Wednesday, December 31, 2008

If Necessity is the Mother of Invention...

... then Mom's been good to me.

From my improvised MP3-ripping setup, my kludged together internet connections, and my cocktail skills, I am truly thankful for being blessed with my (creative) problem-solving ability.

Today was no exception.

Someone (the boss) forgot to buy sugar for the coffee yesterday... something I didn't notice until after I'd made a pot this morning and poured myself a cup.

Reaching for the sugar container, I realized it felt a little light... looking inside, I realized it was empty.

What to do, what to do...?

I set my mug down on my desk, grabbed a handful of peppermint candies from our candy dish, threw them in a parts bag, then proceeded to smash the candies into crystals with a hammer.

I put two teaspoons of the smashed candy into my coffee, along with a bit of coffee whitener and a small shot of Carolan's.

Wow - this mess is actually pretty good! My boss and inside sales cohort were both howling at my ingenuity.

Yes, as you may have guessed, it's a slow day at work today.

Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot

Don't worry, I'm not posting about the coming New Year... not yet, anyway.

No, today I'm reminiscing about some old friends, the times we've shared, the fun we've had, and all we've been through together over the years.

I'm speaking, of course, about my music collection.

Ever since I bought my 4th-generation iPod a couple of years ago, I've slowly but surely been encoding my CD collection into a more portable digital format. Having amassed a sizable collection over the years (over 500 CDs), one can imagine the task is daunting, to say the least. Herculean, at worst. Not having a great deal of time to devote to this endeavour (us CSIS agents are kept busy these days), I usually select a few CDs at a time (say, 5 or so) every so often, prioritizing what gets ripped and when - from CDs I duly love, to CDs I bought for some unfathomable reason during a weird phase in my life. At the rate I'm going, affected proportionately by the rate my collection is growing, I should be finished sometime in the next eight years. Give or take.

What to do, what to do...?

"I know!", I thought, "I'll rig something up in the lab! Yeah, I think I saw a KVM switch somewhere while cleaning up! And a modem router!"

What really scares me is that I don't remember buying (or otherwise acquiring) half the stuff in my lab, yet somehow "know" that it's there and where to find it. I think it either "magically appears" there or that I'm acting under post-hypnotic suggestion, amassing electronics for some unknown but insidious purpose. It would certainly explain why I never feel rested after a night's sleep...

Anyway, back on track. My KVM switch allows up to four computers to use a single keyboard, mouse, and monitor (but not simultaneously), and coincidentally, my NetGear modem router allows up to four computers to share one modem connection (simultaneously). With me so far? Good.

The next step was digging out four PCs - lucky for me, there were several identical Pentium 133s at the back of the lab that I'd been trying to donate to a worthy cause. Well, my music collection is the cause du jour, so I powered 'em all up - all were fully functional, with then-fresh installs of Mandrake Linux 9.x (back before it became Mandriva Linux)...

After checking each system out, making sure everything was in working order (and that I had sufficient hard drive space), I piled a stack of ten CDs on each machine, then set about ripping and encoding CDs in each machine simultaneously, using the KVM to occasionally monitor progress, and using the modem router so that each machine could do a simultaneous CDDB/Gracenote lookup for each album I was ripping, ensuring the album, artist, track names, and order were all correct. After which, the tracks were fed via network to my Linux box in my home office for later burning to DVD.

Using cast-off goods that most people would have deemed useless and thrown out, I was ripping and encoding four CDs simultaneously. I did forty CDs in about two hours. How's that for efficiency?

Sometimes, I fucking scare myself.

--

Back on the topic of my "auld acquaintances", once I got going with my newly repurposed setup, I started delving deeper into my CD library. The memories came flooding back once I reached songs and albums I hadn't heard in years.

I started to remember my early adult years, when I was really into surf and surf-punk, which led to punk, thrash, and death metal when in my early twenties, the JPOP of my mid-to-late twenties, to the industrial, goth, and electronic stuff I listen to now, with a smattering of folk, lounge, and downtempo I've picked up along the way.

Most of these albums were uploaded to my iPod and, while on the bus to work this morning, I went back in time.

The songs?

