Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Moldy Wallpapers

I'm not really happy posting the wallpapers I've created here, so I've created a second blog called Moldy Wallpapers (for More Or Less DailY Wallpapers) for that purpose. All the wallpapers you find there are of my creation.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sopranos Desktop 2

The next in my series of Sopranos desktop wallpapers.

Driving Ms. Dimwit

Yesterday, I drove to Toronto with a good friend of mine (let's call him "Gary", because it is his name). Now, Gary is a great guy - very funny, intelligent, and a good laugh. His driving skills are fine ... except when it comes to parking. When it comes to parking, Gary is ... special.

He's ok with the actual act of parking (parallel parking, straight in parking, etc.): his problem is he doesn't actually know how to find a parking spot. Take Sunday. Gary had a meeting in Toronto, and asked me if I wanted to come along for the trip. I said sure, and off we went.

We arrived in Toronto, and Gary found a parking lot and parked his car. Now, at this time, I have no idea that Gary has chosen this spot at random, with no consideration or knowledge of the whereabouts of our destination. We headed outside, into the cold, cold rain, and I asked him where we were going. He grunted something, and started to walk. I followed along, and after 4 or 5 blocks, asked where we were going. He didn't reply, so I naturally started to mock him about not knowing where he was going.

After another couple of blocks, he admitted that we were going to One-of-a-Kind Pasta for lunch, which was fine by me. I asked him why he parked so far away, and he grunted, and we kept on walking. After another couple of blocks, I asked him if he knew where the place was. He said "I know where it is, just not in relationship to where we are now".

That statement kind of floored me. I mean, I guess its cool to know where a place was in theory, but in practice it is more important to know where it is in relationship to where you are. At least, it is if you're walking around in the cold, cold rain, trying to find the place.

I asked him why he picked that parking spot if he didn't know where the restaurant was. No real answer. Of course, I naturally started to mock him at this point, pretty severely. Eventually, he gave up and we hailed a cab ... and the driver didn't know where the restaurant was. Gary told him to forget about it, and just turn left at the next light so that we could go to a different restaurant (the whereabouts of which Gary was apparently aware of) and the cabbie kept driving straight.

We told the cabbie to turn left again, and he kept going straight. So we told him to stop, and got out. We started wandering again, passing numerous perfectly good restaurants, while Gary searched for ... well, hell, I don't know what he was searching for anymore. Eventually we found a Popeyes, which was apparently the place Gary was searching for, and we went in and had supper.

After Popeyes, we took a walk to Gary's meeting place ... which was about 7 blocks away from the restaurant. Now, bear in mind, there were quite a few places near Gary's meeting place we could have eaten at. For some reason, he parked in a random location, and we ended up wandering for about 12-15 blocks, and taking a cab ride, wandering around lost. Gary, for his part, maintains that we were not lost, but simply that we did not know where we were in relation to where we needed to go.

At the meeting place, we discovered a very nice parking lot directly beside it. Yeah. We still had about 20 minutes before Gary's meeting, so I decided to find a coffee shop to hang out in while I waited. Across the street was a restaurant called "Le Service" which turned out to be an upscale, preppy kinda place. We went in, and sat down and had a cup of coffee. A $2.20 cup of coffee that tasted like shit.

When Gary headed off for his meeting, I wandered off until I found a Second Cup I could wait at. After the meeting (where I pointed out the nice, neat, close parking lot), we hailed a cab for the $10.00 cab ride back to the place Gary parked the car.

So, to break things down:

Parking Fees: $7.00
Cab Fees: $18.00
Time Spent In the Cold, Cold Rain: 1 hour, 14 minutes
Discovering your Friend is an Idiot: Priceless

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sopranos


I don't know if I have mentioned this before or not, but I am a huge Sopranos fan. This series shows that television is capable of producing genius. I won't go on and on, but I do encourage you to watch the series if you get the chance. Start with the first season, get them on DVD, and sit down and watch them all over a few days, and you will begin to see how brilliant the show is.

Enough gushing. Above is the first in a series of wallpapers I am making. I'm going to throw them up here for anyone interested in downloading them.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Fish in the Bush

Ok, normally I avoid talking about politics, for several reasons. First off, political discussions tend to devolve into flame wars, and I despise flame wars (if you every find yourself in a flame war, stop posting. Seriously. Remember the adage about arguing with an idiot). Secondly, the vast majority of political discussion is absolutely meaningless noise; nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Today's scandal is forgotten tomorrow. Take things like the Clinton sex scandal or Whitewatergate. Huge scandals that, in the end, were just sound and fury.

Today, however, I would like to to chat briefly about George W. Bush, Google, and Jack Abramoff. Now, as you may know, the Bush Administration is trying to force Google into releasing their search records - all of them for a one week period - so that the government can check everyone's search queries to find terrorists. Google, for their part, says that they value their users' individual right to privacy, and has refused to do so.

Now Bush says that Google is bad, because they need to be able to fish through Google records looking for possible bad guys. They don't have any evidence of actual bad guys, or any evidence that indicates that this data contains information about any specific bad guys. They just want to fish through the results to see if there are any bad guys there.

Now, on a seemingly different but related note, the Bush administration is being called upon to release records of all official government meetings with Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist recently convicted of nasty, illegal activities (wow, who would ever have suspected a lobbyist of illegal activities? The fact that the US still allows lobbying is fucking insane). The Bush administration is refusing to release this information, because they refuse to "engage in a fishing expedition."

So lets break this down.

GOOGLE RECORDS: MAY contain evidence of illegal activities, but there is nothing to indicate that this is true.

WHITE HOUSE RECORDS OF ABRAMOFF MEETINGS: MAY contain evidence of illegal activities; in fact, there is very good reason to suspect that they do.

