring channel line-ups. They moved two channels off of basic cable and onto the digital cable line-up to make room for two other channels.

Fine – I’d still get all the same channels, because I have digital cable.

Though it would have been nice if my cable provider had told me the listing of the new channels. When you get used to finding say, channel WBKW on channel 176 and it moves to channel 331 – it would have been nice to know that. I missed the first 10-minutes of Jeopardy because of that!

The more channels you have, the longer it takes to find things when they aren’t where they used to be.

It is cool to be able to see the television listings for a whole week – I have an interactive program guide with my digital cable, which does just that.

But I learned something else recently about digital programming. As more and more of us get it, it will eventually cost us all more and more money.

Sure, there are advantages to the digital cable over regular analogue cable. I have better picture and sound quality, as it is a pure digital signal. I get Dolby Surround Sound, and I have access to time shifting – so I never miss my favorite shows.

Here comes the “but” that I didn’t know until today. According to the regulations, once 85 percent of a cable company’s customers have digital cable, the cable company is allowed to allocate their channel line-ups as they see fit, without notifying the stations or its subscribers.

This way, the regulators ensure everyone has access to some basic channels: CBC, CTV, GlobalTV, the Weather Network and a few others which have always been regulated onto the basic cable stream.

While watching the Weather Network today, they ran a quick notice about how my local cable provider has put in a request to move it to the digital stream, as they have reached the 85 percent or greater digital subscriber base.

That doesn’t affect me yet – as I have digital cable, I’d still get the Weather Network. However, once on the digital stream, the cable company could easily turn around and say that it is a specialty channel, and part of a different grouping of channels that I don’t subscribe too. Meaning, I’d have to pay extra to see my local forecasts on TV.

I believe channels like the Weather Network serve a fundamental community service. During severe storms in all seasons, I’m tuning into the Weather Network to see what is going on. I often turn on the Weather Network before leaving for the day, to ensure I am dressed for the weather.

Placing the Weather Network on higher tier cable packages prevents everyone from accessing important information that really affects them. And it is a plain and simple money grab attempt by the cable operators.

Cable companies are in business to make money – all companies are. But to take away a fundamental community service in the guise of better programming, when it is nothing more than a cash grab is wrong.

I never thought too much when the government regulated that the aboriginal television station be mandated to basic cable. Yeah, we white men took their land, raped their wives, and gave them smallbox and other diseases. That was long before you, me, our parents and our grandparents were even born.

Big deal.

But the Weather Network affects us all. Weather really does impact our lives daily here in Canada. In the summer we have extreme heat alerts and in the winter extreme cold alerts.

We probably live in the worst place weather-wise, because we go from one extreme to another.

Which is why everyone should have access to the Weather Network – even if you don’t have digital cable.

You can help out – tell the federal government what you think of their regulations and how it affects the Weather Network. Check out this website:

Take a stand against the big cable operators and their money grab.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Workout Rush

When I tell people I workout for about two-hours, three-times a week – sometimes even four times a week – they look at me as if I were nuts.

“Oh I couldn’t do that,” said one co-worker.

“I’d die if I did that,” tells me another.

Well, I do, do that, and I’m not dead. I love a good workout. I think there is a certain addiction to going to the gym and feeling the sweat bead off.

I love every aspect of my workout routines – from the warm-up, to the sauna and everything in between. Sure, there is some pain here and there – but it is the right kind of pain.

A workout “burn” is the sensation of muscle fibers breaking down. In order to build bigger muscles – or even to just maintain current ones – you have to break down the old muscle fiber. New muscle fiber is always required – that’s how you keep the muscles you have, and if you really push it, build new ones.

There’s some truth in the saying “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” If you don’t use your muscles enough, your muscle fiber doesn’t break down, and congeals and turns to fat.

So, a “burning” sensation is good pain. It drives me and makes me work harder at the gym, as I know that I’m doing something good for my muscles.

