Thursday, October 27, 2005

What salmon and geese can teach us - OR - More unreasonableness

Maybe I'm getting lazier in my later years, but it seems to me that North America is completely obsessed with work. In North America, work = money = not burdening the welfare system. Conversely, NOT working = laziness = immorality. Therefore, if you are not working, regardless of the reason, you must be a terrible person.

Along the same gripe lines as my previous post on illness (and I'm feeling much better after that one day flu, thanks for your concern), people at work continue to come in even when they're hacking up a storm, or are feverish and have chills. These last two symptoms together are what I use to elicit a "You. Go home. Now." Even when it gets me a cold and stuffed-up mutter of, "I'm fine." Because inevitably, chills and fever at work can lead to vomitting, fainting, violent shaking, etc. And really, if any of that happens on your drive home, how many people will you take to the hospital/grave with you? Also, please do us all a favour and stop spreading your sneeze mist of illness around the office.

As for my opener on me being lazy, let me elaborate. (Warning: long rant ahead.)

I've been digesting a lot lately on my personal state of careerdom. I hate the idea of playing corporate politics and having to adjust my behaviour and personality to fit the business mindset. I can be cordial. I can be professional. I can be ruthlessly efficient. All the while, I like to insert my own personal humour (however black, bitter, cynical, or true it may seem) into every work day. I call it fun. That's me. That's how I survived high school.

But corporate workplaces don't let you be anything. You have two choices: do your work and shut up, or fight tooth and nail against the status quo. Both options sap the life out of you. You either sit and do your work and hate a lot of days while dreaming about winning the lottery; or, you work your ass off to convince those in authority that you are right, that you know what you're talking about, and subsequently work even harder to prove it and stay in the big leagues.

It's the second one I can't understand. Sure, there are people out there who are lucky enough to love what they do and earn money doing it, but I just don't understand the game they play. Politics and mind games? Work harder for less? Sure, you might get that initial promotion, that incremental raise. You might even be getting paid what you're worth. Good for you, you're happy.

But consider the life of a salmon.

My family used to go out to this place somewhere just outside of the city where we could watch the salmon swimming upstream every fall. We called it "Salmon River." We'd go down to the river's edge via a little trail and pick our way around the dozens of rotting, stinking maggot-filled salmon corpses washed up along the gravel, just to get a closer look at one of Nature's cruel little jokes. I'd quietly cheer a particular cluster of those large green-grey fish on as they struggled against the swift current. I often - and still - wish I could pick a whole bunch up and carry them a little further up the river, where the water was deeper and calmer to hurry on their reproductive way.

And then I'd see a salmon give up, his tiny aquatic heart bursting with the strain of pumping his ineffective little fins against the current. I'd watch in fascinated horror as the twitching fish was swept away down the stream, to wash up on the shore with his dead breathren. And then another would go. And another. But inevitable another fish would take up the spot in the river the late fish had vacated, just like cars in traffic.

There were always more salmon to replace the dead. There are always stronger fish in the pool.

And even if the salmon mades it over the 5-foot-high waterfall further upstream, having avoided the hungry bears and sharp rocks below, they're EXHAUSTED nearly to death. And the likelihood of getting to the spawning grounds is still very, very low from that point on.

So I ask you: are we salmon? Are we trapped in workplaces where we are constantly fighting against a torrent of trials and challenges meant to weed out the weakest fish? Mother Nature plays this same game with all migrating animals: penguins, butterflies, wolves, moose (meese?), birds...

And then I read that some Canadian Geese are starting to stick around for the winter, foregoing the long flight south and back. Scientists are worried this is a signal that climate changes are affecting Nature's design. Others have simply criticized: "Aw, they're just lazy." Which is equivalent to, "Aw, they're just immoral, and will be slaughtered for defying Nature."

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think I'm a Goose. I'll let Nature rage around me, hunker down when I have to, and if I can help it, I ain't flying south. And people around me will judge me to be lazy. Which is to say, I am an immoral person for not working to death.

See? SEE? See how North America passes judgement on the Goose?! Even if it has found a way to survive Nature and her ever-changing moods!

But you know what's crazy about geese? If one goose gets sick or tired and needs to rest, at least one other goose will follow it down and protect it while it's resting. Usually two. When the sick goose is strong again, the group will take off again and rejoin the flock, or join another formation.

Perhaps I am a sick Goose and do not know it... or perhaps I have been watching the Nature of Things too often...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Welcome to the world of blogging, Denise

I welcome Denise of Xiao Pangzi to my enviable list of blogging peers. This is the same Denise of Ray vs Denise fame, so having the two blogging should prove to be quite interesting when RVD4 comes around.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The hell...?