So, the White House refuses to allow others to "fish" for information in situations where their own privacy is violated, even though there is very good evidence to indicate that illegal activities took place. However, they are more than happy to fish for information in Google's records of the activities of private citizens, who seem to believe that they are entitled to a certain degree of privacy. Even though they are not following any specific leads, and just want to see what they might find.

A Rantback Fortune Cookie for the White House and Mr. Bush: If you want to fish, you ignorant fucks, do it in your own pond.

Source: http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/PollVault/story?id=1547685

Thursday, January 26, 2006

DIET: WEEK 15

STARTING WEIGHT: 281.6 pounds
THIS WEEK'S CHANGE: + 1.0 pound
TOTAL WEIGHT LOST: 30.6 pounds
CURRENT WEIGHT: 251.0 pounds
Hmmmm. Seems I gained a pound. Not really sure how that happened. Unless it was that hamburger. Or the pork roast and mashed potatoes I had for supper last night. Or the deep-fried chicken strips that came with my Wendy's salad yesterday. When I ordered the salad, I had no idea the chicken strips were deep fried. I mean seriously, who the hell deep fries chicken to serve with a salad?

Ok, so I'm blaming outside forces when the blame lies with me. I may have ordered the chicken without knowing it was deep fried, but I still chose to eat it.

I keep telling myself that I have plateaued. I need to get back on the points, and start tracking them again. Its just something about the point tracking system that helps me maintain my discipline. So, next week we'll see if I can actually get myself to go back on the system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

American Idol

Ok, I've ranted about this show before, and I'm going to do it again. I'm not a fan of American Idol. No sir, not one bit. Most of the show is fine, but I don't like it when they take the no-talent dweebs, put them on the air, and bitterly and angrily mock and belittle them. There's just no reason for it other than shaudenfreude. For some reason, people seem to like to watch other people get put down and abused. I don't understand that at all.

Now, as mean-spirited and nasty as this show is, apparently they are now about to develop a "mean streak". Whereas before, Simon limited his vitriol to attacks on the person's singing skills, he is now expanding his repetoire to attacks on people's appearance, sexuality, and weight. After one overweight contestant sang (very, very well, by the way), Simon joked that the show was going to need a bigger stage.

Now, come on. First off, that so-called joke is just pathetic and sophmoric. Fat jokes are the providence of first-graders and the ignorant. By dropping to this level, he has shown the show's true colours: bitter, callous, hateful and sadistic. Their single and driving goal is not to identify good singers, but to belittle and humiliate the bad singers. And now, they have expanded that mandate to include humiliating the overweight and sexually diverse (yes, the show has also drawn the ire of Gay and Lesbian organizations).

I don't want to go into too much detail here; this show upsets me enough as it is. The program is indicative of the tastelessness and selfishness so prevalant in our modern society. For those who choose to continue to watch, please be aware that in doing so, you are supporting hatred and bigotry, hiding behind a thin veil of entertainment.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Lunge at Grunge


When I was a teenager (waaay back in the late 70's and early 80's. Shut up, so I'm old), I was a member of a secret society. A society so utterly secret that it didn't have a name. There were no meetings or official slogans. We had no agenda. Members of this society did not have to apply for membership, or go through an initiation process. Above all, we never talked about the society, or our membership, because we didn't have to. It was understood. We grokked.

The only way to identify another member of our society was through a visual identification of the society's unofficial outfit. While variations were always welcome, it was understood that the outfit had basic elements which had to be present in order to identify you as a member of the society.

First off, you wore boots. Kodiak boots, to be exact. Undone and wide open, the laces trailing on the ground. This was done primarily to piss off adults. The boots had to be steel toed, simply to protect you from the cruel, toe-snapping crush of another Kodiak-boot wearing individual who is stomping on your foot to see if you have steel-toed boots.

The next article of clothing is the pants, which must be jeans. Must. Be. Jeans. Old jeans, the more worn, ripped and torn, the better. This created a bit of a challenge back then, because when I was a kid, no one had ever had the idea of selling pre-faded jeans. New jeans were bright blue, crisp, and would even hold a crease (if your mom was cruel/naive enough to iron your jeans).

Whenever my family was going out for a meal, or visiting relatives, I would always immediately run off and change into a nice, crisp new pair of jeans. For years, my mother mistakenly believed that I was a respectful child who wanted to look my best for my relatives. The fact was, I took any opportunity to wear my new jeans when going out somewhere where there were no cool people to see me.

Next, the t-shirt. T-shirts could be plain, without logos or decoration, as long as they were solid colours - preferably dark, but white was ok too. Ideally, a t-shirt (or a jersey, if applicable) could bear the logo of a rock band. Pink Floyd (especially the Wall or Dark Side of the Moon logos), Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were the coolest shirts. If you were very, very lucky, you had a Motorhead shirt.

Under no circumstances would anyone be foolish enough to wear a t-shirt with a product/company logo on it. Back then, a logo-shirt indicated that you got the shirt for free, in a contest or something. A free shirt meant you were poor, and you would be mocked for being poor. The attitude back then was that no one would actually pay money for a t-shirt with a company logo on it, because only a fool would pay money out of their pocket to advertise a company or product.

Over the t-shirt could be worn an optional, standard button-down shirt, but only if the buttons were undone. Doing up the buttons indicated that you were probably wearing an advertising t-shirt.

On top of that, was the ultimate piece of clothing - the Lumberjacket. The lumberjacket was everything. It indicated status, it kept you warm, it kept you safe. There were some issues with lumberjackets; for example a brand new lumberjacket had little micro-fibers on the outside that were highly flammable. If you saw someone with a brand-new lumberjacket, you would immediately set it on fire for the entertainment value. Luckily, the micro fibers usually - usually - burned out quickly.

