Morning Ritual

March 31, 2004

What a disaster today is. Yesterday evening I met with Médecin Franco-Ontarien Malin (Méfom). This wicked creature made me drink one or two of pints of beer too many. Yep. Practically poured them down my throat, he did. We had much to discuss regarding last week. And these many hours later I feel like someone is sandpapering the inside of my skull and hammering nails into the backs of my eyeballs.

Now, I am not exactly a morning person to begin with. Typically, I stumble to the kitchen, make some coffee, often spilling grounds everywhere, and fall back into bed until the coffee is ready. Then I crawl back to the kitchen, grab the first coffee cup – dirty or clean – I come across and with ever-so-precise control, very difficult for Morning Snobby, combine the right proportions of caffeine, milk, and sugar to transform me into the witty, effervescent Snobby I have grown to know and love.

You must all be very proud of Snobby now because, throughout this time of unemployment I have stuck to a fairly normal sleep schedule, usually awaking somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30. Not bad for a non-morning person. It's slightly more difficult to maintain such a schedule when someone has been forcing you to drink beer for an extended period of time. So now you are probably extremely worried about my waking schedule for today. Fear not. I have a trusty alarm clock in the form of a controlling, passive-aggressive cat who does not appreciate change in his household without his prior approval. So, if I'm not up by 8:00, he wakes me up in a very insidious manner. He stares, and trust me that the power of his stares bores right through any alcohol-based slumber I might be enjoying and snaps me violently into the waking world.

And let me tell you that there is something quite eerie about waking up to a pair of giant, luminously yellow eyes coolly observing you. Not moving. Not blinking. Just looking at you. It certainly makes you want to move.

So here I am, mainly unslept and waiting in vain for the coffee to kick in before I go meet my mother for lunch, an exhausting walk all over downtown with her, and then a lecture this evening at one of the HIV/AIDS organizations I volunteer at on something depressing. Quite a day to be hung-over.

I have to deal with my mother on a hangover. This reminds me of my life 15 years ago, which either means I'm immature or I'm still charmingly youthful and full of life.

posted by GreyGuy on 31.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Glowing Green Pea Soup

March 30, 2004

I don't feel like sitting in front of a computer today, so I won't. So for all three of you who read this regularly, dry your tears and imagone what your life would be like if your comforter looked like this (courtesy of rainy monday in reykjavik). Even cooler than flavourful green pea soup.

posted by GreyGuy on 30.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Serbian Goulash

March 29, 2004

Today it is spring. Well, it was spring before, but today I decided that it is really Spring and not Sprinter or Wing, even though it's very likely it'll snow at least one more time before I see colours in this city other than grey. I even managed to delude myself into believing that I could even see buds on the trees. Soon it will be one of my favourite times of spring, the time when people actually undress as they are walking down the street.

This morning I had a craving for a very particular green pea soup from a very particular Eastern European shop in a neighbourhood very far from me. This soup is astoundingly delicious and worth the one-hour walk (beats the alternative: several modes of public transit that take almost as long as walking). It is flavourful and nummy and I buy it sparingly so that it remains special, ie. I don't get sick of it. What's the secret ingredient? Flavour. It's not at all like the bland lumpy green muck the usually passes for pea soup (no links to "The Exorcist" – too obvious. Well, maybe just one).

I love going to buy it because it's on that stretch of Queen between University and Ossington that reminds me of when I used to live in Montreal and, aside from work, university, and the odd date or party, I hung out almost exclusively on St-Laurent between Ste-Catherine and Fairmount. Both streets have a sort of dirty class I like, with art galleries next to hardware shops next to shmancy restaurants next to fabric stores. It makes me feel all fuzzy and nostalgic to walk down Queen West.

I also like going there because of that very rustic service you only find in authentic delis, Eastern European shops, and the city of New York:

Snobby - practically perfect in every way
Shopkeeper woman - 50ish with big, super-bleached hair, blue eye shadow to her eyebrows, magenta blush, and a glossy leopard-print scarf wrapped around her neck

Snobby: Excuse me. Can you tell me the difference between goulash soup and Serbian goulash soup?

Shopkeeper: Why you not read label? Serbian goulash is not soup. Serbian goulash is meal. Goulash soup is soup. That is difference.

Snobby: Um...I see. You forgot to tell me how stupid I am and to wish me a nice day.

Shopkeeper woman: (evil, slightly seductive little smile) Give me $9.40.

It's a refreshing change from the oppressively hyper-polite service bad managers think people like that you usually get in this city.

And now I have pea soup and goulash and I swear that I see buds on the tree right outside my window.

Bon appétit.

posted by GreyGuy on 29.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Earthly Displeasure

March 28, 2004

How happy I am to see this week to its conclusion. It has been full of physical ailment, a break-up, and a death. The only constants in Snobby's silly little life this week have been his cat and this blog. That's pretty pathetic. But there are always ways of making yourself feel better. One is to find a target.

