Friday, March 31, 2006

More Friday snippets

- I took this picture Wednesday at 4pm. Next year, there will be towers of condos here. (At the empty lot at Thiemens and Cavendish for those of you who live here.)

- The more benefits your company offers, the harder you can be expected to work. (I teach at a company where the employees are treated to two massages per month at work. Sounds nice, eh? They are the most stressed out students I have.)

- The real trick to making a nuclear bomb is very similar to designing a can of beer that won't explode in the freezer. (I betcha didn't know that!)

- Since the mind stores dream memories in exactly the same way as "real" ones, how do we know our memories are "real"?

- If there were a food that smelled like diesel exhaust, I would eat it. I don't know why, but I adore that smell.

- I think if the word "them" didn't exist in our language (only "us"), we would view the world very differently.

- One of the things I appreciate most about new cars these days is the little symbol indicating which side the gas cap is on.

-I don't feel safe when bus drivers blab on their cellphone but I don't have the balls to confront them when they do it. I'm certain it's against regulations.

- I don't pay much attention to lyrics and (perhaps consequently) I listen to lots of music in different languages. Screw the poetry, I'm looking for genius in melody, rhythm and chord progression.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'm confused

Any science whizzes out there? (Adam?)

I've always understood that a liquid could not be compressed. In other words, any material in a liquid state cannot be "squeezed" into a smaller volume of space.

But now with all this global warming talk, I'm hearing of "thermal expansion" of the water causing sea levels to rise. But wait a minute, if adding heat to the ocean waters causes the water to expand, then wouldn't the converse also be true? That is, if we remove heat from the water, it will shrink?

That sounds like compression to me.

So where is my error? Something is amiss here.

I also learned that even if the whole arctic sea melted, the oceans wouldn't rise because the weight of the ice is already part of the sea level. (The arctic is landless as opposed to the antarctic.)

Sea levels will rise due to the thermal expansion mentioned before and from the melting of land locked ice. (The glaciers of Greenland for example.)

Alright enough of that seriousness. For HNT, let's get silly again. Here I am eating my "pudding cake" which I made during the cram-anything-into-my-mouth-except-cigarettes hell of the first few days of non-smoking. It's actually the filling for Banana Cream Pie made into little cakes. True to form, I put anything of such color and texture coming out of my nose for a shock pic. (This can't be helped, I think it's genetic) Happy HNT. (click here for more info about HNT)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Short on time

This is my new hellish Wednesday routine, gotta split before 6:15. Get home at 7:30 tonight. I know some people thrive on that kind of schedule, I'm more of a resenter when I have to deal with crowded public transportation at such an ungodly hour. This contract goes to mid June. Two months off after that. Two. Months.

Must hoard as much moolah now, so fun can be had.

Let's see, when I'm short on time, I at least owe a pithy comment.

Cheese is just carefully rotted milk.

What? You already knew that? Okay, how about this one?

Skyscrapers are just prisons with great views.

I'm out of here, goodday everyone.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Torn and Serge try their new video functions on the cellphone. We both have our arms extended with our phones, ostensibly videotaping ourselves.

Torn: Do you like your new cellphone Serge?
Serge: Hold on.
Torn: Do you like it? We are live on my cellphone.
Serge: We are also live on my cellphone.
Torn: Except that you're taking a picture in the other direction and I'm taking a picture of Us.
Serge: No, because I have two carmeras, there's one camera on one side and there's a cam, oh that's true (laughs). Oh c'est ben niaseux.
Torn: Yes, that's true....He's lame, he's lame, he's lame
Serge: Ben Nooo, no because I can take the camera from there garde, look..............
Torn: No, you can see, you're taking a picture of the broom!
The quality of the cellphone video wasn't too good, and then when I uploaded to youtube, it lost even more quality. Still, I thought it was a cute thirty seconds.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Spastic for spring

Sunday was a gorgeous day here, and as is the case when sun, spring and weekend coincide, Montrealers go outside. It is always a bit shocking to me when this starts to happen, over the course of the winter, I tend to forget how many people really live here. Spouse and I are not immune to this phenomenon and we also went outside a bit strolling down Ste-Catherine st from Peel to Papineau ( lemme see, about 4 km or so) with the throngs of others crowding the sidewalks and stores. The sidewalk peddlers were out, as were the music players, beggars and every imaginable sort of human being. All of us bound by the common Yippee that is these first few springy, sunny days that we get each year. It's almost like we're all buzzed, stoned on the same dope, silly grins on each of us.

Free things were offered on Ste. Catherine St. We accepted an offer of free Folger's, poured by cute guys carrying giant ads/thermoses on their backs. We declined the free Bible (three times, from three different people) and also the free admission to the XXX Sextease. This is part of the fun of crowded downtown areas, the "giveaway" form of publicity. (It's a treat sometimes on the subway too, you get out and there's people there giving away candy, soap, cereal, whathaveyou.) This is probably true of most large concentrated metropolitan areas.

What else....we saw V for Vendetta yesterday at the IMAX. I like any film that's presented on IMAX, and I enjoyed V. I wouldn't say it was awesome, but it was a nice light fluffy romp. (The deeper themes kind of got lost in the final edit I think. )

Alright then, I'll let you go, have a great week and we'll talk tomorrow. Mmmmwah!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Never means five and a half years

My second weekend without cigs is better than the first, but still not happy and sane. People seem to think I'm handling it so well, and I suppose it's true, I'm just waiting for the "I hate everything" part to go away. Dickey said he had a reasonably good mood after fourteen days, so maybe I have only 4 days to go.