The standard lumberjacket was red. Some lucky bastards had a green lumberjacket, and even fewer were lucky and cool enough to have a blue lumberjacket. I tried to get a green or blue lumberjacket as a kid, but could never find them. To this day, I am convinced there was a secret code exchange that you had to go to in order to get he salesguy to sell you a green lumberjacket.

Me: I wanna buy a green lumberjacket.
Salesperson: We don't sell green lumberjackets.

The secret code was probably something like this:

Cool Guy: I wanna buy a lumberjacket.
Salesperson: They're right here.
Cool Guy: These lumberjackets are nice, if you like red.
Salesperson: I have a red bicycle.
Cool Guy: Does it have a bell?
Salesperson: Yes, I ring it all the time.
Cool Guy: When the bells ring at St. Mary's, its time for prayer.
Salesperson: Come with me.

Then the Salesperson would lead the customer over to a floor-length mirror, press a concealed button, and reveal a secret room, filled with green lumberjackets. Even then, you had to know a new, different code to access the room with the blue lumberjackets.

We dressed this way for years, and our secret society bloomed. Then, something horrible happened. Somewhere, in Hollywood, or in the music industry, I don't know where, but somewhere, somebody gave our style a name. They called it grunge. In naming it, they destroyed it, because the key element of this lifestyle was that it was unnamed and unacknowledged.

By applying the name "grunge", the style was officially dead. Of course, it thrived and grew for decades afterwards, much like the hair and fingernails on a corpse appear to keep growing after death. The same thing happened to punk, and to Goth, and will continue to happen over the years. Something cool is born, somebody decides to market it, and they kill the very thing they are trying to exploit.

Friday, January 20, 2006

At Least I Had the Laugh

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.
~ Irish Proverb

Saga of the Sleep Deprived

Ok, so I guess I'm not technically "sleep" deprived, but saying "the rest associated with sleep deprivation" just sounds silly. With sleep apnea, you sleep, but you don't get restful sleep. When I sleep on my own, in a one hour period, I wake up 96 times. No, that's not a typo. Obviously, I can't get into deep sleep, which means I can't get restful sleep. After 8 hours sleep, it feels like I just slept 15 minutes.

If you've ever gone to bed, fallen asleep, and been woken up after 15 or 20 minutes, you know how much that sucks. Now, try this every time you go to sleep, all night long. Now, try doing this every night for over 2 years.

Before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea (a successful diagnosed made, not by a doctor, but by an ex-wrestler-turned-DJ) I thought I was dying of leukemia, or perhaps AIDS. I went to several different doctors (who seemed to have earned their medical degrees through clerical errors) who entirely failed to diagnose the apnea. I had blood tests, x-rays, examinations, etc., up the wazoo. They found nothing.

When I asked them what the next step was, the doctors had no ideas. I was told to go home and see if the problem persisted. Now, bear in mind here, I felt I was actually dying. And my doctors are telling me to go home and see if the problem gets worse.

So, on a trip with some friends to Chicago, my one friend Pat (the ex-wrestler guy) hears me sleep the first night, and says "Dude, you have sleep apnea". When we got home, I researched sleep apnea, and it looked like he was right. I had all the symptoms, and everything added up. Armed with this new information, I went back to the doctor.

"I think I have sleep apnea," I said.

"Why don't you leave the medical diagnosis to the experts," Doctor ClericalError said.

I was dumbfounded. I had a problem that he had failed to diagnose for months. I had provided him with a very - VERY - probable diagnosis, and the guy was shrugging me off.

"I want you to refer me to the Frid Street Sleep Clinic." I had done thorough homework.

"I don't think that's warranted at this time." Cunt.

"I want you to refer me to the sleep clinic. If you won't, I will find a doctor that will. Once they test me, and find out I have apnea, I will make certain they know that you refused to refer me." Yes, I was threatening my doctor. He gave me the referral. Successful medicine through intimidation.

I went in, I was spent the night with wires and diodes and stuff sticking out of me, and I was tested. A few weeks later, the results were in. I had sleep apnea. Very, very bad sleep apnea. So bad, I was having microseizures. The doctor (a good doctor who did strange things like think) was adamant that I needed to get on a CPAP (a machine to help you breathe) immediately.
I got the machine, and I started to sleep at night. Slowly, my strength came back, and I stopped doing silly things like falling asleep while sitting and talking to friends, falling asleep during meetings, and falling asleep while driving (yes, I did all of these things). The machine was working.

I had to go back for a second sleep test in September of last year, but I cancelled the test due to illness. Ok, due to the fact that I wanted to go out and have fun. I had my machine, I was sleeping, and I was done with having to sleep in a strange beds hooked up to more wires than my entertainment system.

Then I got a letter in the mail, a few weeks ago. From the government. Telling me that they were going to cancel my driver's license because I didn't get my second test. Bitch. So, I went back in and made an appointment, and last night I slept at the clinic again. Poorly. They woke me at 6:00 am to send me home, apparently unaware of the irony of a sleep clinic depriving me of sleep.

In late February I will find out what the second diagnosis was, and if my CPAP needs to be tweaked (sounds kinda dirty, doesn't it?). All in all, I'm losing weight, and hopefully I will be able to wean myself off the machine after a year or so. Worse comes to worse, I just have to go to bed looking like a fighter jet pilot every night.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

DIET: WEEK 14

STARTING WEIGHT: 281.6 pounds
THIS WEEK├é’S CHANGE: - 1.5 pounds
TOTAL WEIGHT LOST: 31.6 pounds
CURRENT WEIGHT: 250.0 pounds

A pretty bad week for me, as I strayed frequently and spectacularly. Luckily, I still managed to shed a pound and a half, but I'll probably pay for my excesses next week. I decided to go out and have a full order ofMontana'ss ribs, with the apple-butter sauce, and they were spectacular. Gorgeous. Worth it.

