Saturday, December 31, 2005 at 7:01 p.m. | 0 comments
I know, I know... it's been more than a week since I put anything into this blog, but I have a REALLY good reason...

I couldn't be bothered. I'm on vacation and LOVING it.
under our tree

Yes, it's true, I was away on vacation (and good lord did I need one) and couldn't be bothered to type. Where did I go for my first vacation this year? Well, nowhere. I sat at home with Catherine. Though we did do a lot of shopping.

Christmas went well. After work on the 23rd Catherine and I went to my mother's house where we met up with my brother, Graydon, and his girlfriend Tammy. We opened presents (I got a very nice jacket and sweater), had dinner, and went to bed after Graydon and Tammy went home.

The next day we went back into the city to meet up with Catherine's parents. We had dinner, picked up our mass assortment of presents, grabbed Truffle, and headed to Brantford for Christmas.

This would be the first Christmas in years where I didn't have to run all over the world in one day. We woke up, opened stockings, had breakfast, opened presents, then had dinner. The whole day was over in the blink of an eye, yet somehow it lasted longer than any Christmas has in years.

The next day was the Wilkinson family Christmas, so Catherine and I went to Guelph. There we saw my Dad, Bern, all of her kids, and my best friend, Chris. Even snuck in a phonecall with Jer during all the fun.

After that, a day in Brantford (watched Harry Potter 4 again), then came home with Truffle on Wednesday. From there, returned gifts as needed, shopped around, got a bargain or two, and largely stayed at home and watched season 1 of Alias (a lovely gift from my father).

Gift highlights:


I make this list more for myself to look at in the coming years, but the rest of you can enjoy as well. No, no Xbox 360 on this list as I'm holding out for a Nintendo Revolution and preparing to order a TIVO from the States.

What I gave Catherine:
Wrapped in one giant box thanks to Larrie from work, I got her a purse from Jacob, Sex & The City season 4 (she got season 5 from my father), a pair of slippers, and an FM Transmitter for her iPod that didn't work and had to be replaced. We did this yesterday and I picked up one that was $20 more money, but on sale for less than the price of the original one I bought her. It may have been a mistake, but I was happy to not point it out.

Truffle got her an egg spatula. Catherine was pleased.

My list is more extensive, but this is my blog, not hers.

I got season 1 of Alias (from my dad), a new fan (from my dad), season 1 of the Batman Animated Series, Serenity, a new sweater, body pillow cover, and Colouretto (a game) all from Catherine. I also picked up more sweaters, shirts, a jacket, lots of Kinder Surprises, a UWO game, a couple of books, cash, and lots of memories that I will soon forget.

This was the year of my buying DVD sets for people. I made season 1 of Lost for my father, brother, uncle, and Nathan, then gave Sex & The City to my mother and Catherine (please, no jokes), Dead Like Me to my father, season 3 of Buffy to my brother, and Firefly to my uncle. What can I say? Catherine and I enjoy our TV. Hence the purchase (soon) of a Tivo.

Tivos are amazing. I just wanted to say that.

Other than that, vacation is winding down as is this year. This is it for this year, new posts on the horizon, new adventures, and hopefully lots of positive change. If not, I expect to go postal mid-April.

Watch for it!

Happy New Year!
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, December 22, 2005 at 11:22 a.m. | 0 comments
With the holidays once again upon us, we are bombarded with Christmas specials old and new alike. For no reason other than I want to, I'm going to present you with four of my holiday favorites.

A Christmas Story DVD1. A Christmas Story

Produced in 1983, this low-budget film probably didn't have aspirations of becoming a holiday classic, but the infamous "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!" found its way into our hearts. The movie, based on a book by Jean Shepperd, follows young Ralphie and his endless pursuit for a BB gun that no one seems to think is safe for him to have.

Great moments include sticking your tongue onto a frozen metal pole, the pink rabbit suit, the leg lamp, and the Santa Claus from Hell. As holiday classics go, no film captures Christmas so well as this film. I don't know what it is about it that reminds me of my own family so much, but it's stuck in my hearts. Catherine's family hasn't seen it, so I've bought it to show them what they've been missing.


Christmas Vacation DVD2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Some would say this is the most crucial of all holiday films to watch and aside from A Christmas Story, I'm prone to agree. Chevy Chase's film about a holiday gone wrong when his family all visits for Christmas is hilarious and each year manages to impress and delight.

Randy Quaid stands out in this film as Cousin Eddie, and if you look closely you'll notice Juliette Lewis as Audrey, Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) as Chase's mother-in-law, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld) as the the stuck-up neighbour.

Gotta love this movie for the huge tree, the house of a million Christmas lights, and the dead cat. Every holiday ends well if there's a dead cat involved.


Scrooged DVD3. Scrooged

An update of the Charle's Dickens classic has Bill Murray taking on the role of a man visited by ghosts to show him the error of his ways and teach him the true meaning of Christmas. This film could easily have become heavy-handed, but the entertaining ghosts, including Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present, kept things light.

Bill Murray was outstanding in this movie, and I remember the first time I saw it I was more than a little scared. It seemed dark at the time, particularly the Ghost of Christmas Future, but now I can't get enough of it. I'm still hooked to Al Green and Annie Lennox's 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart' song from the end of the movie.

Great scenes include Bobcat Goldthwait and his shotgun rampage as well as seeing Murray and Kane beat the snot out of each other.


Elf DVD4. Elf

A new entry, yet somehow timeless already. Will Ferrel knocks it out of the park in this Jon Favreau (Swingers) film about a grown man living among Santa's elves at the North Pole. Ferrel is appropriately clueless about how the outside world works when he goes off in search of his human father played by James Caan.

I loved that Caan had a very controlled performance while Ferrel was reigned in just short of Jim Carey-type excessiveness. Ferrel was endearing as Buddy and seeing him lean in to Caan and loudly whisper "I like to whisper too!" fills me with the giggles.

Other great moments are fighting with the fake Santa, syrup on everything, and of course Will Ferrel crushing Bob Newhart by sitting on his lap. This movie will make the rounds on television sooner than later, and likely become a holiday classic. Now if we could all just forget that Christmas With The Kranks ever happened...


5. Other notable entries...

Miracle on 34th Street, It's A Wonderful Life, Nightmare Before Christmas, Peanuts Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Home Alone, and too many others to list all make their way into our hearts each year. One of the biggest thrills at Christmas was the number of specials on and I remember watching all of them with my family. One day I'd like to do that with my own kids. For now, though, I get to hog the remote.

Only three days until C-Day...
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 12:19 p.m. | 0 comments
Nathan discovered this insane video the other day and has found a way to make sure that everyone else can see it as well. Nate is a great source of information of how to upload pictures, videos, and all the other useless junk we see on the Internet these days.

I'm semi-proud to present it to you.

I give you... Arnold in YOSH!

Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, December 13, 2005 at 4:16 p.m. | 0 comments
On the one hand, I feel guilty making fun of a co-worker, especially since she took us out for lunch today, gave us a Christmas card, and a scratch ticket (I won $4).

On the other hand, this is just too damn funny.

I overhead a co-worker pitching our ads to a potential new client, and she said if you don't want our personals ad, we can send you a remnant ad instead.

A remnant ad is nothing more than a small box or even just a line of text that gets put in if there's a bit of space left over after the paid advertising has been put in the paper. It's a nothing ad and just filler.

I told the co-worker not to pitch those to publishers as it sounds like she's asking them to put garbage in their papers. I had to explain, using visual aids, what I meant before she understood.

I said "remnant just means 'left over.'"

She said "Oh well, I didn't know. My Latin's not that good."

Nathan and Sandy nearly had a heart attack from laughing so hard.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, December 08, 2005 at 11:30 p.m. | 0 comments
• An 87-year-old man dropped dead while waiting in line at a government office in Bogotá, Colombia. He’d been applying “for a certificate to prove he was still alive.”

• In August 2000, a 44-year-old woman named Angel Destiny fled for her life dressed only in pajamas after half of her house in Cardiff, Wales, collapsed into rubble. Destiny, who makes her living as a psychic, told reporters, “I just didn’t see it coming.”

In other news, I'll be beginning a Christmas movie countdown... flicks that I've loved and that I feel you should all love as well. Look for the first installment tomorrow.

I also just finished reading Ultimates 2 #9 and have made a pdf for those who want to read it. The most shocking issue ever and an instant classic. It's just that damn good. A smack in the face if there ever was one. Brilliantly done.

Anyway, Catherine's in bed, I'm tired, and I just finished talking to Pushee whom I haven't spoken to in ages. This seems to becoming too commonplace these days... close friends that I don't see anymore. I think I've forgotten what Aaron looks like. I just have the warm glow of text messages on my cellphone for company.

I can't wait for Christmas vacation to start...
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, December 06, 2005 at 2:33 p.m. | 0 comments
I'm still not sure where I sit on the topic of the Bryan Singer-less X-Men 3, only that I'm as much curiously hopeful as I am concerned that this film will suck.

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The teaser trailer has been released and is available to view through Apple's website, though I am heartily vexed as I can't run the video on my Mac computer here at work. This causes me great anger as Apple, Quicktime, and Macs are all part of the same company, yet Apple, in its money-hoarding wisdom, is forcing complete system upgrades in order to get the latest version of Quicktime, something I'm not yet prepared to do with my work computer.

