Monday, December 31, 2007 at 2:26 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnd what a year it has been.

Really, it's been incredible. This has also been one of the hardest years that I think I have ever had to endure. From finishing teacher's college to starting my first teaching job, I think I've had enough from the change machine.

And yet 2008 looks to be more of the same. For those of you who don't know, it looks like I'm going to be unable to stay at my current school. They love me and the feeling is mutual, however the numbers just don't support my staying. So that means come February I'll be hopefully starting at a brand new school. I just don't know where yet.

But that's a problem for next year. Right now, I'm just extremely grateful for the year I just had.

Catherine and I are engaged, probably going to get married in March. I turned 30 this year which is quite scary, all the teaching stuff, went on a great summer camping trip, got an Xbox 360 and am currently tearing it up with Bioshock and Rock Band.

Christmas was amazing as well. My brother, Catherine and myself bought gifts for our parents. Mom got a digital camera and we polished and framed my grandfather's World War II medals for my father. That last gift was especially important to me and to my father as well. I took a video of the moment that the medals were given and as much as I would like to post it here, it's really quite emotional and important to me. Thus, I think I have to keep it to myself.

School turned out better than I thought it would. My students even threw me a surprise birthday party, something I'm told is an extremely rare thing for students to do. Those people are incredible and I hope they get the best that life has to offer.

Still, I have amazing friends, soon an amazing wife, and a great family. As much stress and difficulty that comes at us in life can bring us down, you just need to stop and look around to see how wonderful things really are. That said, I'm enjoying my much-needed vacation and I don't go back to work for a full week yet, so that softens the blow. For those you who have to go back to work on Wednesday, you have my sympathies.

For now, Catherine and I are about to head out to a New Year's Eve party at Patti's house that promises to be a good time. Then I'll come home and watch a bit more of season three of Lost!

Take care of yourselves.

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Posted by Parallel
Sunday, November 25, 2007 at 8:39 PM | 0 comments
As much as I've complained in the past, and sometimes I've had reason to, I must say that overall life is good. Amazing, actually.

I had the most amazing birthday week ever. My students threw a surprise birthday party for me on Thursday complete with ice cream cake and pizza. I was totally stunned.

Then on Friday I turned 30 and during our dinner out, I proposed to Catherine and I'm delighted to say that she accepted. Yes, it's true. We're now engaged.

I'm still stunned that it finally happened. I'm incredibly happy and I can't wait for us to continue sharing our lives together. We'll get married sooner rather than later, I expect, and I'll ballpark an estimate of about six months or so.

I'll get into more detail about how I proposed in a post later this week. It's a sweet story and I want to do it justice.

Last night was amazing as well. A ton of my friends and family gathered at the Bow & Arrow pub at Yonge & Davisville to help celebrate my birthday. It was a great night filled with drinks, fun, and catching up. Best birthday ever.

On top of all that, Catherine organized a group of my friends and family to buy an Xbox 360 for me. I was totally stunned. I'd be jokingly bugging Catherine about getting me one for a while now, but I didn't think it was going to happen. And then, there it was.

I also got a few gift certificates, a t-shirt, a couple bottles of wine, a new Nintendo controller and game, as well as a couple of books on top of many, many cards.

It will be a time that I won't ever forget. My new fiancee put together an amazing party with help from her friend, Patti.

Thanks to everyone who showed up and contributed to an outstanding time. In no particular order, Jamie and Nicole (my awesome houseguests), Paul, Vicky, Josh, Steph, Patti, Dave, Jamie, Victoria, sensei George, Scott, Ben, Jennifer, my mom, dad, uncle Brian, Barb, Doug, Mary Jane, Justin, Swapna, Traci, Peter, Rhonda, Darryl, Jeromy, Megan Griffith-Green, and Julia.

You're all awesome!
Posted by Parallel
Friday, November 16, 2007 at 9:04 PM | 0 comments
Shortpacked!
Posted by Parallel
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAs a resident of a big city like Toronto, you have to get used to the fact that because of the large number of people clustered in one place, you're going to run into some extreme or unusual personalities on a fairly regular basis. After a while you become somewhat numb to this kind of intrusion in your life and take it as being par for the course. Most of the time you can avoid any meaningful interaction, and other times you have to deal with it whether you like it or not.

While in Dominion today picking up a few essentials for a friend laid up in the hospital, I somehow invoked the ire of a man I can only assume is mentally challenged in some way. He was a large, round man with a scraggly beard, blue jacket, and sweat pants. Were it not for the hostile attitude, he could have passed for a department store Santa Claus.

What I did to insult this man was simple: I patiently stood in line behind him.

My attention focused on another part of the store, I was surprised when all of a sudden I was rammed in the midsection by his large butt. I looked to see why I was rudely pushed back a few feet and saw him fully bent over. Rather than get into an argument, I just assumed that he dropped something and accidentally bumped into me. I waited a moment for an apology that did not come.

"That guy just butt-rammed me," I told Catherine. She found this quite humourous.

In the end, not a big deal. Another few moments pass and once again my attention drifts away. Catherine grabs my arm as all of a sudden the basket the man was using was on the floor beside me. I didn't see him do it, but Catherine told me that he flung it back behind him in an attempt to hit me. By this point, I still hadn't said a word to the man or even looked at him.

Rather than get angry, I'm mostly just amused by this point. As the man lifts up his wallet to comb through it for change, he all of a sudden stretches one hand, and one finger in particular, out towards me. I laugh a little at this point.

He then leans over to the cashier and mutters something about his dislike for me. It was either that I'm "a bad man" or that I'm "an asshole." It amounts to the same thing either way. He shuffles off and the cashier flashes me a grin and offers an apology. I told her it wasn't necessary because up until that point my day had actually been quite dull.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, November 04, 2007 at 5:08 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNow that I have students, it would be remiss of me not to comment on some of the more interesting things they hand in to me. Most of it is innocent mistakes, others are intended to elicit more interesting responses. Here are a few highlights from my grade 11 university class:

"If I had $500 right now, I would go downtown and treat myself with a satisfying meal that I hadn't eaten before. After that I would buy myself a pair of jeans, shoes, winter coats and many shirts that I would use for other days. If I had change, I would throw them to the bums and see what happened. That would be absolute amusement."

