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Ow ow ow...

Ow pain.

I've done something to my back. I don't think I've "thrown it out" as they say, but maybe some sort of muscle spasm. Same thing happened to me when I was 13, only in my neck. The muscles suddenly tightened up for no reason, and I couldn't move it fully for about a week. I hope it's just that.

Anyway, the course has been going really well. I've finished the first two weeks, and I'm learning a lot. First few classes dealt mostly with dental terminology. I had some biology background, so it was mostly familiar. Then it was memorizing the abbreviations dentists use, looking up procedures in the dental price guide, and calculating how much the client owed vs. how much was paid by insurance. It's really not that different than writing up an order at the restaurant and adding up the prices.

The teacher, Carmelita, is nice, but kind of awkward at teaching. Her strategy is usually to take the readings that we were given, and then just reading them out loud while we follow along. And she has an odd way of dropping letters or syllables from words, or mispronouncing them in other ways. For instance, she can't seem to pronounce a long-u sound, so a word like 'mandibular' comes out as 'mandibbiler.' I amuse myself by composing lists of "Carmelisms" while she talks. First test is tomorrow, Mon Oct 4.

Worst part of the class is that, like I said, I'm the only guy. The women in the class all seem to want to work in groups, and Carmelita mostly lets them. But I prefer to work alone, always have, always will. I think you learn more that way. So, while I'm trying to look up codes for dental procedures and write down their prices, I can't concentrate because of all the chatter as the ladies compare notes and trade answers. It's frustrating.

Also frustrating is that the learning materials are really shitty. I finished an assignment first, so Carmelita checked my answers first, before going through the whole thing with everybody else. She found a number of mistakes. All except one were due to errors in the question. Like, the question would ask for the cost of two x-rays and three fillings, but the answer on the answer sheet was for THREE x-rays and three fillings. So my answer was actually correct, it just didn't match the teacher's materials.

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I just got back from another trip to Boundary Country. I thought the last trip would be the last chance I'd get for a while, but we just got a stretch of unusually spectacular weather, and since my classes are just Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I'd grab the chance.

But before I get into THAT trip, I still owe you pictures from the LAST trip.

So, without further ado...Collapse )

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Bike Ride

While Mom's in Haida Gwai, I thought I'd stop by her place and pick up my old bike. It's been in her attic for a while now. Come to think of it, it's almost brand new. I'm not sure why I stopped riding it, but it probably had something to do with buying a motorcycle. I don't think I've ridden a bike in at least six years now, and while it's true that you don't forget, you sure do lose the feel for it. After a motorcycle, a bicycle feels impossibly light and spindly...like sitting on a box-kite. You're leaning much more forward too, which gives the uncomfortable sensation that you'll fly over the handlebars if you stop too quickly.

Anyway, both tires were flat so I had to walk it home from Mom's, but after filling them up I took it out for a midnight ride around New Westminster. It was fun. I should start riding regularly again. Ten years ago, I rode to work every day, and was in fairly good shape. Today I ride the motorcycle and I'm...not. Hard to believe I once rode a bike over the Rockies and across the Prairies, and would have gone farther if I hadn't run out of money in Winnipeg.

But now, it's time for those photos I promised, from the Merritt Rodeo.

Click for CowboysCollapse )

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I Meet Doug Stanhope!

I drove down to Kirkland (just outside Seattle) to see Doug Stanhope at the Laughs club. Got a speeding ticket on the way down. Ran into Mark Stone of all people at the club. He's going to be an electrician.

I did a drawing of Doug beforehand, and got him to sign it.

On the way home, I got a border guard with an attitude; she asked me question after question, and then said she thought I was hiding something. I really didn't know what to say to that, except to shrug. The cunt finally let me go after about ten more stupid questions. I should have told her to just search the car, take as much time as she wanted, provided that when she was done, I could tell her that she sucked at her job.

Anyway, here's the drawing, and a series of photos I took.



Photos from Doug Stanhope in Kirkwood, WACollapse )
Some nice photos to show you today. A couple of weeks ago I rode the hourlong trip out to Hope to try photographing the world-famous Othello Tunnels (aka the Quintette Tunnels, aka McCulloch's Wonder) at night. I stopped briefly just after sunset to take a couple of shots at Bridal Falls, just outside Chilliwack (I love living in BC). I hung around Hope for a while, waiting for it to get dark, and when it did, I rode the 8km into the mountains to the start of the trailhead, then since the trail was wide and flat (it's old railbed) I took the bike the rest of the way. It wasn't far. I set up the tripod, opened the shutter, and shone a flashlight on whatever I wanted illuminated. Each exposure took about ten minutes. It was pretty spooky, but worth it.

Then last week, I went out again, but the original intent was something I've had a bug up my ass about for a while now. I found a mountain lake on Google Earth that looks absolutely beautiful, but there's no trails of any kind going to it. Forestry service roads would get me about three km from it, then it would be a hike over a ridge. I decided I wanted to reach that lake. I didn't even get close. The road was a bit steeper and rougher than expected, and eventually my bike just decided not to go any further. It died on a steep and unstable uphill slope, which is a terrible position to find oneself in... You have no power, so you can't go forward. You don't want to slide backwards too fast on gravel, because if you do, you won't be able to brake without skidding; and skidding backwards downhill with a sheer drop on one side of you is a terrifying prospect. But eventually I managed to finesse the bike around to be facing downhill again, and managed to get it started. With tail between legs, I decided to try to salvage something by returning to Hope for some daytime pictures of the tunnels.

Photos Under The CutCollapse )

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The Queens Of New Westminster

Photo treat!

I've wanted to get this panorama of the Patullo and Skybridge for a while now, so I finally went. Sorry it's six shots of basically the same scene, but I cut it down from twelve and couldn't bring myself to lose anymore of my babies. So please tell me your favorite. Anyway, take a look:Collapse )

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Canada-gasm!

Ready for a blast of Canadiana?
Pictures from Downtown After Hockey GoldCollapse )

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Panorama Frenzy!

This is so frustrating. A few nights ago, I spent almost an entire night roaming downtown Vancouver taking panoramic photos, which are a bitch to process; well, I finally finished those all up and then I went downtown AGAIN for the closing ceremonies party and got ANOTHER buttload of pics to work through! I'm so glad the Olympics are over. Maybe now I'll have a chance to catch up.

Speaking of which, I couldn't be prouder of how Canada did in the Games, or of how Vancouver did hosting. Considering all the shit that went wrong, from the death of the Georgian luger, to the torch not working correctly, to the lousy weather, it all just felt amazingly perfect.

I'm actually a bit bummed at just how much I missed out on. I was hoping to watch the hockey final somewhere downtown, but got the game time wrong...by the time I realized my mistake, the third period was already starting. And what a bloody incredible finish that was, eh?! I also never got to ride the zipline, I missed out on an amazing opportunity to photograph the cauldron from the top of an office building so I could go see Colbert instead...and that worked out so well, didn't it? I never even sampled any of the nations pavillions. Mostly it was the rain that kept me out of downtown. Nevertheless, I feel that I took part in something special, something that will live in the hearts of Vancouverites for generations. One day I'll get to say "I was there."

Meanwhile, in a few days you'll be seeing my photos from the downtown party. But for now, it's time to post those panoramas I've been working so hard on. Enjoy!Collapse )

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Two Days Of Stephen Colbert

While in Vancouver, acting in his semi-official capacity as the Assistant Sports Psychologist to the US Olympic speedskating team, Stephen Colbert made a call out to the Colbert Nation to be in Creekside Park (by Science World) for taping of a week's worth of the Colbert Report.