So, I'll have to wait until tonight. A startling number of characters are slated to appear in this film though, including Multiple Man, Omega Red, Callisto, Juggernaut, Stacy X, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Jubilee, M, and quite a few more. I'm very interested to see these new characters alongside the complete cast (except for Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler who won't be in the film).

The most interesting addition is Kelsey Grammar as the Beast. Not sure how I feel about the look, but the casting is pretty dead on. Frasier as a super-hero. Quite the concept.

That's about it. Been busy otherwise. Good weekend, though Truffle has a bad eye and needed to be taken to the vet for an exam. She's fine, but we're out quite a bit of money. The things we do for those we love...

Worth every penny. Catherine was amazing throughout the whole thing. I'm just way too much of a softy.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, November 29, 2005 at 4:33 p.m. | 0 comments
Just when you get comfortable...

The reign of terror that is work strikes again as a co-worker and friend unjustly gets the axe. TPTB set their sights on Bill who was well-liked, hard working, and funny.

What makes it worse is that another co-worker and Bill's partner was proven to be lazy and does not do any work, making Bill's firing all the more cruel.

That aside, Bill is a really good guy. He never has an unkind word, always has a smile, and is always hungry. I've never seen a man eat so much so often. Hopefully he gets started at a new job he was promised soon so that he can make a ton more money and give the finger to this place from afar.

Just the other day he emailed his potential employer to get an update, but decided (poorly) to disguise his message (also done poorly). Not once, not twice, but at least three or four times over the course of the email, he included the phrase "Happy Holidays." This in an email, instant delivery communication, around mid-November.

Of course, Nathan and I couldn't let that slide. All day, we joked about "Happy November" or "Happy Thursday" and even "Happy 3:30pm." Bill, being as gracious as he is, just laughed and took it in stride.

Bill loves working on houses and was talkinga bout moving to a tropical location with his wife and setting up his own company. Bill fixes things, makes things better, and is a good friend. It's a shame I didn't get to know him better before he left this place.

I'll miss the rides home he gave me so many times, and Sandy as well. Yes, I know he's not dead, just removed from this place, and yes, I'm annoyed because he'll be having a lot more fun than I will.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, November 28, 2005 at 9:42 a.m. | 0 comments
Role Model: Wilfredo T. Laboy, superintendent of the Lawrence, Massachusetts, school system, who put 24 teachers on unpaid leave for failing a basic English proficiency test

Setting an Example: Laboy—who had recently received a 3 percent pay increase that raised his salary to $156,560—flunked that same test. Three times.

So, it's done. Catherine and I took off Friday to hand-deliver my profiles to U of T and York with the hope that I would soon be entering teacher's college. It's by no means guaranteed, but I think I've got a pretty good shot.

God help me if I don't get in.

At U of T, the man behind the counter didn't once break up his phone call to look over at me, silently mouth 'teacher's college?', then mouth another 'good luck' as he took my profile and dropped it into a bin. I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but after hours and months of working on that thing I expected something more involved. Maybe a conversation. A hand shake. A secret decoder ring.

Something.

Oh well. The rest of the day I spent text messaging Aaron, Nathan, and Catherine's parents. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, got some Christmas shopping done and played Ultimate Spider-Man with Jer.

By the way, never rent a game from Blockbuster again. Normally $8 for a rental (including tax), the batards are now charing $10 including tax to rent a game. I know you can keep it a week, but jeez, guys, that's just stealing.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 at 11:19 p.m. | 0 comments
Today is the day of my birth. Not literally, as the actually birthing came some 28 years earlier.

God, I can't believe I'm already this old. I wasn't supposed to make it, you know. I had serious illnesses when I was growing up, two of which should have killed me outright. So here I am, 28, and looking to make my next big move in life by going to teacher's college next year.

Assuming I get in.

I'm so funny!

Nothing is ever guaranteed in life, but sometimes it can surprise you. Though I've hated my job since I started, I could never have anticipated that I would meet someone who would become one of my best friends. Today, Nathan helped me to celebrate my birthday (along with Bill, Li, Sandy, Jen, Jim, Dan, Gargi, Patricia, and others) but I know it was Nate who really pulled it all together.

First thing in the morning my computer was covered in a birthday banner. Crude, but Nate's style. Then I discovered a Hulk Figure Factory toy in my drawer. Again, Nate's style. We ordered in food, I discovered a Venom Figure Factory that had been stowed away in Li's file boxes, and then found a Marvel Legends Bullseye figure on my chair. I was overjoyed. I was touched.

19 pieces and worth every effort

I was unprepared to find two more Figure Factory toys, Iron Man and Thing, in my desk drawer after lunch. I couldn't believe Nate had gone to that much effort. You could see that he was as pleased with the results as I had been with his birthday earlier that same month.

It just goes to show you that no matter the original packaging of something, if you dig deep there's almost always something better underneath.

Getting home was the best, though. Nothing compares to seeing Catherine after a day, good or bad, and getting a hug. I got my present right away and was shocked to see that she had bought a cellphone for me that I had been talking about quite a bit in the past. I spent a good part of the night programming it though I should have been working on my application (I swear, it's almost done).

The irony of her gift became apparent as I ran out to buy a frozen pizza for dinner as I was still stuffed from lunch. There was none at the crap Dominion, or the 24 hour store down the block. I went another couple of blocks to ANOTHER grocery store, and they only had vegetables. So I bit the bullet and got Pizza Pizza.

My new phone
Here's where the irony fits in. I was supposed to be gone for 10 minutes, but it's been more than half an hour. So I had to call Catherine to tell her where I was but since my phone was new, uncharged, and unactivated I used a payphone. It took a little while to find one, too.

Still, afterwards we had a great pizza dinner, spent time with Truffle and my gadgets (and the application, I swear), then watched Lost and now Catherine is in bed hoping I'll turn off the lights and go to bed myself.

It's been a good day. Tomorrow it continues with lunch with my mom.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, November 21, 2005 at 2:48 p.m. | 0 comments
Every so often one is lucky enough to bear witness to an event that, as good as it is in the telling, pales in comparrison to the actual event itself. In this case, it is an act of awkwardness, publicly done no less, that not only warrants telling but demands that a new term be invented to explain it... I give you... the browner.

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Last Friday, my office had their annual Christmas gift exchange (yes, I'm aware it's November... Happy November, everyone) and we did a Secret Santa gift swap. The terms of the swap are simple: find something nice for the person you drew out of a hat within a $15-$20 range.

Most of the gifts were harmless. Bowls, beers, food, and books. Typically holiday fare. One man dared to be different...

Background: Mr. Brown and Ms. Gift Receiver worked together for some time at another company which we recently acquired. Through my own frank talks with the Miss, she's not a fan of Mr. Brown though has not openly said anything against him but they never speak to each other. Mr. Brown makes attempts to get her attention and Nate speculated for some time (as did I) at some potential trist existing between them, but given Ms. Receiver's statements, I didn't think it likely.

Mr. Brown goes for broke. His gift is a Blind Date DVD jewel case that he has created himself. It includes logo, head shot of the host, and is made to seem like a real product, though it's obvious it's been printed out. Some of the special features and chapter selections include "dinner, taking in the game, the hot tub scene, and the limo ride home." Deleted scenes included Ms. Receiver and her roommate (graphic lesbian photo attached the the cover, one of whom looks like Ms. Receiver) having some fun.

Inside the case was a single ticket to see the Maple Leafs. After processing his info for a minute or more, Ms. Receiver looks at Mr. Brown and asks if he has the other one. He smiles, nods, and says "yep."

His gift is essentially a date night for the two of them to see the Maple Leafs, but given the content on the jewel case and the slightly enforced nature of the gift, no one knew what to say. You see, Ms. Receiver, trying to look as gracious as possible, has been in a relationship for more than 6 years. Mr. Brown is himself a newlywed.

The awkwardness was palpable. Everyone is trying to laugh at how clever Mr. Brown was, and how creative his gift was. The case is PASSED AROUND to everyone who looks at it and tries not to seem horrified. Whispered conversations afterwards reveals that I was not the only one feeling uncomfortable. Patrick, our foreign boss, dryly states that he wonders what Ms. Receiver's boyfriend is going to make of this gift.

What indeed? If she so wished, she could sue Mr. Brown and the company for all it's worth. Hell, it's not a bad idea. It certainly was one of the most brutal sights I've seen in quite some time. The only other highlight was my gift to Nathan. He had to open five boxes, one inside the next, only to find nothing. Then I handed him his present from where it was on the desk behind him. I laughed. That's what's important.

So, in the interim, I've decided that public awkwardness on this scale should be called a 'browner' but I open it up to the rest of you to determine how fitting a name this is.

What a dumb thing to do. But it's GREAT conversation fodder.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 7:20 p.m. | 0 comments
Here it is. Feast your eyes. Proof positive that I am now, officially, a paid Marvel writer. Yes, the sum you see is in fact for a whole $20 (US).

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It's a step in a direction that I've been trying to go in for a long time. More money would have been good as will more work in the future, but it's the first payment from Marvel.