I also get into the whole gym culture – I think of it as a day at the spa. First I go in, and I’m warmly greeted by the receptionist as I swipe my access toggle. Then, I get changed into my workout kit – usually gym shorts, a t-shirt, white socks and running shoes.

Now I’m off to hit the exercise bike to warm-up – whoops wait a sec! Got to stop off at the water fountain and fill up my water bottle.

I love this!

After a good warm-up, I do a combo core muscle workout while stretching out all my major muscle groups. This saves time, as I do the stretches while working out, but it also keeps my heart rate up at a workout warm-up level. It is dangerous to workout cold.

Core muscles include abs, obliques (where those love handles appear) and lower and mid-back muscles. This muscle group is called the “core” muscle group, as these are the muscles that support your body’s framework for – well for pretty much everything.

Now I’m off to do some resistance training in the weight rooms. I usually focus on three muscle groups per workout – two upper body and one lower body. Today I did biceps and triceps, and thighs (inner and outer).

It is important to work different muscle groups on different days, so that you actually re-build that muscle fiber.

Remember that “burn” feeling is the feeling of muscle fiber being braking down. The breakdown of muscle fiber occurs while you are using your muscles. The re-placement of new muscle fiber takes place over a day or two, as new muscle fiber develops when those muscles aren’t in as heavy a demand pattern.

So, if you constantly over-exhaust the same muscle groups, all you’re doing is breaking down muscle fibers – you aren’t giving your body enough recuperative time to develop new muscle fibers.

The next time I workout, probably in a day or two, I’ll focus on another series of muscle groups. Most likely chest, shoulders and calves (two upper body groups and one lower body group again).

After I burn iron in the weight rooms – it is time to grab some more water and do an hour on the cardio machines burning fat.

I usually do an hour straight on one machine – say a treadmill, an elliptical machine, or one of the other cardio machines. Sometimes, if I have the time, I’ll do two machines, splitting the hour in half on each machine (30-minutes per machine).

I’m still loving it. Yes, I can still feel my muscles burning from the intense workout, but now at least, I have some TV to watch while running on a treadmill, or pumping my legs and arms on an elliptical machine.

It gets harder sometimes, often around the 45-minute mark. But hey, that means I only have 15-minutes left so I really push it until the machine chimes out “Workout Complete – Cooling Down.”

Now, I do some relaxing stretches, stretching out all the muscle groups all over again. Got to make sure I’m not stiff in any one area, or I’ll really feel it in the morning.

Time for the spa – I get into my bathing suit, grab a towel, fill-up my water bottle and hit the sauna. Ahhhhhh – f*cking paradise.

A good 10-minutes in the sauna helps open up your skin’s pores – kind of like a bath for your skin inside and out. It really does wonders for your skin – prevents and reduces the effects of aging, and makes my skin all soft.

Stretching in the sauna is a great thing too – the heat relaxes muscles allowing them more mobility and elasticity.

Sometimes I’ll take a dive into the hot tub. Hot tubs are also great for your pores, but even better for your muscles. The heat and the water jets really workout kinks in tight muscles.

I finish my whole workout with a nice, lazy hot shower, and I’m all pumped from the adrenalin cursing through my veins. I feel like doing it all over again – and I will – in a couple of days.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Self-Healing Power of Creativity

Self-help books fill bookstores shelves and people buy ‘em like crazy. But there is nothing more healing to yourself, than creativity.

I’m a very creative person – I’m oozing creativity right now.

Whoops! Sorry – let me get you a towel.

Before, during and after I invent something – be it a new fangled way of saying something, a stunning layout, an interactive website, or even just hanging pictures up in my home – I’m always buzzing with energy and satisfaction.

Being creative – for me at least – really makes me feel amazing.

It is even better than chicken soup, and you don’t burn your tongue or nothing!

I think the solution to our own problems doesn’t lie in the pages of some self-help book – it lies within our own inventive minds.