Otherwise, pretty much the same old same old. I've gone out for a few breakfasts, but I count the points, sothat'ss ok. PadThaii remains a standby, and I actually had it twice last week, so I definitely got lucky.

I haven't been drinking as much water as I should, only managing about 2-3 glasses a day. I'm going to be working on increasing my water intake. Apparently WW allows any calorie-free beverage with no caffeine to count as a glass of water, but only up to a maximum of 3. I guess I'm going to have to start buying the caffeine free diet colas from now on (despite my love of caffeine).

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Donner Party Skinny

The old lady was walking slowly up the street. The car came out of nowhere, screeching to a halt with near inches to spare. The old lady (with the initials HBS on her insanely large purse) stopped and pursed her lips, regarding the driver disapprovingly before continuing onwards. When she was safely out of the way, the car squealed its tires once again, driving off down the street.

“It's like a cop drama,” Charlie was sitting in the passenger seat. Charlie was large. Well, overweight, if you have to be picky. Ok, fine, be like that. Charlie was fat. There, do you feel better about yourself now?

Charlie wanted to be a writer. Day after day, he sat in his mother's basement and composed poetry and prose that touched delicately upon his own life-long themes of obesity and desperate loneliness. Poems so elegantly moving and breathtakingly precious that they forever altered the lives of those who read them. No, not immediately, in some kind of gauche, Disney-esque, deity-nonspecific miracle. Rather, his works caused gradual, gentle, life-affirming changes that always, in the end, improved the lives of those it had touched. These were the works that Charlie was too self-conscious to try to have published. Oh, and he also wrote some mediocre novels about elves.

“How do you figure?” Willie was thin. Like a rake thin. Emaciated. Donner Party skinny.

Willie was an activist. Which was to say that he volunteered at nature rallies to hand out pamphlets. He was very much against the burning of fossil fuels, despite the fact that he owned and operated a Buick Skylark, which is to fuel efficiency as the Great Wall of China is to moderately high fences. He was once going to go on an actual, real-life medical lab animal release mission, which was top secret, and very, very dangerous. Unfortunately, the raid was scheduled to take place on the same night he had promised to tape “CSI: Miami” for his grandmother. As the VCR's timer was kinda wonky, he really had to be there to press the record button. After all, a promise is a promise.

Together, Charlie and Willie were delivering telephone books on a Sunday. Each house with a telephone was to receive one telephone book, and only one, no matter what the customer might try to say to the contrary. Mrs. Edinhouse, the Delivery Instructions Coordinator, had given them good advice during their 45 minutes of training (with coffee and cupcakes afterwards in the staff room). She had warned them that people would offer bribes, and that people would offer threats. Some would offer you money; others threaten to have you fired.

“Don't be tempted by the money.” She stood over the class, looming like a spindly-armed bat that had lost its wing membranes. She didn’t bother saying anything about the “being fired” part. They all knew that no one could really get fired from a one-day job. “At the end of your day, all your phonebooks must be delivered, and you must have stamped the receiving home's location on your government-issued area survey map. If you do not have the same number of stamps as you did telephone books upon leaving, you will not be paid!”

For Charlie, not being paid was not an option. He had been promised $75.00, which he could cash at the NITE-BANK (Checks cashed before their pay-to date!) and get 69 bucks cash. After he paid his mom the 45 bucks he owed her, he had 24 bucks left to buy role-playing books. Seeing as the future of the elves of Starlight Dale depended upon his being able to afford the 4th rules supplement (The Elves of Starlight: How the Roh-a`queem Survive in the Poisonlands), he was not about to accept any bribes.

Willie was just as reliant upon his successful completion of today's labours. Willie's girlfriend Resela (a tall, lanky young woman with soft and gentle eyes, stringy blonde hair, and a horrid fashion sense) was mad at him for always quitting his jobs. Every job he had ever had, Willie had quit. He once lasted seven months working in a factory, but only because he found out that the place was so big he could find a spot to hide and go to sleep. When he wasn't around, everyone just assumed that some boss from another section had snagged him to work on some other side. It was only when he was found sleeping in a Port-a-Potty (“I put a fucking 'Out of Order' sign on the door! What kind of sick twerp tries to use a malfunctioning crapper?”) and told he would have to start working that he decided to quit.

His record for the shortest amount of time spent on any one job was exactly seven seconds. He had attended the interview while high, and despite this fact, had done surprisingly well. When Mr. Wender-something had shook his hand and smiled, offering him a position, Willie had smiled right back.

“I accept,” Willie said, while smiling. He then blinked twice, and continued. “It's too hot in here. I quit.” After that, he simply turned around and left the building.

“Willie, you are soooo ADHD,” Resela would swear, rolling her eyes in a way which always made Willie think of a dog watching a Frisbee fly overhead, “I bet you couldn't even keep a job that was only for one day.”

Willie had sworn that he could, and had in fact bet her fifty bucks that he could do just that. He had unfortunately been utterly unaware of the fact that Resela’s Uncle Jerry (who owned the new Ford dealership by the Gas'n'Pump) had once donated some money to Town Councilor Malone’s last campaign, and could now pull some strings to get Willie a one-day job delivering telephone books.

If he quit the job, he would then owe his girlfriend $50.00. If he could last out the entire day, not only would he get a $75.00 check, he would get fifty in cash from Resela. He could then spend her cash until the check cleared, thus saving the $6.00 service fee at NITE-BANK. As such, he was not about to accept any bribes.