The book in question is X-Men: The 198 Files and deals with the aftermath of a Brian Michael Bendis storyline called House of M that decimated the mutant population at Marvel, leaving very few mutants behind and de-powering some like my personal favorite, Chamber.

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Should the storyline prove worthy, I'll comment on it more later on. For now, here is the cover for the issue which I am credited with writing (along with two others). It goes on sale in January.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, November 09, 2005 at 9:18 a.m. | 1 comments
We employ odd people and odd practices here at FMG, the least of which is making really bizarre photos up of the special boy or girl. Nathan was no exception, but seeing as how The Others hate the web team, I had to make up all the photos.

So I got to work. The results of which are as follows. The first is the favorite by consensus, and I'm particularly pleased about the headband. Pink looks good on Nate.

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The next one makes excellent use of Golden Girl Bea Arthur, here outstretched hands, and puckered lips. I can't see why any mortal man wouldn't fall prey to her temptations.

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Here we have Nate enjoying a hose. This was an actual ad (minus his head) that we used for one of our new publications.

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Nate likes pork chops, so it's no surprise he's also a big fan of piggybacks. Look at 'em go!

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Why just make fun of Nathan when I can throw another co-worker, Li, into the mix as well? Nathan's skills at work include eating all of Li's food. She's stopped bringing so much in.

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Now the real reason all of these images have made their debut on this blog is because I'm sure Nathan doesn't really want them to get out. But since I am a jerk and need to entertain all of you, I figured no harm could come of this.

If you don't hear from me in three days, Nate is a likely suspect. Though I got him some pretty good presents, so hopefully he's happy. Just don't poke the bear.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, November 01, 2005 at 11:20 a.m. | 1 comments
Meaning: Real, not fake

Origin: “Originally meant ‘placed on the knees.’ In Ancient Rome, a father legally claimed his new child by sitting in front of his family and placing his child on his knee.”
Posted by Parallel
Friday, October 28, 2005 at 9:36 a.m. | 0 comments
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed..."

It may not be a TV series or a movie, but I can't think of a better medium than comics, specifically Marvel comics, to tell part of Roland's origin story from The Dark Tower. Written by Stephen King and illlustrated by Jae Lee (The Inhumans, The Sentry), this book is going to be unbelievable. It'll be released as individual issues and then collected in a hardcover volume.

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Once you get past the first book, now more than 25 years old, The Dark Tower is perhaps one of the most compelling epics I've ever encountered. I'd not normally count myself a Stephen King fan based on what he's historically known for, but considering two of my favorite films, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, are based on his works, I suppose I am.

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NEW YORK - World Fantasy Award-winning writer Stephen King, long acknowledged as the master of modern horror, and Marvel Comics join forces this spring to launch a ground-breaking new comic book series adapted from King's magnum opus, The Dark Tower. The first issue is scheduled to debut in April 2006.

The comic series will mark the first time Stephen King has produced original content for an ongoing comic book project. The series will expand the saga of King's epic hero, Roland Deschain, whose quest to save the Dark Tower is captured in seven best-selling novels published over the course of twenty-five years. King's unparalleled storytelling power will inform new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man, the last Gunslinger from a world that has moved on. The comics will work in conjunction with the novels, further supplementing and defining the saga's mythology under the direction of the acclaimed author himself.

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"As a lifelong fan of Marvel comic books, and as an adult reader who's seen comics "come of age" and take their rightful place in the world of fantasy and science fiction, I'm excited to be a part of Roland's new incarnation," said Stephen King.

The series will be illustrated by Eisner-award winning artist Jae Lee.

King continued, "I love Jae Lee's work, and I think this is going to be a dynamite partnership. Frankly, I can't wait."

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Posted by Parallel
Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 11:06 p.m. | 1 comments
He shares my year of birth, my career path, my love of all things geekery, and my receeding hairline...

To Mr. Jeromy Lloyd, born this day in 1977, I bid thee a Happy Birthday and I look forward to raising a glass with you tomorrow night in honour of this tragic....er... momentus occasion.

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We're getting old, aren't we? You're 28 dude and I'm following in less than a month.

Yikes.

What have we done with our lives?

I'm so sad...

...happy birthday. I guess.

BE MERRY!!!
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at 11:01 p.m. | 1 comments
Wow.

Just... wow. Now I think I've seen it all. This goes above and beyond anything absurd or ridiculous that I think I've encountered in a good long while.

This is just one in a series of videos featuring "real" performers singing nursery rhyme songs. Released on a DVD called Mother Goose Rocks, you have to promise to wait until other 'guest' singers begin to appear in order to get the full flavour.

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Click here to see the video.


“The newly-released DVD is a series of animated music videos introducing children to a diverse and timely set of music genres like alternative rock, country, techno, pop and R&B with the safety of familiar G-rated nursery rhyme lyrics,” explains Richard Snee, President of Boffomedia, and Mother Goose Rocks!, producer. “Very hip, very safe, very funny, and great for the whole family.”

Please comment. Comment often. We'll gather here soon after and shield ourselves from the growing insanity of the world outside.
Posted by Parallel
Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 9:05 p.m. | 0 comments
Meaning: To aggravate

Origin: Hyperactive racehorses were often given goats as stablemates because their presence tended to have a calming effect on the horses. After the horse became attached to the goat, it got very upset when its companion disappeared—making it run poorly on the track. In the 19th century, when a devious gambler wanted a horse to lose, he would get the horse’s goat and take it away the night before the race, thus agitating the horse.

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The moral of the story: give back the goat!!!
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 10:43 p.m. | 0 comments
Shortly before 3pm today, my father, brother, and more than 500 employees at the Guelph Imperial Tobacco plant were called into the sprawling lunchroom for an announcement. They were told to gather their lunchboxes and their jackets before they came.

Right away you know what kind of an announcement this is going to be. They aren't going to be given time off for good behaviour, there isn't a reward.

Instead, they told them that the Guelph plant, which has been open since 1959, is going to be closed.

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Many people reading this will see it as a victory over smoking. True, I'm not a fan of the habit and wish my mother and many others would rid themselves of it completely. On the other hand, this is a company that put a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on my table. It paid for my education, my entertainment, and for the peace of mind for my family.

For all of those things and more, I will always be grateful to that company.

If there is a silver lining, it is that my father had always planned to retire by the end of next year anyway. This isn't a blow to him and he'll get more than a decent severence package to go along with the tidy pension he's built up. My brother, on the other hand, is 37 with three kids. This announcement is more than a little devastating to him.

If he's smart, he'll pay off every debt he has with what severence they give him next year. That'll help him out a ton in the long run, though in the short term I can't begin to imagine what he'll be going through.

The writing was on the wall, though, with the BC government's decision to allow citizens to bring lawsuits to tobacco companies. It didn't seem farfetched at all for them to pull up stakes while the going was good. After all, the plant in Mexico pays only a sixth of what employee's here in Ontario are getting. Money savings all around.

The frustration with the government's decision isn't solely in the loss of manpower, but in a major industry that supports the back of Canada financially. The loss will be felt keenly in Guelph, but the long term impact has yet to be seen.

The full story is available at the Toronto Star website.

I have faith that my brother will be fine. He's still planning to get married next year, and he's young enough that this shouldn't be too devastating in the long run. Still, what an awful way to end your week. Planning a trip to Cuba to get married, and then finding out you've essentially lost your job.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at 3:33 p.m. | 2 comments
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When playtime goes horribly wrong, a company creates an airport security playset. As you see, the situation is calm, serene, devoid of barking dogs, long lines, and grouchy security people. To add more realism, more aggravated passengers should be present, along with at least one East Indian passenger with a mysterious 'package.' I'd name that figure Nathan after my terrorist co-worker.

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As you can see by the accessories, this looks like a harmless toy. And I REALLY must stress at this point that this is, in fact, a real toy. I'd like to draw your attention to the two toy guns, one of which is apparently able to fit inside the piece of luggage the woman is carrying.

Why in the world does a playset like this exist? And why is it missing bombs and all the other colorful characters we've come to associate with airlines?

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Another blogger out there actually made this little scenario using a playset he ordered and received in the mail. It's really damn funny, but as co-worker Nathan points out, realism for this set would be much better had the victim been black. Still, hours and hours of fun for your pre-schooler.

In conclusion: God help us all.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, October 17, 2005 at 10:18 p.m. | 0 comments
It's all slowly coming to a head, isn't it? This technological revolution that began with the radio is continually blossoming into something out of control. My problem? I don't know if I can afford it all.

On the horizon we have the Nintendo Revolution (which looks odd but has my curiosity piqued), Xbox 360, PS3 and other gadgets. Catherine picked up an iPod (which I claim to have bought for her using freelance fees that I haven't even received yet) which holds more than 1500 songs. She's been uploading to it for two days with no end in sight.

That thing is unreal. It has games, a calendar, an alarm, and a music trivia game based on the songs you've already uploaded to it!

The madness does not end there, however. Apple has revealed that you can now download episodes of Lost or Desperate Housewives to watch for $1.99 a pop. With the new iPod coming out capable of playing video, you can watch said episodes while on the go.

Craziness.

I'd complain, but I'm the guy making his daily commute while watching my DVD player. Not a bad way to travel, though you do attract a lot of attention.