Of primary distractive power this weekend, our new cellphones arrived with amazing features I wasn't really aware of. I am on record saying that I will never have a cellphone again, and for me, that translates to about 5 years. But wow! What they've done with these gadgets in the last five years! (And by the way, I hate, hate, hate myself for love, love loving this little hunk of metal and electric potential) I've made little movies (you'll see one soon I'm sure) and learned how to get them from my phone to the 'puter. I've taken photos (too bad they're not very high quality, but I have a camera for that) and yesterday, I made my own ringtone that I cut out of one of my favorite renditions of Brazil, the part where the orchestra pinnacles full with horns and human voices "Da, da da da da da da daaaaaaaaaa.". Silly, since no one is ever going to call me.

In other news, I went to see What the Bleep, Down the Rabbit Hole yesterday, and I could hardly sit through it. It was like a rehashing of the first, with many of the same scenes and gurus pontificating. Though there was one line that really hooked into me:

We are all living today as though it were yesterday.

And it's true, we all think we know how the day will be, it's planned, perhaps routinized, and are already planning tomorrow. So the "potential" or the gamut of possibilities in life are reduced, because we have already decided to live outside of "now". Seems lamentable, but how do you not plan your day unless you're wealthy enough not to work? And even then?

The picture above is from a Metro station here, and I really love it. It's a big gnarled tree with faces carved into it. By some well known artist, but I can't remember the name. Everytime I see it, it means something different for me. (Maybe that's how you can tell real art?)

Update: Wikipedia knows all about it here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Demonstrably reamed

In the evening, I have been working on the second scarf, knitting while watching/listening to television, and I am getting a little tired of doing the same thing, the same stitch, same yarn. Also, this scarf is taking much longer because of my employment taking up all my time. (I could get so much more done without that pesky job!) Anyway, I had a break Thursday in the afternoon and decided to go check out a yarn shop, maybe pick up some thicker yarn to do a "perfect" scarf, maybe for me, maybe as a gift, whatever. When I entered the shop which was crammed full of natural fibers and elderly women, the owner's husband started yacking it up with me trying to pin me down on what I wanted. (I felt like I had failed a test. I was supposed to prepare before setting foot in the shop.) I modeled my scarf as my first attempt and said I'd like to do something similar but with yarn three times as thick. (That means it'll go three times more quickly too.) And two colors. So he showed me some things and I chose three balls of yarn, went to the counter and then the owner went through all the information already hashed out with husband, and she said, "Well you need 3 more balls, that's not going to be enough," and waltzed over to the yarn to get me three more. Then we picked out the proper needles. Then she started writing everything in one of those little receipt books.

Now, for my first project, I picked up two skeins of yarn and some needles and will have 2 scarves out of it. It was $19. I thought this was reasonable.

So imagine my horror when she presented the bill to me. Remember, I had purchased enough yarn for ONE scarf. It was $70! As I tucked my $20 that I had pulled out into my pocket, I whipped out my visa and my heart sunk deep into my belly. I hate being had.

But wait. Then I call up Em to relate this whole incident and she seems to be completely nonplussed, and even evasive about it. I wailed, "What? You mean you were fully aware of the SCAM that is the local yarn shop? Are you kidding me? I could buy ten scarves at Walmart for the price of this little project!" (Not that I would ever, ever buy anything there, just sayin') And instead of answering the question, she said something like, "So what kind of yarn is it, what colors did you get?" all excited about my knitting purchase. This is called skirting, an evasive response that she excels at. Still, I had to laugh.

Maybe it's just my karma for being such a cheap bastard sometimes.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Detox snippets

With one week down and the rest of my life to go, I've observed the following changes as a non-smoker:

1. I have zero coughing. (this contrasts greatly with incessant coughing)

2. Even if they aren't smoking I can now smell a smoker in the bus, metro, elevator, or even just passing on the street. Like little smoke saturated incense bodies walking around. Ick.

3. Who knew food smelled and tasted so good?

4. Strange, but I feel less angsty when the patch is affixed to the left side of my body.

5. Smoking in restaurants is gross.

6. I've seen more movies in the theatre this week than I have in the last 3 years combined.

7. I ran all the way up the stairs out of the subway yesterday and was barely breathing hard. I couldn't do this a week ago. I would have had to stop before reaching the top.

8. Weight is being gained. (May or may not be related to number three)

9. While food is smelling so much better, other less desirable smells have also become stronger. I've gagged a couple times this week from (I'll let you imagine the kind of) odors.

10. I alternately lust after and find disgust with cigarettes. The body lusts, the mind finds disgust. Sigh.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

HNT - The crass edition

Number one, I'm still tickled over the noisy farting chair from yesterday. How can she stand there and say with a straight face, " It is such a source of embarassment, especially at parent-teacher meetings." And I keep imagining said meetings where an exchange might go as follows:

(Chair makes farting sound)

Teacher: Now let's talk about your son Timmy. (Ignoring the farting chair)

Parent: I'm sorry, do you need a moment to use the restroom?

Teacher: No, no, it's just this chair you see. (Writhes on chair to make it "fart" again) See?

