Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Deep Chill

I like my cold drinks very cold, but even I have a limit. But my fridge doesn’t care – sometimes my Brita water jug freezes solid in my fridge. My juice, iced tea, hell even the Cole slaw froze up!

I’ve adjusted the temperature several times, turning it up over the course of a day or two to see what happens. It works for a while and then a few days later – ice is back in the fridge.

I think my fridge has a mind all it’s own. It must – it thinks of ways to piss me off.

Or, maybe it is just the extreme heat we’re having here. Today, it was a steamy 35C, but it felt like 41C with the humidex. I do have air conditioning, but I try to conserve power when I’m not around.

I set my air conditioning to go off during the day, and on an hour or two before I get home from work. I don’t pay for electricity – it is included in my rent. But, I still try to do something for the planet and for us. They say if we don’t conserve our energy, they’ll do it for us by having rolling blackouts. I’d rather have power on all the time, when I need it, so I’ll do my bit.

Getting back to the fridge with a mind all it’s own – maybe because I do conserve power, the fridge is actually working overtime. See, when I have the air conditioning on it is nice and cool – room temperature all the time. When I have it off, it can get boiling hot in here. All the heat from the rest of the building rises up, plus the heat outside through the closed windows – all adds up.

So, my fridge probably is running extra long and hard to keep out the extra heat. Makes sense, and that’s probably why my water sits on my counter as I type this – thawing out.

It is kind of cool to have ice crystals in your iced tea. But it isn’t cool to have a block of water you can’t drink until it defrosts.

Maybe I’ll just have to go against my environmental consciousness and run my air conditioning when I’m not home, to keep my water in a drinkable form.

Most people probably run their air conditioners, lights, and many other things when they aren’t home. It’s natural to be lazy, to not care about anything or anyone but yourself. We live in a society of “me’s” instead of a society of “we’s.”

That’s why we’ll all be sitting in the dark this summer – as the rolling blackout rolls through your neighborhood. Well, some of us will be – I’m setting up an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system for my vitals at home. I’ve already installed energy efficient light bulbs on most of my lights, and I’ve got power surge protectors on all outlets.

The next phase of my scheme is to get battery backups on all my lamps, phones, radios, televisions, computers, Internet and one on the fridge and another on the microwave. I’ve priced it out at about $2,000 to get everything properly backed up.

The battery pickups will provide me with light in the event of a blackout for between 20 to 24 hours, and I’ll have almost as long running off batteries on most of the other appliances. Meaning, I’ll be well on my way to securing my home, in the event of lengthy power outages.

The government warns we should be expecting more severe storms thanks to global warming. They are telling us we need to be able to survive for 72 hours, in the event of a natural disaster, because that’s the average length of time it takes to mobilize relief efforts for such things.

I’ll get there eventually. I’ll eventually have dual battery backups with solar charging panels to provide the 72 hours worth of power, plus the ability to recharge and run off batteries indefinitely. While one set of batteries is charging, the other set would be in use. So essentially, I could run forever off of this arrangement.

The solar panels won’t be in this year’s plan. I have to figure out exactly how to install those things without taking up too much window space outside. And there is the cost factor – a few grand a pop.

But I should be able to get one set of batteries in this year, and so I’ll be halfway there.

I guess the “me” world works after all, because while most will be in the dark – I’ll be watching TV in the light.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Laundry Hog Strikes Again

A while back I told of the laundry hog. This lady in my building that uses literally all the machines in the laundry room at once – not leaving any for the other tenants.

Well, she’s baaaaack!

She was using all the machines, but this time, all of her clothes were on the outside of the machines. She was using the machines as tables to fold her laundry.

This woman really drives me nuts! She was their, with all of her clothes sprawled out on the machines, lazily folding away, while others such as myself had to keep pushing past her to get to the machines.

“If I take it upstairs without folding it, I won’t fold it,” she tells me. “I’m too lazy once I get upstairs.”

Lady, you’re not just lazy, you’re a bag of crap.

This woman doesn’t seem to care that others are inconvenienced by her constant disregard for the public use of the laundry room. She takes all the machines, then when she is done, she spreads everything out in piles on top of the machines, leaving very little room for anyone to do anything.

What a pig.

If I had a gun I’d . . .

But in my previous blog about the laundry hog, I mentioned a cool idea which I think I’ll do to get even with the uncaring bitch.

I said I should drop a marker in one of her washing machines, or a box of crayons! Yeah, crayons melt and will stain her clothes – or at least in one machine. There are about 20 washers and 20 driers. I can’t do all of ‘em, but one ought to send a nice clear message to her.

Or maybe, she’ll just go on not caring, wearing crayon streaked clothes?

Why can’t I win with the laundry hog?


Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend Rush

What are weekends for?

Some sit back and lazily slouch around doing nothing. Others like to be so busy, they are constantly rushing from one event to the next.

I like a little of both.

The past few weekends have been extremely busy ones, with family and friends. I always do household chores on the weekend and whatever else happens is always tacked on top of those.

This past weekend is a good example. I spent most of Saturday shopping for items for a BBQ I was hosting in the evening. I went to the gym first, then ran around town getting burgers, sausages, salads, deserts and other cool things. I enjoy shopping and I enjoy having company over for a BBQ. But it was a rushed day.

Sunday I cleaned up from Saturday, plus I did my usual household chores – cleaning and laundry. Then I had to go get a present for a birthday dinner I had that night. Then the party at night. More rushing – though the time was enjoyable.

I haven’t had a lazy, do nothing weekend in quite some time. So I’m looking forward to the Canada Day long weekend to be able to just take it easy. No running from one thing to another. No shopping, cleaning or laundry. No bathing, shaving or nothing – just hanging around home.