"If I had $500, I would first go to a store called "Mind Games" and buy electric shock gum. Then I would use the money that is left to throw an ice cream party for all my friends and family. Then I'd pull the electric shock gum prank on everyone who comes."

"If I was rich for a day, I would first buy a new computer as well as a laptop. Then I would buy hot melted fudge and throw it at the homeless. I'd then buy every Super Nintendo game in existence."

"...and the biggest thing I want to do is make my whole room Mickey Mouse. Posters, pictures, figures, bed sheet, carpet, etc. All Mickey Mouse."

"I have just found a flat $100 bill on the floor. What shall I do with it? I think I should take all my friends to the buffet. And then they are going to have to owe me, so each one of them will take me to a buffet which means that I pay once and get to go there ten times.

Or should I take my family out for dinner so they can say 'wow, he has grown up?'"

Some poetry examples:
Blue
I am writing with a blue pen in my hands
And I know I am not making any sense.

Mouse
It wanders around the house
Some call them mouse
But some call them rodents
It may be a pet, it may be trouble
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Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 9:57 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us...and then there was one.

Congrats to Jer on making it to 30. No one saw that happening. I think we all expected you to disappear into the woods and commune with nature. Instead, life is going pretty well for you at the moment.

And now I'm all alone. Out of that core group, I remain the sole person in my 20s. Though admittedly this is a window that is fast growing smaller and smaller, I cling to this desperate notion that I am somehow not yet an adult, though the paycheck and responsibilities would seem to indicate otherwise.

Until I turn 30, I shall remain here in seclusion playing the newly acquired Guitar Hero 3. That is if I can get Catherine to stop playing it. She's pretty good, actually. Now we just need friends who also have the game on Wii for some fun internet play.

I can't believe I'm going to be dirty 30 in less than a month.

Happy Birthday Jer... you old fart.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 5:15 PM | 0 comments
So, how long has it been since I wrote last? A couple days? No? Okay, so it has been more than a month. I've been busy. I may have gone a little crazy.

More than seven weeks have now passed since I started my teaching career. I must admit that the last time I wrote on this blog that I wasn't doing well. If the post seemed grave I was actually putting a happy spin on my mood at the time. I really wasn't well.

It was without a doubt the biggest change I've had to deal with in my life to date and the most stressful. As I expected, though, it's also been one of the most positive things I've ever done in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I'd still love to head for the hills. This is an exhausting job that you never really get any down time from. It's Sunday now and I spent four and a half hours working today alone and I'm not done all the things that I'd like to be done.

Stress aside, I've been slowly finding ways to be normal again. This is hard considering I'm myself to such an extreme at school. This job is almost as much theatrical work as it is anything else. Your job becomes much more easy if people like coming to your class. I have a mini score sheet and more than 15 so far have told me that I'm their favourite teacher. I like that. It's a nice verification that I'm at least on the right track.

What else has been going on? It's all a bit of a blur, really. I'm finally getting through Metroid Prime 3, Guitar Hero 3 comes out next weekend, some guy named Jer is turning 30 soon, and I'm having my first birthday party in more than 10 years late November. Most of you will have already been invited via Facebook, but everyone is welcome to come.

It's on November 24th at a pub called the Bow & Arrow. We have the upstairs level rented out and will have appetizers and other assorted foods. It promises to be a good time.

So yes, I've written on the blog again. I expected to continue doing this with my frequency of old.

I'm back. Cower in fear.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, September 16, 2007 at 1:45 PM | 1 comments
I don't know how I made it this far, but I did. Since I last wrote, I was carefully trying to be optimistic. This plan fell apart the next day and Monday morning in particular was difficult for me.

Slowly but surely, things have been getting better. I'm slowly returning to normal and though I'm still stressed most of the time, I can finally think again.

This would be great except now Catherine has gone away for a week-long vacation with her parents. It's a much needed and deserved break for her, but the needy part of me just wants her back. Still, I'm good enough now that I can handle the work and pressure, but jeez, talk about the deep end! I send her regular text messages asking her to come back. I don't think she's taking me too seriously.

My mother is coming soon to spend the night. This will be good as it's a needed distraction to keep me feeling as calm and chilled as possible. I'm planned for the next two weeks, both concretely (in the case of the grade 11 classes) and abstractly (in the case of the grade 10 class). This helps a lot in lowering stress because I promised Catherine that I wouldn't do any work today.

I've managed to keep that promise, but I'm still a bit agitated. It's been a long time since I could really just take time for myself to relax and I'm finding it a strange and odd feeling not to be working my butt off. Instead I watched TMNT and now I'm going to play Metroid Prime 3 for the first 'real' time since I bought it nearly a month ago.

My plan is to approach normal again as soon as possible. Wish me luck on that.
Posted by Parallel
Saturday, September 08, 2007 at 10:47 AM | 1 comments
The title of this post sounds bleak, I know, but it's also the struggle in which I find myself daily. Many of you have called or written to ask how my first day (and now week) of teaching was and to be honest I can't give a fair assessment because my opinion varies almost minute to minute.

There are a lot of good things to like about the school and the job. Two of my classes require the same preparation so that makes things easier. One of my classrooms has couches and a personal computer for me to use. That's pretty nifty. Most of my students, though they look like deer in headlights, are very nice and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy their company.

The bad things I won't elaborate too much on because it doesn't do me any good to dwell. My negative feelings, which currently outrank the positive because it's human nature to look at the bad rather than the good, are something I'm dealing with. Ask any teacher and they will tell you this isn't a simple job where you put in the hours and go home without a worry, but this volume and stress is compounded to an insane degree when you're first starting out. It probably wouldn't be so bad if there was a department head or someone there that I felt I could turn to for all of my questions and concerns. It's not that people are unhelpful at this school, it's that currently the whole thing is an unknown quantity and people are sorting out their own courses.