Some people bake to release creative juices. Others paint, dance, build something out of Lego blocks – whatever. Do whatever you can do to be creative. You’ll feel better quickly, and there are no side effects.

American television stations are full of ads about ‘miracle drugs.’ While watching the American channels, I see ad after ad of drugs for everything from painkillers, headache roll-on stoppers, sleeping pills, waking pills, weight loss pills, sexual function – I’m surprised they don’t have a pill that will clean my apartment and pay my bills.

Medications do amazing things – they cure illness, prevent illness, and relieve pain. But they also often have many bad after-affects. Things like blurred vision, slurred speech, constipation, diarrhea, drowsiness, heart attacks, liver failure, kidney failure, trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, trouble waking – drugs are nothing but trouble.

Being creative has no ill side-affects. I’ve never heard of anyone being unable to see after cooking a great meal. No one has ever died because they had a great idea.

Sure Jordan – easy for you to say, you’re a ‘riter-type of creative person.

Yes I am – but that doesn’t mean you have to be able to string sentences together to be creative. Mathematicians are creative, just in a different way.

There’s the whole left-brain/right-brain theory. Says one side of our brains is for logical problem solving, while the other is our cognitive creative ability to imagine and invent. According to this theory, although we all have a little of both of the logical and the creative side, one side is more dominant than the other.
This is why some of us are great at math, while some of us suck at math.

I suck when it comes to math. Number crunching isn’t my thing – I’m calculator dependent even for the most basic of math problems.

But I’m an exceptional communicator. I can invent ideas instantly.

So, I’m more of the creative-side of the brain, than the logical side.

But this doesn’t mean those good in math and other like-minded logical-brain-sided people can’t be creative.

Mathematicians are creative – just in a different way. Oh wait – I believe I said that already.


We all have it within ourselves to be creative, just in different ways.

So go out there and be creative, in your own way.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Great Racial Divide

In the United States, it is a well known fact that there is more racism and discrimination than up here in Canada. At least, that’s what I used to think.

On television shows in the States, you can see the great divides between races. Reality dating shows like Blind Date always match black men with black women (unless one of the two specifically says they like another specific racial group. President George W. Bush even let slip his own racists view, when he commented about how all Hispanics are in the States illegally. He later claimed his comments were taken out of context. Yeah, right.

That’s America – we’re Canada – we openly welcome people from other cultures. Don’t we?

At my most recent client-site, I’ve been having some pretty busy days. So busy, I’ve taken to wolfing down my lunch in the company’s lunchroom. Often, I’m rushing from one meeting to another, so I have lunch at different times of the day.

I noticed something odd – at all the different times I have chosen to eat, there have been different racial groups present, minus all the other racial groups in the company.

At 12:30pm, the whole lunchroom (sans moi) was South-East Asian/Indian/Muslim. The next day, when I went to lunch around 1:00pm, the whole lunchroom was Chinese. Then the following day, I went to lunch late, around 3:00pm and the whole lunchroom was Black (sorry – African-American).

If this were a fictitious attempt at office humor, it would be marginally funny. But it isn’t fictitious or attempted – it is real – and really sad.

It says something about our current Canadian values – or rather – it says something very sad about the people we’re letting into our country.
It appears all the cultures that we Canadians warmly welcome into our proud and free land just don’t want to mix and mingle with anyone else in this once great land – unless they look like them.

This isn’t just a language barrier, or even a lack of education barrier. This is a racist barrier that those from other cultures bring with them to our once great land.

Hey, if I went to some other country – say Germany – I wouldn’t isolate myself from everyone else and just talk to all the Canadians in the room. I’d be mixing it up with the Germans, and any others I happened upon.

So, why are the Indians, Chinese, Black – insert any foreign national here – only dealing with others of their culture here?
Do we really want to be just like the Americans, where even their president holds racist values – do we want a prime minister of the same shortcomings?

What value do immigrants bring here, if they refuse to mix with us non-whatever the hell they are?