The property management opens up the pool July 1 weekend – and I’m looking forward to spending a long, lazy day at the pool. Just swimming, floating (so long as it isn’t face down it’s okay) and soaking up some Cancer-causing UV.

I think I’ll even take a break from the dreaded computer. Computers are great – but once you get on their “just to check email” the next thing you know, it’s been over an hour and you’re still chatting, doing work, or something or other caused by “just checking email.”

Maybe I’ll even get a chance to catch up on some movies I’ve been meaning to see on the Movie Network. I wonder if I can get a cable long enough to go from my high-rise pad to the pool?

Probably not!

But hey, if at first you don’t succeed, give up knowing that you at least tried. So says Homer Simpson.

Yeppers – nothing to do next weekend. And I plan on doing nothing about it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Blog 101!

This is my one-hundred-and-first blog! Whoo hooo!

I’ve posted 101 blogs. I have posted far more than that, I used to have a blog up on the evil and highly over-rated Myspace. But I left Myspace for this space, and have been publishing blogs here ever since.

I enjoy writing these things, sort of like therapy but only cheaper. Actually, if I didn’t write these things, I’d probably go postal and kill many, many sad souls.

So, be thankful I put finger to keyboard, instead of to throat. . .

How do you celebrate the one-hundred-and-first-blog?

I could write some highly academic-sounding thesis on blog writing – being a professional writer, I suppose I’m more than qualified.

But I don’t want to bore my many readers – yes – you know who you are – all five of you! (Actually, there is more than five – I just can’t count that high.)

I know! Just as on television when the writers run out of ideas and do a retrospective flash-back episode . . .

Naw – that’s sad and pathetic.

But hey! It’s my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want. So, ahem – run tape.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite bits and pieces from some of my favorite blogs – from here and other previous venues.

It is said that facial hair is like a mask and allows the wearer of said mask to hide behind it. Beards, mustaches, goatees and the like are nature’s way of a cover-up – for more than just the skin behind.

Albert Einstein had a mustache, so too did Alexander Graham Bell. We’d be in the throws of the dark ages today, if it wasn’t for these furry-faced men. U.S President Lincoln also had a bit of hair on his face, though he was assonated. Damn.
I guess if I want to be something in this world I’d best keep clean shaven. Especially if I want to take over the world or something. Wait a sec. . . maybe in that case I should grow a beard, to hide behind!
From my “Facial Hair and Other Barriers to World Domination” blog originally published on my now defunct Myspace November 7, 2006.

Elvis isn’t dead, he’s hammering out a new ad campaign for Burger King on the second floor. You just think Elvis is dead because we told you he was.

You can control your thoughts. However, we’ve made it too easy for you to just flip into “autopilot” and let us and our cookie-cutter creative copy invade your mind, and tell you how the world is.

In our invented world, weekends are like beer commercials – complete with bodacious babes in skimpy outfits, and buff boys in boxers partying like there is no tomorrow. Mornings are always easy, thanks to breakfast in a can, pop-tarts, or can’t get enough of my Sugar Crisps. Work is always fun, thanks to the funky delivery guy from Brown’s because when it absolutely positively has to get there on time, we deliver the world on time.

From “Creating Your Thoughts” originally published on my old Myspace blog on July 30, 2006.

I knew things were off to a bad start when the person I was supposed to meet wasn’t even in the office during the time when we were scheduled to meet. “Maybe he’s still at lunch,” said the receptionist.

I said I could wait a bit, but that I had other meetings to get to later in the day.

Eventually this bozo shows up, about 10-minutes late. He’s lucky – he came within my fifteen-minute rule. I have a rule I use when meeting clients, friends, pretty much anyone. If you are late, fine, happens to all of us. I’ll wait fifteen-minutes, and if you’re still a no-show, I’m outta there. Gone, quick as lightening.
From “Test This” originally published on my old Myspace blog on September 19, 2006.

Why is it whenever I have to work with women in senior executive positions, they always try to act like men?

I know the world of work used to be – past tense – used to be dominated by men. But these days – hell since the 1980’s even – women and men work equally well together in business and commerce.

Still, whenever I have to meet with a woman CEO, she puts on a defiant posture, and is evasive and abusive towards me and the other men in the room. This isn’t really acting like a man, because if men CEOs did this in business, there wouldn’t be any business at all.
From “Women in a Man’s World” originally published February 10, 2006.

Tonight, the sky is covered in a murky thick fog.

I went out on my balcony, because the fog was so thick. I have never seen it quite this thick. It has been thick before, but not like this.

Then it occurred to me, hey, I’m standing in the fog. I really am. I can feel the droplets of water making up the clouds swimming around me. I can see the fog all around me. It was as if I was floating on a cloud – aside from my concrete balcony below.
From “I’m Standing in Fog” originally published November 13, 2006.

A car had crashed into the guardrail on the highway below and we were watching all the action unfold – from the safety of my lofty high-rise apartment’s windows.

It always amazes me how we human beings so easily become distracted by another person’s tragedy.

Rubbernecking – a term coined by cops, about drivers that slow down at accident scenes to see what all the fuss is about – isn’t all that uncommon. There is a rubbernecking law in Ontario, which allows cops to ticket anyone holding up traffic by slowing down too long to look at an accident.

Still, why the fascination with these acts of destruction, human suffering and potential carnage?

I have digital cable – literally over 500-channels – yet I’ve spent countless hours watching accidents on the roads below out my windows.


I think it is pure and simple fascination with the gross and disturbing. We all have it in us – it is part of being human. It’s why some of us find those medical shows, where they actually videotape an operation so intriguing. It’s what made daytime television trash tabloid shows like Jerry Springer popular. It’s why reality television shows like COPS, Cheaters, Survivor, The Bachelor and similar shows are mega-hits. It’s why we no longer cringe when we see war-torn countries on the news.
From “Carnage! And Other Distractions of the Soul” originally published January 29, 2007.