How was my first week? Well, I got through it. I think I did my lessons well and I'm prepped for all of next week already. This is a very good thing, yet right now I'm filled with the anxiety of the weeks to come and the steep learning curve. But Catherine assures me I can do it and I can't think of anyone else who knows my limits better.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, September 03, 2007 at 9:24 PM | 1 comments
In about 9 hours I'll be waking up and starting my new job and God willing, my new career. I'm feeling positive about the whole thing, but that could be because of the medication I got from the doctor yesterday to calm me the hell down.

Catherine, as always, is my inspiration and my guiding light. I wouldn't be anywhere near the man I hope I am today without her. Catherine, I love you very much.

Now let us pray. Day 1 awaits.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 5:40 PM | 1 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI know that many people become teachers every year and most of them manage to survive and even thrive.

This does not help me right now because I start teaching a week from today and for some reason all the confidence I used to have has evaporated and I'm in full panic mode. I have forgotten how to teach, they will see that I'm a fraud, and then I'll be out of work.

Or I could be fine.

I KNOW I'll probably be fine. That doesn't do much to calm me down right now. I'm trying to plan out things, but not having even seen the English office, much less the school beyond the front entrance, is not helping.

People say the first year or two are the worst for teaching. I wish no one had really told me this because I'm already feeling under the gun. I'm petrified that I'm going to screw up teaching and give a shoddy education. I keep feeling like I'm going to show up, go into shock, and just not be able to do a thing. Kind of like a deer in headlights.

I wish there was some sort of tranquilizer here. I'm totally out of my depth.
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Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 12:03 PM | 0 comments
Today is a big day. It's exciting and terrifying all at once. I've alternately jumped for joy and been shaken to the core. My poor heart can't take all of this.

The most important piece of news is that today is Catherine and I's 8th anniversary. Yes, we've now been together for 8 years which is a huge amount of time. We met last century, took a trip to Jasper, and have been together ever since.

I know many people have often found it strange that our two personalities not only found each other but function so well. I'm talkative and Catherine is... not so much. However we have our own language that has carried us through thick and thin and to this day we love each other very much. I can't imagine how difficult it has been for her to support me through the past year, but not only did she do it with a smile but she made me feel like I was doing the right thing the whole way through. She's something truly special and I'm incredibly lucky to have her.

The other bit of news, less important, is that I took a job in the TDSB today. This opportunity has positive and negative aspects, but the positive outweigh the others enough that I just couldn't say no.

I'll be teaching two grade 11 English courses at the academic/university level and one grade 10 locally developed class. What the LD class focuses on is generally comprehension and general skills for kids to use in the real world.

Sounds great? Well, it's not bad. The school is on a nice piece of property and the principal seems really relaxed. She's very excited about having me come to the school and is promising support out the ying-yang, so I can't complain.

The downside to all of this is that it is what's known as a .5 contract. The contract part of this sentence is good because it means I'm in the system as a full TDSB employee and that puts me first in line to get a new job down the line. The .5 sucks because I've only got a job at this school until the end of the first semester in January. At that point, the school either keeps me (if they can) or else I'm assigned another .5 somewhere else in the city.

I could have waited to get an LTO (long-term occasional) but the nature of an LTO is that it can last one month, two months, six months, or the school year. As a contract employee, I get full benefits, start my pension, and I'm in place for regular raises. An LTO doesn't get these things and has to reapply to the school board every year.

So I'm in a good position, but not perfect. I certainly didn't expect to get this job because I didn't think I was that great in the interview and I had delays getting to the school because of the TTC.

Now I just have to panic because I don't have a freakin' clue what I'm doing from this point on.

I'll avoid thinking about it as Catherine and I are going away to Niagara Falls this weekend for our anniversary. At least we have two things to celebrate!
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 7:46 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFirst off, I went to see Superbad on Friday afternoon. All that I knew was that it was getting really positive reviews and that it was supposedly funny. Turns out that it IS very funny and has jumped up to be in my top five favourites for movies this year. That's pretty high praise, but this movie had me laughing the whole way through... even with its 'Andrew Loh, NO!' moment.

Jamie in particular will greatly enjoy this film. I think Catherine might like it, but she's an odd duck when it comes to movies. She picked out American Dreamz to watch tonight and it was possibly one of the worst things I have seen in my life. It made me hate breathing.

But Catherine does have her pleasant moments. Last night I was expressing some doubt over my future as a teacher (I do it to get the sympathy) and I said I was going to go back to school.

"No," she said. "Don't do that!"

"I'm going to," I replied. "I'm going to go back to school so I can join a circus."

"What are you going to do in the circus? Trapeze?"

"No."

"Clown?"

"No."

"Then what?"

"Um. I'll be the fat lady."

And without missing a beat, she said "but you're not a lady."

Silence. Then she started laughing uncontrollably having realized that she just implied I was fat. In about a minute, she started to stammer an explanation in between taking breaths from laughing. I stopped her short. "It's a little late for that!"

But I still like her. For those of you who know, there's been an ongoing debate between Catherine and I over the prospect of marriage. She's been hesitant about taking my last name, but for some oddly traditional reason I feel strongly that it's important to show some kind of cohesiveness as a family unit. She reasonably asked why I wouldn't take her name and I told her that I don't truck with that idea.

After some time, she finally said that she'd take my name if we got married, but if she did this then I must provide her with a pair of socks bearing the family name. Catherine has a thing for socks, don't ask me to explain it. I agreed and while she was in the bathroom, I grabbed a pair of white socks and a magic marker and then proceeded to write 'Wilkinson' on each sock. I then placed them on her pillow. Catherine, ever the great detective, walked into the room and laid on top of the socks. Sensing my exasperation, I told her to look on her pillow and she obeyed by looking on the wrong side. I swear it felt like I was in a comedy.