My target was a Christian fundamentalist preacher whose site (I refuse to link to it) I stumbled into by mistake and with whom I entered a little email war of ideals. When I first sent my email, I wasn't respecting any response except maybe to be placed on some sort of Jesus mailing list. But he wrote back almost immediately (last minue Sunday sermon writing, I assume - apparently the Word of God can be but aside for earthly pleasures by preachers too), and I reponded. I remained respectful in my words – after all, my goal was not to offend, just to say my piece (and appearing to remain respectful is a great way of condescending, too) – but I was surprised at how quickly he descended into antagonistic language. Why do so many people take questions as a form of disrespect rather than interest?

In any case, I let it go on too long. You have to admit that this was a much more creative solution to my agitated state that getting drunk in a bar and a) sleeping with someone just wrong for many many reasons b) picking a fight c) staring morosely into the distance as my friends dance and cruise, but I let it go on too long because I sincerely wished he would just stop and consider, not change his entire belief system. After all these many mistake-filled years I still surprise myself with my naïveté.

When he threatened to have his entire congregation email me (which would technically be illegal according to our southern neighbour's anti-spam laws) I gave up, knowing his unfair tactics had beaten me. It seems he is so insecure in the beliefs he preaches that he has to resort to a childlike, "I'm gonna make everyone hate you!" I find that sad on many levels.

Interestingly enough, he never threw at me the stereotypical "You are going to burn in the eternal flames of hellfire!" or anything like that. That was disappointing. I mean, if you're gonna fight with a preacher you want a little fire and brimstone.

Now I see that I chose the wrong target. It didn't make me feel better. It made me feel worse. Not only did I have an odd week but also all of humanity is in a terrible state, being guided by vane leaders who prefer ignorance over knowledge. The world really is a horrible place.

If his view of the world is right, his last word is indeed the last word. However, if my view of the world is right, it doesn't matter who has the last word because all beliefs are good as long as no one is harmed in the process.

So, this afternoon I'm going to see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with AA, JP, and SA, which seems to be the perfect movie after physical ailments, a fruitless fight with a fundamentalist, a break-up, and a death. But before then I will go slaughter some stegosauruses.

posted by GreyGuy on 28.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

No Name

March 27, 2004

I'm taking the day off. That novel I've been ignoring for this thingie has been crying out to me to be written ("At least finish the chapter you were working on!", it whimpers beseechingly), so there you go. In the meantime, check out a fabulous lesson in cultural insensitivity on the site that exposes what it considers the world's dumbest laws (although in all fairness, it does poke fun at the American ones too).

Happy weekend.

posted by GreyGuy on 27.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments


March 26, 2004

I'm still feeling a little blah. It's been an odd week.

It's not all bad though. What I mean by that is that one of the advantages of unemployment is that when you feel blah, you don't have to put up with other people trying to cheer you up. We've all had (or still have) that relentlessly cheerful co-worker who has enlighted belief paradigms such as the conviction that Dr. Phil has keen insight into the human psyche and that HR personality tests that grill you on your favourite colour, for example, give an accurate picture of your work ethic. This person takes it upon themself to be the office morale officer, an irritating Neelix whose untimely demise I wished for in every episode, by reminding you about the world's evils outside your little mind and by forcing tofu cupcakes upon you with an elation that makes you want to roar like a dinosaur. But as usual, I digress. Unemployed Snobby can be grumpy to his heart's content and not make believe that today is a shiny happy day and that he's in a joyous and mirthful mood for the benefit of The Team.

I used to have a job where I could go into my office, close the door, not answer the phone, and evade the office spreader of merriment. Such a luxury...and I got my work done much better then when I had to deal with office politics and gossip all the time (especially since I was the boss so much of it was possibly about me!).

But office seclusion is a luxury to be used sparingly. I also spent a lot of time sitting in my colleagues offices yakking with them about what they thought of their job, where they thought it could be going better, what was good, and personal stuff too if they wanted to talk about that. So I guess they could forgive me when I occasionally made myself unavailable. And it's a source of pride for me that not one person quit while I was in charge. But I suppose that's really due to them and not so much to me: they were an excellent group of people to work with and I miss them all very much (should any of them happen to be reading this/s'il y en a parmi eux qui lisent ceci). It was a good place to work.

Not at all like my next job, which I credit with a fun-filled year of depression and anxiety that has made me into the snobby and unemployed ne'er-do-well I am today. It's always best to blame others for everything that goes wrong. You must never ever take responsibility for your own life whatsoever.