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.
From “Workout Songs” January 31, 2007.

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.

From “Alright – I Admit It – I’m a Cheesehead” originally published February 4, 2007.

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.
From “Where Did the Weather Network Go?” originally published February 10, 2007.

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.
From “The Joys of Cooking” originally published March 11, 2007.

Mr. T is the prime example of someone who fits the Mohawk look – he probably began the style and made it popular on his hit television show “The A-Team.”

Mr. T looks like your typical tough guy – big, hulking, muscular, and mean. He even talks the slang of the street. He was a pro wrestler, a United States Marine, a body guard to the rich and famous – he’s had a resume which fits someone with a Mohawk.

This guy I saw today with the same hairstyle as Mr. T was in a suit and tie, running shoes, and knapsack. Hardly the tough guy look you’d expect from someone with such a wild hair style. All he needed was the pocket protector and one of those calculator watches and he’d be a definite nerd-wanna-be.
From “Wat You Talkin Bout Sucka” originally published May 1, 2007.

As if these bozos – I seem to use that word a lot in my blogs. Bozos – must be a sad statement on our lack of bozoness in today’s world – but I digress. These BOZOS dared to offend me more, by sprawling out on the benches in the steam room sans clothes.

One actually lied on his back, with his petty pecker sticking up in the wind.

Just the thing I want to see after a long hard day at the office!

I come to the gym to unwind, relax, and be fit. Not to see some other guy steaming his balls.
From “Nakeed Noooo!” originally published May 24, 2007).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why I Like Summer In The City

Today is the first day of summer – June 21.

I love the summer months. Ice cream trucks, long sunny days, and warm summer evenings. Oh OH! Short skirts!


That’s why I love summer – short skirts!

Summer often brings out the best in people, but occasionally brings out the worst as well.

Why is it that some people don’t wear deodorant? They have all natural, environmentally friendly ones now – so that’s not the reason. So what the hell is?

More often than not, the very same people that don’t wear deodorant also don’t bathe too often either. I shower at least once a day – sometimes more if I was working out or doing a lot of physical activity. I see it as normal – I don’t want to be dirty, I like being clean. Why don’t some people?

The worst is when you’re stuck in line behind or next to one of these bozos. You want to say something, but that would be rude. But then, stinking is pretty rude too – so go ahead and speak up!

But what were we talking about? Oh yeah – summer – SHORT SKIRTS!

I like watching a nice pair of long, sleek, and – look! There goes the ice cream truck!

Chocolate vanilla swirl, dipped in that hot fudge sauce that hardens on contact with the cold ice cream. Mmmmmmmmmm that’s the best!

Even McDonald’s hot fudge Sundays are pretty good – with the vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce and those peanuts. But even better – go to Lick’s for a real treat.

Lick’s hot fudge Sunday allows two-scoops of any flavor for a SMALL Sunday and the large comes with a whopping three-scoops of any flavor of your choice – all covered in hot fudge sauce that is rich and creamy and oooooooh so goooood. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Short skirts, ice cream trucks and – oh! LONG WEEKENDS! Summer was meant for the long weekend.

On long weekends I like to take it easy. Sleep in, have a late breakfast, watch some television, go out for a jog and BBQ some burgers, steaks or anything that can be cooked on the grill.

Long weekends are what summer is all about. Sitting out on my balcony, sipping a cold cooler, a beer, or anything with some booze is heaven.

Summer is also a great time to walk up and down in the entertainment district. All the hosts and hostesses hang out on the sidewalk in front of their restaurants, trying to lure you into their establishments for a meal, a drink or both. I love cruising up the street, chatting up the hosts. They will say anything to get you into their place.

I remember once I went up to a French restaurant, and the host was bragging about how this was the most authentic French restaurant in the city. So, I asked him if I’d be able to learn French by eating there. He said “Oui oui, but of course.” I laughed and said, “cool, because all I know is ménage trios, and I don’t know if I’d get that in there. Is that on the menu?”

Long weekends, short skirts, ice cream trucks, hot fudge Sundays, longer days, having fun with the summer merchants.

Oh yeah – then there is the patio. Sitting outside at some bar or restaurant eating out in the sun, under an umbrella – that’s pretty cool too.

Even better if there are some short skirts around to serve the hot fudge Sundays. See I can take anything and toss it together to make it work!

Enjoy your summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bright Lights Big Grill

AH, BBQing under the cloak of sunset.

What an amazing thing to do. The sky is a brilliant mix-mash of purples, pinks, yellows and blues. The traffic below buzzing around. The whole city beneath my feet, the grill at my hands, and the smell of sizzling steaks filling the air.

Nothin could be better.

It’s awesome to be out on the balcony BBQing at sunset. It takes a while to get the cover off the BBQ, heat the thing up just right, get the burgers, steaks, or whatever meat ready – but the whole process is nothing to the joy of being out there, grilling away.

And then eating out on the balcony, with after the sun has set, and the air is fresh, and the lights of the big city come out.

Then you can look up at the stars and watch the night’s sky. There’s the North Star – the brightest star in the sky.

I can spend hours out on my balcony, just watching the world go about its business. And with a BBQ to boot – I can now live out there indefinitely! Or at least until I have to pee. . .

Wait! I can pee over the railing!


I’m all set.

Well, maybe I won’t do that. I’d hate to be walking up to my building and then get pissed upon. So I wouldn’t do that to anyone. Except maybe the psycho crazy dude across the hall.

Creepy dude across the hall needs a good pissing on. That might not straighten him out, but at least he’d be “encouraged” to move out of my building.

I hate psycho creepy people. They are – well – creepy!

But that’s another story for another day.