“We're like a buddy cop movie,” Charlie continued as if his dialogue had not been interrupted by several long, rambling paragraphs of exposition. “You're the passionate and committed eco-cop. I'm the unknown but soon-to-be-discovered writer pulled into your investigation by an unlucky convergence of fate and destiny.”

“That is the stupidest fucking idea ever.”

“No, it’s fucking great, give me a pen!” Charlie began searching desperately around his passenger-side car seat, but was unable to find a writing implement.

“There,” Willie pointed at the sun visor.

Charlie reached up, and pulled the visor down, releasing a pen that then tumbled into his lap. He fished it out, and began looking around for a scrap of paper.

“Paper, I need paper!”

“Sorry man, can’t help you.” Willie did not sound particularly sorry.

Charlie cast his eyes around desperately, and then turned to look in the back seat, the entirety of which (like the trunk) was filled with telephone books. He reached back, lifted and phone book off the pile, and placed it in his lap. Opening the book to one of the first pages (that they always, for some reason, leave blank), Charlie began to write.

“Dude, fuck,” Willie scowled, trying to knock the phone book out of Charlie's hand. “We signed for those!” Charlie easily evaded Willie’s desperate blows, seeing since the man was also occupied with driving the vehicle.

The day passed much more quickly than one might reasonably expect, especially when these expectations are based upon the fact that I have taken this long simply to describe the first two and a half minutes of the story. At the end of the night, Willie sat behind the wheel, the car idling, as he counted up the number of stamps.

“We have 204 stamps.”

“Count them again.” Charlie seemed nervous.

“I did already. Three times. We have 204 stamps.”

“Ok, so lets go.”

“We signed for 205 fucking phone books.” Willie snarled. Charlie thought briefly about the evolution of the term ‘telephone book’ which had taken place over the day. At 8:00 am the two men had referred to the books as telephone books. By noon, the phrase had been shortened to phone books. By 4:00 pm they were simply books. By 7:30 pm that evening, they were fucking phone books.

“So we lost one. Big deal.”

“Big deal? Big fucking deal? Big deal we don’t get fucking paid, big deal!”

“So what do you want? I don’t have the fucking phone book.”

“Fuck you, you don’t.” Willie’s look was sly.

“What are you talking about?”

"I did a quick count before I carried 12 fucking phone books into that small apartment building. And hey, by the way, fuck you for that!”

“You and I both agreed on the rules. You do the odd numbered houses, I do the evens.”

“That’s before I knew there were three apartment buildings on my side of the route, and none on yours!”

“We had an agreement.”

“Anyway, fuck that. I did a visual before running into the building. We had seventeen fucking phone books. When I came back there were only sixteen.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying you stole a book.”

“That’s a … serious accusation, Willie.”

"I don’t like saying it any more than you like hearing it. But I can see its outline, there, in your backpack.”

Charlie, blushing, reached into the backpack and slid the fucking telephone book out.

“Give it to me, Charlie.”

“I can’t Willie!” Charlie was desperate. “It’s got my ideas in it! Some of my best ideas! I need them! I can’t remember them all!”

“I’m sorry Charlie,” Willie was honestly saddened. “But we both got to get paid. What would your mother say if you came home broke?”

******************

Harriet Beecher Stone (“Only one letter and a whole boat load of talent away from a career as a writer” as the elderly Miss Stone herself liked to say) picked up the phone book from her front porch, and took it inside, setting it down on the coffee table. She always liked to check the new book to make sure she was still in it. She had convinced herself that the day she looked into a new phone book and did not find her name listed was the day on which she was destined to die.

She flipped past the first few pages quickly, and then stopped. She had spied a flash of red ink, like … could it be handwriting? Yes, there it was, handwriting in her brand new telephone book. Of all the things! Nothing like this would have ever happened when she was a girl. No, back then, people still had respect for other people’s properties. Why, if this had happened when her father was alive, he would have raised holy heck with the phone company, to be sure.

Harriet fished her reading glasses out of her cavernous purse (monogrammed, a gift from her son before he went off and died of the AIDS), and placed them on their customary perch at the end of her nose (where they were affixed firmly through some form of arcane quantum adhesive force known only to the elderly), and started to read.

As she read, she realized that the handwriting was a story, of all things. Imagine, someone writing a story in her telephone book! It was a story about an elf. How silly. However, the young elf did sound absolutely lovely. Harriet, as a young girl, had often dreamed of becoming a ballerina. And what was an elf, really, if not the fantasy-world equivalent of a ballerina?

The story was breathtaking and evocative, and it lead her down into the darkened vales of Everwood, the Virgin Forest Primeval. She read of Elrohna, the beautiful yet sorrowful elven maid, daughter of Woodspeaker, and soon to be wed to an evil Dragon Lord.

Then, a strange thing happened. To Harriet, not to Elrohna. Sorry if that wasn’t completely clear. The story began to fracture and skip. It devolved into short form, quick points and incomprehensible shorthand, as if written by someone desperately trying to get ideas down on paper. It ended up with a reminder to buy some more weed off of some gentleman named “Moth”.

Harriet leaned back into the couch slowly, her mind awash with visions of Elrohna’s platinum locks, tales of forced marriages, unjust husbands and dire treachery. She experienced a pang of deep regret when she realized that he story had not been completed. She sighed, saddened by the fact that that this particular story would likely never be properly told.

As an after thought, Harriet reached over, and flipped a few pages … down to the Smiths and Spencers and Stapletons. There, near the bottom of Page 247, were the Stones. There was Bobby. Harriet was happy to see he was still ok. Then Franklin, Greta and Gary. Then Lawrence. She skipped back. Gary, then Lawrence. It was true. For the first time in more than 68 years, Harriet Beecher Stone’s name did not appear in the telephone book.