I was down there at six AM, and there was already a moderate clutch of people waiting, so I took a few minutes to try a panorama of False Creek. Click for many many pictures of Colbert.Collapse )

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Downtown Olympic Flavour (With A 'U')

Monday, I finally headed downtown to check out the Olympics. I parked the bike in the Tinseltown parkade because motorcycles park free there, then headed through Gastown, rolling my eyes a bit at all the tourist kitsch, towards Canada Place and the Cauldron. The crowds were pretty heavy, but also well-managed, and it wasn't hard to get around.

Click for lots more photos!Collapse )

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Olympic Pictures!

I was downtown the other day checking out some of the Olympic flavor. Then today, I went down again and saw Stephen Colbert taping a show. Pictures of both days are coming. But first things first: I promised pictures from the torch relay through New Westminster last week, and we'll start with those.Collapse )

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Bees!

I saw bees in a flower garden a few blocks from my house, and today I went to try shooting them.

Results were beyond expectations.Collapse )

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Friends Only from now on.

Sorry, too many people I know read this, and too many that I don't want to know. Comment to be added, I'm not picky.

Another Manic Monday

Rod Stewart tickets went on sale at 10AM today. I was planning to buy some to resell, but by the time I heard my alarm, it was already quarter after. So I thought 'fuck it' and went back to sleep. It turned out I was lucky: when I checked Ticketmaster that evening, the show still hadn't sold out, so if I had bought tickets they probably wouldn't be worth anything.

I had a letter in the Vancouver Sun today. Surprising, because it's been over a week since I wrote it. It was a pro-RCMP, anti-media opinion about the guy who died after being Tasered at the airport. I'd given up on it. But apparently, they've been saving up letters on the topic, and printed a bunch of them at once.

Did some diet shopping at Safeway, got cereal, skim milk, canned pasta, pickles. Canned pasta is great for when you're craving something that tastes like fast food; it's surprisingly low on calories. I just wish Heinz didn't stop making plain ol' spaghetti. When did that happen? When did every kind of canned pasta become some sort of kiddy gimmick? Alphagetti, Zoodles, Simpsons, Dinogetti, Dora the Explorer...I just want spaghetti, dammit!

And somewhere along the way, they seem to have stopped making my favorite cereal, Team.

Then I went across the street to the library to photocopy my tax return and return an overdue book (Adventure Motorcyclist's Handbook or something like that).

My PlayStation 2 crapped out for good, and I was thinking about treating myself to a PS3. I drove down to BestBuy (after a brief stop at Staples to buy laminate sheets) but at the last minute I decided that 400 dollars was just a bit more than I wanted to spend on ANYTHING right now. Especially when I need a new mattress, and to get my bike fixed, and since stopping at Staples, I suddenly want a new filing cabinet too. With fancy hanging folderrrrs! Mmmmmmmmmm. God I'm a nerd.

And I finally put my bed back together. Since the bedbug spraying, I've been sleeping on the couch, only 'couch' is a rather generous term for what's really more of a loveseat. Bloody uncomfortable. I need to stretch out!

Meanwhile, Stephen Hume responded to my email.Collapse )

Daily calorie count: Super big gulp (700), cup of dried apricots (350), bowl of corn flakes, skim milk (120). Total: 1170

Shit, I can actually FEEL those apricots going through me. Wild.

I hate taggers.

The restaurant got tagged by a vandal Friday night, as did a bunch of other places around Kingsway and Edmonds. Fucking retards. "I sprayed a wall, I'm cool." "Hey, I want to be cool too, I can spray a wall!" Then it's fucking everywhere. Goddam cockroaches.

So I painted over it today, and also installed a new doorstop. I only mention it because it's nice to have some record of the extra shit I do at work. God knows I'll never get a 'good job' from Mel.

And what the hell is this? Snow? Again? Really? REALLY?

Doesn't seem to be lasting though. Actually, it's sort of pretty out right now; the snow fell, then started to melt, then froze again after dark so the trees all have this white crust on them. I think I'll go out and try to grab a shot or two.

In the meantime, today I just had a can of tuna (115) and three glasses of Coke (450). Total: 565.
But I didn't get to run because of the snow (aw shucks, it's always something, isn't it?)

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EDIT: I went out, here's the pictures I tookCollapse )

Taxes and Mom's Birthday

Monday. No work. Taking Mom out for birthday dinner later with the sisters. I've got the panorama photo developed, and a frame. It looks OK, but I decide it would be nice to have a mat for it. So I start calling places to see if anybody will custom-cut a mat while I wait.

After trying about EIGHTEEN DIFFERENT PLACES I find one near Brentwood that can do it. I drive down there, and while I'm discussing possible colors with the mat-cutting-person, someone says "Hi Steve." It's Nicole, who used to work at the restaurant. Beyond the pure coincidence, all I can think is how much I wish I could find a cool job at a place like this.

Anyway, I got the mat and the picture looks great. Mom loves it.

I pick Mom up, and we go to Lisa's house to meet Kelly. Lisa's got my Christmas presents from Dad and Joyce, and also my last birthday presents that I wasn't able to take home on my actual birthday. We go for dinner at the Mongolie Grill, where you fill a bowl with whatever you want, and they grill it for you. Good, but expensive; my bowlful was 26.00.

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I'm feeling proud of myself today because I did my own tax return, for the first time. In previous years, I would give all my forms and shit to Mom, and she'd take it in to her accountant and they'd do it as an attachment to hers, and charge me 30 bucks.

Not this year. This year I face the last true test of manhood, to prove my mental worth, dammit! I got the forms and a guide from the post office, and, armed with a copy of last year's return to use as a comparison, I plowed in. It took about two hours, and was pretty slow going, full of odd references to 'schedules' and 'articles.' Where's my spirit-guide when I need it? Having last year's return helped a lot. It wasn't really difficult; just time-consuming, and requiring a lot of jumping from place to place, putting numbers in boxes, jumping through hoops, dotting i's, crossing t's. Long story short, I'm getting a refund of 360 dollars, more or less consistent with other years. And it will definitely take a lot less time next year.

Yay! I'll never have to pay some guy 30 bucks to do my taxes again! Self-reliance wins.

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Finally, I think I need to quit eating for a while. I don't mean fasting, I just mean that I've been stuffing myself silly all winter long, time to take a little break -- I'm starting to feel an effect on my health. I'm at 234lb...wayyyyy too much.

So, taking a page from misslaceration's book, I'll be listing what I eat and the calorie count every day, as a way to harness the awesome power of peer pressure.

So, today: Four hard-boiled eggs for breakfast = 300 calories, and three glasses of Coke at work (my major vice) = 450 calories. Total: 750.

And I ran a lap after work. Definitely need to do that more often.
This is a letter written to the Vancouver Sun's Stephen Hume, in response to his March 3rd article: The 'old media' are the 'new media' -- just look at The Sun. Believe me, I do, Mr. Hume, I do...

Dear Mr. Hume:

Regarding your piece in yesterday's Sun, you made a few good points. When you talk about how the 'new media' really is the 'old media,' just in different form, I'm with ya, I'm with ya.