Monday, June 18, 2007

When No One Cares – You’re Okay

I bitch and moan all the time about my current client. It’s the bane of my existence – which I intend to rectify shortly.

Until then, I must deal with the oddities which they have.

One of the distinct oddities is the no one cares thingy.

Flex hours are great – they allow people to set their own hours to suit their specific lifestyle. Usually, at most companies I’ve been at, flex hours allow people to show up anytime from 7am to 10am and leave at 3pm or later – provided they put in a full day’s work.

This system allows people to come and go, during normal office hours.

However, no one cares if people come and go to avoid regular office hours at the company where I’m somehow calling home too.

People come at noon, and leave at 1pm – that might qualify as a working lunch hour, but certainly not a days work.

When all the managers leave, early, guess what? Everyone else leaves early too – even if they came late.

Some people – even managers – call in or email that they will be in late. Sometimes, they don’t even show up at all – and they don’t call or email to say why or what is the cause of their absence.

Then there is the whole quality of work – because no one cares, it is pretty lame. Rush, rush, rush, get it done as fast as can be done, regardless of all the checks and balances along the way. Just get it done!

Ford Motor Corp. used to have a slogan “Quality is Job 1.” Well, at my current client, maybe it is Job . . . uh er – forget about it. Quality takes effort. We can’t expend any effort here – that’s work.

Or wait – isn’t this work?

My current client seems to have a pretty liberal definition of what qualifies for “work.” And because many people have been at this company for over a decade, their shoddy excuse for work passes their quality tests of time.

Meaning, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Problem is, it is broke, just no one cares.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

It’s All In the Bag

Weekends I do my household chores. Cleaning, laundry that sort of thing.

Today, I did my laundry. As I was loading the washer, I noticed people will use all sorts of things to carry their laundry.

There are the usual laundry bags and baskets like I have. Then there are garbage bags, garbage pails, even cardboard boxes.

Some bring it down without any container, just in one big pile. That explains why there are sometimes socks in the street – I guess.

I was thinking, can you tell something about a person, by what they use to carry their laundry?

Maybe those that use garbage bags, hate household chores, or at least the laundry aspect of it? Maybe they think doing the laundry is no different than taking out the trash?

What about those that use cardboard boxes? Maybe to them, they feel this is like moving, or grocery shopping?

I’ve seen people at the grocery store carry out their new purchases in cardboard boxes. What a pain. Cardboard boxes are hard to hold, awkward to carry and don’t offer any flexibility in storing them. They don’t bend or flex, so you can only stack them on top of each other – provided there is nothing breakable below.

I was wondering this – I suppose your mind wanders as you watch the laundry spin endlessly in the machine. What else is there to think about?

Makes you wonder what the person who brings down their laundry sans container in one big pile thinks? Maybe he just can’t afford garbage bags?

There was a Mickey Mouse laundry basket – obviously that belongs to someone with kids. Or that person is very young at heart – or both. Most likely though, it belongs to someone with kids.

Maybe the one with the dark black laundry bag, the one that looks like a body bag is a coroner? Hey use what you’ve got!

Naw – he’s probably with the mob. He keeps a stash of black body bags on hand for his “jobs” that come from Vito. When Vito says knock ‘em off, he grabs a black body bag and does the job. Just hope the bag he uses for his laundry isn’t one in the same as one he used for a recent gig.

The person with the Mickey Mouse laundry basket probably works is a recent college graduate out on her own for the first time. I bet she still goes to mom and dad’s place with a load of laundry sometimes, just because that’s what she’s used to doing.

The guy that brings his laundry down in garbage bags is single. He doesn’t care what others think. He doesn’t even care if sometimes, he brings down garbage instead of laundry – he’ll just curse and head back up to get the right bag. And that’s why he’s still single. . .

Laundry is a chore – but it isn’t boring. Just watch what others bring down their stuff in. You may surprise yourself.

So, what do I use to cart my laundry down in?


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Slider Shoes

I was out and about today, and I saw a kid slide past – literally.

This kid had on those new gimmicky shoes that allow the person wearing them to slide on their heal. They have a lot of gimmicky shoes for kids these days. I’ve seen shoes that light up when the kid walks, too – which I guess are useful for parents whose kids run away and they have to try to find them.

When I was a kid, we had our choices in footwear too. White running shoes with blue stripes, white running shoes with red stripes, and for the adventurous – white running shoes with red and blue stripes.

Things certainly change – though I wonder if for the better.

I was watching this kid slide across the street, and thought that was an accident waiting to happen. Then there are all the stories you hear about kids beating each other up over a pair of shoes.

Because all our shoes growing up were pretty much the same, no one ever threatened to kill you for your sneakers.

But kids these days do live in a far more technologically advanced society than we had when I was a kid.

I hear kids talking about their PowerPoint project, or how they have to do some research on the net for their latest assignment.

PowerPoint and the Internet didn’t exist way back when I was a kid. When I had to research a school assignment, I went to the library. I had to look through the card catalogue – they didn’t have a computerized searching system for books either.

I was actually quite good with the Dewy Decimal System – those funky numbers on the spine of the books they use to sort them in the library. I even learned how to use the library of congress system when I got into university.

I was mightily impressed with myself for mastering the numbering system they used in the library. These days, I just use the computer catalogue like everybody else, but I still remember being able to find things without that – years ago.

I think technology is a good thing and a bad thing for kids these days. It is good, because it makes some things easier. Instead of having to learn funky library numbering systems, they just do a search on the computer at the library. It is bad, because they can do that search from home on their computer over the net.

Kids these days spend too much time in front of computers, and not enough time out in the real world.

Growing up for me was fun. I got to know all the kids in the neighborhood, because I played out in the street with them after school and on weekends. We played ball, or street hockey, or tag or anything – the point was, we played with other kids in the real world.