How comfortable can we be in our own country, knowing that there are places you just can’t go, because they will ignore you – or worse – treat you like dirt?

Where the hell is our federal government when you need ‘em? Why don’t they take a stand on this and force people to either participate in Canadian values, or get the hell out of my country?

Oh ya – they are pussies.

Or, they are them.

One day we’ll have a prime minister named Amed Khalid Chin. And I bet he won’t speak to you unless you happen to be of his native land – which isn’t Canada.


America – here we come.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Brrrrrrr – It’s a Westerly Wind

Usually my high-rise apartment is boiling hot. The building acts like a chimney and all the heat rises up the building to the upper floors. So my lofty high-level apartment is an oven at best.

I even occasionally run the air conditioners in winter. It really gets that hot up here.

But not in the latest cold snap. The winds are blowing from the west and that means I’m actually getting quite the breeze through my windows. Usually the wind is blowing from some other direction – so I get no ventilation.

Figures – we’re in one of the coldest months of the year, breaking record low temperatures even – and the wind has to blow into my pad.

So, while the average temperature of my apartment hovers around the 25-30C mark, these days its way down around 15-20C.

It is actually quite cool here – which is rare.

Now that I have experienced the heat and the frigid cold, I actually like it cold better. In cold temperatures, I can just add another layer of clothing to keep warm. When it is hot –there was nothing I could do. Once you take off all your clothes, there isn’t much else you can take off. That’s why I got air conditioning – the neighbors kept complaining about my nudist colony. Well, most of the neighbors, except for that cougar above me. But that’s another story. . .

Cold is hot.

Though now it is so cold, I wish it were hot out so I could turn on the A/C. Even with long johns and a sweater on, I can still feel the cold.

This all makes me wonder though – why in our high-tech society can’t my property management get the temperatures perfect every time around? You’d figure it is in their best interest to keep the temperatures not too hot, nor too cold.

When I run my A/C, I’m using up electricity. I don’t pay for electricity – so it’s no skin off my back. However, the property management firm does – so it costs them money. Same goes for the cold – if I were to use a space heater, that too costs them money.

I know my building is old, but it is one of the best maintained buildings in the city. I ought to know, I shopped around like crazy before moving in here. Most apartment buildings in this city fall into one of two extremes – either the property management firm doesn’t give a rat’s ass and lets everything go to hell, or – as in my building – they take exceptionally good care of the building.

When I was looking for a new apartment, I remember walking through one with the property manager. He told me they just painted the walls. Though obviously they hadn’t – I could see paint chips the size of old rusty Buicks peeling off the walls, and there were water marks on the ceilings (indicating pipe problems).

I went through another apartment building and the place was a dive – paint peeling, scratches on the hardwood floors, exposed wires and pipes. I asked if they were going to fix it up before the next tenant moved in. Nope. Nadda. We don’t do that. But if you want to, hey go ahead – they told me. Yeah, right – I’ll get right on that. NOT!

When I moved into my place, they repainted the all the walls, re-did all the floors, sanitized the kitchen and bathroom and even sprayed for creepy crawlies – all before I moved in. Though the place didn’t need most of that stuff – it was already in top shape. Here, they just do that as standard procedure before anyone moves in.

And they don’t stop there – they actually vacuum and wash down the hallways twice per week, and whenever I have a problem, they are right up to fix it.

So, why can’t they get my apartment to stay the right temperature?

Oh well – I’ve managed to improvise.

Where are my matches?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Alright – I Admit It – I’m a Cheesehead

Most of us can call a specific decade our own, and fondly look back on those years. For me that decade is the 1980’s.

Looking back now, it seems pure cheese – pastel colors were in, as were leg warmers, parachute pants, and even the Parachute Club.

I grew up on 1980’s television. I remember rushing through my homework in grade eight, so that I wouldn’t miss The A-Team. I’d stay up to watch Night Rider, followed by the Dukes of Hazard. On weekends, I’d watch Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Kids Incorporated, and who could ever forget Fraggle Rock!

