Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back in the swing..

...sort of.  Getting used to working full time hours has been difficult.  Worse still, those hours are 12-8 which makes it feel like I only have a couple of hours either side of that to either get ready for work or to de-compress afterwards.  It's not ideal but it's what I need to do to pay the bills.

Being a thirty-something, it feels increasingly...strange?  depressing? embarrassing? to admit that I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.  I'm slowly developing a better idea of what it is that I want to do but how to make it happen, or what steps I really need to take are still eluding me.

I've always been a little torn between being envious of, and being glad that I'm not, one of those people who has always known what they wanted to be or do.  On the one hand, how great to have such a clear idea of your goal and the path you need to take to achieve it.  On the other hand, how sad to know exactly which fork in the road to take.  Where is the mystery in that?

Lately I've been reading and taking in anything I can get my hands on regarding the subject of finding an answer to the question of what to do with the rest of my life.  Not that I think anyone else can give me the answer but I suppose I'm just looking for clues or some key phrase that is going to set off fireworks in my brain.  The important thing, for me anyway, is that I at least am thinking about it and asking myself questions.  I keep digging to get to the heart of the matter.

For those reasons, I am really looking forward to this and I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that it comes to Vancouver soon:

Finding Joe - Trailer V.7 from pat solomon on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


So, I bid adieu to my retail job on Saturday and started training for a new position with a cable company today.

What is it about training - even if it's similar to a job you've done in the past - that makes your brain turn to goo?  Maybe it's just me but man, training wipes me out.  I think it's a combo of first day nerves and information overload.

I will do my best to be more entertaining by the weekend at the very latest.  While you wait, here's an amusing pub sign from one of my trips to Australia:

Photo by me!

Tee hee!

Monday, October 10, 2011

When it rains, it pours...

The rainy season is well and truly here in Vancouver, B.C.  Those who live here know life is going to damp and grey for about the next seven months.  The cloud cover will feel like it's merely feet above our heads.  There will be plenty of puddles for jumping in and small streams will form down alleyways.  You see, it doesn't just rain here in Vancouver.  It RAINS.   Here are a few tips to surviving monsoon season:

1.  While there may be a few days over winter that will require one to wear a winter coat, generally a person can get away with a good raincoat and some sweaters.  Make sure the raincoat has a good hood with a peak, unless you like be blinded by rain that is falling sideways.  Seriously.   Even if it snows, chances are you can just layer up and you'll be fine.  Unless you're a wimp, which would make you a bad Canadian.

2.  Gumboots, wellingtons, rubber boots - whatever you like to call them, make sure you have a pair.  Or a couple of pairs if you want to go for different looks.  Like I said, there will be puddles a plenty and the gutters will overflow.  Gumboots are your friend.

3.  If you have a really good, hooded raincoat you might not even need an umbrella but they're handy to have.  Fair warning though, if you're going to use an umbrella, be prepared to wield it.  Taking out people's eyes with the tips of umbrella ribs seems to be a competitive sport here in Vancouver.  If you're not cut throat enough to blind strangers, at least know how to defend yourself.  Forget being a nice guy and lowering or raising your umbrella to allow others to pass - that's just inviting an attack.  Instead, hold your umbrella so that you can deflect the potential assailant's umbrella.

4.  If you find yourself caught out with no raincoat and no umbrella, don't assume you will have an easy time keeping dry by sticking to walking under awnings on the city streets.  Just because people have raincoats and umbrellas, doesn't mean they won't try and keep dry under those same awning.  Why they do this is beyond me but I suspect it's because they're assholes.  Again, don't bother being a nice guy and try to share the space.  You'll only find yourself bullied out from under the cover into the rain and all your hair product will have been for naught.  Instead, stand your ground.  Don't move to the side for anyone.  This might mean walking into a few people but hey, all is fair in love and keeping your shirt dry.

5.  As previously mentioned, gutters will overflow.  Don't make the mistake of standing to close to the curb when you see this happening because people will drive through the puddle at speed and you will get drenched.  Bus drivers are particularly bad when it comes to this kind of behaviour.  Just today I saw a girl get splashed from mid torso to feet by a bus driver that didn't even try to avoid the puddle (even thought he had the lane space to do so).