Gleaned from Marketing Magazine:

Bush, Saddam jolt Mexican drivers

Mexico City taxi drivers beware: International terrorist Osama bin Laden says drive nicely–or else.

A non-profit group promoting civic-minded behaviour in this tumultuous metropolis is channelling bin Laden, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Mother Teresa and U.S. President George W. Bush to convince unruly drivers to change their ways.

The campaign by Muevete por Tu Ciudad–roughly translated as Do Something for Your City–was designed to improve everyday behaviour on the streets of Mexico City, where cars drift through red lights and some police can be paid to look the other way.

Organizers say their billboards and radio spots are designed to jolt the city’s jaded commuters, police and public-transit drivers into courteous behaviour. On one billboard, the image of Saddam warns passers-by: “You can generate chaos: Don’t you double park.” Mother Teresa yells out, “Don’t give bribes to the devil!”

Two radio spots parody Bush and bin Laden. “We are going to exterminate all of those who run red lights,” Bush warns in Spanish with a heavy American accent. “People who ask for bribes are going to be punished by me.... You are going to know what pain is.”

In another ad, the voice of bin Laden warns in Spanish: “I am going to come out of hiding to punish, the way they deserve, taxi and bus drivers that don’t drive well.”

Associated Press

Next on the marketing roster:

"Bad drivers will be put into my special rehabilitation camps - gevalt!" - Hitler
"I will invade the cab and buses of the infidel drivers!" - Ghenghis Khan
"I'm gonna open a can o' whoop ass on the next guy who cuts me off!" - Ghandi

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Yup, that's me at the beginning of flu season.
I do everything I can to avoid getting sick - wash my hands frequently, dress warmly, eat healthy... but as a public transit commuter, I'm doomed to contract someone's nasty cough or cold. There's always that one guy who sits next to you on the train, hacking and blowing their nose in an overused tissue. Question: WHY CAN'T YOU PEOPLE STAY AT HOME?

That's where I was this afternoon, after trudging an hour to work and back once I realized the spinning floor, chills, and rising body temperature had nothing to do with my temporary office space, the previous night's harsh workout, or the oncoming migraine that WOULDN'T. GO. AWAY.

Came home, slept for a few hours in vertigo misery. Feelin' more human now, but I hate having cold, sweaty feet, and how everything you touch when you're sick is so cold it makes you want to vomit.

Maybe it's only in North America that being sick and away from the office is considered a crime. It seems that even with the evolving strains of flu and epidemics like SARS or Legionnaire's disease, or that nasty stomach virus that plagued cruise ships, people INSIST they just have to go to work.

Sure, I know the best way to get rid of a cold is to spread it around, but some of these things kill healthy people. Are employers to blame? Are they putting too much emphasis on productivity, and unintentionally threatening their employees the job security and chances of promotion?

For example, a former employer of mine came down with the above-mentioned stomach virus one winter. And she STILL came to work. I found her lying on the floor, covered in a blanket, feverish, vomitting, and looking pretty close to death. I ask, WHY would anyone come to work in that state? I ended up escorting her to the doctor's office on company time, and trying very hard not to catch the extremely contagious virus myself.

My sister was in a major car accident last year that bashed her up pretty good. Thankfully, only the car was broken beyond repair, and she took a week of rest to heal her swollen face. On the day of the accident, as she called work from the hospital, her boss flippantly told her that her daughter had been in a car accident and had simply picked the pieces of broken glass out of her face and returned to work, like a good little automaton, and hinted she should do the same.

Bitch. Of course, this same boss woman let her cancerous tumour become unbearable before she allowed herself to take time off work to have it treated. People with that kind of attitude are on Darwin's peripherals, and end up getting theirs.

And now, I think I'm about to vomit so I have to stop.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Why name plates on your office door would suck

I just knew this would happen to me someday: it's a good thing they haven't gotten me an engraved nameplate for the door. Yet.

Our department's newest employee's last name: Butt
My last name: So
My manager's last name: Brown

[insert canned laughter here].

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ass whooping

Read this guy's post - firstly, he talks dirty oil rigging terminology.

Then he goes into this story - make sure you go to the link to see the pictures:
A couple from Montana were out riding on the range, he with his rifle and she (fortunately) with her camera. Their dogs always followed them, but on this occasion a Mountain Lion decided that he wanted to stalk the dogs (you'll see the dogs in the background watching). Very, very bad decision...

The hunter got off the mule with his rifle and decided to shoot in the air to scare away the lion, but before he could get off a shot the lion charged in and decided he wanted a piece of those dogs. With that, the mule took off and decided he wanted a piece of that lion. That's when all hell broke loose... for the lion.