Armageddon Dildos - Homicidal Maniac (video edit)

Rosetta Stone - Adrenaline (Mainline mix)
Leæther Strip - Strap me Down

Christian Death - Death Wish and Death Wish (Wishful Death mix)
Cassandra Complex - The War Against Sleep
Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Love Missile F1-11

Revolting Cocks - Da Ya Think I'm Sexy, Stainless Steel Providers, No Devotion, and Attack Ships on Fire
ClockDVA - The Hacker, Soundmirror, and Voice Recognition Test
Skinny Puppy - Brap, Smothered hope, and Glass Houses

I was in my glory for a full hour.

I can't wait to see what surprises the rest of my collection holds.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

... and now I'VE been tagged!

My blogging bro Cherenkov has tagged me in one of those viral tagging games that are going around (no vaccination for that, either)!

Now, I love questionnaires 'cause I get to show the world what a jerk I am my human side, so with that in mind...

”It’s simple. Just list all the jobs you’ve had in your life, in order. Don’t bust your brain: no durations or details are necessary, and feel free to omit anything that you feel might tend to incriminate you. I’m just curious. And when you’re done, tag another five bloggers you’re curious about.”
Let's see... the jobs I've had, in chronological order:

Inventory Clerk - counted parts for a local bus manufacturer on my summer vacation. Highlight: Making $15/hr when I was 16 (ca. 1989).

Restaurant worker - went from busperson to manager to line cook. Highlight: my coworkers and some regular customers.. plus working in a buffet restaurant in the North End meant there was never a dull moment.

Assembly line worker - my first union job at a local farm equipment manufacturer. Highlight: My coworkers - especially the time we built a potato cannon in the parking lot out of discarded pipe and fittings!

Technical Support person - briefly worked the help desk for a computer manufacturer. I lasted four hours before getting fed up with questions from the computer-illiterate and walked out.

Warehouse Worker - went from lowly warehouse grunt to warehouse supervisor to implementation co-ordinator (setting up other warehouses in the USA) for an American fastener company. Highlight: My coworkers, and picking on my boss a lot (in jest, of course!).

Warehouse Worker - Briefly worked at an international courier company (my second and final union job), unloading trucks, sorting shipments, and moving boxes. I lasted two hours before getting absolutely disgusted with the lack of work ethic (and care) of my coworkers and walked out.

Current job - started as warehouse worker, moved up to warehouse supervisor, later promoted to inside sales. Highlight: my coworkers, most of our regular customers, and the fact there's never a dull moment!
tagging:

Jim Jaworski
Priestess Yemaya
Wolfe-chan
The Arseholes
DeanK



Saturday, December 27, 2008

MoBlogging Advice Needed, Please!

It's not often I ask for help, but I could use a bit of advice from someone with actual (not theoretical/freshly googled) experience in the area of Mobile Blogging.

I'm going to be constantly on the go over the next few months, and as such will be in the market for a less cumbersome method of mobile blogging. My current methods of MoBlogging are getting to be a little, shall we say, ungainly... I don't want to be lugging my wifi-equipped laptop(s) or TRS-80 Model 100 (and acoustic couplers to attach to payphones) around everywhere, and would like something a great deal smaller.

My criteria are as follows:

1. Device must be small, easily portable, and wifi-enabled so I can use any of the free wireless hotspots at my usual haunts.

2. No cellphones or Blackberry-type devices. I'm not interested in them or their associated fees.

3. Device should be compatible with one or more of the following Operating Systems: Linux x86 or Sparc, Solaris 7,8,9, or 10 for Sparc, Mac OS 7.5.x - 10.3.9, OS/2 2.11 - Warp 4, or (ugh) Windows 98SE or Windows 2000 Professional.

4. Device must be relatively inexpensive (max $200 CDN).

5. Must be compatible with the Blogger API - would prefer something that has a native blogging app.

A tall order, to be sure.

I'm leaning towards buying a wireless-enabled PDA but am not sure where to start looking for info.

Any advice?

Hallelujah! It's Over!!

Another Christmas has come and gone.

For the first time in over a week, I can sit here in relative peace and quiet, secure in the knowledge that I don't have to do anything today!
But I will.

I'd planned to sleep in today, but after getting up at 6am to feed the cats and give Ethin his insulin, I couldn't get back to sleep. So, after running out half-clothed to the mailbox to grab my newspaper, I put the kettle on and read the daily news.