For all the marvels of technology, there are still drawbacks. For instance, the day-long argument I had with Catherine about our iPod and its ability to work on a USB 1.1 port as opposed to the supposedly required 2.0. We got it to work, plagues were averted, children were saved.

It was nearly a bloodbath.

So that's that.

Oh, and friends Jamie and Victoria bought a house and had their housewarming. There, I was accosted by Victoria's brother, Tim, who is the most rabid U2 fan I have ever met. It felt like an interrogation and I'm sad to say that my knowledge, once something I prided myself on, is nothing compared to this guy who must not do anything else in his free time but obsess about U2.

Nice guy, though.

I'm going to bed because I'm tired and I deserve sheep. I mean sleep.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, October 12, 2005 at 1:26 p.m. | 0 comments
This is a good story, though it's a couple of weeks late. Mainly it's late because I'm lazy and can't be bothered to blog, though I do check my own blog daily to see if I've posted, remembered that I haven't, then vow to get right on it.

That doesn't always work.

So, I made plans to see Serenity in Burlington with my Dad. It's a good half-way point between Guelph and Toronto, and Paul and Victoria live there. They'd seen the movie with Catherine and I three months ago, but I figured they'd be up for seeing it again.

The unexpected part came when I invited Jer along. He was at the apartment with me on Friday night and we spent nearly 8 hours playing X-Men Legends 2 (which rocks) until 3:40 am. Tired, we went to bed as we had to catch the GO Train at 10:43am.

We got up. We were lazy. We played X-Men again for a little. Then we left to go, seeing as how it was 10:19am.

The odds that we were going to make this train were slim to none. Especially since I dove back into the apartment for my book, then Jer dove back in for his jacket.

All was going well until St. George station, when Jer rather sheepishyly states he has to go to the bathroom.

"We're like 10 minutes from the train. Can you make it?" I asked.

The look on his face suggested that no, he could not make it. I know of this pain and it is evil. Sadly, Jer decided to head up to the street to find someplace to go. I was going to keep on towards Union to try and make the train, but it sucked that Jer had to bow out. He promised to try to catch the next train or maybe see the movie with me later that weekend. I had no choice but to go as my Dad was expecting me and Paul was picking us up at the GO station in Burlington.

When I got to Union, I had less than five minutes. I ran through the terminal, got my ticket, and bolted for the platform despite the clerk telling me the odds weren't good.

I got up there with two minutes to spare only to find that the train hadn't even pulled in yet. It was two minutes late. So, I got on, read my book (good going, me), and got off in Oakville to grab the connecting bus.

As I walked towards the bus, there was Jer, standing there waiting for me with his arms folded.

No. Fucking. Way.

Before I hugged him, a million thoughts went through my head. Did he meet someone on the street and get a ride here? How could he be here?

The answer: it was a crap and go. He went at a million miles per hour, got the subway train after me. Bought his ticket, even though the guy said the train left. It wasn't on the schedule anymore, but he decided to see if it was still up on the platform.

Jer even went to the wrong platform, happened to glance across and see the train he needed, ran like no tomorrow to get it, and jumped through the doors just as they were closing.

He made the same GO Train as me. The odds on this are astronomically slim. *I* barely made it. How the hell did he do it?

I'm guessing it's because he's tall and has really long legs. He can move fast when he wants to.

Oh, and the movie was awesome.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, October 02, 2005 at 6:00 p.m. | 0 comments
Plaintiff: Hormel Foods Corp.

Defendant: Jim Henson Productions

Lawsuit: Hormel, maker of SPAM, sued Henson’s company over one of the characters in the movie Muppet Treasure Island. The character in question is the high priest of a tribe of wild boars that worship Miss Piggy. His name: Spa’am. Hormel’s lawsuit contended that their trademark was damaged because the film “intentionally portrayed the Spa’am character to be evil in porcine form.”

Verdict: Not guilty. The court found that although Spa’am was “untidy,” he was not evil and that, actually, the character probably enhanced the value of the SPAM trademark.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 at 10:30 p.m. | 1 comments
It's a guilty new television pleasure and just happens to follow Lost. It's one of three shows featuring alien invaders, somehow connected to water. It's got Tyler Labine in it (the fat guy from Breaker High) and is kind of entertaining.

But I'll never admit it.

As for Lost, I'm definitely intrigued by what's going on and have way too many theories to be normal. I'm missing that 'wow' factor that the first season had early on and I'm anxious to get to the island surviving part of the show, if in fact it's ever really going to come into play.

Yes, I have a life. It's just partially dominated by television at the moment. I was thinking earlier how great summer is as the weather is nice enough, the TV is more or less useless, and there are great things to do. Fall/winter kind of kills ambition.

But at least I have a great job! (Insert sarcasm)
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 at 11:28 p.m. | 0 comments
That I haven't updated this thing in like two weeks? Not very cool of me. I blame... well, something.

Quick updates on what I've been doing:

Wrote the official review for Serenity for publication in eye Weekly. It hits stands on Thursday, and I'll provide a link to the review through this site. I hope it's the first of many movie reviews, but I'll take what I can get.

Millarworld. Again, something I should have mentioned, but I write monthly articles for Mark Millar's online magazine called The.Magazine. So far I've published a Julie Benz interview I did, and am about to publish a Jhonen Vasquez article (Invader Zim creator) as well as concert reviews for U2 and The Rolling Stones, which Catherine and I saw last night.

I'm still waiting on X-Men Legends 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man to come in the mail. Both games are now at retail and I have no patience whatsoever. If I don't get 'em by Friday, I'll buy X-Men this weekend. Who's in for playing?

Serenity opens this week and I'm trying to sort out when/where I'll be seeing it. I'm aiming for Burlington if my dad can make it down, but I haven't gotten ahold of him yet, so it might be Toronto after all.

Marvel Comics. Eric Moreels, my friend and co-publisher from Comixfan has stepped out of the ether and offered to let me write several bios for characters that will appear in an upcoming publication. I think it may be web-based, but I'm not entirely sure. I'd rather print as my name looks much nicer that way.

Either way, it's PAID work from Marvel Comics. I'll be writing bios for Warpath, Evangeline Whedon, Whirlwind, X-23, Wolfsbane, and Wolverine. Not a bad gig at all (though not writing a comic book itself, which remains on my list of goals to accomplish before I shuffle off this mortal coil).

I'm going to bed now. Catherine and I have to continue our war efforts (*this is one of Catherine's odd ramblings from when I go to bed after she does... she doesn't always like to make sense).

Oh, and my assistant (Tribbles) was let go today. Not when I would have chosen to do it as I'm swamped with work, but I'm getting a new helper on Thursday. I feel bad that she's been let go, but I was very close to losing my mind.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, September 18, 2005 at 11:45 a.m. | 2 comments

U2 Vertigo 2005: This is how close we were. There's bassist Adam Clayton posing for us. He smiled at Catherine which pleased her quite a bit.  Posted by Picasa
Posted by Parallel

U2 Vertigo 2005: Catherine and I were front row slightly to the left side in this pic. Edge-centric for those in the know. Posted by Picasa
Posted by Parallel
Well, the concert was Friday night and it couldn't have been more spectacular. Catherine and I wound up, for the second time in this life, in the front row of a U2 concert. That just blows my mind.

We both left work early (me at 2, her at 3) and stood patiently in line outside of the ACC with our general admission tickets. During the last tour it was more of a first-come, first-served kind of deal, but this time was quite different. As you descend the steps with your ticket in hand (ours were bought from a guy online and we panicked the whole time about their authenticity) one set of security scans them.

After that you proceed to get a GA wristband. Then your ticket is scanned a second time and a randomized computer decides whether or not you get entered into the elipse. You see, the stage (see above photo) has two sections. One inside with a ring around the arena for the band to walk on, then on the outside of that ring the rest of the people stand. For the rest of our amazing photos, head over to Catherine's Blog as she has all 33 of the photos we took posted there on the right hand side.

The two people ahead of me in line had their ticket scanned. "Proceed to floor."

I handed my ticket over and nothing happened. I was freaking out, thinking that the ticket was bogus after all. Catherine thought the same thing. All of the sudden the screen flashed and "Vertigo" was written on it, meaning we got to go inside.

I couldn't believe the luck, and when we made our way to the stage, there was practically no one in there. As our VERY close up photos suggest, we were once again in the front row.

The concert was amazing, the t-shirts expensive (I still bought one) and we had a fantastic time. By this time, however, we had been standing for more than 9 hours straight and couldn't walk very well. A couple of my leg muscles are still twitchy.

But damn, was it worth it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Have you ever been in a dark stadium with thousands of cellphones turned on and their blue light screens illuminating it like stars? What a sight. I was truly blown away.

In other news, I got yet another free video game in the mail. Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is a Grand Theft Auto-type game in which the Hulk can participate in an endless rampage of death and destruction. Anything and everything in the environment can be picked up and used as a weapon, sometimes ingeniously so. It has been a brutally guilty pleasure so far, and even enticed Jer in for an hour or so.

Next week I'm expecting X-Men Legends 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man games in the mail. It's good to be a comic book journalist sometimes.

