Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Silence of Body Language

Ever watch TV with the sound off?

Sometimes you can make out what is going on, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you see the most twisted things on TV sans sound.

Today I was watching TV with the sound off – I was at the gym, on a treadmill watching the many TVs hanging overhead. They have them tuned into radio frequencies, so if you don’t have a radio on you, you don’t hear anything on them.

A commercial came up on one of them for Oliver Jewelry. Russell Oliver is a well-known media personality – known for his flamboyant and over the top-type of hype on his commercials.

“I buy your jewelry for cash!” is his famous catch-phrase.

When he talks, he uses his hands, his arms, he’s often walking into the shot.

Without sound, as I watched, I was thinking to myself “if I saw this guy coming at me like this I’d run.”

He looked like an angry crazy lunatic, waving his arms madly in the air, and ready to come at anyone with all his might.

Then I saw Tony Little on another channel. He’s the nutty over-energized fitness “guru” that has all these workout machines for sale.

Tony Little also looked like a madman, as he waved his arms, jumped around.

Funny how people look on TV without sound.

I bet neither Tony Little nor Russell Oliver are certifiably insane madmen ready to tromp all over any poor soul caught in their path.

But on TV, without any sound, they look like they would.

This got me thinking how I may look to others because I often talk with my hands and arms. I’m not usually on TV, but from a distance talking with friends in a public place, I probably would look just as nutty and scary as those on the boob tube look.

But I like talking with my hands and arms. Aside from it just being who I am, it also adds emphasis where I want, and helps me keep the attention of those I happen to be with on me, not someone or something else.

Maybe they should have a special area in restaurants for us highly energetic people? It could even be closed off and clearly marked, so those entering need not worry about the nuts inside – they just talk big, nothing else.

It would certainly put to use those separate, ventilated smoking sections bars and restaurants have – seeing as now smoking is banned in all these places regardless of having a separate ventilated area for it.

But then again, why single us highly visual talkers out?

We’re no more a threat to anyone than a rain-drop.

One of my pet hobbies is people watching. I love watching body language and studying how people interact.

That’s probably part of why I am so animated when I am in a good conversation – I know exactly what body language I am giving off and I am using it to keep the conversation in my ball park.

Body language is one of those sneaky little things we all do – even when we don’t think or know that we are doing it.

It is just part of being human. Cultural anthropologists claim that long before we humans learned to vocalize our thoughts, we all communicated by our body language.

The “words” we used were gesture clusters – combinations of facial expressions, hand and arm movements, even the way we sit, stand or even just lie there.

Despite the development of many languages the world over, we still pick up and give off these visual cues – it’s in-grained in us innately. Body language is like breathing, you can no more stop breathing than you can stop speaking the language of body language.

Interesting though, how in certain situations – like watching TV with the sound off – our body language may say something completely different from intended.

So, next time you’re watching TV – turn the sound off and see what you “hear” from those on TV’s body language.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Out to Lunch

I did something I haven’t done in quite a while – I went out for lunch.

As bizarre as it sounds, most people at the office where I’m working at don’t go out for lunch. Instead, they all cram into a very busy lunch room, waiting for great periods of time to use one of the two microwaves.

But it is more than just avoiding the microwave line up – going out gets you out of the office environment, away from the emails, voice-mails, phone calls, away from others talking about work.

Going out for lunch provides a much needed – and well deserved – break in the middle of the day.

There aren’t any real restaurants near the office. There is a really awful mom and pop shop in the basement. I’m sure the guy running the restaurant in the basement means well, but his place probably wouldn’t pass even the simplest of health inspections.

There is dust on the counters, foods are sitting out under heat lamps which don’t work, and the most disgusting thing of all – the staff use their bare hands to serve you your food.

I had a sandwich there once, they didn’t put on any of those rubber surgical gloves or even bother to wash their hands. The same guy collecting the money at the cash register went over, cut my bagel in half, and proceeded to butter it – even though he had just been working the cash.

I had a meatloaf over there too – it was under heat lamps. But it wasn’t hot, it wasn’t even cold and it wasn’t very good.

SO, I’ll never eat down in the dungeon – I don’t want to become their latest food poisoning victim.