These days, kids don’t experience reality because they spend so much time in front of computers. They sit in front of computers at school and at home.

Playing in the street with the other kids is not only good exercise, and fresh air, it gets you out in the real world with real people. It allows you to experience what it is really like being with real people – not just chatting with someone in an electronically created chat room.

Sending someone a smiley isn’t the same as actually sharing a smile with someone. And you never have to yell “CAR!” because someone is driving through.

I wonder where today’s kids will be in the future, when they look back on what their kids are doing? At least I had a childhood in the real world. These kids don’t.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Working Lunch

I’m the envy of my co-workers. I have the best lunches.

When I was a kid in school, we’d often swap bits and pieces from our lunches. I’ll give you my peanut butter and jam for your ham and cheese. . .

At work, there is no swapping, but lots of ogling as I do have among the best lunches at the office.

I take the time the night before to make myself something scrumptious – so that I don’t end up like most of my co-workers. Most of my co-workers wait until the last minute to make their lunches, so they often do it the morning the day of while rushing around to do everything else in the morning.

This rush routine leaves ‘em with lackluster lunches. Things like sandwiches, instant soup, or worse – the dreaded television dinner.

Not me!

I make home cooked meals every day for lunch. Today I tossed on a burger on the BBQ for tomorrow’s lunch (I made myself steak for dinner). Sometimes I make my self chicken and rice, sometimes I’ll make a stir-fry, other times I’ll make pork chops. I always have something nice for lunch at the office. It is nice because it is home made.

Making your own food gives you a certain sense of pride and accomplishment. The “I made this” feeling flows through you, as your co-workers with their TV dinners and boring sandwiches go “wow – what’s that?” “Did you make that?”

Yes I did. I not only made it, I get to enjoy it too. Which is all the better. And it is healthier too, because I know what I use in my cooking. I know what seasonings, spices and that there are no chemicals, preservatives or other substances which most likely are in those skanky TV dinners.

“Mechanically separated chicken?” What the hell is that? Isn’t that the part of the chicken that was even unfit for livestock?

Cooking is also a great stress reliever for me. And if you read my blogs, you know my work generates a lot of stress. There is something very relaxing and soothing about cooking.

And because BBQing is so involved – you have to watch the thing the whole time to ensure nothing catches fire – it is all the more relaxing.

Tomorrow, I have BBQed burger and rice for lunch. What’s in your lunchbox?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Smearing of Disorganization across the Globe

Those familiar with this blog know all too my main complaint with my current client. That complaint is – they don’t plan. They are so disorganized that if a tornado swept through the place, it would probably leave the place in a better condition than ever before.

So, I’m scouring the globe – looking for my next big client to replace the current gig. Often I’ll look for another contract to replace a client that isn’t pulling their weight. Sometimes though – I’ve been known just to run away. Can’t take it anymore, I need a holiday. So I’ll take a month or two off to recover, relax, and contemplate what went wrong and how to avoid getting into a similar situation.

See – it’s all about the plan. When I have a successful contract, I’ll analyze that too, so that I know what went right and capture those details in future contracts. When things go badly, I look at what to avoid in future contracts, and how to quickly make my exit.

Most businesses these days understand the importance of planning. So I was shocked, stupefied, even slightly mesmerized when I was interviewing a potential client and they told me they don’t plan.

“Oh, we do start with the product life cycle, but then, things get lost along the way and we just do our own thing,” said the potential client. “You know how it is with creative people; we tend to beat to our own drum.”

“But don’t you miss things?” I asked. “Don’t things get left out?”

“Oh yeah, all the time,” the potential client responded matter-of-factly. “We get by.”

Sheesh! And things were going all so well. This potential client is a mega-big financial services firm – one of the biggest in the country. We were both talking the same talk and walking the same walk for most of the meeting. There seemed to be such a good fit.

And then the hatch blew open and out fell one hell of a bomb on my parade.

“People usually just rush around, and hand things off to others to complete as needed,” the potential client confessed.

Sounds like the exact same problem I’m trying to escape from my current client. Things just land in my lap literally, and they are expected to be done right away.

Tuesday morning, I had several “rush” emails and about 10 people at my desk, all demanding this that and the next thing be done. And I am all but one person. But because there are no plans, no deadlines and no realistically achievable goals, everything just happens. And sometimes, when things just happen, they just all happen at the same time.

I actually came pretty close to just walking out of my current client’s offices middle of the day on Tuesday, and not ever going back. I thought about walking out – after that line up of rushed, last-minute, unplanned, and disorganized assignments funneled its way to my desk all at once.

But I took a walk outside, got some fresh air, and just calmed down. Instead of trying to explain to each individual why I couldn’t do their specific task at the moment, I just went about doing what I could.

I learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter how hard you explain that you can’t do what they want now – and that they should have planned things better – they don’t care. They are like children in need of a good spanking. They cry, they moan, they wail – the world will end of I don’t do as they ask.

Let it end. I’ll still at least have my sanity and dignity.

The only way to deal with non-planners is to nod politely, pretending you give a crap, and then turn around and carry on with your day.

Too bad about the potential client meeting – they had it all – almost – except that one vital ingredient that separates the good gigs from the bad ones. Planning.

Now my concern here is – is this a growing trend in the workplace? Have people given up on common sense? Or was this just a random act of similarity – where most companies plan, I just happened upon the one other one that doesn’t?

For the sake of the world – and my sanity – I’m hoping the later is the truism.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Burnin’ Hot Grillin

I love my new BBQ. Did I tell ya – I love my new BBQ!

I’ve made dinner on it every night since getting it! I’ve made steaks, chicken kabobs, burgers and chicken breasts. Even toasted some buns!

I’m turning into quite the outdoors chef. All the food tastes great, and nothing has caught fire yet! And when things don’t catch fire – that’s a good thing.