The SNL writers could have such fun with this one.

Number two, my darling cousin sent me a little video yesterday about "redneck women". The very last thing that happens on the video had me crying last night watching it. If you dare, you can have a look see here.

And number three, I present "me and my meat" for HNT this week. If you're a meat eater, you can't go wrong with Pork Tenderloin. If you can't remember the name, just look for the "penis cut" of meat in the case. We marinated this in soy sauce and garlic, seared it, and then put it in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes. Pulled it out, sliced it into medallions and served. (We made a bit of peppercorn sauce too.)

Happy HNT! Don't know what HNT is? Click here to see the man who started it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


The top five Most Popular stories this morning on Cnn's online US edition are:

1. Man dies stuck in mud after running from deputies

I am inclined to read this one just to find out the mud/death connection. What, did he slip and fall head-first into a deeeeep puddle of mud? Did he escape the deputies by hiding in the mud and then realize he couldn't get out and died of starvation? Wow, I can really see why this is number one. I'll be thinking it over all day.

2. Ex-teacher sues over noisy chair

When I first read the headline, I thought it said noisy hair which immediately brought up a vision of Kramer. A noisy chair? Suing? This must be number two because of the "You've gotta be kidding" reaction to the title. What do you think, was it his chair or the student's chair, and is he suing for pain and suffering? Ok, I'm going to peek now...... Oh this is just too good, er bad, er appealing to the lowest common denominator:

Storer said the school failed to replace her chair, which made a "farting" noise whenever anyone sat on it, although other staff received new chairs. She said the chair was a source of embarrassment, especially at parent-teacher evenings."I had a nervous breakdown because of the ordeal I went through. It's just not fair that people can treat you like that," said Storer, who resigned in
September. She said she would never teach again.

3. Milwaukee boys vanish while playing

I hope they checked the trunk of the car!!!! (Remember that story? Big search for missing kids, but dead and rotting in the trunk of a car in the driveway - nobody looked there.)

4. Crocodile kills humanitarian professor

Are they trying to show irony? Humanitarian? Why add that part? Somebody thinks it's ironic that a humanitarian professor would be killed by a crocodile. I think the writer should check again the meaning of humanitarian and ironic. Somehow it has caught our attention anyway and is at number 4.

5. Prosecutors drop sex case against teacher

Well, that's no fun. We want to see the sex case proceed and we want to vilify the teacher and generate suspicion against all teachers. Dropped? Why? not enough evidence or something, sheesh.

(Ok, I just checked, I know why now, because she looks like a model and she said sorry and is being treated for bipolar disorder. Imagine if it had been a male teacher screwing a 14 year old student. I don't think the excuse would fly quite as well as it did for her.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pretend there's no title

You know the other day I revealed a rather personal tidbit related to spouse and my navel. (I was a little surprised at the disgust level expressed. A little thread balled up in there is pretty clean, it's not like it's in your pits, crack, or .......toenails, now that would be gross) And ever since reading it again a couple hours after posting, I have not been able to stop wringing my hands over my spelling error. Oh, sure, it was a simple "a" in place of an "e", but it is one of those hallmark words that people might use to gauge your intelligence. Having once belonged to the clan of perpetual intellectual superiority, I know of what I speak. I have been working hard over the past decade to extricate myself from the clan, but it has been a hard road. I have learned that "holes" in someone's knowledge or skill in any particular arena does not indicate that they don't have superior knowledge or skill in some other particular arena. I have equal respect (hell, maybe more) for the illiterate guy who can put an engine together without instructions as I do for a University professor, refined in his social habits but who is also scatterbrained. I didn't use to, but now, that is true.

Anyway, I have this policy not to fix any errors in my writing unless I catch it just after posting. I just want to keep it real. Sometimes it pains me to see "the the" or a misspelled word. Most misspelled words are typos (I don't need no stinking spell check) but once in a while I err for real (as in, not on purpose). Like last Friday. And I keep wondering if some small judgement has been passed based on the mistake, and then asking myself why I should possibly care. Anyway, I don't really know what I'm trying to say. I'm not stupid!

Did you figure out the word yet?

Day five of no cigarettes has dawned, and in my experience, this should be the last of the really difficult days, day four was harsher than I expected, just a constant gnawing need grating at the inside of my abdomen, though admittedly, less intense than day one. I just keep marveling at the bad feelings, and I keep telling myself, "You'll never have to feel this way again as long as you don't pick one up." And I remind myself that I'm 40, and what kind of pathetic man am I if I can't be in charge of myself. (The flog oneself with shame method) And finally, I keep remembering what my Grandpa said when he told me how he finally successfully quit, "I just didn't want this inanimate object to control my life, and then it became a war."