Maybe that’s why no one seems to go out for lunch – the only place to go to within walking distance is a dive?

Still, it didn’t take me that much effort to put on my coat, and go 15-minutes away to where all the restaurants are.

I had a smorgasbord of selection.

There are a couple of bar/restaurants, some burger joints, pizza places, a Greek restaurant, even one serving up Philipeano foods.

I went to one of the burger joints – Lick’s. I had a great big burger, piled high with onions, pickles, back bacon, BBQ sauce and some of their home made Guck sauce (like mayonnaise) YUMMY!

I took my time and enjoyed my lunch. Usually, when I eat at the office, I feel like I’m inhaling my food, as it is always a rush. But not today – eating out is better for you, even if you eat fast food.

There were no phone calls, emails, no one came in asking me about some project or other. It was paradise.

I think I’ll make a regular habit of going out for lunch.

And I’m not going to share my whereabouts with others in the office. This is my hideout – find your own!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Joys of Cooking

Ah – there really is nothing quite like good ‘ol home cooking.

I love to cook my own meals. There is a pleasurable satisfaction in eating them and the whole process of tossing whatever I want, as I make the thing really gets my creative juices flowing.

It still surprises me that so many people – mostly women – are amazed that I cook.

They always tell me how their boyfriends or hubbies never lift a finger in the kitchen, unless it has a fork attached to it.

I always laugh at that – chances are these guys would figure out how to cook pretty quick if they didn’t have their “women” looking out for them. Starvation can prompt even the least likely of chefs to learn rather swiftly.

That is one of the reasons I learned to cook, though I learned while growing up and living with the folks. It was good training for when I did move out on my own – all those many years ago.

I especially enjoy going to the grocery store, and walking up and down the aisles, thinking to myself: “what am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

As I stroll through the aisles, I see things which spark my imagination.

Veggies – hmmm. . . maybe I’ll make a stir fry?

Chicken breasts – hmmm. . . maybe I’ll make that a chicken stir fry?

Prime Rib?!?! Whoa – maybe I’ll make a pot roast with roasted potatoes?

So much selection, so much I can enjoy cooking.

I have the best lunches at the office – left-overs from a pot roast, a stir fry, or even a simple sloppy joes are a great lunch on the go. Most people at the office have sandwiches, or worse – TV dinners!

No kidding, there are several people at the office I see in the lunch room all the time nuking their TV dinners. Those things never look good from the picture, and they look far worse once you open up the box.

I bet McDonald’s has more real stuff in their artificially concocted menu of McBurgers than what you’d find in a TV dinner.

TV dinners were invented in the 1960s, and they look like they haven’t changed since that long forgotten era.

Let’s see, tomorrow’s lunch will be left over steak stir fry – I made it special tonight with pineapple, water chestnuts, peppers, onions and of course, the best grade sirloin steak I could find.

Mmmmm – looking forward to it.

So, what’d you have for lunch?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Forgetful Moi

Last time I went to the gym, I forgot to bring towels.

I didn’t have my usual hand cloth I take to wipe away sweat as I workout, and I didn’t have my big bath towel to dry off after the shower.

So, I had to come home right after working out – no shower, sauna or hot tub for me. Though I did shower when I came home.

I think I’m getting forgetful in my older age.

I tend to forget things more now than in the past. Not really important things – just little things. I still remember birthdays and important things – like keys.

But I do seem to be slightly more forgetful about – uh – I forget!

They say reading and doing crosswords, jumbles and other puzzles keeps the mind active and helps prevent forgetfulness due to aging.

I don’t read much anymore – when you’re in a writing-intense field as I am, you tend to consider reading and writing work – so you don’t do it to relax. I never was a big fan of crossword puzzles – I never could get those shapes to fit! And jumbles, bumbles and all those other word play games – never got into them either.

So what else can I do to keep my mind active – to essentially workout my neurons?

Television is known as the mindless medium. You just sit there and watch it. And most of what’s on television – despite my 500-channel line-up – isn’t all that well thought out.

Who the hell thought of giving Kelly Osborn her own show anyways?!?!? She’s not attractive, has no talent, and isn’t interesting to watch.