Of course, after being in the local forums and blogosphere a member of the Winnipeg Intelligentsia for so long, I find I can't "get into" the local newspapers anymore. Instead, I poured myself another cup of Dark Roast and fired up Nadia so I could peruse my favourite blogs.

No go.

Seems Nadia has fallen victim to the dreaded sleep disorder particular to her model of G3 Powerbook. No biggie, when I have a few minutes later today, I'll have to "snap her out of it". In the meantime, I've fired up my iMac 400DV, only to find that my elderly neighbours have finally secured their wireless router ;)

So now I'm falling back to my unix account at SDF - luckily, in addition to my shell account, they've partnered with a few other providers and can now offer dial-up PPP access via a local (Winnipeg) number.

Slow going, but hey, you get what you pay for!

--

Anyhow...

Seems as though most of my local blogging compatriots are taking a break for the holidays, and as such, catching up on the latest posts took all of five minutes. That said, I'm going to finish my cup of coffee and the box of strawberry Pocky I've been eating, head out to Sal's for some "food", afterwards spending the day downtown.

The malls shouldn't be too bad today - I think, for the most part, the more materialistic of Winnipeggers were out in force yesterday - running around the malls and retail outlets, ready to pounce on bargains like horny, starving jackals and taking advantage of the annual Boxing Day sales (our own honest-to-God "Black Friday").

All the same, I think I'll avoid the big retailers and concentrate on my favourite small independents...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the Ghosts of Christmas Past

I've been soooo busy these past few days, running around, taking care of the usual Christmas-related concerns, that I've been neglecting my housework.

It snowed a lot over the weekend, and I think the lion's share of Winnipeg's snowfall ended up in my front yard. Rather than wait for our friendly neighbourhood Postie to leave me a snotty letter like he did last year (or the 10-year old papergirl to leave accidental snow angels on my lawn), I figured I'd better tackle it immediately.

It IS Christmas, after all!...

(...and I'm waiting for a few Christmas gifts I bought on eBay to arrive!)

So, armed only with my shovel and fortified with a big mug of coffee-laced rum, I attacked the encroaching fluffy white mass. And by "fluffy", I mean "packed as hard as concrete".

Realizing that finesse and a logical approach would get me nowhere, I gulped down the mug of rum, let out a gutteral battle-cry that scared the neighbour's kids (and would put a Klingon to shame), and did my best impression of a bulldozer.

I was done in five minutes, including the time it took to recover from my accidental pole-vault when, charging at full speed, I hit the seam between sidewalk blocks with the shovel...

Congratulating myself on a job well done, I headed inside to tackle my dishes.

I put the kettle on again for some coffee, and set upon the mountain of dishes on my counter. An hour later, I was done and in the clear!

I decided to reward myself with some "video game time".

I headed into the living room, sat down on the couch, and fired up the console that was hooked up to the TV - my good ol' Sega Genesis!

I'd dragged the Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X out a few weeks ago, when my brother paid me a visit. We were on a nostalgia kick and, me having just bought a few rare games for the unit, fired it up.


Ghost of Christmas Past, Part One


Brad and I received our Genesis for Christmas back in 1990, and it saw near constant gameplay over the next few years, edging out its predecessors - our venerable Sega Master System and Nintendo Entertainment System...

I played with the unit for a few hours, reliving my late teenage years (and early twenties) and grumbling how "they don't make 'em like this anymore"! I thought back to the mid-90s, when the Sega 32X add-on had just been released. The game to have, the "killer app", was Virtua Fighter.

Ahh, Virtua Fighter... In the arcades barely a year when it was released for the 32X. It wasn't a bad port (apart from the audio), but never really got the recognition it deserved, much like the 32X itself.

Now, I know you're not really wondering why, but I'm going to tell you anyway.

See, around the time the 32X was released, Sega was rushing to put the finishing touches on their next-gen game system, the Sega Saturn. That's right, Sega released a game system (32X) knowing full well it was about to release another new system shortly thereafter.

The 32X, it was envisioned, was to be a modular upgrade to the Sega Genesis and Sega CD, theoretically enabling the installed Genesis/Sega CD userbase to upgrade to the Sega Saturn by using their existing hardware and without shelling out a pile of money for a new console. Sounds fair, doesn't it?