Beyond that, many points you make can be criticized. What I mostly objected to is the idea that professional media outlets such as the Sun provide some sort of filter, separating the wheat from the chaff and assuring the consumer of quality. I'd agree that the Net has a high ratio of chaff to wheat, but from where I sit, newspapers aren't any better.

Consider yesterday's Province. On the front page, we are asked "how is it possible" that a 100-sqft. rathole in East Van costs $3.90 a square foot, while a luxury penthouse is only $2.90 a square foot. That is a jaw-droppingly stupid question, and that's on the front page! You speak of accountability? What do you think the odds are that the reporter responsible -- one Lora Grindlay -- will be fired? Zero, that's what, and it's a shame because I can't respect a newspaper that employs someone that dumb.

Maybe you're thinking "Well, that's the Province." But is the Sun any better? Yours is the paper that has Shelley Fralic writing on social issues, and Doug Todd writing about religion and ethics. Just last Saturday, Todd took some flaky New Age pamphlet about the 12 Theories of Evolution, barfed it back onto a page and called it insight; and as for Fralic, I've known the woman to do half a page on ice cream cones.

I'd like to explain briefly what I think is the biggest problem at the heart of journalism, and to do that I'll have to tell you a story. Think of it as a microcosm.

It happened about a year ago, in a small town in Pennsylvania. It was one of those local brouhahas that gets picked up as a larger story around the country, and concerned a garage door in Minersville on which appeared an image of the Virgin Mary at the same time every evening.

With the power of Google News, I was able to see quite a few of those reports, and it was pretty clear to me almost immediately that the image of the Virgin Mary was caused by the light of the setting sun shining off a window across the street.

But that idea was only briefly suggested, if it was mentioned at all. Instead, what we got was a stream of stories all following the same formula: laying out the story, shots of the crowds gathered, a quote from a weepy fat woman overwhelmed by the 'miracle', another quote from a skeptic saying he wasn't sure what it all meant, and finally some sort of banal observation about how there was no way to say for certain, but it sure inspired strong feelings in people.

But I didn't really have to describe the formula to you, did I, Mr. Hume? You're in this business yourself, after all.

Now, I'm pretty much 100% sure that every single journalist in Minersville knew what was really happening. Every journalist there knew that this was just light reflecting off a window. But not one of them was willing to say what they knew to be true. Truth as an ideal is not a popular idea in journalism anymore.

I'm cynical enough not to be surprised at the crowds of gullible people who came from miles around hoping to see a miracle. I suspect that there's a form of peer pressure involved; everybody pretends to believe so that nobody has to feel stupid. But I believe that journalists should be held to a higher standard; they have a obligation to the truth that should trump any concerns for 'fairness' or 'a good story.' If journalists won't say what they know to be true, then...what's the fucking point?

Let me take that idea a step farther. I know that you're probably preparing a counterargument that involves the idea of being 'balanced.' "Tell both sides of the story, and let people make up their own minds," seems to be the justification.

The problem there, ironically, is that when you present both sides of an argument equally, you actually take away the very tools we need to make up our own minds. If there is balance, then there is nothing to base a choice on. Like a donkey midway between two carrots, the reader can't really do anything but default to his preexisting beliefs. Small wonder then, that two people of opposing viewpoints can both read the same article and come away feeling that their beliefs were supported.

Let me quote you back at yourself:
"Do you want to leave the news to wealthy dilettantes or those with vested interests -- spin doctors, marketers and propagandists?"

In light of that, what on Earth am I to make of the fact that directly underneath your article was a piece by Christoph Kind on the benefits of naturopathy? Naturopathy isn't really all that ambiguous; it's pretty obviously composed of hucksters fighting for the right to make a buck as healers, even though the average restaurant manager probably has more insight into, say, allergies than Kind does. Kind also happens to be president of the B.C Naturopathic Association, and that sound you hear is the knife in Truth's back. All in the name of balance, I suppose.

I'm curious, Mr. Hume. What do you personally think of Christoph Kind and what he wrote? Are you willing to say it in print?

Regards,
Steve Vanden-Eykel

Mar. 3rd, 2009

Twitter: Because The Internet Has Officially Jumped The Shark.

Jacked from heythereyazy

How am I feeling today?
I Saw Her Again - The Mamas & The Papas

Will I get far in life?
Baby - Iggy Pop

How do my friends see me?
Drivin' Sister - Mott The Hoople

Where will I get Married?
Spade - Marilyn Manson

What is my best friend's theme song?
Son Of A Famous Man - Little River Band

What is the story of my life?
Don't Look Down - Lindsey Buckingham

What is/was highschool like?
Sympathy For The Devil - Rolling Stones

How can I get ahead in life?
Makin' Whoopie - Frank Sinatra

What is the best thing about me?
Oh! Sweet Nuthin' - The Velvet Underground

How is today going to be?
Keep Gettin It On - Marvin Gaye

What is in store for this weekend?
Trip Through Your Wires - U2

What song describes my parents?
Psychotic Girl - The Black Keys

To describe my grandparents?
Missing - Beck

How is my life going?
I Want You To Want Me - Cheap Trick

What song will they play at my funeral?
Show Some Emotion - Celine Dion

How does the world see me?
Dirt Road Blues - Bob Dylan

Will I have a happy life?
One Rainy Wish - Jimi Hendrix

What do my friends really think of me?
Plastic Fantastic Lover - Fleetwood Mac

Do people secretly lust after me?
Just Say Yeah - Jackson Browne

How can I make myself happy?
I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me - Expose

What should I do with my life?
Pilgrim - Enya (lol, definitely)

Will I ever have children?
Three Imaginary Boys - The Cure

What is some good advice for me?
Feel It Again - Honeymoon Suite

How will I be remembered?
Already Gone - The Eagles

What is my signature dancing song?
White Riot - The Clash

What do I think my current theme song is?
Stay Positive - The Hold Steady

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
Wicked Dreams - Elton John

What type of men/women do you like
Furr - Blitzen Trapper (LOLOLOLOLOLOL)

Back to work after four days off

As usual, Mel scheduled me with a lousy crew. Alex has a bad attitude and Alexis doesn't have a lot of kitchen experience (she usually serves). I got off to a bad mood immediately when five o'clock rolled around and neither of them had shown up.

I got into it with Alex when he arrived, told him I wanted him to show up on time from now on and I didn't want to hear anything from him but 'OK Steve' and he asked me how many hours a week I spend playing solitaire in the office. (Answer: very few).

So I sort of went on an impromptu strike. They don't want to listen to me? OK, I'll just stop talking. I took a position on the coldtable station, and started making pizzas. Alex doesn't think I work my ass off? Let him deal with the customers and keep track of where everything goes when it comes out of the oven. I'm just standing over here, makin' the pizzas, thank you very much. Easiest job in the world.

Then there was Shannon the server, who's always really rude to me unless she needs help or wants to talk; then it's "Hey, Steve, buddy!" I'll try saying something to her, and she'll ignore me. So I'll say it louder, she'll still ignore me. So I say it even louder, and she'll say "Why are you yelling?"

I hate feeling like I don't exist, that's why. Here's a sad fact: If I'm walking down the street and I hear someone yell "Hey Steve!" I don't turn around because I assume they're calling to another Steve. And they usually are.

Well, now I'm depressed. So what happy news can I use to counter it?