A war, indeed.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another Monday lady story

"Do you have any tickets available for Matchpoint at 1:30?" the elderly woman asked when she approached the lone employee working the movie-plex ticket kiosk. The young man didn't need to check anything to know that the film had tickets available and said, "Yes we do." The woman jumped right in, "Now wait one minute now, don't print the ticket yet. Have there been any tickets sold for the show, because I don't want to sit all alone in the theater." Now the young man had to perform a few clicks on his keyboard to see if any tickets had been sold, and once he found the information, he looked up and said, "No, there haven't." By this time a few more people had joined me in the line waiting to buy tickets, it was 12:15. The old woman spoke in the shouty voice of someone with hearing difficulties, "Well, now what about last week, were there any tickets sold for the same movie last week at the same time?" It didn't appear that his keyboard could help him now, and he replied, "I don't know ma'am, I wasn't working at this time last week." None of this seemed to bother the woman so much, she was going to hash everything out right there, and those of us who had the poor foresight to arrive at the theater mere minutes before our films would start would just have to wait. She continued, "Well now, I don't want to sit in a big movie theater all by myself and there really is nothing else I'd like to see. (then, as though someone is protesting her ideas) No, no, this is the only film I'm interested in seeing." At this point, I catch the eye of the guy working the booth, a real model of patience, and yet I detected the faintest exasperated hint of a roll of his eyes as she continued in her shouty voice, " Now can you tell me what time I should check back to see if any tickets have been sold." I was about to crack up watching this unfold especially as I watched the young man, and at the same time I had spurts of rage, unhinged as I was from my nicotine drip. Remember now, it's 12:15 and her movie begins at 1:30. The whole thing was so Seinfeld-y. The young man did not make some terribly biting and sarcastic remark to her question, he simply and cheerfully offered, "How about 1:00? Someone will probably buy a ticket by then." She says, "One o'clock you say, well I will just walk around for a bit, I need to get something for my daughter in law's birthday, and that should give me time to come back, Okay, thank you young man, I'll come back at one." As soon as she departed from the window, I rushed up to buy the tickets for our film which was already beginning. Behind me, I heard the old lady ask all the people in line if they were buying tickets for the 1:30 show and the young man and I finally shared a satisfying laugh together, not a word spoken, but both highly amused at the wacky old lady. Obviously no one in line was buying tickets for her show. But later, when I went to the bathroom during my movie, I saw people going into her movie, so I figured she got to see her film, and that made me smile.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Staying the course

So how long until the giant pit of need begins to shrink? As I recall, it's somewhere after the third day. Then it's more psychological. Definitely physical at the beginning, patch or no patch, there's a physical need for something, and this is what withdrawal is. Ugh. Probably worse for me, smoking over 30 a day as I was. You know the lion pacing wildly in his cage, or how Ricky wrung his hands fretting and pacing in the hospital waiting for the birth of Little Ricky? It's like that for me every waking moment. Ok, enough whiny pity ploys, here's how I made it through yesterday.

1. Went out to breakfast. Got the steak and eggs.

2. Went to movies. Saw Transamerica. It was a great flick, and much because it rang so true. Felicity's performance is remarkable. Smuggled in canned pop and candy.

3. Went shopping. Bought jeans, candles, dog playthings, and drooled over the just arriving air conditioners. (It's freezing still here, but the last two years, when we wanted to buy, they were all sold out. We need to buy this year BEFORE it gets hot.)

4. Came home, talked to Em on Skype, played Scrabble on the computer, paced a little, and then made hamburgers.

5. Watched 12 Monkeys and knitted. Stopped knitting to cram a package of beef jerky, and a package of skittles, and a frozen drumstick ice cream cone down my throat. Wrong, you say? Please, I invite you to go sodomize yourself. At least I made it to bedtime without failing.

6. Felt deep, deep gratitude for all the supportive comments I've received. Believe it or not, it really seems to help take the edge off. I love you people, even if I'm crankified.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

33 hours and counting

Well I made it the first day. That means that I am capable. Capable of being an asshole that is. There was just no happy feeling shit yesterday, and when Spouse came home after Happy Hour, tossed his cigs on the coffee table, pulled one out and readied to light it, I about lost it. Picture this:

There's me in my jammies gnashing my teeth, working on knitting the scarf for him, watching I Love Lucy the second season, and slowly adding to the detritus of wrappers on the coffee table - drumstick, beef jerky, gummi bears, etc. It's after nine, and I am so close to the finish line for the day, I can taste it. I can't wait to go to bed, because only then will I escape the terrible withdrawal symptoms. Like every cell of my being craves something, and I know what it is, but I can't give in. So he arrives a bit wobbly from the libations and gets all ready to talk to me and does the cigarette thing I already described. Horrified, I whine, "What are you doing, how can you do that to me, that's, that's ....", and then my mind does silly things like contemplate having one. He responds with a dozen sorrys and rushes back to the smoking room in the back (same room where the exercise equipment is) . I stay put.

When he came back, I don't really remember what happened, but I know that I eventually called him a bad name, (it doesn't matter that I can't remember why, he deserved it, or at any rate, I deserve to be able to call him a bad name on the first day of no smoking) and went to bed.
And now I'm awake again to face day two, another day of jagged thoughts and barbed feelings. How come it's supposedly harder to quit cigarettes than heroin, but I don't get to have any methodone? You know, a little methodone would be nice I bet, really rout out this dagger of angst inside.

Or general anasthesia, can I sign up for three days of that? Why, that would be the way to go, just skip these first three days, poof, erased from conciousness.

Ok, I'll go, have a good weekend, I think you know how mine'll be.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Snippets 3

1. I'm very good at remembering my keys, but very bad at remembering to lock.

2. I'm the horniest when I'm sick. I don't know why, maybe a built in instinct - procreate before you die!

3. I talk to trees, plants and animals. Even though they can't talk back, they hear me.

4. If you don't say something immediately when I pick up the phone, I will hang up on you.

5. My toothbrush needs to have "hard" or "firm" bristles. Otherwise, it's like cleaning the lasagna pan with Kleenex. Ineffective.

