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November 29, 2005

Have Passport, Will Travel

Friday morning I was woken up by the front door buzzer. It was FedEx with y new passport. Finally, I thought, the saga is now complete. From bureaucractic nightmare to washing machine to taxi cab, I was free to cross the border, just in time for Christmas.

Looking at my non-smiling photo, and the gold Mountie watermarks, I noticed something distressing. This passport expires one year from now. That means in a year, I need to go through all this again, with the overpriced photos, and the guarantor, and the signing and the hey hey hey. No one ever said freedom was cheap.

07:34 | Stuff | Comments (0)

November 26, 2005

The Holiday Season Has Officially Begun

Yesterday was the day after Thanksgiving. T and I went grocery shopping, stopped at a used bookstore and grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant. All three places of business were blaring Christmas carols. Yesterday, the Space Needle was crowned with its annual Christmas tree-like cone of lights. Unlike that past few weeks where carols and the occasional wreath could be spotted sporadically, Christmas season is here in full force. And I haven't started my shopping yet...

Speaking of holidays, I will be returning to frigid Southern Ontario Dec 17 and flying back Jan 1. T will be joining me on Dec 27, so this is advance warning to everyone who wants to see me, invite me to New Year's revelry, shower me with gifts, etc.

13:04 | Stuff | Comments (1)

November 24, 2005

Give Thanks... Or Else

Happy American Thanksgiving! Today is the start of a four-day weekend (unlike Canadian Thanksgiving which is a Monday in October). Thanksgiving here is an important holiday. Most people want to spend it surrounded by friends and family, and lots of food. Some friends of ours have even put together a dinner for "orphans and Canadians", where we will celebrate in an orthodox way: dinner at a vegetarian Asian restaurant, followed by a night of karaoke. I'm thankful for the good friends I have here that want to make sure I feel welcome on this, the most turkey-filled of holidays.

Doing some searches online for American Thanksgiving traditions, I came across this comic. It explains how to properly give thanks by getting down on your knees and thanking God LEST YOU BURN IN THE ETERNAL FIRES OF HELL. Thank goodness Uncle Mort is here to show us the way.

11:05 | America | Comments (1)

November 20, 2005

Sexual Aid Or Child's Toy?

The other day T was out with some friends, so I invited my friend Mike over to watch a movie. As I stated earlier, I don’t have a TV, so I popped the DVD into my computer’s CD-ROM drive and pushed the sofa closer to my 19-inch monitor. As soon as I moved the couch, something caught my eye. It was about 20 centimetres (8 inches) long, made of plastic, was textured with little knobs, had a rounded top and had a handle. Mike and I looked at it, then looked at each other. I told him I had never seen it before in my life. He started laughing and guessed it was Teresa’s.

Now, beside the fact that Mike and I have filthy, childish imaginations, this thing really did look like a sex toy. Then I remembered the weekend before T had a girl’s night at our place (naturally, I was expected to make myself scarce). Maybe guys’ fantasies about what goes on at girl’s nights are actually true, and in the throes of passion, this thing ended up behind the couch.

Then I remembered how the day before, T had a friend over who brought her 8-month-old daughter. Could this be a toddler’s toy? Suddenly I felt dirty. I picked up the "toy" and examined it. The rounded top had a smiley face printed on it. Honestly, I could imagine it being used both ways. But don’t take my word for it:

Sex toy or child's toy?

Child’s toy or sex toy? Read T’s blog for the answer!

(I challenge any of my readers to find a cooler way to introduce my girlfriend’s new blog.)

23:10 | Stuff | Comments (3)

November 17, 2005

One Big DISH

The tiny town of Clark, TX (population 125) has changed its name to DISH, for free satellite TV for every citizen from the EchoStar Communications Corp.

Not everybody is happy with the name change, in particular first mayor Landis Clark (who named the town after himself), who is also a DirectTV subscriber.

08:47 | Stuff | Comments (0)

November 15, 2005

Prognosis: Delicious

Three years ago during my annual physical that I first learned I had high cholesterol. About a year ago I got another physical with similar results, so I decided to change my diet.

This was no fad diet I had embarked upon. It wasn't a low-carb or high-fat or all-watermelon diet, it was a diet low in saturated fats (red meat, dairy, eggs) and trans fats (hydrogenated oils), high in whole grains, vegetables, unsaturated oils and omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flax seeds). After a year of this new eating lifestyle, I went for my 2005 physical. The doctor was impressed by how seriously I had changed my eating lifestyle, and took some blood for analysis. Today I got a voice mail with the results. Cholesterol levels: excellent. The only downside was that I didn't lose a single pound since my last visit.

Spirits high, T and I went out for dinner to celebrate. I ordered a big greasy hamburger, and it was delicious.