Taking off now. My Dad, brother, and uncle are coming over. That's just a lot of Graydon's and Brian's, but hopefully it'll be a good time anyway.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 10:04 p.m. | 1 comments
Britney Spears has reproduced. This is more than enough to cause us all to jump ship.

In related news, Spears' new fragrance, Fantasy Britney Spears, is due to launch Thursday. She has described it as a "completely magical" blend of "enchanting scents and flavors" with "a hint of cupcakes."

What the fuck is wrong with people?
Posted by Parallel
Monday, September 12, 2005 at 11:33 a.m. | 0 comments
True Story: In the late 1990s, French authorities began cracking down on youth gangs that employed vicious dogs—rottweilers and pit bulls—to intimidate rival gangs. The crackdown was working...until gangs switched to vicious monkeys. “The apes are becoming the new weapon of choice. They’re ultrafashionable,” said a Paris police officer. “Removed from their natural habitat,” natural historian Marie-Claude Bomsel told the London Guardian, “they can become highly aggressive. They bite, and their favored method of attack is to hurl themselves at people’s heads.”
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, September 11, 2005 at 2:02 a.m. | 0 comments

It's hard to make out, but that's my quote (correctly attributed and all) on the back of Mark Millar's WANTED. Posted by Picasa
Posted by Parallel
Despite anything I may ever say to the contrary, as a writer I have a huge ego. I think it's an inherent part of being creative and most people I know who are a part of my field are all very much the same.

It hit me today though when I picked up a copy of Mark Millar's hardcover comic book, Wanted, and saw that a quote from one of my reviews that made the back of issue #1 was there, bright and bold, for everyone to see. Immortalized once again.

Except this time, someone else got the credit.

Yes, an error from editorial straight on down to print. A different person, a different publication, but my quote through and through. I wrote Mark and I'm waiting to get his take on it. I don't expect anything to change, but it's my work and I like being acknowledged for it at any rate.

I'll let you know what he says. Mark is a good man and a good friend with no power over this sort of thing whatsoever, so I don't really expect him to do anything, but since he's the only one I know at that company it just felt right to let someone know about the error.

The comic itself, however, is quite good and worth the read.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, September 08, 2005 at 10:15 p.m. | 3 comments
I don't usually go in for posts like this, but a friend and colleague of mine from Comixfan lives (unbeknownst to me until a few moments ago) in the state hit by Katrina. He wrote a long email to everyone on his list and it affected me a great deal.

Keep in mind it is quite long so I understand if you don't have the patience to see it to the end, but the point is that real people, real communities, have been affected in ways most of us will hopefully never experience.

Here's the thing: we've all seen disasters happen before. We saw horrific images of the Asian tsunami, we viewed shocking video of the events in New York and Washington on September 11. We prayed for the victims, we wished them well, maybe we even sent a little money... and then we got on with our lives. It was terrible, but it was kind of unreal: after all, most of us weren't actually there in Asia when disaster struck. The number of people directly impacted by 9/11 wasn't so huge that most of us were actually at Ground Zero. We feel a disconnect from it all, because we haven't seen it with our own eyes: it's just pictures and sounds on a screen, just like what we see all the time in our prime time dramas and big-budget motion pictures... except in those motion pictures, we know the backstories of the main characters, so perhaps we have more reason to care than we do for people we'll never meet and don't know anything about.

And in the grand scheme of things... so what? So thousands of people died in Katrina, or the tsunami, or hundreds died in New York. Not to belittle that loss, but many more people than that lose their lives quite regularly in places like the war-torn Middle East, or places like Sudan in Africa. Most of us in what we laughably refer to as "the civilized world" never hear about this stuff, or if we do, we don't care that much. Not that we're terrible people (although, no doubt, some of us are): it's just that it's all a world away, we're not there, we don't see it, it's easy to convince ourselves that it doesn't exist.

Not so today for me. I live in southeast Louisiana. One week after what's being called the worst national disaster in the history of the country, tidings are still grim. I thank God that I'm luckier than most: all I've lost have been a couple of job opportunities, a really nice fence, and several days of my life to cleaning the dead branches and fallen trees from my property. I may not have a permanent job, and my lawn may still be an unholy mess, but I have a wife, savings, my possessions, a life. My family so far seems to be safe, although I still haven't managed to locate a few of them. Relatively speaking, I'm extremely lucky.

I guess I'm writing this to help people understand how very real and how very life-destroying this is. I live 30 miles from what was once the booming metropolis of New Orleans. I've driven throughout Louisiana since the storm and seen firsthand the damage here. I've visited shelters and relief distribution centers and spoken to people there. And worst of all, I've heard the spin being put out by the people in power about how much better things are, and I know enough to know how lying or clueless they truly are.

If there are any silver linings here (and I've looked desperately to find one), it's that the truly poor of New Orleans might eventually see more money than they ever have, and that more and more Louisianians are coming over to my long-held political viewpoint that both the Republicans and the Democrats of America are more interested in political infights than they are in helping their constituents.

As a technology consultant for the state government (a temporary job I was very lucky to find), I drove out to inspect storm damage today, and I saw scenes of destruction that will haunt me for a long time. I traveled to the small town of Bogalusa, in the northeast corner of souteast Louisiana (if that doesn't make any sense to you, go find it on a map and you'll see what I mean), a place many, many miles inland from where the storm struck, a beautiful little town where I used to go swimming as a boy.

On the way, I saw a huge, majestic forest of pine, each tree easily over 100 feet tall... and every single one of the hundreds of trees was standing precariously at about a 30 degree angle. It was like some twisted vision from a Tim Burton film.

I passed other forests with all kinds of trees, forests I'd loved as a kid, forests where literally every other tree, or more, lay on its side. Oaks, magnolias, you name it. It's difficult to imagine unless you see it first hand.

I saw oak trees, mighty oak trees, knocked down, crushing trees, homes, churches, and businesses. In many cases, the uprooted trees brought up with them huge sections of earth, clods of dirt and roots bigger than you, me, and every single book in my library combined. And I've got a lot of books.

I passed well-kept shacks, undoubtedly inhabited by some of the poorest elements of society (and there are a LOT of poor people in rural Louisiana, white, black, hispanic, you name it), with trees through their roofs, tearing gaping holes so big that I could clearly see into the interior of the house as I drove by. I passed middle-class homes, the kind of nice, modest place where you or I might live, torn to bits: homes with every single shingle on the roof missing, with trees through the walls, with shattered windows, with the entire roof blown off. I've never seen such devastation. I've never seen with my own eyes so many homes destroyed.

I even passed several mansions on huge, sprawling estates. With almost no exceptions, they fared extremely well and escaped almost all damage. Figures.

I was so amazed by the sheer number of leaning, broken, shattered, or just plain missing utility poles on my journey, that I tried counting the number of power lines lying on the road that my car ran over. Somewhere around 15 or 16, I lost count. I must have passed over sixty lines on the road, and many times that number of poles broken in some fashion. Small wonder that when I got to Bogalusa, they had no power, nor did they expect to for quite a long time to come.

And remember, this is all over a week AFTER the storm hit us, here in the United States of America, the richest and most technologically advanced country in the history of the world. And this is all in Bogalusa, far from the hardest-hit areas in Biloxi and New Orleans. This is the stuff they don't talk about on the national news, and there are many, many communities just like this one.

When I arrived in the city itself, I found a lot of excited people. Why? Because the Popeyes, now one of the only sources of fresh food in a 20-mile radius, had finally opened. And the lines were long. Everywhere there were signs of destruction: here, a business without a roof; there, a gas station where almost all of the fixtures, including light poles, pumps, and covered areas, lay on their side. Near the middle of town, I saw a huge shopping center with most of the roof gone. There was very little gas, and very little food. Debris littered... well, everything... everywhere you looked. A few isolated homes and businesses have power and food, but nobody has any communication with the outside world. All the cell phone towers are down, and even if you are one of the lucky ones that has phone service, you can't complete a call outside the Bogalusa area. And just like Baton Rouge and most of the rest of southeast Louisiana, it's a bit rare to find a business sign, like a grocery store sign or a Blockbuster video sign, that isn't lying on the ground instead of proclaiming its wares prominently in the sky.

The devastation in Bogalusa is terrible, but it's nowhere near as bad as New Orleans. The national news networks never cease to anger me these days with their rose-tainted glasses - the situation there is generally nowhere near as happy as some people describe. New Orleans, such a great cultural mecca for the world, is for all intents and purposes mostly destroyed. The vast majority of the city is still underwater... no... you can't really call it "water." It's a toxic sludge of all kinds of deadly chemicals - wading in the polluted water can be fatal. And thousands of homes are underneath this poisonous goo. This is so bad that not only will it all have to be bulldozed, but even the earth and soil itself is contaminated and will have to be completely removed.

And all that talk about the pumps removing thousands and thousands of cubic feet per second? Thanks to the sheer amount of water and sludge in the city, combined with the leaking levees, the water has barely receded. In areas where water was, for example, 16 feet deep, now it might be 15 feet deep. There's a long way to go.