Too bad it didn't happen that way.

Nope, Sega gave us all a big "Fuck You" next Christmas when it was revealed that no, the Sega Saturn and games would be incompatible with the old Genesis/Sega CD/32X combo, and vice versa. Thanks a fucking lot, Sega!


Ghost of Christmas Past, Part Two


Christmas 1994 - what should be under the tree, but a brand new Sega Saturn? (with pack-in game Virtua Fighter to boot!)

Our parents had asked Brad and I what we wanted for Christmas. Now, I'd already been working full-time for a few years and as such had pretty much everything I wanted, but I thought of my brother and what he wanted. And he wanted a Saturn.

"Good choice," I thought. At the time, the Saturn's only REAL competition was the new offering from Sony, the Playstation. Not wanting to take a chance on an unproven console from a company that were relative newcomers to the North American console market, and with Nintendo's new console delayed another year, as dyed-in-the-wool-yet-masochistic Sega fans, we went with the name we knew. (Of course, we all know which company won that console battle!)

Brad and I spent a lot of happy days playing on our Saturn, which was one of the last Christmas presents we shared, as I moved out not a year later.


--


In the nearly thirteen years or so since that happy scene, I've grown up (somewhat), found meaningful employment, loved and lost, bought a house, and have amassed a rather large collection of video games and consoles both domestic and imported, including the Playstation, Nintendo 64, PC Engine/Turbografx-16, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, etc, and the hitherto unknown (on these shores) Bandai Wonderswan. I even bought a couple of Sega Saturns (one import, one domestic). I've had a lot of fun over the years, collecting games & hunting down rarities, and playing games that I never thought I'd play.

But you know what?

They'll never hold the same memories as did the ones that were under the tree on Christmas morning. No mad dash to the nearest TV, no furious gaming sessions while Mom and Dad get the place ready for Christmas dinner... nothing will ever recapture that magic. That is, until I have kids of my own...

I want to dedicate this update to my brother Brad, to the good times we've had, and to those long-forgotten and long-obsolete gifts all of us have received over the years - the Ghosts of Christmas Past.

Merry Christmas from C&S!

-CJ

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Don't Worry, CJ, You'll fit right in!"

So, there I was, sitting at my desk at 4pm this afternoon, fielding calls from customers who left everything to the last minute and are subsequently in a panic to get everything done by Friday morning, when the phone rings yet again.

My fellow inside sales guy is out back helping the warehouse guys get caught up, and the boss is on the phone dealing with whatever the Hell he deals with, so I stop what I'm doing to answer it.

The voice begins, "CJ, my customer left everything until the last minute and is subsequently in a panic to get his work order done for Friday morning! I need a fuel hose repaired!"

CJ: What needs to be done?

BC: I need new ends put on the hose.

CJ: Size? Application?

BC: Inch-and-a-half Scovill ends.

CJ: Lemme check stock (does so)... yup we have the ends. Bring it down.

BC: Be there in five minutes.

Twenty minutes later, the hose arrives. It's a 100ft length of arctic fuel hose. His instructions were to cut the defective end off, replace it, then cut the hose in half and put new ends on, making two 50ft lengths.

Long story short - the guys were way too busy getting all the other orders done to work on the hose, so they asked if I could do it. No problem, I've made thousands of these hoses in my career. There was just one problem...

Our customer's customer neglected to drain the hose first. So we had a hundred foot hose, 1-1/2" inside diameter, full of diesel fuel. Which was now on the floor of the warehouse.

Took all the Zorb-all we had to contain the mess on the floor, but the fuel still inside the hose was the more pressing issue. Not having an appropriate vessel for the fuel, we dumped our Rubbermaid garbage can into a dumpster, then proceeded to fill the can with the diesel. What the Hell, it was a 30L can... half of which was full when we were done. One problem solved, then another rears its head...

Turns out, it wasn't our hose. It was a competitor's product, and our hose ends wouldn't fit. At least, not without a modicum of effort...

Mr. Customer caught a blast when he showed up to pick up his hoses.

So, there we were, 4:55pm, five minutes before we closed, and we still hadn't even started on the hoses. But, between myself, Mr. Customer, and two of the warehouse guys, we were able to get everything done in about 45 minutes. He was happy, and all four of us smelled like diesel.

