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August 30, 2005

$500 On Red

You know those trite, pithy sayings people like spout out and make themselves feel cleaver? I've been noticing that everyone seems to know of a particular one that drives them insane. For example:

Ryan hates The K.I.S.S. Principle. You know, when you're unintentionally overcomplicating some solution, and someone (who usually doesn't have a better solution) tells you to apply The K.I.S.S. Principle: "Keep It Simple, Stupid". Try as he might to appease them, nodding and expressing his recognition of the principle, people feel the need to explain to Ryan exactly what K.I.S.S. stands for.

Teresa's most hated saying is when something is "the exception that proves the rule.", mainly because it doesn't make sense. To this day she hasn't heard anyone actually use it in any applicable context. Because I love her, I try to use it on a weekly basis.

For me, it's when people decide they know better than Webster, and insist on enlightening us. "Do you know what the definition of insanity is? It's doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Which is usually followed by "That's the definition of insanity." With an emphasis on definition, as if the person is daring me to look it up and prove him wrong. Forget the about schizophrenics wearing tinfoil hats who try to kill their demon neighbours, clearly the insane are the people not betting on black when the last roll of the roulette wheel came up red.

21:17 | Rant | Comments (1)

August 22, 2005

Margarine of Colour Unite!

Remember Québec's ban on butter-coloured margarine? An interprovincial panel has finally struck it down. Analysts say this will be a loss for Québec's dairy farmers, who have enjoyed government protection in the lucrative butter-coloured spread market, while providing a boon for canola and soybean farmers.

Although not quoted in the article, I'll bet the people who make I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are thrilled that they can finally discontinue their Québec-only I Can't Believe It's Not Butter As Long As I Don't Look At It brand.

20:38 | Canada , Politics | Comments (0)

August 21, 2005


Since I have no photos to show, here's a brief summary of my trip to the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Teresa's parents had rented a boat house in Corolla, NC, on the Outer Banks Islands. They invited the two of us to stay there with them for a week, along with Teresa's sister, brother-in-law and two-year-old niece. Most of the days were spent the same way: lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, getting stupid burn from that six-by-six centimetre spot on one's back that didn't get any sunscreen, etc. I'll try to highlight the more interesting events.


We left Seattle on Friday night, with a layover in Atlanta, GA, and arrived in Norfolk, VA on Saturday morning. Traffic was really bad, so we waited for about five hours for Teresa's parents to pick us up. We were pretty hungry after our flight, so we grabbed an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Freemason Abbey restaurant (their location in the airport looks nothing like this). It was by far the worst $7 breakfast I had ever eaten, but being the only restaurant open at the time, we had no choice.

After being picked up, it took us another four hours to get to Corolla, NC. There are no roads leading to the house, so we turned on the four-wheel-drive and drove for about a mile on the beach. The beach was all sand, and the houses were situated between large grassy dunes. There were two "lanes" for traffic, one close to the water where the sand was packed down (only accessible during low tide) and the deep sand close to the dunes. In between the two lanes was where the beach goers were expected to set up camp. It was a little unnerving to be in a vehicle swerving through the deep sand with sunbathers lying on our right side, and even more unnerving to be one of those sunbathers, as I was to find out.

We met Teresa's sister et al. there, unloaded the van. By this time it was late afternoon, so we retired to the air-conditioned beach house for dinner, drinks and board games. As soon as the sun went down, the mosquitoes came out, and those things were pretty vicious. Despite it being a beautiful night, we stayed indoors to avoid getting eaten alive.


Beach time. It was about 35°C (95°F) plus humidity, and no cloud cover. I got stupid burn on my chest, and got a lot of reading done (yes, I brought a computer book to the beach. You enjoy your vacation your way, I'll enjoy mine my way).

That afternoon we helped a Jeep Cherokee get unstuck from the deep sand. Apparently driving in sand is a lot like driving in snow, except without the skidding.


We piled into the van and left the beach to visit the Roanoke Island Aquarium. Although less impressive than the Vancouver Aquarium, this one had huge displays of local marine wildlife, as well as a "petting zoo" for crabs, rays and starfish.