6.  Finally, if you suffer from SAD at all, do yourself a favour and get a good sun lamp, start going to tanning salons or get the hell out of Vancouver.  Clear skies and sunny days are going to be few and far between from now until the spring.

Fear not though, at least this weather means you won't feel the slightest bit of guilt about staying indoors, watching movies and drinking big glasses of red wine to get you warm.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Other people's children...

When I was a kid and I, or one of my siblings, did something that could be considered uncouth, my mother would a) tell us to knock it off and b) ask if we were born in a barn.  Of course, the smart ass in me always figured she should know the answer to that question.

At any rate, the phrase became lodged in my brain and I'm sure that one day I'll be whipping out that gem on my own children.  For now though, I'll settle for directing it at other people.  Case in point - at work last night there was a mother/daughter duo roaming the aisles and when they lost sight of each other they would yell across the store.  The square footage of the store is quite substantial but not so large that you couldn't locate someone within a minute or two by simply (and quietly) walking around.

What the hell, people?  I, and I'm sure the other customers, didn't really feel like listening to these two braying loudly like animals.  My mum's line immediately came to mind and I would have liked to ask both of them (particularly the mother) if they had been born in the out-building of an agricultural property.

Perhaps one day, when I feel like getting fired or quitting, I won't bother to censor myself.  Or I'll hand out cards with this printed on them:

Image Via

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Voyeur in Me...

Since I've already admitted to opening someone else's mail, I may as well tell you that I love looking in other people's windows.

Please don't misunderstand - I don't creep across lawns and peer over windowsills.  I just like to look in windows that have the curtains open and see how other people live.  I especially like to do this at night, and more particularly, at night in the fall or winter.  Okay, I admit - that does sound kind of creepy.

Image via
I should clarify that my intention is not to spy on people.  In fact, I prefer it if no-one is in the room that I'm looking into.  I just like to see how people choose to decorate, I like the architectural details and I like the light.  There is real feeling of warmth and coziness about the light from windows that you see when you're walking at night.

Of course, when it's pissing down rain, as it often does in Vancouver from fall to spring, a body doesn't much feel like wandering around the streets at night.  Luckily for me, I live on the top floor of an apartment building and can peer across the alleyways at other buildings to get my fix.

Image via
That makes me sound a little 'Rear Window' (great film - no wonder I love it) but I don't get into the kind of trouble that Jimmy Stewart did.  My neighbours across the alley way are very obliging and a number of them never close their living room curtains.

Okay, this making me sound like a creepy weirdo but I'm convinced I'm not the only person that does this.  Besides, I never close my living room curtains either, so feel free to take a peek!

I missed a post...

so how about a Cat in a Box?  Only $24.99!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Is it only day 3?

It's day 3 of Blogtoberfest and already I'm struggling.  That's kind of sad, isn't it?  How can I have run out of things to say by the third day??

Truthfully, I kind of knew that I would have a bit of trouble with posting every day.  More to the point, I knew that I would struggle with feeling like I didn't have anything of any relevance to say for 31 days in a row.  Therein lies the challenge and my reason for participating.

As any writer will tell you, it's important just to push on and write.  I know I'm not going to be terribly witty every day but it will be an achievement for me to just write consistently for that stretch of time.  I need to focus on that and not so much on the content, at least not for the purposes of this challenge.

I hope I'll be able to provide you with some entertainment along the way, but I definitely understand if some posts make you want click on to the next blog.  Please come back though - you never know when I might become funny again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Win a Baby.

No, seriously.  The Ottawa radio station Hot 89.9 recently hosted a competition to win a baby  (Competition now closed, sorry).  Of course, they weren't just going to hand over a fresh newborn human child because that would be weird and I'm pretty sure against the law.

Maybe not the best way to promote the competition...

Despite the promo graphics, the prize on offer was actually $35,000 worth of fertility treatments (or 3 rounds of treatment).  For one lucky couple, or I suppose, single woman, such a prize could very well result in a 'free' baby.

Naturally, there were camps of people on both sides of the fence with this one.  For an example of the difference in opinions, check out this article on  Not surprisingly, a good number of those against the competition were spouting the old chestnut that people with fertility issues often hear:  'just adopt'.