One of the guys piped up, "Damn, I'm gonna have to get my mom to drive me home so I can change.. she's here now, and we were going to go out for supper right from here..."

"Imagine how I feel," I laughed, "I have to take the bus downtown so I can do some shopping before I head home. Now I fucking reek of fuel!"

"Don't worry, CJ! ", he smirked, "You'll fit right in!"

"Yeah," pipes up Mr. Customer, "If I were you, I'd be afraid of all the bums and sniffers that'll try to mob you!"

I laughed, which later left me feeling a little guilty, as I encounter sniffers and solvent abusers on a daily basis, and know it ain't funny...

"Don't worry," the other warehouse guy (incidentally, my cousin), "I'll give you a ride home."

Mr. Customer was extremely grateful, and very apologetic. I still hit him with an environmental cleanup fee, and labour charge... then off we went, homeward bound.


... which is where I'm at now. I've got a bloody headache from the fumes. I've had two showers and I STILL smell of diesel (which has a very high flashpoint, so I don't need to worry about open flames from matches, candles, etc). Worst of all, the entire scenario has put me two hours behind schedule, so I've opted to do the last of my Christmas shopping tomorrow on the way home.

Think I'll fix myself a drink, and then order dinner in. Bloody Hell, my head hurts...

The Rules of Rural Manitoba

A friend and coworker emailed me this little missive earlier today, knowing that rural folk are some of my favourite targets of of derision (not Hutterites though. I love the Hutterites)... I typically mimic banjo music, punctuate sentences with y'all, ga-hyuck, etc, and make inappropriate jokes involving shallow gene pools, innuendo involving sheep and/or cattle, etc, before or after dealing with a rural customer.

Of course, it's all in fun. I find our rural customers are the most grounded, patient, and well-adjusted customers I have, who know what they need and (most importantly) are willing to wait if something's not in stock.

So, imagine my amusement when I read the following list of rules:

THE RULES OF RURAL MANITOBA ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Listen up City Slickers!

1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.

2. Turn your cap straight, your head isn't crooked.

3. Let's get this straight; it's called a 'dirt road.' I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.

4. They are cattle. They're live steaks. That's why they smell funny to you. But they smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? Hwy 1 & 2 goes east and west, Hwy 16 & 75 goes north and south. Pick one.

5. So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed. We have $200,000 combines and hay balers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

6. So every person in rural Manitoba waves. It's called 'being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

7. If that cell phone rings while an 8-point buck and 3 does are coming in, we WILL shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.

8. Yeah, we eat meat and potatoes. You really want sushi & caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.

9. The 'Opener' refers to the first day of deer hunting season. It's a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first of November.

10. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age.

11. There's little for 'vegetarians' on the menu. Order steak. Or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.

12. When we set a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup.

13. You bring 'coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice.

14. You bring 'Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.

15. Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Minor Hockey is as important here as the Maple Leafs and Montreal Habs, and more fun to watch.

16. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards -- it spooks the fish.

17. Colleges? We have them all over. We have Universities and Community Colleges. They come outta there with an education plus a love for God and country, and they still wave at everybody when they come for the holidays.

18. We have a whole ton of folks in the Armed Forces. So don't mess with us. If you do, you will get whipped by the best.

19. Turn down that blasted car stereo! That thumpity-thump crap ain't music, anyway. We don't want to hear it anymore than we want to see your boxers. (Refer back to #1).

20. 2 inches of snow & ice isn't a blizzard - it's a vacation. Drive like you got some sense in it, and DON'T take all our bread, milk, and bleach from the grocery stores. This ain't Alaska , worst case you may have to live a whole day without croissants. The pickups with snow blades and tractors with snow blowers will have you out the next day.


Now, I'm sure this list has been making the rounds for decades now, and probably started life as Rules of Rural Idaho, Rules of Rural Texas, Rules of Rural Sweden, etc, but I'm reasonably sure the "differences" between rural and city people are universal.

It's nice to know the rural folks have just as much fun at our expense as we do at theirs.

All in good fun, of course!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Cycloptic Dilemma, part III

Man, am I in agony today!