6. I can say, "I'll get you my pretty, and you're little dog, too" with the exact intonation of Margaret Hamilton. It hurts my throat to do it though.

7. I'm still waiting for the pharmaceutical companies to come up with something I might actually consider taking - like a good mood pill with no come-down.

8. Sometimes lint collects in my bellbutton. (why is that anyway?) When spouse notices it, he will promptly pluck it from my naval and eat it. (I swear.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HNT and quit day

Ever wonder what your face would look like if it were perfectly symmetrical? They say that the more symmetrical your features, the more attractive you are. But after this little experiment, I think I prefer nature's design. Click here to see more on HNT.

Tomorrow is my quit day. As in quitting cigarettes. It has been a while since I've attempted to stop and I am highly motivated. I've cleared the weekend of duties so I can focus solely on distracting myself - movies, food, walks, more food. I do have to work tomorrow morning so I'm a little worried about that, but I'll be using the patch as a crutch for a few weeks to help me get through.

I don't know if I'll be blogging these first couple days of quitting, you'll just have to wait and see.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Way back when I was just getting into blogging which started as mostly a way for me and a couple long distance friends and family members to keep apprised of the goings on in life, I wrote a story about someone who made an impression on me when I was young. That story was Gina Limongelli, which I have kept in the "stickiest crows" section of links at the left. If you haven't read it, it's worth a read, because I relate one of the funniest stories I've ever heard which came from her life. The last time I saw her was 29 years ago. I was 11.

Apparently, the advent of Google has made the world that much smaller, and her siblings contacted her to tell her of the story on the internet and contacted me to let me know I had written about their sister. Then I received a wonderful memory sharing letter from her, and was so thrilled to learn that she remembered me. She remembered lots in fact, and we have corresponded since. This was just a couple days ago. But I find it so interesting to look at two completely different realities that were present in the same situation. I was a kid feeling trapped in a prison. She was working, going to college, just a stepping stone to her future. But somehow we made a certain connection, I'd like to say bond, and it seems so easy and natural to communicate once again. And all because of the internet miracle. Internacle? (This kind of word combining is called portmanteau, which I learned yesterday from Adam)

Also, I've discovered that there's 8 years between us, which means we are both in our 40's. Practically of the same generation. But at the time, being a kid, there seemed to be an unbelievably big difference in our ages. It would take forever before I would be as old as her. It makes me laugh how our perception of time changes over our lives. Accelerate comes to mind.

Anyway, I've had a nostalgia smile on my face the last couple days digging through my memories of that part of my life, which are incredibly dim and entangled, like looking for a key that someone threw in the bushes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I work for you

Last week, I told a funny story about some commercials I had done here. Over the weekend, I tore through the boxes in the basement (do people really ever fully unpack when they move?) and found the videocassette with the spots.

I won't go into the details of how we got it from cassette to computer ( we're idiots ok? if I tell that story, that will be your conclusion) but we managed to do it, though the quality is rather poor.

Anyway, here's the link to the three videos. The story I told last week was about the third one there. Don't blink or you'll miss the KISS at the end. Enjoy.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The unfortunate outing of the lady on the bus

She got on the bus with voluminous effort, hoisting one elephantine leg at a time up the two step entry. Her dismay shouting from her eyes, she fumbled with her fat hands, and with some difficulty managed to unclasp her shiny black purse to take out her bus pass. She flashed her pass to the driver and took two of the first three seats inside the door, the middle occupant having slid to the third in horror. (But she didn't notice this part.) Her face was tired and full of hope given up. There were two deep creases between her eyes giving her a perma-vexed look. She brushed her grey and black bangs from her eyes and exhaled a long sigh. She took notice of a sensation below her breast and absently poked at it and scratched. Then she licked her finger and annointed the spot with a bit of her saliva. She made a quick scan of the bus occupants and I caught her gaze for a moment. I had my Jesus face on, shining with compassion. A small bead of sweat trickled from her temple and she fumbled again to unclasp her purse. She jammed her taut sausage fingers into the bag and seemed to be stirring the contents as with a baton. Her newly found frustration was getting the best of her and she lifted the purse and jammed her hand to the bottom, held it out in front of her and shook it violently while she peered into it sideways. Then her face changed and she mumbled, "Ah" and a small smile spread across her lips. Nodding her head and smiling, she unzipped the side pocket of the purse to retrieve a tissue with which to wipe her sweaty face. She dabbed herself about the forehead and cheeks clearly amused with herself for having forgotten, almost chuckling to herself. Then she had her used, wet tissue in her hand, and like a very small child, and I mean very small, she looked into the air up and to the left, a nowhere point, and slowly slid her coconut fist to the side and dropped the tissue in the crack next to the seat. It fell and tumbled a couple inches into the aisle. Then the attention came back into her gaze which did not have the scope to see the used tissue on the ground. ( Her rotund frame provided ample blocking of her sightline.) She let out a big satisfied sigh and turned to look out the front window. Her body jolted and she gasped. She pushed the button to signal her stop and she turned back into miserable, frustrated woman, rising from her seat (again with great difficulty) and trepidatiously stepped off the bus, having missed her stop who knows how many stops ago. I watched her from the back window as she slowly crossed the street to wait at the bus stop on the other side, black cloud and all over her head.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Definitely skippable

I've sat here for a good 20 minutes wondering what to write about. While it may appear effortless, the constant issuing of posts, varied and (journalistic? diaretic?) in nature, the way I write here, let me assure you that there's a wee knot inside always tensing and narding itself up about it. Especially when it comes to days like this, with nothing all that scintillating to report.