Though I’m pretty burnin hot outside.

My balcony faces west, so I get the hot afternoon sun. When I’m out cooking up on the grill, I’m burning in the hot summer’s sun. I get all sweaty and I feel like I’m the one on the BBQ.

But it is all in good fun – as my BBQ has served me well in such a short period of time.

BBQing – or is it bar-b-quing? – is so fast and easy. Just heat it up, toss on whatever it is I’m making, wait, flip, wait and eat.

And I have the best view of the city – I can see the entire city from the lake in the south to the top of the city in the north. So while I’m grilling away, I can watch the whole city in front of me.

It is awesome!

And then I can eat outside and enjoy the view, all while dinning under the stars!

I’m liking this summer BBQ season.

Now, if only I could figure out how to BBQ up some ice cream. . .

Monday, June 11, 2007

Why People Are People and Not Lions

Lions are very respectful animals. They must be to have earned the reputation as king of the jungle.

Why can’t we be more like the lion?

Instead, we are more like the Jackal, ruthless to the point of being untrustworthy – even when you’re being honest.

I’m always bitching and moaning about my current client – they are Jackals. They have learned how to play “the game” so that they can avoid work at all costs. However, someone like a lion – me for example – walk in and am instantly taken advantage of.


That’s what Jackals do.

I’m often the first person to come to the office and the last to leave. Why?

I try to the best job I can – I thought that’s what professionals do. Not the “professionals” at the office.

They come late and leave early – even if there is a big deadline that day. Last Friday, the training assistant left at 2:30pm for no reason, other than to avoid the workload that was suddenly thrust upon us.

It all comes back to that – sudden thrusts of work. There is no planning at the place I work at – none whatsoever. So when something does happen, it is always at the last minute and is always due right away.

So, I guess it is understandable that people come late and leave early – they know if they try to be honest and work a normal day, they’ll get caught up in the rush. And if you are caught up in the rush, you’ll be stuck working on something in a rush, putting in unpaid and unvalued overtime.

That’s the game at the office.

I choose not to partake in this game. I refuse to lower my standards just to avoid poor planning. I’m a lion not a Jackal.

Well, most of the time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Red Knees All Around

I’ve been talking for ages now about getting a BBQ. Well – today I got one!

A BBQ? But don’t you live way up in the stars?

Yes – but I can have an electric BBQ!

One of the supers in my building even has an electric unit. So, I went a shopping to scout around and find a nice electric BBQ myself.

I found the perfect one at Canadian Tire. It looks just like a gas grill – it even has a warmer rack, side shelves and wire mesh baskets to hold all your tools, sauces and other must haves while grilling.

I snagged it up fast, along with an extension cord for outdoors, a power protector to protect my investment, a cover to keep it clean and dry throughout the year and a really cool BBQ tool set.

The tool set I saw advertised online. It comes in a shiny metallic carrying case, and has 16-tool, including long tongs, spatula, brush, and other necessities for grilling. All the tools are solid stainless steel making them easy to wash.

After a managed to lug the whole thing home, I started to read the instructions and put it together. The instructions looked simple enough – and claim it can be put together in 30-45 minutes.

I’m not a handy person – I’m pretty lame when it comes to putting things together or repairing general household fix-up jobs. But the instructions looked simple enough, they even had diagrams.

How hard could it be?

It took me two-hours of cursing, and swearing – but I managed to get it all together. I was up and down on the ground, on my knees, and constantly banging my head to get into tiny nooks and crannies to tighten bolts, fasten screws and connect all the parts. My knees are still sore and neon blood red. I guess I was on them for most of the build, so they took the brunt of my body mass all that time.

The diagrams and the instructions weren’t always clear. They often referred to bolting one part to another, but failed to mention which size bolt to use – and the thing came with several different sizes. On one occasion, the instructions told me to install three parts together at once – it specifically said they all had to be placed on the BBQ at the same time. I struggled several times, and finally managed to use the wall to support two of the pieces while I connected the third. Maybe these things go easier with two people?

In any case, after I had created my BBQ I was mighty impressed. It not only looked like the picture, all the screws, bolts, rods and other things to put it together had been used. Usually after I put something together myself, there are lots of left over bits – screws, bolts, washer – and that always unnerves me. Maybe I forgot to put something together – will it fall apart later on?

This time round, I managed to use all of the bits to get my BBQ together. It was done! I was sweaty, tired and excited.

I hadn’t eaten all day and it was already past 3pm. But I wanted to get to M&M Meat Shops before they closed so I could have some amazing food to try on my new grill. M&M closes at five (I checked the website).

Exhausted, sweaty, and still with bright red knees, I went to the store to get some goodies.

M&M is known for their high quality BBQ-ready foods. They essentially marinade all their meats and then fast-freeze them raw. This way, they are flavored and ready to be grilled.

The assortment of things to get was outstanding. Several types of steaks, burgers, chicken, pork, even fish!

I got a pack of teriyaki sirloin steaks, and two boxes of chicken skewers – one pineapple chicken, the other Greek-style chicken.

Then I rushed home and started cleaning up a bit. I had boxes, cardboard rappers, and other packaging materials everywhere. I was in such a hurry to get to the meat market, I didn’t clean up.

After a clean up of my place and me – I was refreshed and ready to cook.

I eagerly turned on my grill. It works! It works! It works!

And I put it together all on my own!

It’s probably a fire hazard waiting to happen – but the steaks and chicken skewers were to die for!

I’m a happy BBQer!

Though I still have red knees. . .

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Penn and Teller Rock

I love my digital cable. I watch it all the time. I get all the movie channels and really enjoy the Movienetwork onDemand.