Well, I went to get some prints developed at Fotofun (I'm getting my mom a framed print of this photo for her birthday), and the manager was giving away a lifesized cardboard display stand of Avril Lavigne. It was part of an advertising campaign for Canon, and it's pretty beautiful. I can't actually display it in my apartment, because Avril unfortunately isn't cool anymore (and I've never really considered posters of one's idols cool anyway) but it's still neat to have. Maybe I'll have a chance to get it signed one day, and can sell it on eBay. Here's hoping her career isn't over yet. I still think she has a lot of potential.

Meanwhile, I used one of my nights off to see the Spike and Mike festival of Sick And Twisted Animation, which I hadn't gone to for several years. In several ways, it felt like they'd made a break from previous shows.

For one thing, it was no longer at the Ridge theater. This year it was at the Rio, which I'd never gone to before and which up until now seemed to only cater to an Indian audience. Nice theater though; small-towny and old fashioned. I like theaters that still have balconies.

They also seem to have discontinued No Neck Joe. I didn't much miss it. I've only seen all of them about a dozen times after all.

The rest of the show was a mixed bag, as usual. Some new films, some repeats from previous shows. Some beautifully made, some not. Some stupid but incredibly funny, some just stupid. And one amazingly elegant and profound little film called The Crab Revolution.



Oh, and then there was The Furious Little Cinnamon Bun. "Grandma! What's all that noise?" "Oh that's nothing, Leland, that's just a little cinnamon bun who got very upset for no discernable reason and then ran into a little shaved-ice baby and killed it, so the other shaved-ices summoned the Great Dick in the Sky to hunt him down, and it injured him pretty good but he managed to run to Mexico where he thought he was safe so he ordered a Cerveza and then it came out of the sky and violently destroyed him. Go back to sleep." Hehehe.

Dancing in my Underwear

OK. Since Angie had the whole week off to go to Vegas, I was scheduled off on Saturday and Sunday. It's now...9AM on Monday morning, and I realized I wasn't sure if I was even working or not, since the new schedule hadn't been posted by last Fri.

So I just called the restaurant to check, and found out that I'm ALSO off Monday and Tuesday. For the win. And it's sunny too...too bad I'll miss most of it. ;)

What the hell is this?

I am currently watching the Oscars, having recorded them (don't tell me how it ends). And I can't believe this. Did someone say "Let's make the show unwatchable this year?"

First award: Best Supporting Actress. Usually, they bring out last year's Supporting Actor winner to come out and award the Oscar. This time they got five previous winners, each of which did a short homage to one of the nominees. Then they gave out the award...without having shown a single clip of any performance!!!

Just shut the fuck up already!

For Animated Film, they did this 'yearbook' thing which was a lightning-fast montage, not of the nominees, but of ALL the animated films of the last year -- except of course for Persepolis, which wasn't even nominated. And for the record, a category that nominates Bolt and not Persepolis is a category that doesn't mean anything.

And it's just going on and on. Talk, talk, talk. It's like they're not celebrating the movies so much as trying to put unemployed screenwriters to work.

Thank goodness for the skip button.
The Brent Butt show was tonight, and I nearly didn't make it on time.

My bike still isn't running, and since it's a Saturday, I figured I couldn't keep the delivery car either, so I was up last night looking at transit maps. I figured I'd drop the car off at work, then walk to Edmonds station and go from there.

Well, I slept late. I normally get up at 4 to go to work, but kept putting it off until suddenly it was 6:30. I dropped off the car (work was smokin busy already) then took the Skytrain to Braid where I planned to catch either the 117 or the 727 to the Red Robinson Theater. By now, it's 7:30 and the show starts at eight.

Well, the 727 only runs on weekdays, and the next 117 isn't until 8:30. Shit, I should have planned better.

I started to walk, then I saw the cabs waiting around the station. So I splurged. Hey, it's Brent Butt!

At the theater, I found my seat. I'd forgotten just how good a seat I'd gotten, second row. I hadn't dressed up, and was starting to think that I should have. Oh well, I was there alone anyway...who the heck was I trying to impress?

Brent Butt was fall-down funny, and the opening act Jamie Hutchinson wasn't bad either. Two solid hours of classic deadpan Canadian-style comedy. Too many good bits to really remember, but here's one:

Brent on playing goalie as a kid -- "Getting hit in the berries by a puck is an unreal pain. I'd be lying in the crease wishing for death and wondering 'I got hit down there, why do my eyes hurt?' So my coach skates over, looks down at me and says "Maybe you should uh...get a goalie-cup." And I say "There's a goalie-cup?" How long were you going to sit on THAT information?

Jamie Hutchinson's best bit was about that story in the news recently, about the guy who got bitten by his pet cobra and threatened to sue the Vancouver hospital because they didn't have any antivenom (antivenin?):

"First of all, you don't have a pet cobra. What you got is a cobra. And you know why they didn't have cobra antivenom? Cuz we don't got the cobras. Same reason they don't have Martian spray. You get stung by a Martian, forgetaboutit, you're on your own."

After the show, I decided to walk back rather than wait for a bus. United Blvd to Braid Station was longer than I expected, but it gave me a chance to listen to the new U2 album properly. I'm leaning towards not liking it much, although Get On Your Boots has surprisingly grown on me a lot. U2 is officially old. Like Paul McCartney is old, or Elton John is old. The music may still be good, but you can't help but miss the vigor of youth. A lot of the album feels bloated, and trying too hard for 'greatness' but not quite making it. And it starts to blur together a bit in the second half, and turn into prolonged jamming sessions instead of fully-realized songs.

Moment Of Surrender and White As Snow are standouts for me. White As Snow reminds me of O Come O Come Emmanuel, one of my favorite carols from my Christian days.

Anyway, I made it back to Skytrain in about an hour of walking, rode back to New Westminster, then walked up the hill to my place. Almost six kilometers all together.

I should start walking places again. I used to walk EVERYWHERE. I'd walk to and from work every day, 4km each way, and shrug it off. I'd be in much better shape, that's for sure.

Two Down, Three To Go

Monday and Tuesday are over, three more days left of managing the restaurant alone.

On Monday, I got to work and immediately found out that Mel had only scheduled two people in the kitchen, and they were both off at ten! So I had to close the kitchen myself. Annoying, but not that bad as it turned out...I'd forgotten how easy closing the kitchen was, compared to managing. Mel said I didn't have to bother with the books; she'd come in and do them in the morning. But Charles was closing in the back, and he always takes forever, so I ended up doing them anyway. Even so, I still finished before him. I don't know how it can possibly take him that long to get everything done!

I Feel Good (I Didn't Know That I Would)

Valentine's Day turned out to be a breeze. Well, not really. It just seemed to go on and on and on; and Stas was the usual gum in the works that he usually is. I don't get Mel sometimes -- Stas has been off for two weeks, and the dinner rushes have been so much smoother without him, so why would she decide to have his first day back be Valentine's Day?

Nelson was better than usual, and so was I for that matter...it seemed to be Mel's turn to be the cranky one for once. But for the most part, everything went smooth and efficient.

Next week is going to be a long pain in the ass. I get one day off on Sunday, and then another five days in a row with Angie in Las Vegas. But at the end of it, I get next Saturday off to see Brent Butt in concert.

When I got out of the restaurant at 3AM, I realized that the day's haze had disappeared and the night had turned amazingly crystal-clear, so I decided it was a perfect time to head back to Stanley Park to photograph the God Face by night.



