Archive for March, 2009

Rhume for improvement

Posted on March 31st, 2009 Be the first to comment

I know that I run the risk of being accused of being one of those celebrities who don’t stand behind a cause unless it affects them personally. The general line of questioning goes: Would Reagan have stood so vehemently behind Alzheimer’s research if he wasn’t starting to get a bit sketchy himself? Would Chris Reeve have been so supportive of stem cell research if it hadn’t been for his own accident? Doesn’t this mean they’re just self-serving pricks who don’t really care about moving the cause forward except when it comes to them?

I say “hell no!”  on their behalf, and and also for me by way of corollary (pure logic, baby). There’s a million and one things to get behind, from diseases, to famine, to war. Expecting anyone to get behind them all of them really just mirrors the decrier’s own lack of sanity. It’d be easy enough to clam up anyone who decides to go down that path by scaling the question  down to pleb level and asking which local charities they themselves haven’t contributed to. The only correct follow-up to their answer is, “well why not, jerk face?”  — that usually pacifies everyone.

Oh, and also, I’m not a celebrity. So with righteous aplomb, I continue.

I have the flu. If it isn’t the flu, some bacterium is a master of disguise. I have all the classic symptoms; chills, intermittent fever, headache, sneezing, snotting, and otherwise expelling pus. I’m writing this from my convalescence couch (eh, who am I kidding, by convalescence I mean just regular ole’ life. I just like alliterations).

“Oh, big whoop,” I hear you say, “everyone’s had the flu. My four-year-old niece doesn’t blog about it when she’s sick; what’s so special about you?”

What a loaded question, dear  imaginary interlocutor. Let me start by casting doubt on your niece’s ability to write a multi-paragraph expository work of any kind. That is all. I guess I shouldn’t have started that without a second point. Oh well.

My aim wasn’t to heap aspersions on your nieces or nephews anyway,  but rather to draw attention to the fact that Influenza is probably the world’s deadliest communicable disease and, since it’s affecting me, to try to encourage you to do something about it.

The statistics are a bit fuzzy at the upper end of the scale because Influenza is lumped into the “Lower respiratory infections” group (basically lung problems). A bit of reading reveals that yes, the flu can cause this type of complication, but not always. Usually this happens in the elderly or infirm, but there’s always one variant or another that has the ability to be more profoundly harmful to everyone.

On top of all this, apparently the influenza group hasn’t budged from its number one spot in the charts for decades. H5N1, the bird flu; that scared quite a few people because of the possibility of another pandemic, but once all the birds were dead, people pretty much forgot about it. Getting all lathered up does nobody any good, but there should be a level and ongoing discussion on the topic of Influenza in general (including all its variants, not just the few in the spotlight).

The government is quick to point out that flu vaccines are not entirely effective (roughly 80%), in staving off infections. This stems from the virus’ ability to evolve and change outfits before going out on the town.

The virus essentially wears a chemical mask which it uses to sneak by our body’s bouncers and get in. By the time the bouncers realize what’s happened, the virus has already taken control of the bar.

Vaccines work by providing the door security with photos of the virus’ newest disguises, but that 20% miss rate indicates that two in ten virii still manage to sneak by undetected. The other problem is that, in a typical season, we provide the bouncer with snapshots of only three of the most common viral disguises (which are many and growing each year). If any one of those variants decided to bring a weapon, that would really suck.

In other words, flu vaccines are a stopgap solution to a potentially deadly and widespread problem.

Academia and government are definitely concerned over this, but I don’t remember the last time someone marched up Yonge street waving a “United against the flu” placard. Don’t remember the last time I saw that for HIV/AIDS neither, come to think of it.

We need to get out there and rally against this horrible, horrible disease. It’s making me not enjoy Ren & Stimpy and I can’t taste hot dogs. I can’t imagine how it could get worse, but apparently it can. The flu must be stopped now.

Please, for my sake.

Filed under: Why I'm Right

Big Red’s gold

Posted on March 27th, 2009 2 Comments

It’s innocuous and mostly ignored. It just stands there performing its function as best it can, providing a vital service to thousands of Torontonians each day without so much as a mumble, and lately it’s been spitting up gold.

like snowflakes

Here is my accumulated trove from the past few days, complete with a likely reconstruction of the sequence in which they came out →

Aren’t they great? Each one a unique fuck up; some mis-cut, some mis-printed, and most that didn’t fully make it through the rollers. Then there’s Blue Mountain of messed up transfers, the double-print. Super gracias, TTC!

These will find a home somewhere on my shelf, lovingly enshrined in my homage to the quirks that make the city great. MiCkie Dick’s and towers don’t a shelf make nah more.

Big RedShould you care to brighten your own morning, visit the right-hand machine at the Dundas southbound subway platform, when it’s “fixed”. I’d be just chuffed to share your own sunny treasures here (comment or email, whatever floats your boat).

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Will work for nybbles

Posted on March 26th, 2009 Be the first to comment

A few days ago I received a heartwarming email correspondence from a guy I’d never heard of. It brought unintentionally good tidings regarding employment in Toronto (at least in my field of work), as well as reaffirming my disdain for that barnacle of the professional world, the head hunter.