Yesterday, on my way to work, a gust of wind blew the end of my scarf into my eyes. Ordinarily, this would be a minor inconvenience - one would merely brush the scarf back into place.

Well, my luck being what it is, a small strand of cat hair that was on the scarf ended up in my right eye. It got behind my contact lens and managed to scratch my eye pretty bad... I tried eyedrops to soothe the pain, but it was almost as though I'd spilled lemon juice on a cut - it just STUNG!

Turns out, it WAS lemon juice. Damn my poor eyesight!

I thereafter resolved not to store my eyedrops in the fridge.

Seriously though, once I got to work, I cleaned the lens out as best as I could, but to no avail. The moment I put the contact back into my eye, it stung even worse. So, back into its case the lens went.

I've been working with one good eye since then, and it is SERIOUSLY fucking up my perception. Staring at this bloody LCD screen all day is giving me a headache...

I'm almost tempted to go back to wearing glasses... something I haven't worn in over a decade.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

... and the blogosphere went wild...

... abuzz with the news that, yes, Ikea is finally coming to Winnipeg!

The news has set tongues wagging and hearts aflutter in the blogosphere and mainstream media outlets, gushing that THE preeminent House of Scandinavian Style is coming to our cold little burg.

But not here at C & S. I could care less.

Seriously.

It's just a fucking store, not a miracle civic cure-all, not the magic bullet that'll solve all the city's woes. It ain't gonna bring in tourists - maybe a few shoppers from Gretna, Winkler, and The Pas (no offense intended) - and it won't affect life in the North End.

What can Ikea offer us apart from their colourful, cheaply made wares? A slight increase in tax revenue? Blog-fodder? A few dozen more jobs created? Free meatballs? Another retail development in the burbs? Polo Park-like traffic snarls?

Spare me.

However, in some people's eyes, having an international retailer such as Ikea* set up shop here represents a step toward being a "real" city. That strikes me as being particularily shallow, but I suppose anything that lessens our collective (civic) self-loathing can only be a good thing.

What do the rest of you think?

*Fine print: For the record, I'd have had this same reaction if it were an Apple Store or similar "big city" retailer coming to Winnipeg - my feelings in this regard aren't limited to Ikea.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Eighteen Meme

Just caught this on (and summarily stole it from) my friend Yemaya's blog:

Eighteen Meme

"Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 18 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 18 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.
(I'm too lazy to tag eighteen people..whoever wants to play, can!)"

My own 18 random facts:

1. Speaking of 18, I once wanted to name my first-born child "Eighteen". My surname is Wheeler. Do the math. Poor kid. (CJ's note: Before you ask - no, I am not Wheeler of "Wheeler and Hal" fame.)

2. I originally wanted to be a paste-up artist while growing up. However, as the course was dropped from Red River College shortly after I was accepted (circa 1991), I chose a different career path. I still have the desire to create, so I delved into graphic & web design as a hobby.

3. I rarely finish what I start. Everything's a work-in-progress. It's the journey that matters, not the destination.

4. I'm at my best when the situation is grim and the crises monumental. But minor little things cause me to freak out.

5. Thanks to twenty years of playing import video games and reading "manga", I can read and write simple Japanese. Just don't ask me to speak it.

6. Yes, as a matter of fact, most of the time I am trying to be a jerk.

7. I regularily use several different Operating Systems across many different computer architectures, but have no preference.

8. While my last two serious relationships ended badly, they made for great comedy!

9. I don't drive due to health reasons. Winnipeg drivers make me sick.

10. I have the uncanny ability to push buttons, envelopes, and my luck simultaneously.

11. I have gone to extremes to illustrate a point. If I feel I need to teach someone a lesson, they're damn well going to learn it the first time.

12. I don't like asking for help when I'm in a bind. I'd rather figure it out myself and learn both how to get out of the situation, and also how it can be avoided in the future.

13. I prefer to learn things "the hard way". Makes for better stories.

14. I believe in lifestyle changes and making sacrifices vs. extending my credit and going deeper into debt (Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go - I owe my soul to the company store).

15. Despite my complaining, I absolutely love my job - even if only for entertainment value!

16. I don't believe in justification. Justification is for people who lack conviction.

17. Being a temperamental sort, I'm rather violent when physically threatened. Needless to say, I reacted quite badly when unknowingly introduced to "Kick a Ginger Day", being a redhead and all...