As the lion approached the dogs the mule snatched him up by the tail and started whirling him around. Banging its head on the ground on every pass. Then he dropped it, stomped on it and held it to the ground by the throat. The mule then got down on his knees and bit the thing all over a couple of dozen times to make sure it was dead, than whipped it into the air again, walked back over to the couple (that were stunned in silence) and stood there ready to continue his ride... as if nothing had just happened.

Major Major Major Major Ass

(Warning - long, ranting post ahead.)

I am the proud owner of a very stylish, very practical, and very inexpensive Royal Canadian Artillery dress jacket, which I bought at AAA Army Surplus in Kensington Market for $25. I bought this jacket a few years ago, and have received many compliments on it. I even get a few fearful glances as people shuffle away from me. Which is always nice.

Today, I wore my jacket out during my lunchtime walk around Scarborough Town Centre. As I approached the mall, a security guard from the adjacent federal building stopped me and asked if I was a part of the reserves. Though tempted to say yes, I know it's illegal to impersonate an officer, so I said no.

"Well, you can't wear that," he said about my jacket. "It's illegal to wear army uniforms in public."

Huh? But I bought the jacket this way at a store, said I.

"They're meant to take the patches off," said the rent-a-cop. As an afterthought: "I was in the service."

"Uh huh. Well, good to know." I grinned manically and stalked away.

Okay, I understand, maybe you're offended that a little asian girl is wearing nicer clothes than you and didn't have to "earn" them by trudging through wind, rain, sun and snow. Maybe you're bitter that for some reason, you're no longer serving your country and are reduced to wearing a crappy $15 windbreaker from your half-assed security company and toting a giant walkie talkie instead of a grenade launcher.

But C'MON. Don't you have something better to do, like harrass the hoodlums smoking and spitting and fighting on your doorstep? I might add the following:

a) I wasn't impersonating an officer: I was wearing a nice, waterproof, warm jacket.
b) I wasn't in anything CLOSE to standard-issue gear. The velvet scarf and dangly topaz earrings should have given that away.
c) I didn't splatter myself with blood and run in circles screaming "AHHH! LOOK AT ME! I'M IN AFGHANISTAN!!!"
d) Do I LOOK like I could possibly be in the Forces? I'm freakin' 5'2" and weigh 130 pounds. I wouldn't survive the bus trip. I just want to wear practical, affordable clothes, dammit!

Did I in some way offend the entire Royal Canadian Artillery? I proudly support Canadian troops in peacekeeping missions around the world and think the government could stand to throw a bone at its starving military.

So I did my homework (one of the few times - only anger gets me to do research) and guess what? It IS in the Criminal Code under Fraud and Forgery. No need to call the cops yet though: I'm in the clear:

Applying or removing marks without authority

417. (1) Every one who,

(a) without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on him, applies a distinguishing mark to anything, or

(b) with intent to conceal the property of Her Majesty in public stores, removes, destroys or obliterates, in whole or in part, a distinguishing mark,

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

Unlawful transactions in public stores

(2) Every one who, without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on him, receives, possesses, keeps, sells or delivers public stores that he knows bear a distinguishing mark is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Definition of "distinguishing mark"

(3) For the purposes of this section, "distinguishing mark" means a distinguishing mark that is appropriated for use on public stores pursuant to section 416.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 375.

Selling defective stores to Her Majesty

418. (1) Every one who knowingly sells or delivers defective stores to Her Majesty or commits fraud in connection with the sale, lease or delivery of stores to Her Majesty or the manufacture of stores for Her Majesty is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Offences by representatives

(2) Every one who, being a representative of an organization that commits, by fraud, an offence under subsection (1),

(a) knowingly takes part in the fraud, or

(b) knows or has reason to suspect that the fraud is being committed or has been or is about to be committed and does not inform the responsible government, or a department thereof, of Her Majesty,

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 418; 2003, c. 21, s. 6.1.

Unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates

419. Every one who without lawful authority, the proof of which lies on him,

(a) wears a uniform of the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force or a uniform that is so similar to the uniform of any of those forces that it is likely to be mistaken therefor,

(b) wears a distinctive mark relating to wounds received or service performed in war, or a military medal, ribbon, badge, chevron or any decoration or order that is awarded for war services, or any imitation thereof, or any mark or device or thing that is likely to be mistaken for any such mark, medal, ribbon, badge, chevron, decoration or order,

(c) has in his possession a certificate of discharge, certificate of release, statement of service or identity card from the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force that has not been issued to and does not belong to him, or

(d) has in his possession a commission or warrant or a certificate of discharge, certificate of release, statement of service or identity card, issued to an officer or a person in or who has been in the Canadian Forces or any other naval, army or air force, that contains any alteration that is not verified by the initials of the officer who issued it, or by the initials of an officer thereto lawfully authorized,

is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 377.