“Kitt! I need you buddy!”

“Right away Michael!”

I miss those shows, even though they were so very corny.

Television represented the decade quite well – the simplicity of good old fashioned family values in standard middle-class nuclear families.

This was the decade of loving, caring families always resolving their differences. Shows like Family Ties, Growing Pains even Punky Brewster all were big on cute kids, getting into big problems, but in the end solving these problems and teaching us viewers how to resolve our own.

I even remember watching ALF and Harry and the Hendersons. Two cheesy shows with puppets as lead characters.

So that makes me a cheese head – big deal.

Hey, I grew up in the best decade.

My decade was when Michael Jackson and Maddona were not only big mega stars, but they were also relatively ‘normal.’ This was before Michael Jackson went from black man to some manila colored alien-like creature. Back before Maddona exposed herself and her sexuality on Letterman. Back then, they were only churning out great tunes.

Back in my decade, off-the-shoulder sweaters and showing a little ankle were sexy. These days, women show butt-cleavage – and that’s among the lesser of the skimpy outfits in style these days.

Life was so much simpler back then. Predators online – naw, there was no online, the Internet didn’t exist. Privacy existed, because cell phones and pagers were only carried by doctors, lawyers and the exceptionally wealthy. These days, kids have cell phones, and most managers carry BlackBerrys around all the time.

There may have only been 30 channels on television in the 1980’s, but back then, at least there was something worthwhile on some of those channels. I have over 500 channels now, and often shake my head in disgust with the lack of quality programming.

We never had to worry about terrorist attacks in Canada or the States in the 1980s. Though our thoughts of dread came from the Iron Curtin. The Cold War carried on between the super-powers of the USA and the USSR. But back then, political leaders were really leaders – and they knew better than to just go out and attack. The Cold War was mostly a mental war, each side trying to prove the other’s bluff.

These days, political leaders are more in it for themselves, or their own entertainment value, and it is really scary to think of all the military might they have at their disposal. George W. Bush has already shed more blood over the world, than George Bush SR and Bill Clinton ever did combined in their presidencies.

Yeppers – life was a whole lot simpler back in the 1980s.

Maybe that’s why there is a resurgence of 1980’s trends making a comeback. I’ve noticed some 80’s fashion is back in fashion – things like leg warmers and big hair.

Ah . . . big 80’s hair!

I had a big 1980’s doo. How I miss that too. It was wild, free and even just a little zany. But it was pretty simple too – just wild natural curls, that were prone to their windblown styling.

Wild and free – ahh the 1980s.

They say history has a tendency to repeat itself – well, I’m still waiting for the repeat of the 1980s.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

When Local Malls Come Tumbling Down

I’m lucky to be in one of the largest cities in the world. I’ve been in small no-name towns, and they don’t come close in terms of resources.

There are two major shopping malls within 15-minutes from my home, 24-hour grocery stores a walk away, and a conveyance store just across the street from my apartment.

In small towns, often all the stores close around the same time at night, and many are scattered great distances from each other – means a lot of planned out traveling.

One of my local malls is changing – possibly for the worse.

Fairview Mall has been one of my favorite local malls since – well since forever. When I was a kid, my parents took me there. Through my teens, I’d go with my friends – we’d buy pop and candy bars at the Bulk Barn and sneak them in with us at the movie theatres. As an adult, I have gone to Fairview Mall many times, on my own and with friends, to shop.

Fairview Mall is under construction – all the good stores are gone or relocated elsewhere. The ceiling is a mess with scaffolding girders holding up patches here and there. There are fenced off areas with yellow tape and wooden planks, as construction workers do whatever it is they have been told to do.

I was talking with one of the sales staff in one of the stores at Fairview Mall. She tells me she’s not quite sure what is going on, but rumor has it that mall management is trying to make the place more like Yorkdale Mall.