On our way back, we stopped at a small family restaurant, and I caught a glimpse of the real North Carolina. Iced tea was offered as "sweet or unsweet", $5 barbeque was on special, and there were deer heads hanging on the walls. Having just come from the aquarium, the fish hoagie was looking good to me. The menu described it as being a fresh fish filet on a bun with lettuce and tomato. The waitress came to take our order, and the following hilarity ensued:

Me: "I'll have the fish hoagie."
Waitress: "The what?"
Me: "The fish hoagie."
Waitress: "The what?"
Me: "Fish hoagie."
Waitress: "Did you want anything on it?"
Me: "Like what?"
Waitress: "Like lettuce or tomato or anything?"
Me: double checking the menu "Um, lettuce and tomato are fine."
Teresa's Mom: "Make sure you get fish on that too."

The food was good (I especially liked Teresa's deep-fried okra), but it was a little disconcerting to be eating under the stares of the other patrons. I knew I was in unfamiliar territory when I saw guys my age wearing mesh baseball caps unironically.

Back to the house for more beach time. Saw another Jeep Cherokee get stuck, but declined to help.


At the beach all day. To combat the bugs, we set up a screen tent on the balcony. Thunderstorms that evening kept us indoors anyway.


At the beach all day. Tried boogey-boarding and got my ass kicked by some big waves. Saw a Jeep Liberty get stuck in front of the house. Took a nap instead of helping.

It was Teresa's sister's anniversary, so the four of us left the house, split up into couples and grabbed dinner in the town of Duck. After scoping out a couple places, T and I ended up at the blandly-named "Roadside Bar and Grill", which was actually a great restaurant. I had parmesan-encrusted halibut with crab sauce and crawdad-fried rice. It was fabulous. Teresa had duck (it seemed every restaurant in the town of Duck had a duck dish), with red pepper grits. She was also very happy with her meal.

That evening we were playing (yet another) board game when we heard a crash outside. We all rushed out to see that the small wading pool we set up for Teresa's niece had blown off the balcony and into the sand dunes. We retrieved it and took down the screen tent.


More beach time. Saw a Jeep Wrangler get stuck in the sand. Teresa's dad went out to help, but gave up when the people inside refused to get out the Jeep when he was pushing, and found out the driver had never put it into four-wheel-drive before getting onto the beach.

The beach was teeming with wildlife on Thursday. Pelicans were flying low over the water, dolphins were cresting 10 metres away from where we were swimming, and several times we were surrounded by schools of tiny mullet.

That evening we ate dinner outside and saw some wild horses grazing on dune grass behind the house. T and I followed them until they wandered into another house's car port. I snapped a few pictures, but decided to leave so the animals wouldn't felt trapped.

It was a beautiful clear night, and after slathering ourselves in bug spray, we sat outside and looked at the stars. The Outer Banks is relatively free of light pollution, so the Milky Way was visible, as were green shooting stars.

Late that night Teresa's brother and sister-in-law arrived. We stayed up to greet them, then went to bed.


T and I got up bright and early to see the sunrise. By the time we got outside, the sky was already illuminated, so we assumed the sun had risen but was behind clouds, so we went back to bed. Later Teresa's Mom would chide us about looking out for the "big red fiery ball" before giving up.

That morning, the four men (Teresa's dad, brother, brother-in-law and myself) left the house for a 18 holes of golfing. After a nourishing breakfast as Hardee's, we climbed into golf carts and teed off. This was my first time golfing, but luckily for me we were playing best ball.

I was absolutely terrible. When I actually managed to hit the ball, I rarely got it past the Ladies' Tee. But I did manage to sink a 20 foot putt, so I at least had a moment of glory.

It was a hot, humid, sunny day. Despite applying sunscreen after every two holes, I managed to get burned under my shirt. After four hours, we were done, and unsurprisingly, I was in last place. On our way home we stopped to pick up some crab which we picked and made Deviled Crabs with.


Got up early again and this time saw the fiery red ball. Said our goodbyes and got a ride to Norfolk Airport with Teresa's sister's family. We left at 1:00pm and arrived at the airport around 3:30pm. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:00pm, but was delayed by two hours. We landed in Cincinnati ten minutes after our connection (the last flight to Seattle), had left. We were put in a hotel for the night and given toiletry kits and two $7 meal vouchers each.


Caught our flight to Salt Lake City where we had a two-hour layover. Finally got to Seattle at 2:00pm, hopped on the airport shuttle to downtown, and grabbed a cab to our apartment. After about 30 hours of traveling, I was so eager to get home, I accidentally left my backpack in the cab. Inside was my camera (hence no photos of the trip to share), my iPod and my passport to name a few. After being jerked around by the cab company, I realized I wouldn't see this stuff again, so the feeling of relaxation I was supposed to have after a week on the beach was replaced with nauseating anger and helplessness.