Military stores

420. (1) Every one who buys, receives or detains from a member of the Canadian Forces or a deserter or an absentee without leave therefrom any military stores that are owned by Her Majesty or for which the member, deserter or absentee without leave is accountable to Her Majesty is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.


(2) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section where he establishes that he did not know and had no reason to suspect that the military stores in respect of which the offence was committed were owned by Her Majesty or were military stores for which the member, deserter or absentee without leave was accountable to Her Majesty.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 378.

Evidence of enlistment

421. (1) In proceedings under sections 417 to 420, evidence that a person was at any time performing duties in the Canadian Forces is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that his enrolment in the Canadian Forces prior to that time was regular.

Presumption when accused a dealer in stores

(2) An accused who is charged with an offence under subsection 417(2) shall be presumed to have known that the stores in respect of which the offence is alleged to have been committed bore a distinguishing mark within the meaning of that subsection at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed if he was, at that time, in the service or employment of Her Majesty or was a dealer in marine stores or in old metals.

Hmm. So you can wear army fatigues as long as they don't belong to the Queen and you didn't buy them from her. From what I can interpret, the AAA army surplus store - a private, non-public store - supposedly bought these goods, which were declared surplus and hence no longer property of the Queen, and sold them to me, the private individual who has no idea about where they came from. It's not like I can look at the collar and see if "Elizabeth II" is sewn into it, after all.

Just to be sure, I contacted the Canadian Forces and am waiting for a reply that surely will not come. I have no reason to believe this will get me into further trouble, but I hate having my fashion sense mangled. I think the rent-a-cop was just looking to wave his penis around and yell "I'M A MAN!!! LOOK AT ME!!!"

Anyhow, you can buy the badges, swords, and other artillery gear at stores. Army surplus is sold by the Crown Assets Distribution Centre. So unless the Canadian Gov't wants to hang onto all its dust-collecting surplus, Mr. SecurityMan can kiss my brass buttoned ass.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Project Guttenberg

I'm surfing the net and I'm suddenly realizing I could have save a couple of hundred bucks in university if I'd just gone and downloaded all the free e-books for all the classic literature I had to read. Among them, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer... just check out the top 100 list at Project Guttenberg.

The only limitation is that these can't be downloaded directly onto my Palm (as a prc. file). However, downloading a free word processor, then converting the txt. document lets me read and access them easily. And you can still bookmark important passages and make notes right on the thing. The only real problem is when the prof says "turn to page...." But if you never buy the right edition of the class books anyhow, this shouldn't be a huge deal if you want to save money.

All this makes me wonder why professors aren't encouraging students to jump into the modern age of mobility and get a cheap PDA for use on campus. I mean, spending $14 on a copy of Dracula is just ridiculous, and spending weeks looking for a used copy in Toronto ain't a walk in the park, since so many of the good used bookstores are now gone. Even used copies of easy-to-find classics in campus bookstores can run you up to $10.

So here's a business idea for any aspiring entrepeneurs out there: get your hands on older, used and refurbished handheld PDAs, load them up with free software and a collection of classics off the net, and sell them or lease them on campus for a small profit - say, $50 for the year, $100 for keeps. Just think: these kids won't have to carry three or four books at a time either. Hooray for unbulky bookbags!

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Saw it last night, up here in Ottawa. Wow.
Being a Firefly fan, the film was everything I expected and a more. Sadly, it makes me pine even more for the lost TV series. I find myself ths morning standing at the edge of a great void. I don't want to spoil it for other Firefly fans, but there's change, and Joss being Joss, he never makes it easy or transitory. It just happens and you're left reeling and wondering what the hell just happened.

The uninitiated will still enjoy this movie - I think that their lack of intimacy with the characters may make them appreicate it even more. Good writing, good fx, well-developed characters, a driven plot; all the things Hollywood seems to be lacking these days.

I was told that there were fans who came out of this film saying it was "just like walking out of Star Wars back in 1977." A statement like that will inevitably ruin it for anyone, I think, because that's the kind of pumped-up expectation that makes a film fall short of its goals. Of course, I wasn't even alive in '77, and Star Wars is on a whole different level of film. But Serenity sure was cool.

With all that said, I command you all now: go see this film. Go see it, think about it, then watch the Firefly DVDs. Cuz' dammit, I want my Firefly TV show! Waah!