Click for the resultsCollapse )
Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Valentine's Day is tomorrow, the worst day of the year at the restaurant. Wish me luck, I'm going in!

Like I needed to know that ;)



You Are Vanilla



You are incredibly sexy and sensual - yet still sweet and innocent.

You have an exotic, mysterious vibe. You leave people wanting to know more.



You know how to make lovers relax, calm down, and be vulnerable.

You draw people in and make them addicted to you. You're a lot more potent than people think.

Douglas Todd -- At It Again.

Douglas Todd wrote an article (Loving Darwin And Divinity)in today's Vancouver Sun about Darwin, and you just know that CAN'T be good. So I wrote a response.

Click here for long essay about evolution and spirituality (oh goody)Collapse )
Stephen Pinker on Colbert!!!!

I'm in the throes of geek love :)

I'm sick but happy

Yeah, getting sick again. But I just made a little money on eBay.

I'd bought four tickets to Fleetwood Mac, thinking they'd be as hot as AC/DC was. And while the concert DID sell out, it took a couple of hours. So I was worried that maybe I wouldn't be able to make my money back. And it was a lot of money...800 dollars for the four.

I put them up for bid, and then used my second eBay account to bid it up to 700 so I'd be guaranteed not to lose TOO much on them. Then I watched nervously as the final minutes counted down, reloading over and over to see if the bids had gone higher. They finally sold for 761 dollars, US, so I made a little profit at least.

I also put my iPod speakers up, since they're useless to me since my iPods died. I started it at 5.00 and it ended up going for 63. Happy dance time!

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I didn't get around to mentioning it before, but a couple of weeks ago Mel fired Nancie. Nancie! One of the FEW people who could actually be RELIED UPON and not have to be constantly BABYSAT, and Mel suddenly fired her because she had facial piercings that she refused to take out. Her mother was furious, and so was I. It was so fucking arbitrary. She let Jake serve tables with a fucking MOHAWK for chrissakes. And fucking Justin, reeking of pot and cigars on a regular basis, and is constantly zoned out. And not only does Mel fire a good employee, but she does it and then runs off and leaves me to deal with the fallout of a crying teenager and her pissed-off mother. Thanks, Mel! I called her up to yell at her about it, and she just said that my opinion was noted but it wasn't up to me. I should have told her that this is the sort of bullshit that ends up on Page 3 of the Province, but I didn't. It still might -- her mom threatened to file a complaint with Human Services, and I KNOW the Province has done stories about this exact same situation in the past.

Anyway, I've been residually pissed off ever since, and last Sunday we were short-staffed again and it turned out to be really busy. Mel and Angie were both working too, and while they worked the cold-table together making the pizzas, I was left to handle the cutting table all by myself and I nearly lost a gasket. One of these days....

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I can't get my bike to start. I haven't ridden it since the snow, which was before Christmas. And speaking of Christmas, I found out that Kelly and Lisa went and had Christmas at Dad's without me.

Fuck. Now I'm depressed.

Bugs!

Did I mention that I was getting eaten alive? Every night, something was biting me. And what was really driving me crazy was that I couldn't figure out what it was. I thought maybe there was a mosquito living in my apartment, but I never saw or heard one. Fleas? I've lived in a house with fleas before, and it's generally pretty easy to tell. Bedbugs maybe? But I never saw a trace of one, and I sort of assumed that if I had bedbugs, I'd be getting bitten a lot more. Lee from work assured me quite solemnly that they were spider bites. So maybe I had one big nasty spider tucked away in my bed somewhere, coming out at night and biting whatever flesh was exposed. And I'd wake up with another big stinging welt the next morning.

Finally I got pissed off enough that I went out, bought a can of Raid Spider Bomb and nuked my whole bed. Then I stripped everything off, and I mean everything, washed it in the hottest possible water, and nuked the bed some more. Smelled like Febreze, oddly enough. So now I'm sleeping in this unbelievable floral reek and I don't like to imagine the effect marinating in it is having on my fertility.

Couple of days after that, I finally caught the little shit in the act. I was up late, reading in bed, and saw something scuttle across the pillowcase out of the corner of my eye. I jumped about a foot, then turned the lights on and started carefully searching through the seams it disappeared into, and there it was...trying to play dead. Big sucker. I picked it up with tweezers and jammed it into one of the glue traps I'd set, and watched the fucker die.

I checked the Internet. It was definitely a bedbug. Anybody want to take bets on whether he was the only one? Me neither. But at least I knew for sure now what was happening.

A few days after that, I was still getting bitten. I staked out my bed one night, keeping the light low and holding still, I watched and waited. I caught one; much smaller than the first. Almost invisible. Later I caught others. And eventually I realized where they were coming from; not the bed, but my wooden headboard.

I told Adelburt, the landlord, and he arranged for an exterminator to come. So I have to run ALL clothes through the hot cycle, pull all furniture out away from the wall, stand the mattress and boxspring up, and clear out of the place for six hours. Meanwhile, I've been sleeping on what I like to call my 'couch' even though it's really more the size of a loveseat (did I mention that my place is pretty small?). It's been days since I could stretch out flat to sleep, and I'm starting to feel it.

-----------

Anyway, the guy came to spray on Monday, and I put the time out of the apartment to good use.

I've been trying to locate something I saw on Flickr -- a carving of a giant face in Stanley Park. The God Face isn't mentioned in any of the guides, and isn't an official attraction. Nobody knows who carved it, or when, although it was probably pranksters from UBC in the 70s. It's carved out of a massive stump, off the trails in the middle of nowhere, and I've been looking for it off and on for a couple of weeks now. I finally found it. I took some pics, but they're not that good. I'll try again soon.

I also went to Chapters and bought a book called 'The Longest Ride', about another motorcycle trip around the world.

Back in my freshly-doused apartment, I don't have the energy to put everything back together tonight. I curled up on the 'couch' again.

Writer's Block: Cookies

What is the strangest advice you've ever received from a fortune cookie?
"Beware of Chinese waitress bearing fortune cookies"
I'm watching Zack and Miri Make A Porno, and I have a new favorite movie line:

"I will be your sherpa up the mountain of gayness."

Announcing A New Dream

I just finished Jupiter's Travels, and I can't think of anything else. This is now officially something I want to do too; ride my motorcycle around the world. Not any time soon, but eventually.

Which means a lot of hurdles to overcome. Most important, I suppose, the sense that it's a foolish thing to do. I'm at a point in my life now where I feel like I should start trying to pull something together for the future, and quit living paycheck to paycheck. Is this really a good idea? A trip like this would probably take years -- do I really want to invest that much of my life just for the selfishness of experience? I keep hearing the lyrics to the Pursuit Of Happiness' 'I'm An Adult Now' ringing in my ears.

Then there's the same issue I mentioned a few entries ago, about how I'm tied down by stuff. So many things I'd have to store.

And of course, how would I pay for it all?

I've been turning all of this over in my head for days now, and a solution has been taking shape. I could save up a down payment for a condo -- something I really need to do anyway -- and once I'm in, and paying a mortage instead of rent, I could rent it out as a furnished apartment. That way I'd only have to store books and clothes and things, and not an apartment full of furniture. I would be simultaneously investing in my future AND making some money for the trip. And maybe I could even interest companies like Yamaha or Canon in sponsorship, since I'd definitely be writing and photographing the entire way.