First the employment.

I don’t want to paint an unnecessarily rosy picture; there are certain sectors out there that are getting beat up left right and center. These seem to be mostly in old, established manufacturing jobs with most of them tied to car makers. However, many emerging and newer fields are on a broad upswing. Consider the letter I mentioned above. What makes that email uplifting is that it’s for the job in which I’m currently employed; I know because I helped to write the job description. We could chalk this mistake up to ignorance (more on that later), but le’s say for a moment that this was for a job that I wasn’t already in; what does the email say about the job market in my field (Flash developer, if you didn’t bother)?

First of all, the employment agency went to the trouble of describing my employer as a “Medium Sized Trendy Company”. In a brief discussion about this, my fellow developer and I came to the conclusion that we most certainly are the heppest things since hep became a word.

Going to the bother of adding trendy words indicates that a little bit of extra oomph is needed to attract candidates, something to which I can definitely attest. We’ve been trying to fill this position for about a year now. There have been a lot of dismal, head-shake-inducing entries and unfortunately, those that have been good were poached by competitors.

I don’t think that this job situation requires any heavy analysis (like this helped any “experts” forecasting our current monetary troubles); it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Most high-tech skills, especially really nerdy ones like programming have large gaps between what employers need and what they can get. Sure, the learning curve is pretty steep but I think that an intensive six month course in your technology of choice should be enough to get you in on the $60K/year gigs. More often than not, there will be good room for negotiation.

Most developers I know are aware of the current global economic fiasco by name only. If you’re looking for a job, Toronto is probably faring a bit better than most places, but it’s hurting just as bad in those areas where people are getting axed globally. Despite this, it seems to be smooth sailing for all the fields that are opening up either because of changes in technology, ageing of the population, or recognition of global problems like the environment. By new, I mean somewhere in the neighbourhood of five to six years. I’m considered senior for God’s sake!

Don’t poopoo jobs because they’re different. Work environments are bound to change; if you’re freelancing now you probably have a better idea of what the workplace of tomorrow will look like than the standard nine-to-five guy. Keep your mind open when looking for a new job; the opportunity may seem unlike anything you’ve ever tried, and that’s usually what makes it the one to go for. There is an element of uncertainty, but as a general risk-averting pussy, I can honestly say that it’s a lot smaller than you think (mostly just an excuse).

In closing, I wanted to just touch on head hunters in the employment maelstrom. You can do without them! After all, their modus operendi is to make money off of you in exchange for providing a job seeking service as well as backing you up when you’re on the clock.

At least, that’s the theory.

In my experience with about seven different agencies, most fucked off after my first day on the job. In most cases I had to hunt down my rep who, more often than not, would be generally unavailable because of “meetings”, and that didn’t go down well on payday when the cheque didn’t show up. For the forty-odd bucks they were charging on top of my hourly, you’d think they’d be able to actually do what they say they’d do. Besides this, I had better luck finding good jobs myself ; they exist and agencies usually don’t have exclusive dibs. My delicate feet never hit pavement either.

And do keep in mind the level of competence exemplified by some of these chuckleheads; like the one who sent me a job offer for my own job. I wonder if he has opposable thumbs.

Filed under: Pictures, Why I'm Right

I wanna to bear your children!*

Posted on March 23rd, 2009 Be the first to comment

…and we’re back. Wow! What an amazing B Side that was yesterday, huh?

Site traffic spiked to well over 5000% and the comments were still going until the wee hours this morning! Thank you all so much for participating in what was obviously a hotly contested issue. I  think that the obvious winning comment was made by anonymousse_205 who, with amazing clarity and insight, disproved once and for all the existence of God.

Too bad the stress of high traffic on the site forced me to remove the post; maybe I’ll revive it again at some future time.

Instead of trying to top that doozie, I’d just like to dedicate a few brief lyrics to Chris Bosh; the same ones in which I take consolation during my troubled times:

Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who says that I am the one
But the kid is not my son


Filed under: B Sides

A pie for your thoughts

Posted on March 20th, 2009 2 Comments

I used to be an angry young man. Now I’m a slightly less angry mid-thirties man.

In the past I would’ve treated a brutal assault on my personal space as an affront to all I held near and dear. These days, an inattentively rude bump by a passing stranger will start me reflecting on how such callous mental vacancy can be made funny. For me.

In my maturity I prefer my satisfaction a little softer, a bit milder, slightly more painfully embarrassing.

I was thinking that an investment in half a dozen banana cream pies and a small card table would do. These would be transported to an ample sidewalk  somewhere in the city. A camera operator somewhere on the opposite side would help to make the golden moments last.

I would then hold one pie aloft, flush with oncoming faces and clearly visible to all but the most inattentive of walking puff pastries. (There’s still a need to work out how to best keep the pie intact here, but I have faith in the innovative power of sweet retribution.)