18. At work, I routinely mix M&Ms and Skittles in the same bowl, just to fuck people up.

... and what are your eighteen?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page: 1923-2008

Pin-up icon Bettie Page has passed on.

(pic to follow - Blogger won't let me upload for some reason)

I've liked Bettie since the moment I set eyes on her. She had that clichéd "girl next door" look but was naughty as Hell - something I can only describe as "wholesomely unwholesome". Sure, she went kinda batty later on in life, but to me she'll always be the sweet, innocent girl with the whip.

Rest in peace, Bettie!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

On Inattentive Transit Operators, part II

A few months ago, I complained about bus drivers and the frequency of missed stops.

It's getting worse.

On the way to work yesterday morning, on four separate occasions, the bus driver failed to stop to let people off the bus. FOUR TIMES! He even managed to miss one guy waiting at a bus stop... come to think of it, it was the exact same guy I mentioned in the last transit-oriented rant!

Granted, shit happens. The drivers are only human, too, and have a lot to deal with from us ingrates who bitch when the bus arrives a minute late (or early). But events such as these seem to be increasing in frequency...

Sooooo..... guess whose turn it was today?

That's right. The driver missed my stop today. So naturally, I voiced my displeasure...

CJ: Oi! Matey! You missed my stop.

TT: Huh? Sorry. Where did you want to get off?

CJ: Back there on (cross-street).

TT: There's no stop at (cross-street).

CJ: Mate, I've been getting off at that stop for eight years. Don't tell me there's no stop there. Check your route map.

TT: (checks) Oh, sorry. I didn't see the sign. (Stops bus and opens door)

CJ: Lot of that going around lately. (exits bus)


In the grand scheme of things, it's not such a big deal.. so I had to walk a whole extra block (into a biting North wind, uphill both ways, carrying the warehouse employees on my back) to work this morning, big deal. But I'm an able-bodied guy. What would people think if this had happened to an elderly person with a walker? Or a mother with small children? Or anyone with a disability? Or a morbidly obese person who may have a heart attack and DIE if they had to take a few extra steps?

Geez, think of the fatties, for God's sake!

Monday, December 8, 2008

On Ennui and Aggression, part II (language warning)

So, a couple of days ago, I mused that I needed to find a better outlet for pent-up aggression.

Today, I'm thinking I'd better find one sooner rather than later.

Why?

Well, I'm glad you asked because, as usual, I have a story! Whilst writing the previous update earlier today, I received a frenzied call from a customer.

Cust: CJ! This is (customer) from (business) out in (Province to my immediate East)

CJ: Hi, (customer), how we doin' today?

Cust: Lousy! Where the fuck is my quote?!

CJ: (puzzled) Which quote was that?

Cust: (angry) Don't you check your fucking email? I sent it to you yesterday, for fuck's sake! The one that says "Please quote before Noon!" in the subject! (CJ's note: Yesterday was Sunday)

CJ: (smirking) Well, there's your first clue, we don't work on weekends. What did you need?

Cust: What do you mean you don't work weekends?

CJ: We're a Monday to Friday, 8am 'til 5pm operation.

Cust: (yelling angrily) Listen, I'm a 24/7 operation! If you want my business (CJ's note: which, admittedly, could be worth a lot, say a half-mil a year), you'll be in when I need you!

CJ: Alright (customer), listen... I'll make you a deal...

Cust: (subdued) Okay, what kind of deal..?

CJ: (cheerfully) Tell you what, if you're willing to come into Winnipeg every weekend; pick up my wife, kids, and mother-in-law; and haul them around town shopping, to hockey games and such all weekend, while I sit in my nice, quiet, comfy office working on your quotes, then (customer), you have yourself a deal!

Cust: (stunned silence) grumble grumble (phone goes dead, then dial tone comes on)

CJ: Guess that's a "no"?




UPDATE: Just received a call from our rookie Outside Sales rep - the one who services (customer).

Rep: (snarky) So, had a run-in with (customer), did you?

CJ: (proudly) Yup.

Rep: (annoyed) Yeah, he called me about it.

CJ: (muttering) That didn't take long...