I'm going to have to upgrade my mechanic skills. I should be able to take that bike apart down to the frame, and reassemble it, as well as know how to fix anything that can reasonably be fixed in the wilderness with tools carried along.

I'm tentatively going to put the timetable at 2015.

Meanwhile, a few pics from a recent morning stroll in Stanley Park. One of the Lion's Gate Bridge (again...but by daylight this time. Ew, daylight) and a couple of birds that just were too damn quick for sharpness, but still ended up sort of cool-looking.
Clicky For PickyCollapse )

Still More Fog

Two nights ago I was up in North Vancouver in the middle of the night looking for a good view. And I found one (just one) despite the fact that the road up to Cypress Bowl was closed for the night. So I parked the Me-n-Ed's delivery car on the side of the highway and set up in darkness for a picture of the Lion's Gate rising out of a sea of fog. Then I was back to New Westminster, just driving around and digging the fog, and I happened to take Front Street directly under the Patullo and Skybridge. And it was so amazing that I hung around for over an hour under the bridges, taking picture after picture. Then, yesterday, after the inauguration, I tried to start my motorcycle and it was completely dead. I took out the battery, brought it to the shop, and their diagnosis was simple: "Completely dead." So, new battery. Then I went up to Cypress in the daytime because the fog was just total. Couldn't see a trace of Vancouver, except for one single building that I think was in Metrotown. Stayed until sunset. Oh, and I got a haircut.

I'll post about ten of the best later. For now, two goodies.Collapse )

Yay, hope and all that.

I watched Barack Obama's inauguration on CNN at 9AM today. A few random thoughts:

-Bush Sr. didn't look too good. The commentators noticed it too. He was sort of doddering along like a penguin.

-Barack looked surprisingly uncomfortable before the ceremony started, sort of small and nervous. A touch of stage fright?

-I'm torn about Rick Warren. On the one hand, he's a heck of a lot better than, say, Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. A bit more progressive, and seems like a genuinely nice guy, whereas Falwell just always struck me as a straight-up dick. On the other hand, he's got anti-gay stances that I can't get behind. During his prayer, I kept being struck by how he could manage to come across as humble and pompous at the same time.

-I also couldn't help noticing a bit of a contradiction in what he was actually saying. One moment he's asking God to forgive those who think themselves responsible for their own acheivements, and then goes on to ask forgiveness for those who do not show others the respect they deserve as human beings. It's sort of funny, how he can not see that he started with the Christian idea that man is nothing without God, then move on to the humanist idea that man has inherent dignity and worth, and not notice the opposing nature of these ideas.

-Barack's speech? Magnificent. Such a refreshing change after eight years of Bush. And it's not that the words are prettier, necessarily (let's face it, Bush has good speechwriters too), it's that Obama has the ability to sound like he really means it.

-Afterwards, I got the distinct impression that Bush, seated behind Obama, was doing the sarcastic slow-clap! "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll see how they like YOU in eight." Probably my imagination. Fuck you, Bush!

-I noticed that Obama misquoted the Bible at one point. "It's time to put away childish things," he said. I assume he was referring to Paul's sermon on love from Corinthians. The passage actually reads "When I became a man, I put aside childish things." (The only reason I knew that off the top of my head was because we had to memorize the whole damn chapter in seventh grade).

-Nice to have a fun guy as Vice President again. Biden rocks too, just in case nobody noticed.

-CNN did something that made me laugh. After Obama's speech, the next speaker was poet-laureate Elizabeth Alexander, and while she was reading her poem, CNN cut to shots of people in the crowd packing up and leaving. If that's not America, I don't know what is. (The Daily Show noticed the same thing later).

-Still, I have to admit that after Obama, her poem really sucked in comparison. How must that feel, to be the poet-laureate for a president who actually has more flair for language than you do? She must have been thinking "How the hell am I supposed to follow that?"

-I was paying close attention to see if Obama would use his middle name during the oath. Yes, he did.

-I thought it was funny how Obama flubbed the first part of the inauguration oath. Except that it may have been John Roberts' fault. I wasn't quite clear on that. Basically, Roberts started out with "I, Barack Hussein Obama," which Obama began repeating, except that Roberts apparently wasn't finished. He went on with "...do solemnly swear..." and Obama had to sort of stumble to a halt. Then Roberts got the next line wrong. Revenge against Obama for voting against him at his confirmation?

-I didn't think Aretha sounded that good. Her voice was sort of raspy and thin.

yay

I got my Visa bill, and I somehow managed to come out of the Christmas season with more money than I had going into it. That feels pretty solid.

Meanwhile, Joe Rogan is coming back for another show next month. If you have the means, I highly recommend checking him out.

And since I haven't posted any pics in a while, here's something I threw together after work the other day. It's the Lion's Gate Bridge in the fog at 2AM.Collapse )

What's Been Going On? Not Much...Yet

Two days off. Chores chores chores. Laundry, cleaning, etc. I'm so domestic lately I could puke. All I need now is a wife with a high-powered career. While the laundry was going, I went mattress shopping. Not at the Brick -- I can't BELIEVE how much mattresses cost there. A bunch of springs wrapped in fabric...how can that be 1200 dollars? But Sleep Country had one for about 300, and I think I'll get it. Which means I'll have to spend that fifty-dollar gift card from the Brick on something else.

I had some time to kill, so I got chicken strips at Boston Pizza. Then I took the delivery car down to ICBC for an appointment with the adjuster; he just needed to see the repairs to the taillight and the bill for the work. It came to 200 dollars.

Then I just sort of loafed around the pad for the rest of the night. I've worked my way through seasons 1-4 of 24, and season 5 is almost finished downloading.

Now I'm watching the DVD of Soap that Nancy got me for Christmas. And while I'm watching it, something suddenly made me blink and sit up a little straighter: one of the characters, discussing where they're going to eat, says "I'm in the mood for chink food." And it wasn't from a character who was a racist or a jerk; it was just casually used. I was mildly shocked. This is a show which is celebrated for being ground-breaking and progressive; it had TV's first openly gay character. Was 'chink' still in such common usage just 25 years ago?

It was foggy that night. And I should have been excited about it. I love fog! I love how it makes everything look. It's as transformative as snow, without all the wet socks and stuck cars. I should have grabbed the opportunity to be out in it, taking pictures. Walking three blocks to 7-Eleven, I saw all sorts of great shots. But I just wasn't in the mood. I feel tired and bored lately. Maybe it's just that shots in the fog are so frustratingly hard to capture -- "Oh look at the cyclist silhouetted in the headlights of that car! Let me get my tripod set up...oh darn, the moment's gone." Or maybe it's that I just finished processing a massive project; twelve days worth of photos from my Rockies/Prairies trip last summer (remember Day 1 that I posted up here six months ago?). And I've still got the photos from that overnight stay in Hope to do too, so I'm just not in the mood to stack up another two hundred pics to work on.

Or maybe it's just the winter weather.

Anyway, I started reading a book that I got for Christmas before last, "Jupiter's Travels" by Ted Simon. It's about his experiences riding his motorcycle around the world. Predictably, it's got me lost in daydreams of doing the same thing one day.