I had a great time, and it's a shame the entire way home was so frustrating. Even though I have no photos to remember the visit, I'll always have the kick ass OBX bumper sticker I bought.

11:21 | Misc Rambling | Comments (0)

August 20, 2005

Insurance Update

Well, colour me pleasantly surprised. I talked to my insurance company, and not only is my loss covered, but they valued my stuff as higher than my estimate. So minus the deductible and depreciation (about 25%), I'm getting a cheque for more than half the value of my stuff (not including the passport, which will be reimbursed in full). So sorry everybody, no insurance company rant.

Now I'll need some recommendations on what camera model I should replace my Powershot S30 with (I'm looking in your direction Dav).

11:49 | Stuff | Comments (2)

August 19, 2005

Backpack Update

It's been five days, and no sign off the backpack. I've filed a police report, and a claim with my insurance. As if losing my digital camera and iPod being wasn't enough, my passport was in the backpack as well. Considering all the trouble it was to get this passport (and the one it replaced)

I'll keep you posted on the status of my insurance claim. Somehow I think it just may be rant material.

07:15 | Stuff | Comments (0)

August 17, 2005

Parking Lot Sign Near Seahawks Stadium

Open Weekdays, also Saturday and Sunday.

22:03 | Bizarre Sighting of the Day | Comments (1)

August 14, 2005

And Boy Are My Arms Tired

I just got back today from a week-long vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We left the Outer Banks to come home at 1:00 pm Saturday (EST) and arrived back in Seattle at 3:30 pm (PST) Sunday (yes, that's about 30 hours of traveling. The flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Cincinnati (our connection) was delayed and we had to spend the night in a hotel outside Cincinnati airport (which is actually located in Kentucky), so I'm a little worn out).

I'd love to share photos of my trip with you all, but I left my backpack in the taxi we took from downtown Seattle (where the airport shuttle dropped us off) to our apartment. Also, my iPod was in my backpack and the cab company says no drivers have reported finding it. Needless to say, I'm not as relaxed as I should be, and am not in much of a mood to blog about it right now.

18:43 | Stuff | Comments (2)

August 3, 2005

New Governor General

On Thursday Prime Minister Martin will announce Canada's new Governor General, Michaëlle Jean.

So, what the heck does the Governor General do? According to this CBC page, the GG is essentially appointed by the Prime Minister, and duties include:

Oh, and get paid over $100,000 a year. Not bad, eh?

If I had known that a career in journalism could get me appointed to one of the highest positions in the country, then I might have chosen a different career path, and maybe played up the whole being-born-in-Québec-thing.

Félicitations Mlle Jean!

22:27 | Canada , Politics | Comments (1)

August 2, 2005

German 2.0

The German Spelling Council has set this week as the deadline to transition over to a new, simpler, written German language. As usual with these sorts of transitions from complex, but traditional, ways to newer, more efficient, ways, the young have adopted it easily, while the older generation is resisting furiously (I'm looking in your direction, US Imperial Measurement System). It's particularly annoying when "Tradition" is used as justification for holding onto inefficient constructs ("Dang nammit! The ß was good enough for the Kaiser, so it's good enough for me!").

Despite my aversion to dropping the u in colour, I'm fascinated with the idea of language reform. The Japanese began reforming certain kanji after the Second World War, and the Chinese have been fighting illiteracy by simplifying their 50,000+ character set. Even the overprotective French occasionally update their language through their Academie Française.

I really wish English had some sort of regulatory body so we could make our language a little easier to read and write (and I'm not the kind of guy who usually advocates more bureaucracy). My greatest fear is that in the next 10 years English will be co-opted by text messaging teens, so future textbooks will be totally illegible to me. Then I can make a big fuss to keep English's noble, traditional orthography.

08:03 | Stuff

August 1, 2005

Japanese For Common Sense

Last Tuesday Teresa and I went to the SAM to see the Isamu Noguchi Sculptural Design exhibit.

Noguchi's sculptures varied from the practical (he designed furniture that clearly influenced modern Ikea's wares) to abstract theatre sets that remind me of the art from Beetlejuice, to futuristic children's playgrounds.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, even if the curator pretended not to realize the handouts looked suspiciously like Ikea catalogs...

20:43 | Seattle