Even in Baton Rouge, where damage was limited but still severe, life can be difficult. Helicopters constantly fly by overhead, and police, fire, and ambulance sirens now occur regularly, every few minutes. The intense traffic makes it impossible to go anywhere, roads are closed, basic supplies are sometimes in short supply, and everybody needs help. Even in my own yard, many miles from the storm's wrath, I discovered in my cleanup efforts many, many tree limbs that had been blown so hard by the storm winds that they were impaled firmly in the ground, standing straight up like twisted new growths.

As bad as the geographic devastation is, it can't compare to the human suffering. Don't believe the news bulletins about improving conditions for the New Orleans refugees - a lot of it is complete and total bull... spin, no doubt, launched by some government agency, as it focuses on a very lucky few and ignores thousands of others. As a resident, as someone who visited shelters and aid distribution centers today, as someone who listened to people calling into local radio stations begging for help all day, I can tell you that the picture is not very rosy. So many people in so very great need are not receiving help... at all. Our government has abandoned and failed us in Louisiana, Republican and Democrat alike.

Perhaps you heard about the $2,000 debit cards our dear friends at FEMA were supposed to be giving to the displaced residents today? Sure sounded like a nice start, and we were all very happy to hear about it. But then the details started to trickle out - there are only 2,000 of these cards (because, of course, the other 998,000 affected don't really need much). They're only being given away in Houston (because, of course, the federal goverment believes that the greatest need for relief after a Louisiana-Mississippi-Alabama disaster is in Texas). And even after they had these 2,000 evacuees line up to receive the cards, they changed their minds and decided not to hand them out at all, because they had neglected to figure out how they were going to track it. Now, today, they're saying that they'll hand out those cards "in a few days", and that all of the other evacuees will receive checks in the mail.

Checks. In the mail. For homeless evacuees. Think about that for a second.

Most of the government's efforts complete ignore the outlying communities and the thousands of people who were outside New Orleans who were hit just as hard, like the people in Bogalusa without power or food or gas. I visited relief stations near my constantly-mentioned and obsessively-beloved hometown of Loranger, and found piles and piles of people waiting... and waiting... and waiting... for anything. Local officials seem to be bravely trying to do their best with the (scant) resources they have. On the way to the relief station (after I'd parked my car quite a distance away and started walking, because it became obvious I wasn't going to get to park much closer), I had to duck under a very low hanging electric wire. A bit closer to the relief station, I walked by the shattered remains of another electric pole, on the ground, surrounded by some kind of waste that I was unable to identify. The smell was, to say the least, interesting.

For so many of those in need, FEMA is doing absolutely nothing, and the Red Cross struggles as well. Both organizations constantly brag about the toll-free numbers Louisiana residents can call to get quick and free help... but what they fail to mention is that calls to toll-free numbers rarely work in Louisiana anymore (in fact, most calls in Southeast Louisiana to ANYWHERE rarely go through these days), and even on the very rare occasion that the call actually does go through, the hold time is measured in hours, not minutes (or so I hear, I have to admit I haven't tried calling myself). They say you can visit their websites... fat chance for homeless residents, residents without electricity, without phone connections. Then, even if you do talk to FEMA, they promise lots of help... in about ten to fourteen days. That's not too helpful to people who are living with the clothes on their back, without a home and with one last twenty stuffed in their pocket to live on. Meanwhile, shelters and relief lines are packed and overcrowded, and human beings, American citizens, are going without the barest necessities of dignity.

I usually consider myself a proud American, so I hate to say that not only has our leadership failed us, but our leadership has killed us. Literally, without drama or exaggeration, I say to you that people have died... innocent people have DIED (think about that, think about how you would feel if it was your grandmother or your brother or your best friend)... because of political posturing, power maneuvering, and excessive red tape. From FEMA's utter incompetence and the president's hopeless and meaningless optimism to the state's refusal to let in federal forces to help in the opening days of the tragedy (for which the blame falls squarely on our governor) to the city's inexplicable refusal to prepare for the hurricane when they knew it was on the way, despite the ready availability of buses normally used to bus in voters on Election Day (among other resources), our feckless leadership has failed us. If I thought I had a monkey's shot in hell, I'd run for office somewhere, just to try to bring some common sense in somewhere. Too bad I have no political connections.

Our Democratic mayors and governor have been all over the news broadcasts crying, moaning, and exposing their lack of leadership, vision, or motivation. They have no idea what to do next, and their bawling on the airwaves doesn't exactly inspire confidence or provide strong leadership. Meanwhile, our Republican president smiles that oblivious smile, assures us that everything will be okay, and turns, with Congress, to issues far weightier than thousands of human lives and livelihoods, like whether dear Johnny should be Chief Justice or just an Associate Justice.

I'm writing this... why am I writing this? I guess I'm writing this as therapy. I'm going to e-mail it out to people as... well... I guess as a public service on behalf of the Gulf Coast residents who are in need. This tragedy is real. It's not getting much better. Thousands of innocent people, poor and middle-class (and maybe even a few rich folks), black and white (despite what the Reverend Jesse Jackson and other demagogues would like you to think), old and young, sick and healthy, are being destroyed by this event even as I type this right now. I don't think most people who haven't seen it firsthand understand how bad it is. Tell your friends and family about this stuff, I beg you. Forward this e-mail if it helps.

If there's any way you can help, please do. I can't recommend donating to FEMA, and the Red Cross isn't perfect either... but at least it's a whole heck of a lot better than FEMA. If you're the praying type, pray for all of the people affected down here. If you're not the praying type... well, heck, pray for us anyway; it can't hurt anything, can it? The people of the Gulf Coast are in desperate need, and the people we hoped we could count on have been failing us most every step of the way.

Meanwhile, I'm counting my blessings (and there are so very many), helping if I can, and hoping the tarp I attached to a friend's roof holds if it rains again. Take care.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, September 07, 2005 at 1:16 p.m. | 3 comments
I keep intending to update this blog on a daily basis, and even encounter everyday situations that I think would make for interesting reading.

In order to keep the dozen or so of you who read this interested (I'm likely flattering myself), here is a bullet-point list of items that I intend to eventually cover:

1. My new assistant. I've decided to call her Tribbles after the furry little creatures on Star Trek who squeak loudly, cause havoc, and gum up any and all machinery. She is trouble on an epic scale and I want to choke her.

But she's a NICE person.

2. My trip to the CNE (part 2). Part 1 (something not covered here) is largely uninteresting, though why I went back and the events of that trip are mildly entertaining. Parades, car accidents, and foreigners. FUN!

3. Smallville. I've been watching this show a lot, and though I frequently call out for the deaths of some characters, I am compelled to watch. I'm currently stuck in season 3.

4. Free video games. All Marvel related, all within a month, three great games to take me away from Catherine.

5. Whatever I've forgotten that was interesting a few minutes ago. I'm sick right now and as such can't remember beyond the past few minutes. The good news is that it makes the day go by quickly, the bad news is that I'm still at this job.


So, tuck yourselves in and get ready for a rant-o-rama. It seems to be all that I do lately. Several people have mentioned this, and I'd like to curb my complaints, but otherwise I think the world is out to get me.

So I'm watching you. Yes, YOU.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 11:25 a.m. | 0 comments
I bought season 1 yesterday for $39.99 from a used store. It's brand new and in my hands a week before retail. The sound, video, and everything else is amazing.

Catherine and I watched the first episode and reminded ourselves why we love this show in the first place.

Simply gorgeous stuff.

I've been spoiled lately.

I deserve it.
Posted by Parallel
Many dollars later, I have ML 10 and one fig from ML 11. Why is this cool? Well, the foot and a half tall heavy-ass Sentinel should answer that question.

Catherine is appropriately mortified at the space it takes up, while I have taken to cuddling with it as though it were a teddy bear.

The other figs are super-cool as well, but man... that Sentinel.

The stuff dreams are made of.
Posted by Parallel
Are full of the scariest bastards you will ever meet in your life, aside from FMG. Geeks, nerds, and the sexually depraved lined the floors for three days of geek-bliss. The attraction really isn't there for me anymore, though I use my press cred to interview those I normally wouldn't get the chance.

I interviewed Tim Russ from Star Trek: Voyager and Adam Baldwin from the upcoming Serenity. I also sat in Q&A's for James Marsters, Margot Kidder, Erica Durance, and Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim's creator).

All were interesting.

The MOST interesting aspect is that James' three-day bonanza, which included a private meal where he would walk & talk for 45 minutes, play 12 songs, and give you access to all three Q&A's, a signed photo, and you could have your picture professionally taken with Marsters would run you a cool $695.

That's insane. Lower prices for autographs/talks were $200 and $80 respectively.

I don't pay that much for U2 or even the Rolling Stones.

As press, I just went to what I want for free. I'm cheap like that.
Posted by Parallel
Just when you think you can count on your work to screw you, they not only come through in the way you expect, but also in other ways you don't.

I made a paltry 28k and two months ago was promised Colleen's level of pay and a promotion to 33k. My contract was up yesterday, and they offered me 30k. My plan was anything less than Colleen, and I walk. So they did as expected and tried to screw me, but REALLY screwed me when they accepted my counter-offer of 33k.

It's Wednesday and I'm still here. It's like being promised armaggedon and a chance at heaven, only to find out that the whole thing was a joke.

I have a raise.