Eventually she found the socks and laughed quite a bit. The big surprise was on me, however, because I think she's going to keep the socks. At least now I know what to ask her for my birthday.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, August 17, 2007 at 10:01 AM | 0 comments
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe next two weeks is going to be a test of my patience, stamina, and my resolve. Yes, once again it's hiring time in the TDSB.

For those of you who weren't paying as close attention the first time around, I turned down the first job offer I had for teaching. It was for a year round alternative school, and while I'm sure it's an excellent place to teach, it just really wasn't what I had been working and building towards for so long.

So as I wait patiently, I'm doing my best to fill up my days. I've hit the stage where all of my time blends together and any ambition I might have to write the next great novel, or indeed even go for a walk, seems to fall by the wayside. I expect this to be a smaller problem next summer as I might have enough money to actually do things.

Today, I'll probably just watch television. Catherine and I just finished watching Freaks & Geeks, and during the day I watch The 4400, Eureka (not the cheesy Canadian kids show, but a sci-fi show out of the US), and season 3 of Deadwood. See? I'm productive. I think I might even go out of the apartment to the movie theater to watch Superbad.

Next week I'm hoping will be much different. I'd like to be hired for the school I most want to work at on Monday so I can actually start planning. The only stress factor at this point is the unknown, so I'd like to get that out of my way and then I can enjoy these last couple of weeks off.

If you're wondering about the image at the top, it's from an upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men. I made it into a wallpaper which looks quite spiffy on a widescreen monitor.

By the by, Random Changes is being updated regularly these days and is all caught up on some story called World War Hulk.
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Friday, August 10, 2007 at 12:13 PM | 1 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

An actual shot of the in-movie armour that Robert Downey Jr. wears in the upcoming Iron Man movie. Having seen the trailer from the San Diego comic con I just have to say... damn. This looks like it'll be an amazing flick.

Jon Favreau (Swingers) is directing and it has a decent supporting cast as well.

Do you think I can rent out that armour to wear around the house while I'm waiting for school to start? Or would that just be weird?
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 at 4:24 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy quest for glory has finally come to an end. After months of searching, I know have all five of the autobots that appeared in the Transformers movie.

Yes, you read that correctly. I actually did something worthwhile with my summer. I read message boards and travelled to Toys 'R Us and Walmart on a regular basis. You know, now that I've typed that out, it doesn't sound as cool as I thought it was a minute ago.

Well, despite what any of you think, this WAS a lot of hard work. A few of the figures were really easy to find such as Ratchet, Ironhide and Jazz, but the last two were the toughest at all.

I got a tip from an online message board that they had the Optimus Prime figure I wanted (the $30 one, not the $70), was finally at the Dufferin Mall Walmart. I went there the next day and they had four left. Since then, I have been to a dozen or more stores and I have never seen this figure on the shelves again. Many people are still searching for him from my Transformers message board. This was REALLY lucky. Every other figure in that size class could be picked up today, but that one is just gone for good.

Yesterday, I managed to track down Bumblebee. His first toy was based on the 1976 camaro, but this is a crap figure. Poorly designed and just doesn't look good at all. The 2008 Camaro, however, is a work of art and possibly one of the best Transformer toys I have ever seen. As such, he's almost always sold out and nearly impossible to find. Scalpers have been known to clear out stores where he's found because he goes for around $35 US on eBay. A friend from my board found him and tucked him away in a Walmart in Scarborough, so I made the trek out yesterday.

Yes, I know you all think this is a lot of effort to go through for a toy. Heck, I've even made Paul and Victoria stop at stores so I could search. I had my Dad search in Guelph before he came to see me last week.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBut now, my struggle is over. I know it'd be a waste to actually call and ask stores if they have figures in stock. My favorite example of the futility of this action was when I was in a Walmart a couple months ago looking for Marvel Legends figures. I asked the stockperson if they had the new figures in. He looked at my blankly. What follows is the actual conversation.

"No, we don't carry those figures."

"You don't carry Marvel Legends?" I asked.

"No, we don't."

At this point I reach over and pull one of the older series figures off the shelf. "You don't carry these?"

"No, we don't have those."

"You don't carry the toy that I'm currently holding in my hand that I just pulled off your shelf?"

"No."

"Oh, well then. My mistake," I conclude in a very pleasant tone of voice. I'm trying not to laugh at the absurdity of the whole thing. I put the toy back on the shelf and thank him for his time.

This is one reason of many why I should be in charge of the planet.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 9:33 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJosh and Steph have gotten married. It was a nice, small wedding and the reception afterwards was fantastic. Getting to sit with Jamie, Nicole, Vicky, and Paul made the evening that much more fun. Heck, we even got small board game keychains as wedding presents. This I like.

We hit a small snag in our group effort for a wedding gift. As Jamie put it, the three men sat around my apartment two weeks ago congratulating each other on our gift idea as though we had won the nobel prize. This would have been fine if our purchase, a new Wii console and a few accessories, hadn't been mirrored by at least two other guests at the wedding.

We spent time suggesting a variety of other uses for the surplus Wiis. You could put on the bedroom, one in the living room, one in the bathroom etc. Or else you could use two as a sort of sandwich maker. Maybe use one to prop up a shelf or a couch. Use one as a hammer to put nails in the wall where you'll display another Wii.

The possibilities are endless.

At any rate, congratulations to the happy couple.

In other news, some days I'm bored. I do my best to fill it up with activities that I'll enjoy, but some days it just feels like pulling teeth.

The danger here isn't that I'll die from boredom but rather that I might get used to the tranquil pointlessness that I'm now confronted with. I made an attempt to divert myself off of this path with something of a summer job, but that was a lot more hassle than it was worth and not something that I'm likely to attempt again. At least not in that manner.