A knock came at her front door. At this late hour, it could only be death.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Diet: Week 13

STARTING WEIGHT: 281.6 pounds
THIS WEEK’S CHANGE: - 6.3 pounds
TOTAL WEIGHT LOST: 30.1 pounds
CURRENT WEIGHT: 251.5 pounds

Ok, yes, I know it has been a long time since I posted a diet update. Many of you (ok, maybe 1 or 2 of you) might suspect the reason would be that I have quit my diet. No, no, my pessimistic friend(s). My Weight Watchers membership is over now (it ended mid December) and I'm not about to shell out another $150 just to go to dull weekly meetings and get a pamphlet.

Unfortunately, until last night, I did not possess my own scale, so couldn't weigh myself for updates. I did get a scale yesterday, much to my surprise. It seems my upstairs neighbour Ron (who, incidentally, is a helluva nice guy) red my earlier blog comments about not having a scale, and took it upon himself to rectify the situation.

Ron works in an appliance store, and brought home with him a variety of different scales for me to view and choose from. I picked the one I liked the best (a basic model with a built-in lithium-ion battery), and just like that, I was the proud owner of a new bathroom scale.

So, you see the results above. A loss of 6 pounds over a 6.3 week period isn't great, but considering the holiday time over that period, its not too bad either. I'll be sure and practice a greater degree of fidelity when it comes to documenting my weight loss over the following weeks.

I knew that I was going to stray from the diet over the Christmas/New Years holiday. I think it is important - hell, vital - to recognize that dieting is hard enough on a day-to-day basis without trying to maintain control on certain special days. I didn't go hog wild or anything - my rule was simple. Starting on Christmas Eve (after 6:00 pm), through Christmas Day and Boxing Day, I was not on a diet. The same rule took place on New Years Eve.

I didn't do too badly. I stayed a way from the chocolates and candies (ok, I confess, ate one Turtle), and even threw out several boxes of chocolates I received as gifts. I wanted to give them away to others, but I knew if I kept them in the house overnight, I would eat them. The only place those chocolates were going to end up that night was in the garbage or in my gut.

I really enjoyed my holidays, and enjoyed my Christmas dinner, snacks, and the like on other days. I did this without going nuts, but without depriving myself.

As of this date, I am even more determined to stick to my diet. I promised myself right from the start that once I had lost 40 pounds, I was going to treat myself to an order of wings. I am now 9.9 pounds away from this goal. Can I get a whoo hoo?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Photoblog: Cat vs. Dog

Yes, the battle between my cat and dog continues. Crystal has gotten nastier, as she learns to use her teeth and claws to great effect. Ayla, for her part, has been countering with her tongue which, while effective at wetting the cat, does little in battle. The two of them engage in a ceaseless battel for supremacy, constantly vying for ... well, for the hell of it, I guess.

I have captured on film another one of their titanic battles.

1. The battle begins here ... on the love seat. Never has an article of furniture been more ironically named. Immediately after this photo was taken, Crystal took a swat at Ayla, which caused Ayla to abandon the love seat and move the futon.

2. Ayla has now moved to the futon, only to be followed by the belligerent feline. Once again, Crystal attacks with fang and claw, and Ayla counters with a lick.

3. Despite the failure of "the lick" as an attack/defense maneuver, Ayla continues to utilize this technique as Crystal continues with her more traditional bite/claw attacks.

4. Here, finally, Ayla begins to grow irate.
5. Alya strikes back, abandoning the tongue in favour of fangs.
6. Undaunted, Crystal initiates a full-on offensive with a technique that has affectionately nicknamed "the Throat Hug".
7. Ayla, in a move that I unfortuantely failed to catch on film, flipped the cat into the air with her head, and sent her flying across the room. Crystal responded by sitting down and licking her paws as if this was what she had wanted the dog to do all along. For her part, Ayla sat there and looked guilty.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More Fun with Search Engines

I posted a few months ago about the humorous search terms that lead people to my blog. I'm in the mood to play the game again, so here are some of the more recent search terms that have brought people here.

Term: "Old Vs New Dumbledore" and "i hate the new dumbledore"
Notes: Ok, that makes sense. I rip on the new Dumbledore (hereafter known as Crumbledore) quite often.

Term: "Morganna" and "morganna the stripper"
Notes: Ha. Sorry to disappoint fellas, no free porn here. However, to further confound search engine perv-o's, lets put the words "naughty nympho mudwrestler" in here. Just to be a pain.

Term: "Asher shot"
Notes: Wtf? Is somebody planning something I should know about?

Term: "ok to put bubble bath in whirlpool tub"
Notes: Yes, it is ok to put bubblebath in a whirlpool tub. I do it all the time. It does tend to create a copious amount of bubbles, however, so don't leave it on and walk away. It is not ok to put bath oil in a whirlpool tub, however. Go fig. Other items that should not be placed into a whirlpool bathub include, but are not limited to, poutine, plastic cutlery, horse testicles, and Charo.

Term: "Gay Narnia"
Notes: This one surprised me a bit. I'm assuming someone was looking directly for my blog, because as far as I know, I'm the only person who uses that phrase (Gay Narnia - to experience it, you have to come into the closet).

Term: "melody breyer grell blog"
Notes: I still don't know who this is. I suppose that if I keep on putting the words "melody breyer grell blog" in my blog I will continue to get hits from people searching for her blog. A fact which I find amusing. One day, I plan on finding her blog and leaving her a comment complaining about the number of people who search for my blog and accidentally find hers.

Term: "quiff"
Notes: It surprised me that someone searched for this word. For some reason, I imagine that such a search would lead one to all kinds of odd websites. I haven't taken this journey yet. If you're feeling adventurous, type it into google and let us know where it takes you.