Sigh.  Really?  Do we have to go over this again?  Do not get me wrong - I think adoption is fantastic.  I think it's one of the greatest things someone could do for a child.  However, what people who offer that up as a solution need to understand is this:  adoption is not an easy process.  It can take as much money, time and heartache to adopt a child as it can to go through fertility treatments.  Despite the many children out there that do need loving homes and families, they are human beings and one can't just stop by the 'Baby Shop' and pick one up.  There are regulations, there are laws and there are processes that must be adhered too.  So, before anyone suggests adoption to a friend, family member or stranger - KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT FIRST.  (sorry for the yelling)

Of course people are entitled to their opinions and I for one have no problem discussing the issues.  However, it should be kept in mind that the choice to have (or not have) children is intensely personal.  So, too, are the choices regarding how people go about becoming parents.  All I ask is that people do a little more thinking before speaking (or posting, commenting, etc)

Anyway, back to the competition.  I think it was an awesome thing for Hot 89.9 to do, although I am a little unsure of how I feel about the way it was promoted.  I do also wish that they had played more of an angle of promoting awareness of infertility and a push at the government to provide more funding for treatments.  Of course, not living in Ottawa or being a listener of that particular station, I can't say for certain that they didn't throw a little of that in there.  If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments.

According to the station website, they'll be announcing the top 5 finalists tomorrow morning (Monday October 3rd) and listeners will be able to vote for their favourite.  Good luck to all those prospective parents!  If any of the radio stations in B.C. ever feel like giving away the same opportunity (hint, hint), I'd definitely be throwing my hat in the ring.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's just like riding a bike...

As you may or may not know, I've recently started working in the land of retail again.  It's only part time, and I only ever work a few hours at a time - 5 max - so it isn't the full drag that a 40 hour week would be.

Now, I can't really say where I work but I can tell you it's a major craft store chain.  Kind of narrows it down for you, doesn't it?

The company itself doesn't really make any difference to the experience - retail is retail whether you're flogging furniture, fish or Fluevogs (speaking of which, if there are any wealthy benefactors reading this, I'll have this pair or, if you're not feeling quite that flush, this pair will do).  All it really boils down to is smile, don't be afraid to talk to people, keep the place tidy and try not to break the till when you're working the register.  Having over a decade of previous retail experience, I can tell you with all honesty, it ain't rocket science.

I also find that there are two constants, no matter kind of store I have worked at.  First, there is no end to weird questions that people will ask you, or requests that they will make.  Example, I had a lady ask me for a silicone based glue.  I led her over to adhesives and pointed out what we had.  She looked at me like I was a bit soft in the head and said 'No, the big tubes that you put in a gun'.  I asked her if she meant  silicone caulking used to seal around tubs and whatnot.  Bing! went the lightbulb over head 'Yes!' she cried.  At that point it was my turn to look at her like she was soft in the head - 'No, you'll probably have to try a hardware store, not a CRAFT STORE'.

Second, there always seems to be one item that people gravitate to and that will always end up misplaced in the most unlikely parts of the store.  This past week it's been ladybug stickers.  Why?  I can't tell you but I've been finding them everywhere except where they're supposed to be hanging.  I'm sure next week it will be something new.  Anyone want to take bets on what it will be?

Ultimately, I have no intention of staying in the job forever.  The moment something better with higher pay comes along, I'll be leaving a me-shaped hole in the wall as I run for the hills.  I think that knowing that is making it a lot easier for me to not take it all too seriously.  I'm not going to lie to you and say that I LOVE going to work but at least I get to look at things that interest me and spend my time talking to people about the projects they're working on.  That aspect is good in that my creativity is being fed.

Of course, the real reason I don't want to work in retail forever is because of the flatulent customers.  Sorry to be gross but it's so true.  You'll be going along happily restocking the floor, you'll turn unsuspecting down an aisle and BAM!  You walk right into a wall of stank.  Other retail plebs know what I'm talking about.  Funnily, it seems to be worse in card stores.  I know because I've worked in one of those, too.  Maybe I should start wearing a tool belt to carry cans of air freshener...