For the past two weeks I worked as an ESL teacher at a language center around Yonge and Eglinton. It's not that the place was bad but rather it just felt pointless. The majority of the students were only in Toronto for a short time and just looking for English lessons. You'd think the school would have some sort of plan in mind but it doesn't. The lesson plans include giving you a random sheet of paper and telling you to "teach this" for an hour.

It's not so much that the idea of a summer job isn't good, it's that you can't do something so similar to your chosen career to "relax" with during your vacation time. Next year, supposing I have the funds, I'd like to do a little bit of traveling and maybe some film extra work. Something that involves either fun or little thinking.

As it is, I mostly have been watching my television DVDs and in particular Lost and Battlestar Galactica.

What an odd thing to complain about... having too much spare time. I'll stop now.
Posted by Parallel
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAgain... No spoilers. I don't discuss a thing at all in this book. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as though many major news outlets, such as the New York Times, are able to restrain themselves in the same way.

Catherine and I pre-ordered the last Harry Potter book a couple of months ago, knowing that to do otherwise would make things difficult when it came out. Pre-ordering is a brilliant thing to do, especially if you're into video games or other properties that you know will be hot. I pre-ordered the Wii in June before the November release which makes things so much easier. You just stroll in and pick it up.

But with a product like the Wii, you don't have to worry about spoilers. I was lucky this time and escaped knowing anything at all about the last Harry Potter book, but when the New York Times publishes a spoiler-filled book review three days before the release of the book, they pissed off a ton of people, including the author.

Didn't stop Catherine and I from being paranoid, though. We dreaded every minute at the midnight release at Bay & Bloor, which had been turned into a massive circus sideshow with a 'Diagon Alley' set up in the street filled with a double decker bus, food, and plenty of rides. I have never seen that many people crowd at a bookstore. It was nothing short of insane.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWe got home that night slightly after midnight, and I stayed up until 2:30am reading. The next day, Catherine and I spent trading the book off to each other every hour. Normally we don't read at such a breakneck pace, but, much like the fiasco of The Sopranos finale, you just know you're going to run into some moron who blurts out key plot points or the ending. You know the guy... he's the asshole who yells out that Darth Vader is Luke's father.

That's not going to happen here. I stayed up until about 3:30am last night and finished the book. I beat the spoilers. Now Catherine has some work to do today to reach the same landmark... unless I yell out something just to tick her off.

Now that the book is out, though, I'm left wondering what series I'm going to get this hyped over next? Will there ever again be something as rich and enjoyable as Harry Potter?
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 9:58 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAnyone have a million dollars lying around?

I stumbled across this eBay auction for the complete set of Transformer toys from 1984-1986 with a ton of figs from 87 to 89 being included. For those of you who were raised on these things, you know that means there are a LOT of figures being included in this auction.

What makes the auction extra special is the fact that all of them are in their original packaging with most having never been opened at all. The collection was started by a woman and her now deceased husband and she's decided it's time to sell it off. The downside is that the price she's listed her collection at is a cool million bucks.

Now the figures in of themselves aren't worth the price, but what may make it appealing to collectors is the fact that it's complete. Heck, if I had the cash I'd probably buy this set (just so long as I had a house and early retirement wrapped up).

Still, this is a drool-worthy display that I thought many of you would like to see.
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Monday, July 09, 2007 at 5:01 PM | 0 comments



Kids say the darndest things. I stumbled across this earlier today and it made me laugh. I need to laugh because otherwise the boredom will strangle me to death as I wait for a phone that refuses to ring.
Posted by Parallel
Saturday, July 07, 2007 at 6:14 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThere's no other phrase to describe my posting habits as of late. Not that many people actually read this humble blog of mine, but I'll provide all the necessary updates for my two fans (hi mom!).

1. Algonquin
What a great trip. Supremely tiring thanks the many portages along with setting up and taking down our campsite every day (not to mention the rain which followed us around most of the trip and even being so kind as to pelt us in the face when we were paddling in the middle of the lake and heading to a new campsite). Other than that, you can't beat the scenery. The loons, a couple of moose, great camp food, and time beneath the country stars. All of it was brilliant.

That said, I hurt myself. Raise your hand if you're surprised. The second day there I was getting out a canoe and I slipped on the steep shore, resulting in a very badly scraped knee. This wouldn't have been so bad if the next day I hadn't accidentally walked into a stick that jabbed right in the sore spot. Again, not so bad if on a repeat trip down the path I hadn't done the exact same thing to myself a second time.

Then the day after I slipped while carrying too packs and scrapped my knee again, this time adding a lot of mud into the mixture.

Lastly, I was carrying a canoe by myself when I tripped, scraped my knee, then dropped the canoe down on top of me. That one sucked. My leg still hurts.

Good trip, though. No sarcasm intended. Paul, Vicky, Tracey, and Catherine were excellent travelling companions. My apologies to Firecrotch (Tracey) for slamming her in the groin with a lit piece of firewood.

It would seem I had safety issues on this trip.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us2. Transformers
Brian liked this movie. Is it perfect? No. Is it good summer fare? Hell yes. I knew what to expect going in and I was not disappointed. This is a big budget movie featuring toys and there was a lot to geek out about. Some of the actors could have been dispatched, but damn it if I wasn't happy as hell each and every time the big robots were on screen.

3. Job Search
Sadly, one of the days I got a phone call I was up at Algonquin and missed out. I wasn't happy about that. However, the next day I got a call for a position. I went out the next morning for the interview and by that afternoon they offered me the job.

I turned it down, however, because it wasn't what I wanted. It was a full time position, but it was for a year round alternative school that only deals with 16-18 year olds who need a few credits to graduate. It's not the kind of place I got into when I wanted to teach as I really want to be part of a school community and taking a job like this on will have a pigeon-hole effect later on.

I didn't like turning it down because I do want a job. Ultimately, this just wasn't the right position for me. That said, I found out a person from my class was offered the job after I turned it down. This amuses me as she wrote to tell me about her new position. I didn't bother telling her she was the second choice. I keep that news inside and feel all smug and whatnot.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us4. Ratatouille
Catherine and I went to see this today. It's Pixar, so it's good.