Rep: So what exactly did you say to him?

CJ: (relates story verbatim)

Rep: Do you always talk to customers like that?

CJ: No, (Rep), only when they annoy me.

Rep: (nervous laughter) Yeah, that guy always gets under my skin. I've been after his business for a while now. He has the potential to be a half-mil a year account, and he knows it.

CJ: So let me ask you this: How often does he pull this shit with you?

Rep: Daily.

CJ: ... and, how much of your hard work has translated into actual sales, and not bids or quotes?

Rep: Little to none.

CJ: Then he's just fucking with you. He's making you jump through hoops, pushing your buttons, and sending you on wild goose chases just to see how far you'll go to make him happy.

Rep: You think?

CJ: Yes, I do.

Rep: What would you do if you were in my shoes?

CJ: I just did what I'd do.

Rep: What's that?

CJ: Demonstrate to him the unimportance of self-importance. Lines must be drawn and respect must be established, otherwise (customer) will just keep you running around in circles for nothing.

Rep: How do you know all this?

CJ: Experience. I live in Winnipeg, where "it's always cheaper, better, and faster" somewhere else...

Rep: Well, I'm kinda new to all this, can I call you for advice?

CJ: Door's always open.

Rep: Thanks. So, I pretty much have to be a smart-ass?

CJ: That's pretty much it. It also helps to be a bit of a fibber as well - and to make the fibs plausible.

Rep: Oh? How so?

CJ: Remember what I said to (customer)?

Rep: ... yeah...

CJ: I ain't married, and I don't have kids.

Rep: (howls with laughter) You bastard!

CJ: Yup. Just gotta make it sound convincing.

Rep: (laughing) You definitely have a future in outside sales!

CJ: I'll pass, thanks!



So, there you have it. I'm starting to think my current outlet is likely the best outlet!

On Holiday Gift-giving

So, I'm out and about on Saturday afternoon, minding my own business rallying for democracy, when I overhear an older couple (obviously parents of a teenager) talking about buying Christmas gifts...

Mom: But we have to get her this phone!

Dad: Why? A phone's a phone! Aren't they all the same?

Mom: No, she wants this specific phone...?

Dad: Why? What's so big about this one?

Mom: Er, I don't know - it's the one she wants! It's got more gigs or something...

Dad: (sighing) All right... I hope this one lasts until she's thirteen...


Let me see if I have this straight... you're busting your ass, wandering all over Hell's Half-acre (downtown) in the freezing cold, trying to find a store that has a specific (and naturally overpriced) multi-function security blankie cellphone for your ungrateful little princess?

Call me old-fashioned, but to me, it's a gift and not a fucking obligation! Tell her she'll get what she's given and like it, or she can get a job and buy her own fucking phone!

/end rant

Friday, December 5, 2008

On Economic Insanity

Just caught this on the CBC website.

If you're too busy/lazy to read the full article "Meltdowns Everywhere You Look", the CBC's Don Newman attributes the many political and financial crises worldwide to a disused psychological condition known as Neurasthenia.

Neurasthenia, also known as "Americanitis", is typified by depression and increased anxiety which, according to its "discoverer" George Miller Beard, hit the intellectual and upper classes hardest "because of the pressures generated by an uncertain and competitive business environment".

Sounds like a logical, nay, fairly likely explanation for the current states of affairs, eh?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On Ennui and Aggression

I'm really getting tired of things, from the bullshit political climate here in Canada, the increasingly materialistic Christmas season, and life in Winnipeg in general. So tired in fact, it's been negatively impacting my mood, leaving me more cynical and temperamental than usual, which has the unfortunate side effect of negatively impacting my work. Given that I'm in a customer service role at work (Inside Sales/Order desk), this means that CUSTOMERS bear the brunt of my aggression. I don't go out of my way to be rude to people, but I have demonstrated a distinct lack of patience with stupid questions or requests ("Whut do ya mean I can't use your red air hose for propane?" or "Why can't you use gear clamps on 6000psi hydraulic hose?")... and a distinct lack of courtesy to people who are plain ignorant from the get-go.

Soooo... in order to keep my job, teeth, kneecaps, and sanity, I figure I'd better find a better outlet for my frustration and aggression.

Monday, December 1, 2008