Term: "i crushed the mouse"
Notes: Either this is some kind of sexual slang phrase that I am unfamiliar with (perhaps, one might imagine, referring to certain urban legends regarding the anal insertion of live rodents), or someone was searching for veterinary advice. For those individuals, I have placed some advice from a veterinary textbook on how to treat a crushed mouse: "If the mouse should, in any way become crushed, foldes, spindled or mutilated, it is best treated by disposal, and the expenditure of 35 cents to purchase a new mouse".

Once again, to further confound search engine queries, here are a few random words and phrases:

pickled lint monkey
star-spangled spanner
poutine wrestling
lick the spiggot
vaginal mucus
hot sex with naughty secretary
pornucopia
And Now, Here is a Picture of Two Penises

Thursday, January 05, 2006

OK, Now I'm REALLY in Trouble

All right, I admit it, today's rant is probably going to far. After all, I've taken shots at such beloved institutions as the Church and Veganism (is that a word?) in the past. And lets face it, each one of these institutions features members who are not exactly rational in their pursuit of what they see as their "defence of the faith".

Today, I am gunning for a group of people who's fanaticism and rabid devotion eclipses even the most fervid, sword-wielding religious crusader or sanctimonious paint-bucket-wielding PETAn. Today, I dare to take a shot at: Organized Sports.

Our society puts a literally insane emphasis on sports. Lets take a look at the reality of sports: football, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, polo, whatever ... they are all GAMES folks. GAMES. Games which, when you look at things honestly, do not actually matter. If one team beats another, it doesn't cause people to lose lives. The outcome of the Superbowl does not have an affect on the frequency of hurricanes. The winner of the World Series does not put affect global food production.

Apart from some gambling, and people who get way too heated in their fandom (seriously, if you have ever physically assaulted someone over a disagreement about sports, do the world a favour and see a psychiatrist), the outcome of sports games do not actually matter. Who won the world series in 1957? Ok, sure, some sports fans might know, but it doesn't actually matter.

For something that doesn't matter, we spend a great deal of time and energy - not to mention money - on sports. We even devote a large chunk of our news programming to reporting on sports games. Think about that - the news is designed to keep us in touch with what is going on in the world. They report events of local and international significance that may (or may not) have an impact upon our lives, our societies, our world. They also talk about the weather - after all, the weather does affect us all.

And then, for reasons that boggle my mind, they spend a large chunk of their time/space talking about grown men playing GAMES.

We spend a ridiculous amount of money on sports-related merchandise. Jerseys, shoes, "official" footballs (which differ from "regular" footballs in that they have the letters "NFL" stenciled on them), etc. eat up a significant proportion of our discretionary income. The games themselves have become so expensive that only the very rich can afford to attend any game of importance (importance to the fans, mind you, not actually really important). Ticket prices for an event like the Superbowl (or even the Rose Bowl) can exceed $30,000 for the best seats, and even nosebleeds run in the thousands.

Our society spends an insanely inordinate amount of time, money, and effort on GAMES. What is wrong with us as a people that we think nothing of allowing people to pay $30,000.00 to watch a GAME when hundreds upon thousands of people in our own societies are starving to death? Why is it ok to pay one man millions of dollars a year to put a ball in a hoop when children are dying of malnutrition? A large percentage of our elderly cannot afford the medications they require to stay healthy, but we still spend millions each year on official hockey jerseys.
Organized sports also participates in a criminal degree of sexism. Professional sporting events played by men command large ticket prices and the players earn huge salaries. Professional sports played by women ask low ticket prices, and many "professional" women athletes don't actually get paid.
I once looked into tickets for a basketball game at work. This was some kind of college final event. The tickets for the men's games had sold out literally before they were available to the public (the schools offer tickets to alumni first, who snap them all up then scalp them online), and were only available through scalpers (sorry, they like to be called "brokers"), and prices started at about $400 for nosebleeds. If you wanted courtside, they were at least $2,500.
To contrast, tickets to the women's events were plentiful, and had a price range of $7 - $17. Tell me that is not blatant sexism. And please, spare me justifications such as "people are willing to pay more to watch the best players play". If you are truly a fan of a sport, then the thrill comes from watching two equally matched competitors struggle against one another. There is just as much thrill in watching women play as there is in watching men.
In fact, for someone like me (who admits to his sexism), I'd rather watch women compete than men. If I have to watch a group of people get sweaty and pat each other on the ass, I'd prefer them to be women.

Obviously, I am not a sports fan. This is not to say that I do not enjoy sports. I like to play certain sports, and I enjoy watching the occasional football, baseball, or hockey game. However, I do not allow these games to occupy a significant portion of my time or attention. I recognize that in the end, football, basketball, hockey, etc. are nothing more than silly, silly games.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cheaper by the Parable

Victor and Maxwell were neighbours. Both Vic and Max were proud of their backyards, and each considered theirs to be a masterpiece. Vic's yard was natural, filled with indigenous flora, cunningly landscaped to resemble a natural forest setting. Max's yard was modern and spartan, with a rock-paved patio and a chlorinated swimming pool. Max was happy with his backyard, and took a great deal of pleasure in relaxing there after work.

Vic was happy with his backyard, but he didn't like Max's. He felt that Max should rip up the concrete, and put down natural grasses and bushes. He felt he should take out the swimming pool, and replace it with a natural cascading waterfall. Vic felt that he would be much happier if he didn't have to look at Max's backyard, and could instead look upon a yard like his own. He didn't care about the fact that Max was happy with his yard; only his own opinion mattered.