To be honest, I don't know if Pixar can make a bad movie. Yes, some of their efforts are better than others, but I've liked each and every one of the flicks they've made so far. I'm also very interested in seeing next year's film, Wall-E, which is about a garbage robot 700 years in the future.

That's about it. I have nothing else here to amuse you.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 5:11 PM | 0 comments
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I've been holding out on posting on the blog. Not for any particular reason, but when a few days turned into a week, then two weeks, now nearly three, I guess I figured I was on some kind of roll. To be honest, I have no idea how many people actually read this thing on a regular basis. I'd kind of like the ability to track that sort of thing, but it'd either be really affirming or really depressing.

Time has been moving in a bizarre fashion since school ended. Though I'm not going to complain about having done nothing for the past month, I think I'd be a lot happier with doing nothing if I get a job. Hiring season has officially started, so a lot of my day is involved with sitting near the phone. Again, this isn't something to complain about, but Catherine and I are taking a much-needed vacation starting tomorrow. We're going away with Paul and Victoria up to Algonquin for a five-day canoe trip which means lots of fun. Oddly enough, it also means a lot of anxiety for me because it takes me away from my precious phone.

Still, life is good. My brother, Graydon, came down to visit me on Monday. This doesn't happen often and we made the best of it. He played with my Transformer figures, then we went for a walk, got some food, wandered through Kensington Market, and then met up with his wife, Tammy.

It became a full-fledged family affair as we decided to visit my Uncle Brian who then took us all out, including Catherine, for a nice dinner. Can't argue with that.

My karate dedication was going strong that day and I even went to work out after dinner. I was impressed with myself and a little shocked.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNow Catherine's cousin Steven and his girlfriend Jenna have come to visit us from Britain. They'll be hanging out in our apartment while we're gone and I'm sure they're dreaming of taking over the air conditioned bedroom. I don't blame them. The city feels like a sweat shop.

Not much else to report. The phone, when it rings, remains a focus. I distract myself every now and then (I met up with Josh for a brief walk and talk this afternoon), buying more Transformers, and watching television.

Speaking of, a really good show with a bit of twisted side to it is Dexter. It features Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under fame as a forensic cop with an usual hobby: he's a serial killer. I have all of it if anyone wants a copy. It gets the B-dub stamp of approval.

What's next? I think we need some sort of barbecue meet up. I'm volunteering Jer for this.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, June 11, 2007 at 3:16 PM | 0 comments
Beyond the few that most of you already know about.

I've become addicted to the Transformers movie toys. This is not a good thing as most of them aren't cheap. However, I've done my best to limit my insanity to the autobot figures, one of which my mom bought me.

Good lord, I sound like I'm 12.

But I'm okay with that. My mom bought me Ratchet, who takes the form of a hummer/search and rescue vehicle and then earlier today I picked up Ironhide (see the attached pictures) who takes the form of a large and sturdy pickup truck. Only three more autobots left.

I just can't seem to control myself. I've become extra permissive with myself because Catherine's parents had a garage sale this weekend and so the wife and I packed up a ton of stuff and sold it off at the sale. This went well as the sale made just under $500 dollars, $200 of which Catherine and I pocketed. The bulk went to a new air conditioner (which means my old one which works but is a tad noisy is now free to a good home), but Catherine and I agreed to split the final amount ($50) and buy something fun.

I chose toys. Of course I chose toys. Hell, I sold a ton of Star Wars toys (including my pod racers) so a couple of autobots isn't THAT big of a deal.

I think I've hit the bargaining stage.

Other than that, things are going well. I'm bored a lot, which isn't the worse thing in the world to be, but hopefully soon I'll be stressed anew with the burden of a job in the fall. That would be loverly. Someone please arrange that for me.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, June 05, 2007 at 8:48 PM | 0 comments
Weird to be done everything, now that the moment is finally here. Well, technically the moment arrived last Thursday after I wrapped up my internship at Northview and dropped off my final papers at OISE.

I'm done. Ca y est. I'm a teacher now.

That's a very odd sentence to type but as the year has gone on that has felt like less and less of an odd thing to have become. In many ways, it feels totally natural. I feel a zen-like calmness in front of the classroom and I have an ability to put my students totally at ease. It's a good feeling.

However, having all of this sudden free time forced upon me does not feel good. Don't think I'm complaining about having free time, because that isn't it. The problem is that I don't have a job yet. It's the giant vacuum of nothingness in front of me that has me a bit down this week. Many of us have faced this before when we finished school.

I'm hopeful that I'll get a job soon enough, however. Maybe I'm even more than hopeful. I feel a strange certainty that things are just going to happen for me sooner rather than later. I felt this before I even got into teacher's college and it's the same now. Maybe it's the horseshoes that Paul claims I have shoved up my ass.

Still, that means that I'm almost certainly always up for StarCraft, I will almost always say "yes, I saw that movie" and I will almost certainly be getting my drink on during school nights.

In other words, please call me as I'm getting lonely. Aaron, this means you.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 8:11 AM | 0 comments


Not quite as inspired as the brilliant Weng Weng, this video is still pretty funny.

And informative. Get checked today!

Aside from that, as of 1pm today, I'll be officially finished with teacher's college. The internship ended yesterday and today I just have to drop off two forms.

I'm actually quited shocked that it's all almost over. It's been a good year, albeit it quite stressful at times (thanks in no small part to my feet), but I'm extremely grateful to the people who helped get me through it. My associate, Scott Carter, is one of those people who even now is trying hard to get a job for me.

The biggest help though was Catherine, as always. I don't know what I'd do without her, I just know that it wouldn't be pretty. I'd probably be blogging in my underwear with the curtains drawn over the window... oh, wait. That's what I'm doing now.