I love writing blogs – maybe this blog is more than a form of release of thought, but also a way to exercise my mind.

Feel the burn!

Even when you do “exercise” your mind, how do you know you aren’t overdoing it, not doing it enough, or even if it is working?

Maybe I won’t forget things so much, maybe I will.

I forget.

But how do you know if your mind is really getting the workout it needs?

Am I supposed to get a headache or see a bulge somewhere on my head? Does my head increase in diameter?

Scientists know so very little about how the brain actually works, the mind is one of those things we may never really understand.

There is that old separation – mind over matter. There’s the physical brain, the wetworks which actually do all the computing of our lives, and then there is the mental stuff of the mind – our souls.

The brain is the physical lump that does all the work, while the mind is the mystical magical thing that actually makes you who you are.

How can you exercise a body part you can’t see or touch?

I can lift weights to exercise my muscles, run to exercise my heart, even chewing gum can exercise your mouth. But how do I exercise my soul?

Now there’s a question – maybe even THE question.

How do you exercise your soul?

By being a good person, and always trying to be good? Or maybe we have it all wrong, and the evil ones are really in the best soul-shape of all?

Guess that is what they call “soul food.”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Eat Now Taste Later

Sometimes there just aren’t enough minutes in the day. Minutes? Isn’t it hours?

Welcome to my world muhahahahaha.


The usual bunch at I have lunch with go for lunch around 2:30pm. Unfortunately, I have had some 1pm meetings. No problem you figure – that’s at least half-an-hour to munch down some chow.


There’s always a line for the microwave, and then there’s always talk too – small talk with colleagues who want to know how things are going.

I like small talk, and I enjoy having lunch with my coworkers – it makes the day go by better as it isn’t all work and no play.

But I also like to taste my food and not have to wolf it down.

I had to wolf down my food again today – I had to last week too at one point, because I had a meeting at 1pm.

Funny thing, even though I tell people I have to hustle for lunch, they still take their time and want to banter with some of that small talk.

So, I’m changing my lunch hour. No more thirty-second meals which I eat now and taste later. Nadda. Nope. No way!

From now on I’m going to be eating at lunch at noon. This way, doesn’t matter if I get called into a 1pm meeting, I’ve already eaten.

I’ll miss some of the talk and banter but those are the breaks.

My digestive system will thank me later >BURP<

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Today I Go Naked

Earlier this week, all the news outlets started reporting that the temperature on Thursday will hit 18C – all while the temperature was a chilly -5C.

That’s quite the temperature change – from mild winter conditions to hot summer-like temperatures, all in the span of a couple of days.

I have nothing against the weather forecasters – they tell us what to wear for the day. If it is too cold or too hot, that’s not our problem, thanks to being informed as to what to wear by these folk.

Still, I find their accuracy questionable. Short-range and current conditions are usually spot on, but long-range forecasts – sheesh – I’d have better luck predicting the weather with fuzzy dice.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but it hasn’t been so hot at predicting hot spells or wind chills more than a couple of days away.

So, at work, naturally everyone coming in all bundled in big burly winter gear was talking about these massive temperature predictions for later in the week.

“Ya hear it will go up to 18C,” one co-worker enthused.

“Yeah, WOW – 18-degrees, that’s warm enough to go golfing,” said another.

“I don’t believe it,” I said of the weather predictions being made. “If it happens, I’ll come in naked.”

Everyone laughed, thinking I was joking.

I wasn’t joking, but I don’t think I’ll be going into work naked. The weathermen (and weatherwomen) are nice people, and they can tell us whatever satellite bullshit they want. I’ve been on this earth long enough to know that most of their long-range forecasts aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

I’m sure they have some pretty pictures and amazing images fed to them from computer models, some may have even got up the courage to do their own research (instead of relying on Environment Canada as they almost all do) and dug up information to support their outrageous claims. Some may even be staking their very reputations on this temperature increase.

All a bunch of hooey.

Once the day as come and gone, and after all is said, everyone will forget the predictions of the past and continue in their daily lives. We’ll all bitch and complain in the wind chill, about the errors made by the weather dude. But that bitchin and complaining will only last as long as our short-term memories tend too.

In a couple of days, we’ll all forget about the wrong long-term forecast – just as we always do.