It occurred to me, while thinking about picking up and taking off for the open road, that the one thing that holds me back more than any other is...stuff. I own so many things! Things that I don't want to lose. Things that would have to be taken care of while I was gone. If I took off for a few years, I'd have to either pay a lot of rent to keep my apartment, or pack everything up and put it in storage. Stuff weighs me down. And I don't mean frivolous things like gadgets and toys. I have a fairly large personal library that I'd hate to see lost, not to mention framed photos and autographs, and personal papers. If I were ever to become famous, researchers would have a field day going through it all; as it is, I'm frequently amazed and delighted at what I come across when I go picking through it. But it's a pain in the ass to move.

Still...around the world on a motorcycle. Someday...

I'll put it on the shelf right next to my other dreams of becoming a pilot and owning a log cabin in the woods. I love my dreams :)

And Now, The Rain

Yet another HUGE dump of snow on Sunday. Mel said to close the restaurant at eleven, but I closed at nine instead. Found out later that she was pissed off about it, but I don't give a fuck...it was the right thing to do. We weren't doing any business, and I heard that transit was shutting down, so how were people supposed to get home? Besides, it was nice to have a short shift. Relatively short...I still didn't get out until eleven.

Took the Yaris home, parked in the Safeway underground lot. Got a parking ticket the next day. Fuck.

Now it's raining. I guess the snow is finally over; it can't melt soon enough for me.

Monday sucked. Sometimes you just have this instinctive sense about someone; well, a customer came in, and I immediately had a bad feeling about him. It's possible I've seen him before, but couldn't remember. Anyway, he was alone, but ordered a shitload of food -- salad, garlic bread, wings, and a large pizza -- and he polished it ALL off. I was keeping one eye on him in case he made a run for it, but he came up to pay like anyone else. Except his cards were declined. He said he'd come in later to pay, and left his birth certificate and cellphone, but they probably weren't his. I've seen this scam plenty of times.

But I've got a phone again! Last night I sent a pissed-off email to Shaw, saying that I've been more than patient but two weeks was unacceptable and I wanted a reduction of my cable bill. THE VERY NEXT DAY a repairman knocked on my door. Took him about two minutes to fix. About freaking time!

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In honor of new years, here's my list of the best albums I downloaded in 2008:

AC/DC - Black Ice
B.B. King - One Kind Favor
Jamey Johnson - That Lonesome Song
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Hot Chip - Made In The Dark
Jackson Browne - Time The Conqueror
Lucinda Williams - Little Honey
Metallica - Death Magnetic
Duffy - Rockferry
Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Be Your Own Pet - Get Awkward
Beck - Modern Guilt
Black Mountain - In The Future
Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane
Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Girl Talk - Feed The Animals
Kaiser Chiefs - Off With Their Heads
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
Ne-Yo - Year Of The Gentleman
Portishead - Third
REM - Accelerate
Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely
Ryan Adams And The Cardinals - Cardinology
Santogold - Santogold
The Black Keys - Attack And Release
TV On The Radio - Dear Science
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
My mom is funny. She can't ever seem to just leave things alone. Example:

She wanted me to come over the other day and set her VCR to record a program. Now, she's not entirely helpless when it comes to technology, but she couldn't seem to figure out how to get it to work.

The funny part is, she used to have another VCR that she was perfectly capable of using, but for some reason, she got rid of it. I have no idea why, it still worked fine. But she just seems to be on this kick of getting rid of as much of her stuff as she can. Then she needs to buy more stuff. So she got another VCR, and it's a shitty piece of Stone Age crap. Even by VCR standards.

I had a hard time figuring it out myself, and she didn't make it easy by hovering over me while I'm trying to read the directions, asking me "So how do I make it work?" over and over. But eventually I got it.

Jeez, who even uses VCRs anymore?

Skip To The End For The Punchline

Boxing Day: It's snowing again. Heaviest dump so far. My phone is still out, and Shaw was supposed to send a repairman today, but naturally they never showed. Got an email from them later. Snow, you see. Got emails from Kelly and Lisa scheduling Christmas family night for next Saturday.

When I got to work, Jeremy told me that we weren't making deliveries at all, and he'd sent half the staff home. Later, Mel called and told me to close at ten. Of course, closing at ten doesn't mean we can get out at ten. Even without deliveries, we were busy. People kept coming in, despite the weather...the morons.

Nobody really got much of their cleanup duties started until after we'd closed. Charles was our only driver, and even though he had plenty of time what with not having to deliver pizzas and all, he was completely behind. The guy is a complete goldbrick...he takes forever to get anything done.

Anyway, eleven o'clock rolls around, and in comes Mel and Nathan. And they are surprised that we're still here. What can I say? This is the staff I got. Mel ends up doing most of Charles' dishes for him. After I finish, I wait on hold for half an hour to get a cab, and while I'm waiting, I mention to Mel, just as small-talk, that we're having our family get-together on Saturday, and she asks me out of the blue if I'd like to have it off! Thanks Mel!

I get home, and I've got an email from Lisa changing it to Sunday.

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But, at least I've got Saturday to goof off in. I make a new cheesecake because I ate the last one. I spend most of the day watching 24. I stay indoors as much as possible. I'm mostly healthy again, but why push my luck?

Sunday afternoon, Kelly and Lisa show up at my door. Phone's still not working, so they couldn't call up. Fortunately, someone let them in. I've got big packages, and cake. Ash St. is a mess. Christmas celebration, blah blah blah. Kelly and Jay liked the framed photos I got them (they made me take them out of the frames and sign them). Mom seemed to like the massage cushion, and Lisa liked the Muppet Show dvd. I think this was one of those years where I gave better than I got. I got socks. And money towards a new mattress. And Nancy sent me a dvd of Soap, season one. Dinner was particularly good this year.

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New Year's Eve. It's snowing AGAIN!!! I kinda-sorta-maybe accidentally fired Andy. How does that work? Well, I was all "Stop talking on your cellphone when you're supposed to be working," and he was all "You're not my boss" and I was all "If I say you're fired, you'll see how much your boss I am," and then ten minutes later I caught him talking on his phone in the kitchen again, and I'm all "What did I just tell you," and he's all "Whatever, peace," and he walked out. So let the semi-retarded mongoloid little punk get another job.

And then on the way home I got rear-ended in one of the delivery cars. GODDAM SNOW!!

Cwistmas is Wooined

This has been a BRUTAL week for me. I'm still sick, and can't seem to kick it. I've been working all the time. We've gotten three dumps of snowfall in Vancouver in the past five days, so I've been pretty much stuck to the immediate area. My phone has been out for days. And I haven't gotten any sleep for the last two nights. When I get horizontal, I go into coughing fits.

I've been trying to work around all of that to pull together my holiday plans. Monday was my sole day off before Christmas Eve, when our family gets together. First thing I had to do was bring back the delivery car that I had taken home the night before. I'd taken a chance and left it in the Safeway underground parking overnight, because our lane is so full of snow I couldn't drive the car through it (I got halfway, got stuck, had a nightmare getting it back out again). Fortunately, Safeway didn't tow it. I dropped it at work, took the bus home, then started shopping.

I was planning to get Kelly and Jay framed prints of my photos that I know they liked, and maybe one for Joyce too, so I went to Fotofun to order them. It was a struggle, because the panoramic size wasn't offered as an option, so I had to get it custom sized by the tech. I wandered around London Drugs hoping for inspiration, and eventually found a DVD of The Muppet Show season 2 that I thought Lisa would like.

Dad is easy...a bottle of whiskey. I can get that any time. Mom, I finally decided on a massage pad that fits onto any chair.