Well, then. I'd be doing something much worse.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 4:32 PM | 0 comments


I really should apologize for this video, but since I didn't make it, only post it, I feel comfortable in my belief that the Weng Weng Rap is truly a masterpiece of internet graffiti.

I expect Nathan to get the biggest kick out of this, but only because he's so morally corrupt. Enjoy, Nathan!
Posted by Parallel
Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 12:55 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIt's true. It's not a hoax. And it's the same style we've all come to know, love, and play obsessively until the wee hours of the morning.

I'm hoping it's just as awesome as the first, but StarCraft II has a lot to live up to to please me. Still, looking at one of the pictures that IGN has posted on their website featuring a hundred or so Zerg storming the Terran camp, I can't say that things are looking poorly at this point.

No release date yet as it was just announced today that the game was being made. At this point it looks like a suped-up version of the first, but with some significant graphical upgrades.

At least now we all have something in common to buy later this year.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 at 10:29 PM | 0 comments
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There's a new comic up at Random Changes that contains one of my most favourite pages of comic book goodness ever. The above is just a small sampling of the brilliance of this in Marvel Zombies Vs. The Army of Darkness #2.

Highly encourage you to go read this.

Not much else is going on. The TV season is winding down, so there's not much more Lost, Heroes, or Veronica Mars left to go around. It's been a good year more or less and for the dry season of television we have the peak season of movies.

I suppose I can live with that.

My internship is slowly moving closer to completion and there's no news yet on the job front. I imagine you'll all know shortly after I know, though few of you will be sweating about the particulars.
Posted by Parallel
Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 5:47 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI'm not sure why I did it, other than I'm a bit of an attention whore. Perhaps it's my deep-seeded need to be seen. At any rate, today I auditioned to be on a reality TV show.

It's called NOW (No Opportunity Wasted) and it comes from the host of The Amazing Race, Phil Koeghan. The basic premise is to take people away from their lives for 72 hours to do something they previously didn't think they had the courage to do.

What this specifically means, I have no idea. But I wrote down that I wanted to skydive and was terrified, that I really hate super enclosed spaces (like caves) and for whatever reason they sat me down to audition me.

This means absolutely nothing.

Catherine and I went to meet Phil and get a book signed at Indigo a couple of blocks away. While there, I figured "why not?" Who knows, maybe I'll get to humiliate myself on TV next fall.

The main downside is that we had to shell out $20 for the book in order of the same name in order to get the autograph (there was no requirement for the audition). Hopefully it's good, but you never know.

We chatted with Phil for a minute, talking about Guelph mostly (he lived there for four years when he was a child) and then we were on our way. I had fun, Catherine seemed slightly grumpy. ;)
Posted by Parallel
Monday, May 07, 2007 at 6:12 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSo, I went to see Spider-Man 3 and I have to say that I enjoyed the movie, though not nearly as much as the first two.

The essential problem with this film is the same problem that most sequels wind up having: we've seen it before. I enjoyed Sandman and I think Venom in particular was done quite well, but it's a lot of plot for one movie.

I still recommend the flick as it won't hurt your appreciation of what has come before (unlike The Matrix sequels), just don't expect anything that's going to wow you.

What IS impressive, however, is the design of Iron Man's armour for the upcoming film. Not only did the filmmakers get it right, they got it REALLY right. I have no complaints about this, nor do the majority of people on message boards.

Perhaps this is a sign of the apocalypse.

Catherine and I enjoyed Free Comic Book day again this year as we got quite the stash. Catherine even bought a trade paperback of her favorite character, Owly. I'll post an issue up at Random Changes one day this week for people to take a look at. It's quite cute.

My internship at Northview is going well, though I might die from boredom. I spend most of my time locked up in the English office making lesson plans for a bullying unit. No teaching, not much to do, so it's low stress, but it's also low on the relevance scale. After all that I've been through this year, I can't even begin to process the idea that I might be teaching full time in as little as four months.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, April 30, 2007 at 5:42 PM | 1 comments
Joe Valeriote, at the age of 65, passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. Joe had been a constant fixture at Christmas for years because of the close relationship he had with Bernadette, my father's partner. Joe was a kind man and someone that I respected a great deal.

To be honest, I didn't know Joe very well. In a way, I suppose that's all right. He spent the majority of his working years as an elementary school teacher. I've heard from many people, including one of my best friends, Chris, that he was a fantastic teacher. He was loved, respected, and appreciated.

But I can almost promise you that none of those students knew him well either.

That's the gift and the curse of teaching as I've come to understand it. I'm about to become a teacher myself and have only begun to see the fleeting nature of the connection between student and teacher. It's incredibly rare to see that bond continue once summer comes, once school is out, once a student has graduated and moved on.

Yet for this fleeting connection to a man I didn't know very well, there was a lot that I liked and respected about Joe. He always had a kind word to offer and whenever we spoke he was full of encouragement and enthusiasm about what I was doing. Somehow he always knew something, some small detail, about what was going on in my life. I wasn't one of his kids, but the fact that we were all gathered together each Christmas seemed more than enough for him to put out that effort.

Maybe it's a trick of the teaching trade, that ability to make everyone feel special. All I know is that now that I'm faced with the same career, I can't think of many other people who are excellent examples of all that I want to become.

There's never enough time, is there? Never enough time to talk, to get to know someone, to appreciate what it is that each person around you brings to the ongoing mosaic that is your life.

After so many years, I can't deny that the Valeriotes have become part of my extended family and as such I feel for their grief. They're a strong bunch and I have no doubt they'll get through this and celebrate Joe's memory in their own ways for the rest of their lives. Matt, J.P., Amy, Dani, and Nick... I'm truly sorry for your loss.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, April 26, 2007 at 11:13 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI hope everyone watched and enjoyed Drive, because it's been cancelled after only three weeks on the air. Apparently, Fox are morons. Most of us already knew this after the mess that was how they handled Firefly.