That’s how they keep their cushy gigs. Stealing a forecast off of the federal government’s weather service, having some in-house graphic artist mock-up and customize this very same forecast to look like their own, and then go on-air and claiming the forecast is their own, that’s how the business of telling the weather on television works.

Sure, they tell you it is “their” forecast and that they are using their own computer models. Do you really think a television station has the millions of dollars it takes to maintain a series of global weather stations to get all those stats? What about the images from space? Satellite time costs hundreds of dollars an hour – do you think these bozos have the funds to keep that up all day and night for a two-minute section on the evening news?


They steal their weather stats from Environment Canada up here and The National Weather Service in the States.

They make all these promises too, to keep the false face of having their own information on the card table. Some even have these “weather guarantees” and all.

All lies, LIES I tell ya – LIES.

I won’t be going to work naked – not because of pride but because of common sense. Long-range technology hasn’t progressed enough for those predictions to come true.

Sad thing is, weather technologies could improve, if and only if, the bozo that feeds you these lies on the air, actually took the time to really sit down and do some of his or her own research. If all these so-called “meteorologists” actually took the time to do some hard work for a change, there would be technological improvements over time.

Instead, we’ll just have to settle for the lies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Read Your Lips

Today I was sitting in a meeting with the number crunchers, and I noticed they all had very thin lips.

Odd thing to notice, but hey – they are accountants, bookkeepers and other math-types. I’m an ideas guy, so when bogged down in numbers, I tend to get distracted.

Still, they all – ALL – had very thin lips.

So, the rest of the day, whenever I passed by someone, I checked out their lips.

Those in the marketing and sales side had more full lips, while those in customer service often had broad wide lips.

I’m starting to develop a theory – our lips reflect our personalities.

Numbers-types are very logical, very dry and often very analytical. Those in marketing and sales are more creative and abstract, while those in customer service tend to be very open, and good with people.

Maybe these attributes come across in our lips?

Maybe the thin lips of the number crunchers indicate their logical, dry and analytical mindset. The full lips of those in marketing and sales shows off their creative side, while the broad lips on those in customer service are because they tend to talk a lot.

Hmmm. . . .

Lips are funny things. They aren’t sexual, but can be made to look sexual in commercials. They aren’t useful, other than for kissing, and they don’t really have any meaning in communications. You are more likely to accidentally bite your lip, than to actually use them constructively to swallow food, say a sentence, or even to flash a smile.

Still, lips seem to say something about us, even when we aren’t saying much of anything.

Next time you’re out, read your lips.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I’m Baaaaaaaaaack – I Think

As you’ve probably noticed, this blog has had some scarce pickins’ recently. I had a major hardware failure and it took a while to resolve.

Note to self, never, NEVER – NOT EVER – purchase a Gateway computer again.

I love my Gateway computer – it is the backbone for my whole online experience. Problem is Gateway has no technical support whatsoever.

They do have a long-distance number way across the other side of the country. I called it, and was on hold for 10-minutes. I decided to give up calling, and emailed them. They responded within a couple of days.

They gave me some diagnostic tools, and then after we determined the problem, they told me my warrantee had expired, so I’d have to call another number and talk to someone about activating a service agreement first.

They didn’t tell me if they could even fix the problem – just buy a service agreement then we’ll talk. That’s their attitude.

Although everything is working well and I’m a happy camper, I’ll never buy a Gateway again. Support isn’t very good, if it doesn’t exist.

It’s amazing how things don’t last anymore either. My Gateway computer isn’t that old. In fact, it just turned two a few days after the breakdown – which is rather dubious as that just so happens to be when the warrantee expired too.

I wonder if some evil power-that-be plans these things intentionally?

Maybe they design these things to work just past the warrantee, then BLAMMO they come crashing down?

When I was a kid growing up we had an old toaster. I know it was an old toaster, because it was old when I was young. That old toaster lasted for at least 15, maybe 20-years.

One day, it just gave up, browned its last slice of toast.

We got a brand new Black and Decker toaster. It even had a spot for bagels – improvements over the years – WOW!!!

That Black and Decker toaster lasted a handful of years, and then gave up and croaked.