Bastards.
Posted by Parallel
The last post referred to a brave little boy named Alex who died last Tuesday from a skin disease. He was confined to a wheelchair and bundled in padding, yet he was the most optimistic and intelligent kid I've ever met. He knew what was coming, defied the odds and lived years beyond expectations, and inspired everyone he met.

It's the best kind of legacy to leave.

He'll be missed.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 24, 2005 at 3:20 p.m. | 0 comments
Normally I don't go in for this sort of email zen, but today it seemed appropriate. I'll explain more tomorrow as some of the details can't yet be revealed.

A group of working adults got together to visit their former professor.

The professor was happy to see them. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. The professor just smiled and went to the kitchen to get an assortment of cups - some porcelain, some in plastic, some in glass, some plain looking and some looked rather expensive and exquisite.

He offered his former students the cups to get ice water for themselves.

When all the students had a cup in hand with water, the Professor spoke:

"If you noticed, all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is usual that you only want the best for yourselves, that also is the source of your problems and stress. What all you really wanted was water, not the cup, but you unconsciously went for the better looking cups."

"Just like in life, if life is water, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and maintain life, but they hardly change the intrinsic quality of life."

"If we get focused only on the cup, then we won't have time to taste and enjoy the water in it!"

"And also remember: A rich person is the one who has a lot, a happy person is the one who doesn't want a lot. The choice of who you want to be is yours."

And the students thus got their most important lesson from their wise teacher.

The moral of the story, from my point of view, is that it's never a good thing to settle in life but to always go for what makes you happy. Make a difference while you can, because you never know what tomorrow brings and who may be gone from this earth from one moment to the next.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, August 22, 2005 at 9:31 p.m. | 0 comments

The Cottage, 2005 Posted by Picasa
Posted by Parallel
Anyone else completely exhausted? I know I am.

It was a wonderful, if somewhat rainy trip. Good times were had by all, and if you weren't there, you were missed. By someone.

But a hearty thumbs up and good wishes to all who were there... Doug, Tess, Robyn, Jeromy, Josh, Paul, Victoria, Nicole, Jamie, and of course my girl, Catherine...

And damn you all for laughing at me when I tipped over into the woodpile. Especially whoever yelled 'quick, take a picture' and to Doug, who commented 'he's presenting.'

I assure you, I was not.

Same time, same place, next year. These get-togethers happen too rarely, but are too good to pass up. Jamie, bring more games.

PS. I have a job interview lined up for later this week to work as a Financial editor and Desktop Publisher. I have no business doing either, so this will be interesting.

Pictures & emails for the cottage to follow soon. I'll send 'em tomorrow from work because unlike yahoo, I can send more than three at a time.

Be good!
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 at 8:08 a.m. | 0 comments

Almost time to head out to the cottage... not a moment too soon. Posted by Picasa
Posted by Parallel
Friday, August 12, 2005 at 12:27 p.m. | 0 comments
Tonight and tomorrow night are the height of the annual Perseid meteor showers—one of the best and brightest meteor storms of the year.

The Perseids are a product of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 130 years. How do we get a yearly show from that? The comet leaves a trail of debris in its path; tiny particles, most no larger than a grain of sand, moving 132,000 mph.

Every year in July and August, Earth’s orbit takes it through this debris. Result: The particles burn up as they enter our atmosphere, giving us our regular light show.

Catherine and I will be camping this weekend, so there will be no interesting tidbits on this blog. Instead, we'll be roasting marshmallows, hot dogs, and sleeping on what appears to be the cold, wet ground.

I find it the height of irony that after the most intense summer I can remember heat-wise, that months ago we would have the misfortune of booking a weekend where it's raining.

Coincidence? Nope. I actually think the universe may be out to get me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to sleeping at my desk.

If those who read my blog will do me a favour, post a vote for 'quit' or 'tough it out' in the chatterbox. This place has been less than kind and is a factory for evil people, but it's a regular paycheck and as yet I don't have a replacement job. I'll be interested to see the results.

MARS ATTACKS: IN 1911 A METEOR FROM MARS FELL TO EARTH IN NAKHLA, EGYPT, KILLING A DOG.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 at 2:40 p.m. | 0 comments
It's been on my mind for the past week, and though Catherine prefers not to talk about it, I wanted to say something more for myself than for anyone else. This blog, as many of you will have noted, is more venting than blogging, but sometimes it manages to say something meaningful.

One year ago, yesterday, at 9:09 pm little Rooter passed away while Catherine, myself, and Truffle did everything we could to make things easy for her. It was a terrible few days filled with a lot of fear and anxiety. Though I've since laid the pain to rest and have only focused on the good that came with her short time with us, I still think of her often.

Just as I think of my dog, Jack. He was the best friend I ever had and likely will ever have. It's strange to give that title to a dog, but for those of you with pets who take on strong roles in your lives, you'll know what I mean.

Monty, the dog that Bob adopted for my mother, was killed last week by a passing car. It happened quickly and with little pain. Still, he was a young dog full of life and energy (and would often jump in the pool), so while I'm glad he had a good life while he was here, it was still too soon.

It's this kind of thinking that can get you down, and those of you who have read this far (and my previous entries) may think I'm depressed, but I'm not.

The pets mentioned above (who are more family than possessions) had a tremendous impact, and it is because of them and the people that come and go from our lives that we are who we are, and that we work to become better than we are now.

For all of my venting, I do my best to honor them by living my life well. For my grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles as well. For all of you, my friends. My family. The love of my life. Those who I wish to make proud.
Posted by Parallel
After round 42 or 43 of the stupidity that is my job, things picked up this week to new heights of the absurd.

I got called into a meeting over "complaints" about me... including that on the one day I was alone in my department, I apparently was sleeping at my desk.

I laughed out loud at that one.

See, the funny part is that in addition to my own full time job, I've been given more than 50% of the duties of my ex-co-worker Colleen's job to do on top of it, and I still manage to get done by 5pm. I have to work through lunch, but I get done.

So when do I have time to sleep??

D'oh well.

That was the proverbial last straw, so I'm fairly certain that I'll be leaving here at the end of August, with or without a new job lined up. Ideally I'll have one, and I've started applying regularly again, but either way Catherine, my mother, and even my co-workers are saying that it's clearly gone completely stupid here and to cut my losses.

It's too bad, as I have always taken a great deal of pride in the work that I do and in maintaining a high standard of quality. My job didn't involve saving the world or anything, but it was important that I do it right. I've been recognized for this in the past, but something tells me that with all the drama going on here that I shouldn't hold out hope that they're going to offer me a full time position, and that indeed I should just quit before they can decide one way or another.

That's where a bit of fear sets in. Though I have much more confidence that it wouldn't take as long, it took more than six months of searching and part time work for me to find this place. And though I hated it from the first moment, I met some really cool people here (along with the worst human being I've ever met).

I suppose I'm still hedging my bets a little. Waiting to see what, and if, they offer. I don't like giving up something for nothing, even when that something is having a negative effect on me.

On the other hand, I could be the problem. Discord and discontent seem to be a common theme with me and many of my jobs. I hope it's just because I haven't found the right one for me yet, and not that I'm a complete tool.

Shut up, Paul.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, August 07, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. | 0 comments
In April 2001, city officials in Nottingham, England, spent more than £1 million (about U.S. $1.6 million) installing solar-powered parking meters on city streets after reading reports that the meters saved a fortune in maintenance costs in Mediterranean countries.

The only problem: Mediterranean countries get a lot of sun...and England doesn’t, not even in summer. By August, more than 25 percent of the parking meters were out of commission, allowing thousands of motorists to park for free.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, August 05, 2005 at 3:33 p.m. | 0 comments
Before my head explodes?

Ah, this must be what it's like to live life in a bubble. From one moment to the next, the past repeats itself in an endless stream of confusion and disappointment.

Except when it gets time to having a snack. That's always good.

My workload is now such that I can't ever take a break, not even lunch, or else I'll fall desperately behind. Even writing this entry could mean disaster.

Or another 15 minutes. It's hard to tell which comes first.

My co-worker, Nathan, has gotten a tentative job offer/option from our old boss, Susan, in Montreal. Unencumbered by family or other obligations, he's quite free to move and likely will should the opportunity present itself.

Good for him.

Fucked for me. Well, not in the sense of how badly it messed us up when Susan and Colleen left, but it would leave the whole web team, myself and Li, without a web designer.

AH HA HA HA HA

Shoot me.

Like I care. At this point, I really don't. Part of me wants to get tossed at the end of the month just to end it all. Something better HAS to come along.

I blame Paul.

On the bright side, I'm tearing through all the Harry Potter books again. I read part of 5, then 6, then finished 5, 4, and now I'm on 1. I realize this is not a sensible order, but it's pleasing me so far. I'm even picking up connections hinted at all the way back in book 1. It sheds some interesting light on things.

Catherine is away for the weekend with Patti for a wedding. They'll be sharing a hotel room together, but I'm told nothing kinky will happen. Knowing them, it means junk food and passing out around 10 or so.

I need Jer's cottage to be sooner than two weeks from now. My poor heart can't take it.

I've arranged for Friday and Monday off as I need it. I need a damn break.

Games will be played. Jamie has bought at least two or three new ones and already tested them out for quality assurance. He may also try to sell you a car, and so far, I gather his reputation as a salesman is infallible.