Then I would simply wait, unmoving, timing how long it takes before somebody plants their puss square in the middle of startling, delicious sobriety. Society benefits, I laugh my ass off, and everyone gets a tasty, instructive treat. Just think of the potential!

Filed under: B Sides

LOL, it’s murder

Posted on March 19th, 2009 1 Comment

Just kidding. Yup, apparently that’s a bonafide legal defence these days.

In case your cave doesn’t get cable yet, the story is one of your basic teenage withholding-sex-for-murder deals. Right now the jury’s still out on whether or not the female half of the duo is culpable, but the precendent that appears to have been set has already been decided.

After all, if you can say “I didn’t really mean it” when on trial for first-degree murder (meaning it was planned), you should certainly be able to use it in almost any other criminal and civil defence.  Consider this courtroom evidence, a few excerpts from instant messages between the two:

I want her dead … if it takes more than a week, then we’re just gonna be friends
ur getting blocked until u kill her

The mother of the accused girl suggests that “they were trying to make each other jealous”. Her lawyer says that “things don’t necessarily mean what they appear to mean”*. Presumably Judge Nordheimer weighs each defence before allowing anything under the sun into his courtroom, so in this instance it must have been deemed a-okay.

I’m not suggesting that the defence will fly with the jury. Arguing that the words “dead” and “kill” in instant messages (where brevity usually prevails) mean to disassociate or block, especially when the longer word  “blocked” is used to mean just this, is a huge stretch. Even punctuation seems to be well thought out, and the diminutive “ur” and”u”, and a captilized “I” suggest a domninant attitude in the relationship.

Whatever; the point is that whichever angle you approach this from, it’s been allowed to be a part of the defence, including the bit where it wasn’t really serious. I really hope that when the full transcripts are released, these few details will somehow make sense. Right now, I get the impression that I should be able to make death threats of all sorts as long as I laugh about it afterwards.

Filed under: Why I'm Right


Posted on March 18th, 2009 Be the first to comment


Stop right where you are. Yes, you. Put that ass crack on the pavement or so help me.


All settled?

The voice of Bill Carrol came on. You know, the CFRB 1010 morning guy and his cadre of over-drole associates. “Did you see this on CNN?”, I paraphrase. “Now they’re using my idea to try and put a positive spin on the news. Using ‘Road to Rescue‘. I’ve been doing that for months! That was my idea!” … Continue Reading

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Tastes like chicken

Posted on March 18th, 2009 Be the first to comment

To use a bovine analogy, there are few things that allow me to stomach the sheer, brutal cud of incompetence that seems so prevalent these days.

A few days ago, for example, I was calling the credit company to declare that I was making my last payment on the card (and the horse it rode in on), and to ask if I “should expect a final interest charge between the time the payment is made and the time it’s actually processed.”

Doesn’t that seem like a common question? Of all the possible, even improbable answers I was expecting,  “how should we know what activities take place on your account?”, was just about the only one that didn’t cross my mind.  It’s hard to know how to reply to such insult-bordering statements without resorting to violence, but I managed to take in a breath and yield to a cool, curt, “because it’s your card”, while silently mouthing the word “jackass”.

Such tension releasers, however, often don’t come in the moment and are usually insufficient to make you feel better. Abusing your pets/family just isn’t practical these days, and sweet sweet vengeance usually ends up being a George Costanza-type affair that leaves you even more bitter. That dead horse has been beaten enough. Instead, solace must be taken where and when it can.

I take mine in the form of anonymous social commentary, usually spray-painted on walls or sidewalks. No, these are not the usual tags; those are just evidence of perennial self-indulgence. No one cares that you were here, “SnuR<hb 2K9 dash-swirl”! — if that is your real name.

I like the stuff that shows some thought other than “oh shit I’m so wasted, dude!” Stencils are great for this sort of thing. They’re physical evidence that someone planned the affair — going to the trouble of finding the appropriate image(s), contrasting the living bejeezus out of them, cutting them out, etc.  Their Holstein pattern, for me, always alludes to greener pastures where bullshit is actually nourishing, and the knowledge that someone out there really just wants to give me a chuckle. Here’s a taste.

post no bills

Filed under: B Sides, Pictures

Top ‘o the muppin, to you!

Posted on March 16th, 2009 1 Comment

I ran into the coffee shop for my breakfast of last resort, the over-soda’d muffin.

The shop owner (Japanese, I think) registered my order, a “BAH-nana MUPPIN!”, with the cashier. She was young, maybe fourteen, and visibly burdened with an awkwardness that was probably compounded by her own mangled English.

There was something unsettling about her presence in the coffee shop during school hours. That was, until I realized that this is the first week of March break. Then came the super (and much worse), realization that this girl would probably be spending her March break working in her dad’s coffee shop.

To all of you flying south for alcohol-fueled hijinks, allow me to express my disdain. Mostly because I never got to go.

To all of you valiant teenage soldiers holding down the home front this year, and anyone else who doesn’t get a break when, let’s face it, we should all be relaxing, let me raise a muppin top in salute. You do me proud. And breakfast.

Filed under: B Sides