I was shocked – the previous toaster lasted nearly 20-years, yet this new, high tech toaster, with its fancy bagel feature, only lasted three, maybe four-years tops.

What gives?

I know we live in a disposable society, where everything is made to be consumed and tossed away.

But does our disposable society also mean disposable in terms of quality and workmanship?

I can sort of sympathize with manufacturers – if they made everything to last, they’d be in the poor house as no one would need their products anymore.

Still, isn’t the whole mother of invention thing supposed to drive our economy? Sure we have things built to last, but if they come out with something that browns my toast faster, is guaranteed not to burn it, or can even walk the dog while making me waffles – wouldn’t I go out and buy it?

Of course I would – I love waffles. . ..

The point is, our society has taken another downward spiral. We used to have good products that lasted forever. Newer products drove the economy, as people always wanted the latest and the greatest.

These days, quality isn’t job one – it’s maybe oh, one-thousand and one, or more. New products don’t drive our economy any more because those evil powers-that-be are more concerned with selling their crappy products, than creating new and innovative ones.

Maybe I’ll go back to sticks and stones – at least those last.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

First Signs of Spring

I went outside today without any jacket or coat – just in a grey t-shirt and blue jeans. It was the first time I’ve been outside without a jacket since winter – a sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

It felt great being outside sans winter gear.

But what was even better was the feeling of freedom in the air.

The air was fresh, and clean – almost as if Mother Nature had done some of her own spring cleaning.

It was warm, bright and sunny and clear. I could see right down to the lake in the south and way past the city’s limits in the north.

I spent a good chunk of today just loafing around on my balcony, watching the city as spring made an early entrance.

Tonight, spent some more time outside on the balcony – watching the stars. It is still clear, just a little cooler. It is something amazing to see and to feel, as the city wakes up to spring.

We sprung ahead this weekend time-wise, but it appears so too did nature.

The birds were out, and so too were us people, enjoying ‘em.

Dog walkers were out, joggers, even some kids were outside playing in the park.

People often say winter, or summer, or fall are their favorite seasons. I think my favorite season isn’t a season at all. My favorite season is the time between winter and spring, when the world wakes up.

I feel so alive, breaking out of the winter dullness and experiencing a whole new old friend – spring.

Welcome to spring.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hey, It’s Winter In Canada, What Do You Expect?

We Canadians are a finicky lot. We complain in the summer when the weather is too hot. We gripe about it being too cold in the winter and even in spring and fall we moan about all the rain.

Everywhere else around the globe, they expect Canada to be covered in ice and snow pretty much year-round. Mostly those under educated Americans.

“Oh, you’re from Canada?” one asks. “Do you know John?”

Yeah, his igloo is right next to Tim Horton’s place up the road. We go there for coffee and donuts all the time.

Tim’s a great guy – you should get to know him.

Seriously, we Canadians never seem to be happy about the weather.

It’s too cold, it’s too hot, wa wa wa cry me a freakin river.

This is Canada, eh?

What did ya expect?

We do have lots of benefits to living in the greatest country on the planet – though our weather isn’t one of them.

We have among the best health care systems in the world. If you have a pulse, you pretty much are guaranteed medical coverage here. We have the cleanest, and most friendly cities on Earth – even if they sometimes seem cramped and slummy sometimes. Trust me, compared to most other places, we have it good.

We are liked internationally wherever we go – can’t say that about many other citizens from around the globe. In fact, it is pretty common knowledge that some non-Canucks will sew Canadian flags on their backpacks while traveling abroad, so that they get the warm smiles we Canadians are known to cause.

So what if it is -21C with a wind-chill making it feel more like -35C?!?!?

We Canadians have something that even the coldest winters can’t chill – respect, freedom and peace of mind.

When I wake up in the morning, I’m not worried about getting mugged, raped or killed. I’m not worried about being hung in a public stadium because I expressed my opinions. And when I get sick, I know I can go and get medicine to make me well, usually at no cost to me.
Winter may be cold – right now there is a wind-chill of -35C and it is blowing snow. But you know what, come summer-time when it is 35C we’ll be bitching about it being too hot.

Give up complaining about the weather – we Canadian’s have it pretty good.

Pass me my toque.