On the upside, I managed to slaughter and devour an entire adult stegosaurus this morning in the baby allosaurus game. I also mused on whether or not I should worry about the fact that I don't really seem to have much of a desire for a career anymore, and I decided I shouldn't worry. I should still get a job though. Anyone want me to write their blog for them? How about their letters of resignation? For cheap.

posted by GreyGuy on 26.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Bye, Dominic

March 25, 2004

. . . and he was a good guy, too. fun to go for a few drinks with . . . bye, Dominic.

posted by GreyGuy on 25.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Javasaurus Eats the World

March 24, 2004

Warning: this entry isn't as funny as the previous ones, so skip to them in you're in search of my more humorous side. If not, read on ...

Today is a day of grump and crank. Yesterday's stomach flu seems to have turned into a full-body flu (substitute "flu" with "massage given by 4 really hot, naked guys" and Snobby's feelings on the day may improve). I feel a little like I've been buried to my neck in sand every time I move. But at least I have an excuse not to look for a job today!

This morning, the word doesn't seem like such a great place. I sat down to try and understand the new federal budget, and I don't. However, I have been assured by the ruling Liberal Party Dynasty that it is a budget for me and for all the citizens of this fair land. So why can't I understand it?

And then I sat down in front of the TV to try and watch the debate on this new federal budget. Have you ever tried to sit down and watch these guys "debate" (please understand that I'm using that term very lightly here)? Parliamentary proceedings are full of bluster, bogus idealism, and smug self-satisfaction and I should really know better by now than to watch them. Predictably, after about 10 minutes I transformed into Javasaurus and threw things at the TV (small, soft things (like the cat – just joking, you PETA freaks!) – no hurting the sacred image box).

And when one is already feeling not so hot, the sure-fire cure is, of course, to catch up on current events...specifically, Middle-Eastern events. Brilliant idea. That'll cure what ails ya.

I have been following a feature on the BBC homepage in which two working moms, one from Israel and the other from Egypt, have an email correspondence. "Great," I said to myself at the first instalment, "maybe real people will be able to make a difference in the Middle-East where blustering, bogus, smugly self-satisfied statesman do not." Well, at only the fourth instalment the two moms are already sniping at each other about the legitimacy of the State of Israel and the treatment of Palestinians. They don't seem all that interested in finding out much more about one another (well, one did – but she got shot down enough to have lost interest). So if real, thinking people can't even find any common ground before tacking the more difficult issues, where is the hope?

Then I played that baby allosaurus game for a while to give myself that feeling of empowerment and control that only being a ferocious, bloodthirsty beastie can give. But I kept starving to death and once I was eaten by a lizard. So much for empowerment.

But I have to say that at least I live in a country where I can scrutinize the federal budget and can watch the politicians I vote for make fools of themselves. At least I live in a world where an Israeli woman and an Egyptian woman can have instant communication, even if it's difficult communication. And at least I live in a world where I can pretend to be a dinosaur and go clomping through the forest in search of prey to devour messily, and then get up and fix myself a pot of chicken noodle soup – which I'm going to do now.

Bon journée, les amis!

posted by GreyGuy on 24.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Open Windows

March 23, 2004

My sister sent along the mystical abilty to open new windows with a link, so please visit a site she designed she can't say that I never give her nuthin. I didn't know my sister was a computer geek.

posted by GreyGuy on 23.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

Javasaurus vs. Javageekus

As I stated yesterday, it is important to continue one's education during unemployment. Yesterday, I learned how to be a baby allosaurus while discovering how to eat giant dragonflies and be killed by enraged stegosauruses. I agree that this may not be the most important knowledge to add to my personal culture (barring all clichés about kill or be killed or it being a jungle out there) but it was fun to pretend to be a ferocious, prowling beast for a while. Keeping one's spirits up during The Unemployment Eon is of the utmost importance. So, off went the hungry dinosaur in search of new educational caterpillars.

For some reason I no longer recall, I made the pre-caffeinated decision to become a computer geek. Now there's a skill useful for my own personal edification as well as for future employment "opportunities" if I've ever seen one! I vaguely remembered a little HTML from a job I had almost a decade ago (yikes!) where I volunteered to redo the company's web page after they had laid off the entire staff I'd been hired to boss around. In retrospect, perhaps I should have questioned the eradication of my entire department without having me take over their tasks, but I was inexperienced with bossing and bored out of my baby allosaurus-sized noggin. So I read some HTML tutorials and set about to create. I then forgot almost all my HTML when, one month later, they laid me off too. Hurrah for small unstable software companies!

But I digress...this morning I deftly parted my hair in the middle, found an old pair old sunglasses from which I removed the lenses and snapped the nosepiece so I could repair it with tape, and set off to learn how to write nonsensical strings of letters that would make my computer do awesome, wondrous things. How bright and shiny my future seemed at that moment.

And it started off pretty well. I discovered how to create links in the body of this text to other web pages, as you may have already discovered. I also determined how to allow you to give me a piece of your mind. "Why," I thought to myself with no trace of foreshadowing whatsoever, "do people think this is so difficult?" I snorted into my coffee with derision of those computer mafiosos who want us to feel insignificant and small when confronted with their tremendous jargon-filled powers.