Ah, Yorkdale Mall – one of the largest malls in Canada. But also one of the most expensive. I actually feel uncomfortable going to Yorkdale, because I don’t drive a Porsche, Hummer, ‘Beemer’ or any other vehicle that spells rich-man-a-walking.

Yorkdale Mall is mostly overpriced, high-end women’s clothing stores. There is a decent food court, and they have a great big movie theatre complex, and a handful of restaurants. But even though I can easily go to Yorkdale Mall, I don’t. I don’t like it – most of the stores cater to women, and there really isn’t much of interest to me – or my pocketbook at Yorkdale Mall.

I really hope this rumor about Fairview Mall is false. Fairview Mall used to have a good selection of stores to cater to average shoppers like me. They had some sports clothing stores, mens casual and dress stores, womens casual and dress stores, toy stores, bookstores – they had it all.

If Fairview Mall becomes another Yorkdale Mall, where will I go for a nice pair of pants?

I know where I’ll go – and it won’t be Fairview Mall.

And that really is sad in a way, because Fairview Mall has been a part of my life since I can remember. It is tragic when some 18-year-old whiz kid with an MBA tells someone what will make their mall a better mall.

Although that 18-year-old whiz kid probably has a great education in his field, he probably hasn’t ever been to a real mall. Probably never gone on a date – too busy reading and studying is my hunch. So, this 18-year-old whiz kid probably gave the best advice he could dig up in his books and other research materials.

Reality is so very different from what they teach in school these days. Textbooks are often as old, if not older than the professors spewing their aged words of wisdom.

And that’s why my local mall has come tumbling down.

Thanks -- you pimple-faced freak!

You ruined an amazingly good thing, by trying to make it better.

F*cking freak.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Smiling Happy Workers

As a consultant, I get the rare opportunity to visit many different office environments. Most these days are pretty much the same business-casual nine-to-fivers.

There are extremes in everything, as in offices. I went to one office where blue jeans, t-shirts and even flip-flops were the norm. At this particular software gaming company, the vice-president I met with was in not only blue jeans and a t-shirt, nope – that wasn’t good enough for him. He just so happened to have a white t-shirt with a cartoon-like fist, and the middle finger was extended in the . . . ah, shall we say not in such a nice way.

Then there are the big greedy banks, with their three-piece, pin-striped suits, ties and polished shoes. If this were the roaring twenties, you’d swear Al Capone would walk by any moment.

Interestingly enough, clothes do make the man – or women in our equally represented work world. I’ve found those places that are so laid back anything fashion-wise goes, have the same attitudes towards business. While those stuck in stiff, uncomfortable suits and ties are more stuck-up and less likely to make those around them feel welcome.

The best places to work are definitely the business-casual ones. Not too far one way or the other.

Though I must say, at lot comes from the top down at any company. If the presidents, vice-presidents, directors, managers and other higher-ups treat their subordinates like they are lucky to be there, then the work atmosphere is one of distrust, over-competition, and visitors feel awkward at best.

However, the place I’m currently on contract is showing a smiling happy work force – one might even say they glow with glee.

My current contract has landed me in a business-casual environment, with the usual middle-road atmosphere. However, something is different – everyone really likes being at work.

I was taken around the office by human resources and by the manager I’m working with. On both tours, everyone was very jovial and exceptionally happy to be there. It was like a page out of one of those idiot books, something like “Running a Happy Office for Dummies,” or something like that.

I was very impressed and look forward to working on-site with these happy workers more often. It isn’t every day you talk to someone who really likes who they work with and where they work. Almost everyone has something to complain about when water cooler chit-chat and office politics enter the mix.

Not here – this place probably has office politics and the occasional office gossip. But they don’t let it affect their attitudes – they were very warm, friendly and very positive.

Of course this was my first day with this client – who knows what tomorrow will bring?

However, having been in and out of many offices – I’d say this company is off to an amazing start.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Workout Songs

The world is soundful place – there are sounds all around us.