With any of the onDemand channels, I can order up movies whenever I want. Stop them, start them, fast forward and rewind – it is just like renting a DVD or a VHS tape – only there is no tape or DVD.

On the Movienetwork onDemand, they have been hosting Penn and Teller’s Bullshit television show, from Showtime Networks.

Penn Juliet and his non-talking partner Teller discuss controversial subjects, and prove that they are bullshit.

They’ve discussed everything from prostitution, to Wal-Mart and everything in between. And they make it informative, using their usual wit and wisdom.

I love this show! It’s awesome – and sometimes I actually learn something.

I didn’t know that there was a whole movement in the States against Wal-Mart. People get all up and arms against the giant retailer, claiming it takes away business from smaller, local shops, and becomes the dominant market force in the area setting pricing trends.

I always thought UFOs and alien abductions were bullshit. Well, now I know for certain, as this show proved it for me – not that anyone with half a brain cell needed to be told that aliens aren’t real.

Penn and Teller are known for their long-running magic show in Las Vegas. In their magic shows, they do cool illusions and magical acts, and then show the audience how the magic is created. Often, their magic acts are laced with political statements, or themes about societal change.

Imagine the same sort of thing on your television. It’s a smaller screen version of their live act – and it works really well.

The topics are presented somewhat fairly, with experts on all sides of an issue. Though Penn and Teller clearly take sides, they tell you which side they are taking and why. Along the way, they illustrate their points with humorous bits, magic tricks and the occasional totally non-scientific Bullshit experiments.

Anyone who’s a Penn and Teller fan – or even if you’re a not – should check out the show. It’s on Showtime in the States, and available on the Movienetwork onDemand here in Canada.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Burp! Too Much Food Burp!

Ever notice how when you go out with friends, sometimes you just can’t help but to over-eat?

I enjoy good food and good food with good friends is all the better. But often, I find, when I’m out with friends we just always seem to stuff ourselves silly.

I’m not talking nice and full stuffed. Not talking about that warm tingly sensation when you’ve just crossed over the “I’m full mark,” either. Nope – I’m talking the “I can’t move” stuffed. You know when you wish secretly that you could undo your pants under the table to relieve the tension between your belly and the waistline.

It isn’t healthy to eat that much, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself. You sit there, enjoying the company of friends, and as you sit and talk, you eat. And you eat. And you keep eating until. . .

“I can’t move anymore!”

The very sight of food makes your tummy turn, and your eyes gloss over in pain and agony.

Then there is room for desert!

There’s always room for desert – somehow. You always have to find a way to enjoy a nice sweet treat after a big meal out on the town with friends.

It’s amazing how the desert menu – with those fancy wordsmithed descriptions, and those full color pictures, makes the pain and agony of being full go away.

“Our most decadent chocolate lover’s dream come true! Dark chocolate fudge brownie is surrounded with swirls of mocha icing, bathed in a dusting of icing sugar, and then finished with a flash of real whip cream.”

Give up now! Just wave the white flag. Once they create a description like that, you might as well just ask for a fork.

Then the pictures!

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but those meticulously placed deserts stare at you in full color – oozing sweet goodness.

Put the description and the picture together and you are already hooked – like a baited fish. You know it’s a trap, you know you shouldn’t but . . . TOO LATE!

As the desert is placed squarely in front of you, you indulge. Your once full beyond belief stomach is suddenly free and ready to accept more.

But only to a point – just as you think you’ve mastered the desert and are about to come half-way done – your stomach protests loudly.

The pain and agony of being full returns, and you are left holding the fork – literally!

You tease the chocolate sauce with your fork, spoon – whatever utensil you are using. It doesn’t matter – it’s laughing at you.

You couldn’t finish!

Take that!

The desert won. But you’ll do better next time. Next time you’ll be better prepared to tackle the over full stomach battle.

Or will you?

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Person’s Home is Their Castle

I take great pride in my stuff. I work hard to earn the money to buy what I want and need. So when I finally do get something, I work hard to protect it – to keep it in top shape so that it lasts.

When I go to someone’s home for a party, dinner or other social gathering, I take care not to harm their things – as I hope they would take the same care if and when they are at my place.

I often have my parents over for dinner. I love both my parents dearly, but my dad is a slob when it comes to personal stuff.

I’m a messy eater too – but when I am at someone’s place, I am careful not to make a mess on their nice table cloth, placemats or other tableware. My dad – well, after my parent’s left the other night, I had to run down to the laundry room and wash my placemats.

I just got these placemats too – they are brand spanking new. This was the first dinner with my parents at my place using the new placemats, so they both were talking about how nice they were. Still – STILL – my dad gets sauce and other food all over the placemats – my nice and new ones.

My mom told him to be careful, maybe that’s why he got an extra dose of sauce on them. I sometimes think he intentionally does exactly the opposite of what she says, just to get a reaction from her. Actually, I think a lot of married people do that – must be a downside to crossing the alter and saying “I do.”

I was a little peed at my dad for getting stains on my new placemats. I was able to quickly get those stains out – but still, it would be nice not to have to worry about stuff like that.

When I go to my parent’s place, or when I go to anyone’s place, I am very mindful that this isn’t my place. It is great if someone says “make yourself at home.” But that doesn’t mean be reckless with their things.

If someone loans you their car, you don’t drive it like a maniac and get into an accident. The same should hold true of anything else you happen to be granted access to that isn’t yours – even if it is just a placemat.

Maybe I should send Mrs. Manners over to my parent’s place to give my dad a talking too. Naw, next time, we’ll just go out for dinner.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Oppressive Heat at Work

It’s been a sweltering heat wave here for over a week now. Temperatures have been in the late 20C, with humidex values making it feel more like 30 to 40C on some days!

When you have to go out in this heat, you feel the heat beat down on you like a hammer nailing you to the wall.