My confident computer hubris was short-lived. I grew to desire too much and this was to be my humiliating downfall. Happy that I could link to other pages, I soon noticed that my links were obliterating my own blog. I did want people to be able to see where my fits of imagination take me, but what if they got lost and were tragically unable to make their way back to me? Why, whatever would I do? A new window seemed the answer.

Now, to do this one must learn a language called Java. I was already feeling pretty proud of myself – I mean, look what I had already accomplished before 8AM! – so after a quick consultation with a Star Trek fan page I set off to absorb a Java tutorial. What I found was a series of characters that look like what happens when I mash the keyboard with my hand repeatedly, separated by words I knew but were unrecognizable in this context. "I must have stumbled upon an advanced tutorial," I thought to myself innocently. I found another "advanced" tutorial, then another and another. After a few more tries I could feel frustration beginning to clamp itself around my head. I took a calming sip of coffee. Finally, I found a tutorial that claimed all I need do was cut and paste some random-looking string of nonsense characters into my text and I would have windows and possibly world peace as well. How naïve I was in my morning stupor.

String clipped, I surfed coolly back to this blog to admire my handywork and clicked. No new window. Back to the text. The string was pasted the way they claimed I was supposed to. Back to here. No new window. I went back and forth another few times, but to no avail. And then I turned into Javasaurus, thumping my desk and yelling at my very unimpressed computer (my cat was pretty impressed though). When that did no good, I wrote a consterned email to the javageekus who thinks he's so superior to me. I'm sure the response will be quite enlightening.

So although I know no one is reading this except Mikevil – not even my sister! – but on the off chance that someone should stumble into my little site of musings and this someone knows how to open a new window with a link and can explain it as if to a child, please please tell me how!

And I did learn one thing today. I will never get a job as a Webmaster.

posted by GreyGuy on 23.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

How to Stay Unemployed

March 22, 2004

Today I went on an interview for a fairly important position. I was pretty excited about it. If I must chain myself to a desk again, it may as well be a pretty desk with a comfy chair and a phone with call display so I can screen my calls and then claim later I was really really busy. The interview started off well enough. Potential Boss Person seemed impressed by my background, experience and soon enough it was as if we were having a conversation – albeit a formal one – not an interview. This is always a good sign.

But then I began to notice that every word that came out of Potential Boss Person's mouth was four letters long. Now, believe me when I say that I'm no prissy little uptight wallflower. It's true that I really do appreciate a relaxed, informal work atmosphere where one can forget that one is doing something one loathes with people one wouldn't associate with if one weren't getting paid to do so. However, it does seem to me that a certain level of decorum should be kept.

I mean, does Potential Boss Person think we're friends after a mere 15 minutes of conversation about my tasks and duties? Would Potential Boss Person turn into one of those bosses who get off on having a gay underling so that advice on romance and clothing can be tacitly built into the job description? If she talks like that when she's happy, how would she talk if I did something that made her angry – which I would most definitely do: I know my own personality very well. Plus it's just plain ugly. Would it be such a stretch to scrape your brain to find more imaginative and precise way of expressing yourself?

All Potential Boss People seem to forget that while they're sending Potential Slaves'n'Serfs into diarrhea-inducing panics, they are also supposed to impress on us how magnificent it is to work for them. Perhaps they forget that we need to know that we're going to be happy about the situation that is going to take up almost as much time as sleeping does. We forget to, and as a consequence settle for all sorts of horrible jobs that give us ulcers and cause us to have early mid-life crises.

Then there's that interview I went on years ago where Very Rude Potential Boss Person kept answering his phone every two minutes during the interview. During it. When he made a call of his own, I got up and left. I wasn't angry (that's a lie – I was a little angry); it just seemed to me that there would be an immense personality conflict if I got the job. I was simply treating him with the same courtesy he was treating me with. Then, Head Hunter of Doom and Evil who had gotten me the interview told me she wouldn't work with me anymore unless I apologized to Very Rude Potential Boss Person. She hadn't found me a job in six months (luckily for my wallet, I had a job at the time – unlike now) so it didn't seem to me to be such a lethal threat.

Back to today – I spent the rest of the day seeking out various episodes of the Simpsons and incarnations of Star Trek on TV and playing this educational game that I found on the BBC web page, of all places, where you pretend to be a baby dinosaur and you eat caterpillars and scorpions and get eaten by other bigger, meaner dinosaurs. I am not making this up. (pretend you think this is interesting and click on "Big Al Game". "Sea Monster Adventure" is fun/frustrating too). It is important to continue one's education during times of unemployment.

posted by GreyGuy on 22.3.04 | Permalink | 0 comments

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