I tried to get to sleep early, but was woken up by coughing before midnight, and just couldn't get back to sleep at all. When Fotofun opened, I went to check on the prints. Found out I'd given them the wrong file for one of them; a web-sized version that couldn't be blown up. Had to burn another disk quickly and bring it back. At home, I tried everything I could to get to sleep, but eventually I just had to give up and go to work.

Awful shift. We were keeping delivery open, and people kept coming in. Nobody could get their cleanups started. Miko was serving, Charles and Mike O. were in the back, and Nancie in the kitchen. And I got in an argument with Shannon, after the group of friends she brought in stayed all the way to closing. I told them no more alcohol after 11:30 (which is the rule) and she forced Miko to serve them another jug. I told her she was being inconsiderate; nobody wanted to have to stay so late the day before Christmas Eve. She's such a hypocrite...if she's the closing server, and a group stays late and gets boozed up, she bitches about it constantly. Miko's a lot more patient than she is, and Miko was pissed.

Took me FOREVER to get out of there, and I was exhausted and stressed. Finally, after 2AM, I went home. Took the delivery car again. Couldn't go to sleep yet; Christmas Eve was the next day, and I still had a cheesecake to bake. When that was done, I tried sleeping, went into coughing fits again. Tried sleeping sitting up in front of the TV, that didn't work either. And it was snowing AGAIN!

Around ten AM, I figured I better get the car out of the lane while it was still possible. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to get it out, and I very nearly didn't. Dropped it off at work, Nathan was opening the place. He was irritable over the snow, over the fact that he had no server until noon, over his inability to find a lighter to start the fireplace, etc. I hid in the office and took the opportunity of a working phone to call Shaw about my phone not working. Had to stay on hold for a LONG time. While waiting on one line, I called Kelly on the other, and that's when she gave me the news:

"We're not getting together for Christmas this year."

Dad's place is way the hell out in Mission, and nobody wants to chance it. Mom's told us all to stay where we are. Nobody's too sure about when we'll reschedule things, but it won't be for a while....I'm working most days from Boxing Day to New Year's.

Goddam snow. I left the restaurant, took the opportunity of the liquor store across the street to get Dad's hooch, and some Nyquil for me, and took the bus home. I kept trying to come up with new lyrics to White Christmas to suit the occasion, because I really am dreaming of a green Christmas like the ones we USED to know... I didn't have much luck.

Got home, took a double dose of Nyquil. I expect to be out for a while.

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edit: woke up at six AM on Christmas Day. I'm watching Season 1 of 24, and around 7, I noticed that it was still dark, and for one panicky moment I thought it was actually 7PM, even though my watch said AM. It was kind of disorienting. Still can't go anywhere or call anyone, but I feel a little less sick anyway.

Silly thing to do when sick...

Couldn't wait for work to be over, but at least it wasn't too busy. Afterwards, since I had a delivery car to play with, I drove down to Stanley Park at 4AM to take pictures of the Lion's Gate Bridge. It's about -12 according to the weatherman, and snow on the ground, but the sky was fabulously clear. Hands went numb pretty damn fast though.

Long story short, pretty picture.Collapse )
I feel like warm shit on toast. I've definitely got the flu that's going around.

I hoped that 24 straight hours indoors, most of it in bed, would get me over the worst of it, but apparently not.

At least I'm past Wed and Thurs, the days I manage the place alone. Wednesday was incredibly slow, thank God, because Shannon and Jesse both called in sick. Must be nice.

Thursday was busier, but we also had more staff, so it wasn't too bad. If you don't count having no energy, being sore all over, and having practically no voice. I just wanted to put my head on the office desk and take a nap.

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I've put up a lot of my photos on Panoramio, and something funny is happening. None of my pics have gotten more than ten views yet, except for one...which has gotten 53. Which one? The pic of Oscar and Emma's house, from the show Corner Gas. It can't be because of the show itself, because I've got several other Corner Gas pics, and none of them have gotten anywhere near as many views.

Later....

OK, the party didn't actually turn out that bad. At least I knew most of these people. And I brought my camera, so I at least had something to do. I went from group to group, pointed the camera at them, did a little smalltalk, moved on.

I hate socializing. I always feel like I don't really belong, so I have to keep moving before it gets awkward. I hate feeling like everybody else is having more fun than me.

Mel put me in charge of the coin-toss, which annoyed me. I hate that she just assumes that since Steve doesn't like parties, he won't mind being stuck doing this instead. People would try to throw a toonie into a cup; if they got it in, their names went into a draw for a bottle of vodka or a 50-dollar Save-On-Foods card. I got revenge by actually winning the card myself. Alex got the vodka.

Mel and Nathan also roped me into giving Maria a ride home. Again, just because I'm not a drinker, people assume I'm willing to be designated driver. I go to these things mostly out of obligation; if they're going to take liberties like that, maybe I should just not go. I missed the handing out of prizes as a result. Miko got a 22 inch TV. Mike Simpson got an iPod Touch.

I was Mike's secret santa. I got him a McDonalds gift card. Three minutes later, he had a Flurry. Stas handed me a gift, said that Mel told him to give it to me, but Mel wouldn't tell me who my Santa was. Eventually, I found out it was Nancie, who seemed to be even worse off than me at parties. She spent most of the time playing solitaire on her phone. The gift was a book: The Encyclopedia of Immaturity.

There's been a shitload of drama going on lately about Stacy and her ex, John. John hit her a couple of times, so she called the cops and had him arrested. Then he slashed her new boyfriend Mike's tires, and then slashed the tires of all our delivery cars last weekend. In hindsight, I think I caught him in the act; I had gone out the back door Friday night to lock it, and saw some guy immediately take off running for a gap in the fence. At the time, I thought it was just some bum taking a leak in the parking lot -- that happens a lot.

That was the night that the snow started too. I took one of the cars home rather than ride my bike, then drove it back the next day, never even noticing that one of the tires was flat. It drove fine. That night, I had a hell of a time starting my bike. It's been having some issues lately. I think the battery is shot. I had to finally roll it down a hill to start it; even then it took several tries. Roll-starting a bike is a tricky thing to do when the roads are icy...I don't recommend it.

Speaking of which, it is COLD. After leaving the party around 1:30 (a very long time for me to stay at any party, BTW.) I went to WalMart to see if I could get some Christmas shopping done. And the air was so cold on the bare strip of skin on my neck, that it was actually giving me an ice-cream headache. Seriously. I could feel the cold blood cramping the muscles in the back of my head.

The cold weather continues. And to top it off, I'm getting sick. Swollen, achy throat. I had a weird dream in which I was incredibly thirsty, but no matter how much I drank, my throat wouldn't stop burning. Then, in the dream, I started to make snoring sounds just from breathing in and out. About that time, I figured out that I was dreaming, and that the reason that I was still thirsty despite all the drinking was that I was only drinking dream-water, not real water. Once I realized that, I knew that I could solve the problem by waking up and getting a drink, but since I knew what the problem was, it didn't seem like it was worth the effort. Eventually I woke up, throat all swollen, raw from snoring.

I slept forever. It was ten PM before I got up. Felt a little better at least. I went to the supermarket before it closed, bought some stuff to make Hamburger Helper, and some eggnog on a whim. I made the food, then as I stared at the quivering pile I realized I had no appetite for it at all.
OK, it's almost ten, and I'm leaving for the god-awful staff party now. With any luck, season two of 24 will have finished downloading by the time I get back.

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