It is even worse for those who have to work in this heat. I know – my current client’s air conditioning has been busted all week. To make matters worse, the windows in the office building I work in don’t open, so I can’t even open the window to get some fresh air circulating.

It is mother nature’s way of oppressing us – to an extent. We human beings invented air conditioning and fans to control this form of torture, and continue with out lives despite the horrid heat.

Air conditioning systems, like all technology based mechanical contraptions, can and will break down over time. That’s just the way it is.

But to have the air conditioning broken all week is insane. The company should have sent us home on days when the air conditioning wasn’t working, and they should sue the building management to get out of their lease and move to another facility.

They should have done something – any something – a long time ago. Apparently, the air conditioning goes off every year just as the heat waves come. This 47-year-old company has been in the same building for all those years, and every year it is the same thing. The owners of the building don’t like to spend money on standard things – like life supporting air conditioning.

“Oh, they are looking for a new building,” says my colleague. “They’ve been looking for years.”

Why doesn’t this surprise me?

Lead by example – and management’s example is lazy-ass, do everything quickly, rushed, without planning and without thinking it appears.

It doesn’t take much time or energy to look for another place. When I was looking at apartments I took the time necessary to find the best place I could afford. It paid off, I live in a very well maintained, high security building, with a great view of the city. When things break, I call down to property management and they come up within a couple of hours and fix it.

Granted, locating an office is a lot larger of a task than looking for a place to live. For starters, you have to consider the hundred employees and their needs, the technology needs, and the room for potential expansion. But it shouldn’t take 47-years to find a place.

If it takes more than a year to find a place – well, they aren’t really LOOKING they are just goofing off. Which is the norm sadly – to goof off.

Monday, I’m working from home. I don’t like the isolation and the image of working from home. Perception is reality in business, especially company’s like the one where I’m at now and laziness is the norm. So, if you “work” from home, it really is a signal that you’re just being lazy and may or may not actually get anything done.

But, I’m sick and tired of having to shower twice a day – my usual shower when I wake up, and my detoxification shower to get rid of all the sweat and grime from working in a non-air conditioned office.

So, screw the perceived perceptions, Monday I’ll goof off – I mean “work” from home.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sometimes It is Good to Yell and Scream

I’m not happy with in my current work environment. The company – my client – just has a very different style than I am used too.

I come from a very corporate environment. I’m used to project plans, product life cycles, deadlines that not only are set, but are met by all involved on the team. Most of the teams I have worked with actually strive to beat deadlines.

The current cubicle I call home has a very different work environment. They don’t use any form of project management. There are no project plans, no product life cycles, and deadlines – arrrgh! DEADLINES!!!

Deadlines might as well be written in crayon at this company, no one really cares. When someone misses a deadline – which is pretty much everyone on the team – they just act like nothing is wrong and expect everyone depending on that deadline to just accept their excuse.

When deadlines are missed, it has a chain reaction down the line, as everyone else’s time is now lengthened on working on the project. Still for some odd reason, that doesn’t bother anyone at my current client.

Without any formal project management structure in place, people literally just dump things on each other and expect them done immediately.

Managers constantly stop at my desk, while I’m busy working away, and ask me to do something which needs to be done now. But what about the last thing you just dumped on me that needs to be done now?

I often crawl into work around 9am and I often don’t leave until 6pm or later. Once I even stayed at the office until almost 10pm – all because of a failure to plan.

SO, you can imagine my joy, my amazement and my glee, when I was actually able to leave early on a Friday afternoon.

The week before, I went on a tyrant of a rage, yelling at people that were dumping things on my desk. One of the deliverables I have on a weekly basis depends on everyone else on the team getting things to me by the hard and fast deadline we’ve set Thursdays at noon.

My manager set that deadline – yet she regularly manages to send us things for this deliverable late Friday afternoon.

Being a manager – and the one that actually set the deadline – she leads by example. If she doesn’t have to meet the deadline, others don’t think they have to either, so they don’t.

One Friday before a long weekend, I was one of only four people still in the office after 5:30pm, because everyone just kept handing stuff off to me well past deadline. Everyone left around 3pm or earlier, leaving me to take care of their missed deadlines.

I don’t mind staying until the end of a business day on a Friday – even if it is the Friday of a long weekend. But having to stay late – hell being one of just a handful of people still in the office – is unacceptable.

So, last week, I yelled and screamed at anyone that dared tell me how important their late additions were to my deliverable. I told them point blank that by neglecting the deadline, it makes me have to stay late. And as it is a constantly reoccurring issue I’ve had since I began this contract some time ago, it is having an impact on whether or not I remain at this company.

This past week, low and behold, the deadline comes and goes, and still more stuff comes in. But, instead of it coming in Friday afternoon, it comes in Friday morning. It is still late, but at least it isn’t coming in at the last minute late.

I was still upset that deadlines don’t mean anything at this company. But, at least the materials were coming in early enough to include them without too much of a time lag on me.

I thanked everyone for trying to pull it together sooner. They smiled and probably thought that I wasn’t planning on leaving this unorganized office place.

I’ll still leave – but not just yet.

They bought themselves some precious little time, but that is all. I know as well as they do, they can’t pull it together. They have no experience or effort in this regard. They don’t care about deadlines, they don’t know how to project manage, and they don’t set goals and objectives for their projects to strive for and complete.

Those who fail to plan, fail.

This company has failed me. I will leave the second someone drops another project on my desk which causes me to work well past the witching hour, while everyone else is gone, enjoying their lives.

My time is valuable to me. It may not be valuable to them. But at least I know how to manage my time.

So, sometimes it pays to yell and scream. By yelling and screaming, I at least got them to think about what would happen if I just wasn’t there.

And I guess they didn’t like that idea too much, because then, one or more of them would have to do my job.