So, as I'll be bored this weekend, feel free to stop by, send an owl, or arrange many games of StarCraft.

Games are fun.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 03, 2005 at 1:17 p.m. | 2 comments
Aaron has requested a new blog entry, and seeing as how it seems an impossible task to connect with him by phone, I decided to speak with him through my blog.

"Hi, how are you?"

....

"What's wrong? Not talking to me?"

.....


"Fine, be that way. Things are okay with me (aside from the normal level of bullshit... oh hell, it's all going down the tubes."


....


"What, life is all roses for you?"

......

"Stop being a dick and talk to me."

.....

"Fine. Bite me."




And that's that. Wow, I enjoyed that, but Aaron didn't put up as much of a talk as I would have liked.

In unrelated news, my work continues to be a steaming pile of shit comparable to a night where you get rabies and die slowly and painfully. It's like that.

No new jobs have been applied for as no new jobs have been posted. It's a vicious cycle. At this point, the only good thing on the horizon is Jer's cottage and a camping trip, both of which should take my mind off of things. Of course, if this doesn't happen soon, then I expect Catherine will kill me for being in a sour mood all the time.

Marvel Legends 10 is out soon, though. It's the one where you can build a Sentinel out of pieces packaged with the figures. I'm looking forward to this. Catherine is not. She calls it 'clutter.'

But as I wear the pants, I'll buy what I like.

If you're reading this, Catherine, I didn't mean that. Don't take away my toys.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, July 22, 2005 at 2:26 p.m. | 3 comments
They claim there is a silver lining in almost any situation, but in my case my perk of the day makes me quite unhappy.

I was hoping, praying, and even going to bribe the people at Kaboose (with an object other than the one I DID offer them) for the chance to leave the hell that is First Media and come into the light of a new job that was everything I could have wanted. It was close to home, well paying, and the work was in a subject I adored.

Like most things in my life the past year, it was not to be.

I'm not really surprised. It had been more than two weeks since the interview and I hadn't heard a thing. I wrote to my HR contact, who I really hit it off with, and got a response back from a stranger cooly informing me that the job I wanted had been taken by someone else.

Partly, I blame my dreams. You see, last night I dreamt I got one of the positions they were offering, despite the lack of communication beforehand. I felt so sure today that it was mine. I had a lot of energy, finished my work early, and was prepared to have a good night.

I suppose I still could, but it depends on what Catherine is in the mood for.

My silver lining, as mentioned previously, is that I'm supposed to get promoted here today. It should be more money along with the extra responsibilities I've already been enjoying (not) for the past three weeks, but it's still First Media and it's still a lot of hassle given the attitudes of some of my co-workers.

I'll keep applying. I'll keep trying to get out of here. I still plan to apply to teacher's college this year and find, somehow, the thing it is that is going to make me happy.

Because right now, I'm surely not.

EDIT!

Great news! Instead of getting promoted, I'm likely getting fired at the end of my contract period (August 30) so they can move my whole job to India!

Wow!

(please adjust the above to include a sarcastic tone)
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 10:48 p.m. | 0 comments

Nathan Fillion's Captain Malcolm Reynolds... by Astonishing X-Men artist John Cassaday. Posted by Picasa
Posted by Parallel
Just because the majority of you have to wait until September doesn't mean you can't get some Serentiy lovin' sooner.

Dark Horse has released the first issue of a planned three-issue prequel to the film. Each issue has a number of variant covers, but the true gold is that it's a Whedon-penned issue filled with a garden of 'verse delights.

It's worth picking up, or if you're poor, borrowing mine.

My apologies to Jer for inadvertently minorly spoiling him earlier. I was too enthusiastic. My bad.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 at 9:19 a.m. | 0 comments
Done Haiku style. Apparently, these are actual error messages that can come up on Japanese computers. Not living there, I can't verify the truth of that statement, but either way it seems kind of funny.

The Web site you seek cannot be located, but countless more exist.
--------------------------------------------
Chaos reigns within. Reflect, repent, and reboot. Order shall return.
-----------------------------------------------
Program aborting: Close all that you have worked on. You ask far too much.
------------------------------------------------
Windows NT crashed. I am the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams.
-------------------------------------------------
Yesterday it worked. Today it is not working. Windows is like that.
-------------------------------------------------
Your file was so big. It might be very useful. But now it is gone.
-------------------------------------------
Stay the patient course. Of little worth is your ire. The network is down.
-------------------------------------------------
A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.
-------------------------------------------------
Three things are certain: Death, taxes and lost data. Guess which has
occurred.
-------------------------------------------------
You step in the stream, but the water has moved on. This page is not here.
-------------------------------------------------
Out of memory. We wish to hold the whole sky, but we never will.
------------------------------------------------
Having been erased, The document you're seeking must now be retyped.
-------------------------------------------------
Serious error. All shortcuts have disappeared. Screen. Mind. Both are blank.


Chaos and disorder are currently reigning at work, and the outcome is uncertain. Either I'm going to become Mr. Universe and in control of things, or I'll be at home watching Oprah by the end of the week.

I just want to get that Kaboose job. I still haven't heard anything and I'm starting to panic that my life may be controlled byt the evil entities here at this place.

CYA never had a truer meaning.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, July 07, 2005 at 8:08 p.m. | 0 comments
Lots of 7's in the date today, so let's take a look at a few...

7 Deadly Sins: Pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust

7 Seas: Red, Adriatic, Black, Caspian, Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean

7 Virtues: faith, hope, charity, fortitude, prudence, justice, temperance

7 Metals of Alchemy: gold, silver, lead, quicksilver, copper, iron, tin

7 Dwarfs: Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Doc

7 Ritz Cracker holes: Six in a hexagon shape and one in the center.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, July 06, 2005 at 11:44 a.m. | 0 comments
You know you're in trouble when the computer tech here is highly illiterate. This is an email he sent to Nathan, the computer programmer from our web team:

 "It did worked before I look at me send emails and saw a long time send this info to you."

Classy.

As for Kaboose, the interview went for a little more than an hour and I have a warm, fuzzy feeling. I hesitate to give it a thumbs-up for fear of a jinx, but at least it's a step in the right direction towards freedom from this place.

I hate personal ads. Laying them out sucks. Everyone I tell laughs at me.

I don't blame them.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, July 05, 2005 at 11:29 a.m. | 0 comments
Jeff Gaulin's journalism website is both a blessing and a curse. It's great because it's an awesome resource for journalists to find new jobs, start careers, and see what kinds of companies are out there.

It's also evil because it's a bit of tease.

I must admit that the majority of my journalism related jobs have come from postings on Jeff Gaulin, but it is by no means at all a guarantee. Experience, skill, and ability are not valuable currency in my field so much as networking.

Still, every now and then you manage to slip through the cracks. Last Thursday before Catherine and I headed out on a wonderfully romantic weekend to Niagara Falls (she slaughtered me at mini-golf), I sent out 7 resumes in the hopes of finding something better than this awful job I have now.

One of them was Kaboose.com, an internet portal designed for kids ages 4-15. It has a massive amount of content, and my role there would be to write new articles every day to post on the site. It's a lot to do, but according to the woman I had a forty-minute phone interview with last night, I can throw a stone and write about what it hits.

That's some nice flexibility.

Kaboose is growing and already gets about 6.5 million hits a month with no advertising. It's one of the top ten internet destinations for kids. All of this ads up to me wanting to be a part of that, if only because it pays 17k more a year than this place.

And why am I so eager to leave? Well, they've given me my ex-coworkers workload and often talk openly about moving my entire job to their India office and having me "oversee" what's left. Very much not my job description, and very much not what I want to do with my life.

The interview proper is today at 3:30, so I arrived here early to meet my deadlines for the day. I've almost got all of my work for the day done (it's 11:34am) and I plan to leave at 2.

In short, I'm tired, I'm excited, I'm nervous, and I'm getting the hell out of here no matter what. If it isn't Kaboose, it's something else VERY soon.

I prefer to leave on my own terms.
Posted by Parallel
1. Your boss is always yelling, “I wanna see your butt in here by 8:00!”

2. “I’d love to chip in, but I left my wallet in my pants.”

3. You want to see if it’s like the dream.

4. People stop stealing your pens after they’ve seen where you keep them.

5. Diverts attention from the fact that you also came to work drunk.

6. Gives “bad hair day” a whole new meaning.

7. No one steals your chair.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, June 24, 2005 at 1:23 a.m. | 0 comments

Me and Sean Maher (Simon Tam) from Serenity. He was kind enough to join the screening tonight, and sat in front of me. His hair looked very soft, but I resisted the urge to touch it. Oh, and for all of you who didn't see it... September can't come soon enough. Posted by Hello
Posted by Parallel
You have to wait another three months to see Serenity? I don't envy you guys at ALL.

No worries, this blog shall stay completely spoiler-free, though it's killing me to not be able to talk about it.

A good thing about seeing it early (and as far as I could tell the film was finished or damn near), is that there was free stuff. Buttons, tatoos, posters, keychains, programs, and oh, Sean Maher (Simon Tam) was there.

That didn't suck. Not at all.

Shiny!
Posted by Parallel
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