Yesterday, I did the taxes.

And I filed electronically over the internet for both federal and provincial. Then I realized that I had probably made a mistake. I said to myself, there was no place to mark the sale of our home last year. Later, I remembered the question, Is there any other income received that you did not report above? Maybe that's where I should have put it. Oh well, as I understand it, it's tax free, the appreciation of your principal residence. I'll call or something.

I told you it wasn't scintillating.

The weather has changed (see, another exciting topic) and we hit 50F for the first time this year yesterday. I took Sara out again for a walk yesterday afternoon, and it was really slushy and muddy in the park. T'was beautiful and sunny though.

Okay, I'm boring myself. See ya tomorrow.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Comment responded

Comments are such a fun part of blogging. I enjoy leaving them and receiving them. I'm reaching in the bag to respond to 4 comments this week:

On yesterday's post, Em asks:

So when we are grateful for the suffering we are more deeply aligned with our original intent? (In your scenario I mean.)

No the grateful part comes from analyzing why you chose this life, that's when you'll think about all the incredible wonderful things you've experienced that you wouldn't trade for the world. The suffering part, I mean during it, if you think you're SUPPOSED to be living it, and already KNEW that you would live it, then it wouldn't be so hard. That's all. It wasn't clear, I just expect (foolishly) everybody's brain to make the same leaps as mine.

On HNT, Coffeedog asks:

Lesseem you are pressing about 70 lbs there in that pic?

Well actually, I think it's more like 100. That's an olympic bar (40/45lbs?) plus 55 on it. So around 100 pounds, assuming the bar is 45.

If you're curious, other common exercise/weights currently being performed
At 3 sets of 6 - 8 reps:
Incline bench/140

For my 6 things (remember the dog) that help me get through the day, a rare commenter Jack Hamster commented:

I'd have to say that most of us have it pretty damn easy actually... Real suffering is something that most of us have not experienced.

I agree completely and think that we should remind ourselves daily how lucky we are. On the other hand, I think humans are meant to suffer, whether it's for lack of resources, or some terrible emotional trauma. We all experience disappointment based on our expectations whether we live in a poor village or a rich suburb. I don't agree that the suffering of losing one's mother or laying down with the flu is any different for anyone. That suffering is universal.

Finally, from the post last Saturday on Scrabble, Colleen (a friend of Chunks) writes of her sister's similar fixation with the game and asks:

Aa - did you know aa was a word? And xi? I didn't!

Why yes Colleen, I did know. In fact, (I swear I'm not proud of this) I know every two and three letter word in the English language. The twos are easy, there's only 96 of them, including other gems like OE, HM, and AI. There are hundreds of threes, and some of my favorites include CWM, PHT, EAU, and EDH. Let's not get into the fours, I've already exposed enough geekiness for the day.

Thanks again for all the comments, I think there was a record number this week which is pretty darn cool. Good weekend all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

This is when I dig my job the most

In order to fire up conversation in the ESL (English as a second language) classes I give, I introduce questions that are likely to inspire a variety of opinions. Yesterday we were discussing the following statement:

No one chooses their country of birth, so it is foolish to be proud of it. Agree or disagree.

One student pointed out that it was right to be proud because in that way, we honor our ancestors who came before us.

Another student agreed in principal but since the world is divided into countries, why not be proud of "yours".

I stated my opinion that if we are proud of our country, we are really stating that our country or "we" are superior to others.

And then one of the quieter students spoke up. I disagree, she said, because I believe that I did choose this life.

I thought "Ooooh, now we can delve into some deeper philosophical stuff." At the same time, the other students were exchanging "she's crazy" glances at each other.

A cursory discussion ensued touching on Buddhism, and tales seen on "mystery files" about past lives.

With class time waning, I seized the moment and asked the class to do a small writing assignment for homework:

Regardless of what you think about reincarnation, I want you to ASSUME that you did indeed choose this life.

Now write down why you chose this particular life. Minimum 200 words.

I'm interested to hear their thoughts because I hope that it becomes a lesson in gratitude.

After all, if we experience bad situations, but we "know" that we chose this life, the bad situations become less about "why me?" and more about, "what am I supposed to be learning from it."

And that my friends, is a better perspective, regardless of the "truth".

Thursday, March 09, 2006

HNT working out

Here I am doing my home workout on the Nautilus all-in-one home gym. We have renovated every room in the house except this one. This summer we are planning to gut it and make it our bedroom. At that time, I have agreed to sell the equipment and go back to a public gym.

In our last place, we had 2500 square feet and the gym equipment took up a small slice of space in the loft. We actually had too much space there and resented heating it in the winter. Now that we've downsized to 900 square feet, having a home gym makes us feel cramped. I love the convenience of working out at home, but I miss being inspired watching others in the public gym.