At neighbourhood functions, Vic would often remark to the neighbours how much better his yard was than Max's. After all, it was natural, and natural is better, right? He was allowing trees and bushes to live, and also oxygenating the local atmosphere. Max's yard was a travesty, cruel to the local animal and vegetable populations. The swimming pool even added chlorine to the ground water!
At first, Max was surprised to hear about Vic's opinions. After all, it was his yard, and he could do what he wanted with it. Surprise soon turned to annoyance as Vic took any opportunity to expound his beliefs - even though most of the neighbours clearly didn't want to hear about it.
Max decided to go to the local garden center, just to find out what it would take to convert his yard to one like Vic's. He spoke with a representative, who told him about Vic's methods - the chemical fertilizers, the specially genetically modified bushes (that held their shape and didn't require trimming), the new breed of short grass that never had to be mowed.
Max realized that Vic's "natural" garden wasn't very natural after all. When he mentioned this to Vic, Vic merely sneered and pointed out that it was a hell of a lot more natural than Max's. Max replied that a rock patio was much more natural than genetically modified short grass. Vic disagreed, and called Max a murderer.
-------------------------------
Ok, thinly veiled parable over. I'm talking about vegetarians vs. Meat-eaters here. I'm trying to clarify my point for those who seem to desire to cling to individual issues while stubbornly missing the original point.
My point is this: whether you are a vegetarian or a carnivore, you have to accept that both are valid life choices. If your choice leaves you feeling morally superior, if your beliefs shut your mind down to point where you will no longer respect the rights or opinions of others, then you have surpassed the rational, and turned your belief system into a religion. Respect and acceptance goes much further in this world than intolerance or a sense of smug superiority.
So, if you are a vegetarian (or vegan), try to remember that your lifestyle choice is exactly that - a choice. You are no better and no worse than someone who chooses to eat meat. There are pros and cons to both sides, and you will go much further in life carrying an attitude of respect towards those with opposite view points.
If I have come across as intolerant towards vegetarians, I did not mean to do so. After all, I did clarify at the beginning of the post that I had nothing against vegetarians. I respect anyone who can maintain their belief system, as long as they respect the rights and beliefs of others. As I had thought I had communicated in my original rant, I am intolerant of anyone - anyone - who is so ensconced in their beliefs that they feel justified in being rude and disrespectful to someone who disagrees with them (like my cousin who berated the meat eaters at Christmas).

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Vegetarianism = Genocide

Over the holidays, I was having a … discussion … with a relative of mine who is a vegetarian. Now, to set the record straight, I have nothing against vegetarians. However, my cousin is one of those vegetarians who feels morally superior, and takes any opportunity to tell people how much better the world would be if everyone could love animals as much as she did, and stop eating them.

On Christmas, she began by loudly announcing as the turkey was passed around that she wouldn’t be having any, as she felt it was morally reprehensible to kill a living creature and eat it. This was followed by a few seconds of awkward silence. Luckily, I happen to enjoy filling awkward silences with awkward conversation, so I jumped into the fray. I’ll do my best to reproduce our conversation here – script style.

ASH
Why are you trying to eradicate entire species of animals?

COUSIN
I’m not, I’m trying to save them.

ASH
But if everyone stopped eating meat, certain species such as cows and chickens would become extinct.

COUSIN
They would not.

ASH
I don’t really think that you’ve taken the time to think this through. Lets take a look at cows. If everyone stopped eating beef today, what would happen to cows? We wouldn’t need them anymore, and you can bet your ass that no farmer is going to keep a herd of several thousand cows as pets. So what do we do with them? We can’t turn them out into the wild – they’d devastate the natural ecology, and most likely would end up starving to death. It would be cruel to let them go.

COUSIN
We could afford to keep them alive until they died of old age.

ASH
Sure, we could. But lets be realistic here; we’re not living in a fantasy world. The cows are owned by businesses. If the cows are costing money but not bringing in cash, they’d be put down. Over a matter of a few weeks, millions of cows would be destroyed.

COUSIN
We could use them for milk.

ASH
I don’t think you can use beef cattle for milk. That’s what dairy cows are for. Besides, even if we could, we already produce a surplus of milk, we don’t need more. The fact is, if North Americans stopped eating beef, it would be the worst thing that could happen to cows as a species.

COUSIN
That’s bullshit.

ASH
From a “natural” point of view, the only thing that really matters is that the species thrives. Reproduce, grow, have more and more babies, and occupy a successful ecological niche. Its the core drive of every species. By eating cows, we help them to thrive as a species. We’ve made them one of the most populous mammal species in the world by protecting them, feeding them and raising them. We’re doing them a favour.

COUSIN
Killing an animal and eating it is not doing it a favour.

ASH
That’s why your logic is flawed; you think too small. I didn’t say we were helping individual cows, but that we are aiding the species. Face it, the fact is if we didn’t eat cows, there wouldn’t be as many of them. If we stopped eating cows, millions would die overnight. Cows need us to eat them.

Another point I raised was this: during harvest time of foodstuffs such as wheat, corn, barley, rye, and yes, even soy, millions of animals are slaughtered. Literally millions. Mice, rabbits, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, weasels, wild turkeys, quail, etc. All these animals live in the fields, and die when the combine harvester rips through and destroys not only their bodies, but their ecosystem.

Certainly, this is a sad but unavoidable side effect of the harvest, and is not anyone’s intention (well, perhaps a few farmers get a sadistic thrill out of playing Freddy Krueger to a field filled with mice, but I am sure they are a statistically insignificant portion of the population) to kill them, but the fact is that these animals are killed. While meat eaters kill more total poundage of animals, vegetarians actually kill more animals.

So, if you’re one of those vegetarians or vegans who feels a deep, smug sense of self satisfaction over your superior moral fiber, remember that you kill animals too.

Wheat is Murder - Wallpaper