22:31 | Stuff | Comments (1)

November 13, 2005

I Only Watch The Weather Channel

Ever since I moved to my current apartment, I have been without a television. I’m not writing about this to tell you all about some sort of life decision I’ve made, or how TV is the downfall of society, I just personally don’t feel I need one in my life right now. The reason I bring it up, is because in the Seattle neighbourhood of Capitol Hill, I can’t bring it up without bizarre one-upmanship from people who claim not to watch TV. A typical conversation goes like this:

A: "Did you see that commercial with the monkey wearing the hat?"
Me: "No."
A: "Seriously? I mean it’s on all the time."
Me: "Actually, I don’t have a TV."
A: "Oh... well, I only watch mine on weekends."
Me: "Um, ok."
B: "I have a TV but I don’t have cable."
Me: "So what about this monkey commercial?"
C: "The only reason I have cable is so I can watch The Daily Show. The rest of the time I keep my TV unplugged."
Me: "Uh... That’s great."

For some reason, people need to try to justify to me their possession of a television set. It’s like they need to convince me that they’re not couch potatoes. The truth is, I don’t give a shit.

There are some TV shows I do enjoy, and when I want to talk to my Capitol Hill friends about them, the conversation is reminiscent of the conversation from Pulp Fiction between Jules and Vincent about pilot episodes, but with none of the chemistry:

Me: "That reminds me of a great Family Guy joke. Do you know the show?"
D: "I don’t watch TV."
Me: "Fine... but are you aware of this humorous animated television program?"
D: "My life is too busy to sit in front of a TV all night."
Me: "You’re an asshole and I hate you."

So to avoid any further awkward conversations, keep this in mind: I may not have a TV, but if there’s an interesting program you want to tell me about (or a commercial involving a monkey), I’d love to hear it, and I promise not to bring up the fact I don’t have a TV. If the subject comes up, promise me you won’t tell me the only reason you have a TV is for your cat.

15:49 | Rant , Seattle | Comments (2)

November 11, 2005

US Dollar Slips Against Canadian Acorn

Just when I'm getting ready to fly back to Canada for Christmas, Greenspan has to retire, essentially driving down the value of the US dollar with respect to the Canadian Acorn (source: The Onion)

The more I think about it, that headline isn't much dumber than "US Dollar Slips Against Canadian Loonie".

08:06 | Stuff | Comments (0)

November 8, 2005

To Gluten Or Not To Gluten

Every week some people at work buy donuts and bagels for the entire team. One week a vegetarian manager bought us vegan donuts from a local bakery. Being no stranger to vegetarian food, and never one to turn down free donuts, I eagerly ate one. It tasted fine. A little dry, but a tasty snack none the less. On my way back to my office I had the following conversation with a co-worker:

Me: "Hey, did you try any of these vegan donuts? They're pretty good."
J: "No way, I'm not eating any of that vegan stuff!"
Me: "Um, why not?"
J: "They've got gluten in them!"
Me: stares blankly
J: "Er, or maybe they don't have any gluten. Something about gluten!"
Me: "Do you know what gluten is?"
J: "It doesn't matter. I'm not eating no vegan donut."

19:50 | Stuff | Comments (0)

November 7, 2005

By Norman Mailer

"Even now she was very patriotic, and like most patriots she felt strongly and thought weakly, and so it was not easy to argue with her."

From The Deer Park, 1955

07:12 | Quotes | Comments (0)

November 4, 2005

Drive Carefully

For a few months now, the Seattle police have been implementing a campaign to encourage careful driving in busy Seattle neighbourhoods. One of the ways they're trying to get people to slow down is to put up signs like this:

Drive Carefully Sign

I think "clever" signs will only distract drivers, causing them to take their eyes off the road, chuckle to themselves, then wrap their cars around a telephone pole.

They also have a website of pedestrian and driver safety tips, complete with brain-dead comon sense tips ("Never pass/overtake a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.") and typos ("Don't let your passengers interfere with our [sic] driving.").

I feel safer already.

08:33 | Seattle | Comments (3)

November 3, 2005

Poor Sick Doggie

I was on my bus ride home from work this afternoon when I got a call from my dad with some bad news. For the past week or so, our dog Zoë has been acting strangely. She's been falling over and generally not acting like herself, so my parents took her to the vet. Today they found out she has a brain tumor.

Zoë's an old dog, so brain surgery isn't an option. Instead she is being put on medication to shrink the tumor, and hopefully she'll spend the rest of her life happy and pain-free. Aside from this, she's healthy and filled with that unadulterated love for life that dogs have. I'll be flying back to Toronto for Christmas, and I really hope she hangs in there until then.

For an intelligent dog, Zoë didn't learn a whole lot of tricks. Sure, she could sit, shake paw, and occasionally bring you a slightly moist, gnawed newspaper, but there was one trick she learned on her own. That was how to smile for the camera:

Photogenic dog

Hang on there puppy. I'm coming home soon.

22:35 | Family | Comments (0)