Happy HNT!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A funny story

A few years ago, I was approached by a casting scout (in a subway station) to see if I would be interested in auditioning for a commercial. She thought I would be perfect blah blah blah. After two auditions, I was selected for the role. It was a non-union gig, four day shoot, 14 hours a day, $25 an hour. I was still waiting for my final working papers which I would receive the last day of the shoot, which also happened to be my birthday.


We did four 15 second commercials, much of it in front of the green screen. They were ads for the science fiction channel - Canal Z - touting itself. On the last day, we were shooting on location in a scrapyard outside of the city. It was a complicated shot where Miriam (in photo) and I were strapped into a junked car, I was shirtless, and had a prosthetic "slot" in my back where Miriam would insert a card, thus causing us to become amorous and closing the shot with a kiss. It took hours. We were very uncomfortable in our positions strapped into the car. But after four days, we had gotten quite comfortable with one another. We had to do the kiss about a dozen times. On about the 6th time, the director wanted us to "hold" the kiss for 10 beats.

So there we are, lips locked, and we are holding it. I glance into Miriam's eyes and a small giggle starts to wiggle up her body. It's too much for me, and I let a laugh snort out my nose causing a huge stream of projectile snot to coat her cheek. The cameraman, doing a closeup, let's out a huge "Whoa" and laughs heartily. And a few others let out gasps. I am mortified, but cannot move, our arms having been immobilized. One of the assistants rushes over with a towel to wipe Miriam's face. She is laughing, but doesn't know of the terrible thing I've done. I turn 17 shades of purple, and sorry sorry sorry but you started it kind of talk.

The ads ran for a couple of years but are no more. I think I have them on video tape somewhere. The only pic I have of the experience is the one above.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What helps me get through the day

1. Life is hard and full of suffering. Only once you accept that, does it become easier.

2. When you understand that you can control your feelings, you will stop giving time to the bad ones. Like jealousy and guilt.

3. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

4. The only thing that really exists is this moment, now.

5. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the power to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A cold walk in the park

Dear Spring,
I think that I can speak for all of us up here in the great white north when I say that we are anxiously awaiting your arrival. And though it appeared that you were stirring way back in January, it appears that you easily fell back into a deep sleep. But now as the sun prods your sleeping ass from your den in the sky, you only get to hit the snooze button for two more weeks.

We have missed you.

Over these long winter months, we have tried to embrace the old man, albeit through a dozen layers of fabric. We have been amused by snot-cicles, we have bitterly resented the harsh north wind. We have become fully aware of the filth one produces cooped up inside all the time. We have been cold.

I hope this letter finds you well rested and ready for another exciting year waking up the trees and inviting earth's creatures back to enjoy the explosion of life you induce. We are ready to come alive too.

Peeing my pants with anticipation,


Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'll read about them in the morning

So tonight is the Academy Awards. And like the anticipation of the 4th of July and Easter, my Oscar interest has faded from its one time title of - not to be missed party nights of the year. One year I even went and sat in the bleachers, dying from heat and thirst and the lack of toilet access. With each passing year, I'm familiar with fewer and fewer nominated actors, and I'm lucky if I've seen one of the nominations for best picture. Plus now it starts at NINE whereas when you live in California, it starts at six. I can't stay up to watch the good awards given out after my bedtime since tomorrow is a work day.

Yesterday we reconnected to the satellite, after a 3 month television hiatus. Until then, I had no trouble making do with 3 snowy channels and the I love Lucy collection. But. Then I remembered about surfing, and tempted by her many channels, sat down to peruse the list of channels I had forgotten about months ago.

We have OutTV? SexTV? I forgot about that. Oh look here, Discovery, How It's Made. I see how a fishing lure is made. I know my mother makes fishing lures. I ponder the art of fashioning an object that tempts a creature to give up its life. It is fascinating. Oh and what's this? A Woody Allen film on the Film Channel. Mighty Aphrodite. I watch the entire film. I think about the absurdity in which he casts life, the view I suppose he strives for in reality. His stories enchant me, if not his on screen persona. I flip again.

A story following two very hot guys working as paid escorts on SexTV. One digs his job, the other is trying to get away from it. I identify more with the latter.

Getting late, Oh. My. God., I forgot about Meteomedia. Meteomedia is the French weather channel and played a huge help in my learning the language. With images to help you know what is being talked about, and the frequent repetition of such programming, I spent many months watching trying to decipher the language. Of course now, I'm not even aware it's in a foreign language. I watch for ten minutes and go to bed.

With all these possible distractions, I can say with some fair certainty that I'll skip the awards show and surf again tonight.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Some dull Scrabble talk

I play a lot of Scrabble in my free time. Actually, I play "Literati" on Yahoo games. It is a Scrabble rip-off, apparently licensing the original is too costly. Anyway, I've got Scrabble word books, and I've learned a great many words by having obsessed on another game a couple of years ago. The online version of Boggle helped me learn many words that I have no clue of the meaning. So what am I trying to say? I play a mean game of Scrabble.

On-line, when you play, there is a chatbox below that publishes the players comments and the score made after each turn. Most of the time the chat is limited to a Hi and Good Luck at the start of the game, and a Good Game at the end. But once in a while, a player gets quite nasty because they suspect I'm cheating.

It is simple to cheat, you download an anagramming program, enter the letters, and poof - all the possible words from those letters are displayed. But this takes the fun out of the game. There is no challenge to the mind, it just becomes a simple puzzle. So I don't cheat.