From the sounds of traffic, to birds, to people talking, eating, even singing.

The other day at the gym, I heard someone singing in the shower. Now, singing in the shower is fine – if you are alone at home. But subjecting others to your off-key rendition of something that sounds like – well uh er – it didn’t sound like anything to be frank – is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I can’t sing – anyone who knows me well enough knows that. I may hum in the shower occasionally, but only if it is my shower at home – not the one at the gym. I won’t even do karaoke – unless heavily under the influence of several drinks.

Singing in the shower is a way of expressing joy, happiness and other good feelings. And it should – singing is a great stress reliever. As is working out -- after a workout, most people feel energized, a-buzz with energy and adrenalin.

However, singing in the shower at the gym is no different from walking through downtown Toronto naked. Sure, you may get compliments, but you’d also probably offend a great deal of people.

Same with singing in the shower at the gym – some people may actually like your off-key wails and moans. Others will be offended.

I’ve been to my fair share of gyms over the years, and there is always some freak thinking he’s Frank Sinatra. They have signs all over the showers, telling us not to leave our towels on the benches or floors, to be careful because the floor may be slippery when wet, don’t drop the soap – just kidding about the last one.

Maybe they should put up another sign – no singing in the shower. That would quash that problem like a bug. After all, we all obey every sign we see. . .

Then again, maybe not.

Guess I’m stuck listening to bad beats gone terribly wrong.

Pass me a towel.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Bitchin Internet

Ever notice how most people online are in fowl moods?

I occasionally go into chat rooms when I’m bored and have nothing else to do. Usually, I’m just looking to talk with others to kill time. Who knows, maybe if I’m lucky I’ll find someone normal that can become a regular chat buddy. Make that extremely lucky. . .

Most people online seem to be online to get rid of rage. I find this in chat rooms and other online communities – everyone seems angry and just looking to pick a fight, or rant about their sorry excuse of a life.

I don’t know about you, but when things aren’t going my way, I do other things to take my mind off of my troubles. I hit the gym and do an extra-long workout to sweat it out. Maybe I’ll do some housework to take my mind off of my problems. Or even getting together with friends and just hanging out – anything but go online and vent to strangers.

Yes – strangers. Anyone online can say or be anything they want, so unless you’ve actually physically met someone in person, anyone you ‘meet’ online is a stranger.

And talking about my problems to a group of strangers seems unreal to me. How can someone who doesn’t really know me, help me muddle through my messes? Even for that matter – why would someone who doesn’t know me give a rat’s ass about my problems – they have their own to deal with?

Some people online seem severely depressed – and they use the online world in place of what they really need – professional help. Imagine the money professional head doctors could make off most nuts online. If they could open an online practice, they’d be set for life.

The real problem is for non-depressed, relatively happy and ‘normal’ people like me – I don’t go online to pick fights, vent or seek mental help from strangers. I go online to chat – really chat. Not about my problems, or someone else’s – but to talk intelligently about the world around us.

Sad thing is, that kind of chat doesn’t seem to exist anymore online. It used too – once upon a time. Back before the Internet existed, everyone used dial-up modems to connect to Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), back then people really chatted online.

Back in the days of BBSes, there were message boards for everything from general chit-chat, to specific software and hardware technologies, to television shows, movies, and hobbies. Kind of along the same lines of topics chat rooms are divided into today.

Though back then, rarely did people chat live with others online. Nope, this was way before that live-chat technology existed. Back in those days, you read messages posted by others, and responded to those messages. Then others would log in later, read your responses, and respond in kind – and on and on the dialogue went. I think that added something to the whole experience – you got to take your time and actually read well thought out ideas. Then, you had the time to construct your own well thought out ideas and respond.

These days, chat rooms are filled with so many people, the text flies by so fast you often miss anything more than a handful of words – hardly the venue for deep thought.

Maybe that’s why so many angry souls visit the online world – the last thing they want or need is to think?

Too bad – I enjoy a good thunkin online.