In my experience, those that accuse you of cheating are actually cheating themselves. Here is a recent exchange:

Fuhkieu: (Clever moniker don't you think?) Remotion?

I had just put an "r" in front of his "emotion" and also accessed a triple word score in the process.

Tornwordo: Yes, I think it's used in court speak.

Fuhkieu: Uh-huh. You know you're anagramming.

Tornwordo: I'm not, so I'll take that as a compliment.

The game continues, and he makes a poor play opening up a great spot with a triple word score. I play the word "ziti" for 56 points.

Fuhkieu: Ziti? right.

Tornwordo: Uh, it's one of the pastas in the pasta aisle in your supermarket.

Fuhkieu: Shaddap, it's fucking cheaters like you who are ruining this game. And you're arrogant too.

Tornwordo: Let's analyze that statement, you expose your ignorance and go judging someone, but I'm arrogant.

As he furiously types some lame-ass response, the allowable time to play elapses and I have a choice to make him force forfeit. I do, and promptly boot him from the table.

Then a little cackling.

Friday, March 03, 2006

C'mon get happy

Yesterday was a day of rebirth. Though I woke up with lingering mucus clogging the respiratory system, I could tell that the virus had been whipped and I was a real human being again. I was in a great mood, albeit coughy and sniffly. All day, I wanted to grab everyone and shout. "Hey, I'm alive, isn't that great?" Of course I didn't do this, and expose my lunacy and all.

Later that morning, I passed a street performer in the underground city tunnels doing an accapella version of "Don't worry, Be happy." I caught myself starting to skip. As the veil of sickness had been lifted, so had my vitality returned. Nothing could ruin the mood.
The students had fun classes yesterday and the freshly fallen snow from the night before shone crisp and bright in the March sun. All day long I kept wondering, "How can a rigorous work day be so much fun. Why can't I hang onto this feeling for everyday?" And then I remembered that with suffering comes growth, and that there can be no joy without pain. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.

I had two conversations with strangers on public transportation. And I didn't hate it.

Then, on the way home at 5:30, the train arrived and as it slowed I saw that the car that was due to stop in front of me was oddly very sparsely peopled. All the other cars were crowded. What luck I thought, I'll even get a seat (which never happens at that time of day). I entered, as did a dozen other people. What's that smell was my first thought. It was a bad smell but I couldn't identify it right away. The doors closed and I looked around to try to identify where the smell was coming from and what it was. I noticed that people were covering their mouths with gloves and scarves. Then I saw him. A homeless guy, sleeping, with a rotting foot sticking out from one of his soiled pantlegs. So this was the smell of carrion I thought. I cough-gagged and little tears squirted from my eyes. I turned to the lady next to me who had a very angry look on her face, which made me giggle, and then she started giggling too. The teenage girls on the other side of me were huddled at the door, waiting for it to open at the next station to switch cars. A lot of people did this, and a fresh mob of people got on. I watched as it dawned on them too, that they had entered the world of rotting flesh.

And I really tried to think about why this man isn't being cared for, and to have some compassion, but it just wasn't going to happen with that tastable smell. (I tried breathing through my mouth and I swear, it tasted something. gakk.)

And when I got off at the next station to change trains, I felt reborn all over again.

Isn't life grand?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

HNT and the little spat

Well I figured I owed some skin this week, so I reenacted something that keeps happening in the shower. When I bend over to soap up the legs, sometimes I accidentally shut off the water with my ass. I hate it when that happens.

Last night we had a wee bit of marital discord. This often happens when one member of the couple tries to do something nice for the other member, but in doing so, ends up screwing something else up. You're not supposed to get mad at someone when they try to do something nice for you. But mad, I got.

See, spouse decided to "clean up" my computer. Apparently, he felt it was performing slowly, so while I was feverish in bed, he took to defragmenting the computer and getting rid of unused programs. Here's the problem. Just because HE doesn't use a program doesn't mean I don't.

So when I tried to edit some text, I no longer had Microsoft Word, and when I tried to edit a picture, I no longer had Microsoft photo editor. Oh and he also erased the program I use to download the pictures from the camera.

I was pissed. But I wasn't allowed to be because, after all, his intentions were to help.

Anyway, he installed other programs (the ones HE uses for such tasks) so that I can work with my text and pictures. It's just I'm still a little bitter because I now have to train myself on the new procedures.

He still thinks I should be thanking him.

I said, "I'll thank you if you promise not to delete any programs without asking me first."

To date, he refuses to promise this.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A sucker's game?

If you buy it, it will go down. This seems to be my own murphy's law of investing. I know the stock market is like one big casino, but since there's no "house", you would think you could have better luck than in Vegas. For me this is not true. Back in the 90's I invested ten grand over 3 years into a mutual fund that today is worth five grand. I once owned ebay stock (mistake, mistake) and in January, I was convinced that google could not lose so I bought a hundred shares.
Turns out, I bought at the peak, and have lost 25 percent in a month. Ugh.

The only good investments I have made have been in real property.

Let this be a lesson to you. (and me)

By the way, I'm definitely on the mend, despite my tossing and turning night last night. I feel bad for my students with a wheezy, sickly professor germifying the classroom. I will be sympathetic when they catch what I've got. Poor dears.