I'm not surprised, just a little annoyed that a show isn't given time to get any traction when it's brand new. So often, if something isn't immediately successful, it gets canned. I can think of several series that have done exceptionally well long-term, but were slow getting out of the gate. Sometimes showing a bit of patience will take you a long way.

I'm not writing in this blog much anymore for some reason. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I'm busy being alive. This would have been a foreign concept to me during my days at FMG, but it makes all too much sense now.

Right now I'm enjoying a well-deserved week off. I've finished OISE and teacher's college and now just have a four and a half week internship at Northview, my first practicum school, to complete before my tour of duty is done. I'm hopeful that there's an outside chance I'll get a job at this school in September, which would be great to walk into a place where you've already established yourself and fit in well, but I'm not holding my breath.

My new computer is insane. Catherine and I have been spending lots of time with our new family member and getting to know it. Mostly this just means I'm playing a lot of StarCraft, Diablo, and WarCraft. Oh, and reading comic books.

Look for the new issue of Buffy up at Random Changes as well.

Other than that, things are calm and quiet on the waterfront here. I'm back at karate which is a good thing after having to take so much time off between my feet and school. I earned my belly back, which sucks, but I'm going to have a whole summer off to ensure it doesn't come back. Ideally.

It's strange to be done school. I've been so focused and busy for the past two or three months that I was in a permanent state of anxiety and stress. I'm trying to decompress now, but even still I go looking for work. I emailed Scott, my associate teacher, to ask him if there was work I could do before I came back to school. Catherine's right, I need to learn how to relax.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, April 15, 2007 at 11:19 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIt's been a while, hasn't it?

Not much to report other than being super busy with OISE nonsense. Well, that's not exactly true as I'm writing this blog post on my brand-spanking new computer that is beyond awesome. I'm going to give full details for this along with my impressions of the new Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie, Hot Fuzz, over the next couple of days. Oh, and I'll start paying more attention to Random Changes as well.

The focus of this post is about the new Nathan Fillion (Firefly) vehicle (pun intended) called Drive. It's about an illegal cross-country road race but much grittier. Catherine and I just watched the first two episodes and I have to admit that I'm already hooked. Amy Acker (Angel) plays Fillion's wife, and though I don't really know the rest of the cast, it's pretty solid so far.

Basically people are roped into this race for some reason or another (Fillion is racing because they kidnapped his wife and will kill her unless he wins), so they have to do anything and everything in order to cross the finish line first.

I strongly encourage people to check it out. If you're worried about having missed the first two episodes, just let me know as I have them saved on my hard drive and can burn a copy. I don't have hard drive space issues anymore as I have a combined 750gigs.

Yes, that's excessive.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, April 04, 2007 at 7:21 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIf good news comes in threes, then I'm really pushing things these days. I can't seem to turn around without something positive happening lately. Finally, nothing to complain about at all!

Well, okay, that's not true. We all know I could find something to complain about if I really wanted to. At any rate, I present to you a list (in no particular order) or cool things that are happening to me or in my vicinity.

1. Eligible to Hire List

I've already been telling people that I'm on this list (which you HAVE to be in order to get a job in Toronto) based on what Scott Carter, my associate teacher, told me after they called him as one of my references, but today it became official when I got a letter in the mail confirming my eligibility. I feel like king of the castle.

2. New Computer
My dad is one of the greatest people I have ever known. In a gesture that wasn't needed as he already holds this title, he told me that as a graduation present he wants to get me a new computer. This is VERY welcome news as the one I'm currently using is slowly getting senile.

3. Hot Fuzz
From the stars and director of Shaun of the Dead, this buddy cop Brit comedy is finally coming to Canada. As an added bonus, I made Catherine enter a contest (which I also entered) to win two free passes to see the flick next Thursday. As an added bonus, both Shaun & Ed (along with the director) are going to be at an exclusive party afterwards. Catherine won the tickets through the Toronto Star. She's pleased, but a bit dismayed as next Thursday also happens to be her birthday.

4. Aaron's New Job
Aaron Jacklin is my hero. He's managed to not only get one, but TWO new jobs at small town papers. The papers are owned by the same company and Aaron will split his time between the two. This is excellent news and I'm sure he'll do really well.

Is there more good news? I'm sure there is. I'm just hoping that the good news continues.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 7:33 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNinja rap!

Anyone else miss the days when Vanilla Ice used to team up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? No? Me neither.

This lovely box art is from an actual game for the Atari. IGN posted a fantastic Top 25 breakdown of the worst video game box art ever. There are some gems on there and I'm not ashamed to say I owned more than a couple.

Over at Random Changes the zombie series is in full swing. Marvel Zombies #1 will be posted tonight.

In other news, my associate teacher from my first practicum called me to say that he got a call from the TDSB as they were checking my references. He gave a glowing report to the woman he was talking to, someone that he knows and has met before, and Scott says that every indication was given that I now have a spot on the coveted list.

I'm closer to a job than ever before.

This calls for a celebration of sorts. I'll be at my Dad's this weekend, but maybe I'll give Jer and call on Sunday when I get home to see if he wants to go out for a beer or something.
Posted by Parallel
Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 10:59 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI'm still totally, completely, unbelievably FLOORED over the last 10 minutes of the season finale of Battlestar Galactica. If the season 2 ending raised a few eyebrows and got a couple of curses because of the months of waiting we were about to endure, it is NOTHING compared to the mind f*** that this episode just was.

I'm STILL reeling from it.

How can this show possibly get any better?!? It's impossible! There's no way to top it! A few of the episodes this season were a little slow, but this is UNREAL. For those of you who understand this point of reference, this is going to be HARDER to wait for than the Picard as a Borg cliffhanger.

Thank god it's already been picked up for a full 22 episodes next season.

AAAGGHHH!!! I can't wait a whole frakking 6 or 7 months for more!

Battlestar Galactica, what have you done to me?

Best. show. ever.

From The Office:

Dwight: "Are you watching Battlestar Galactica?"
Man: "...no."
Dwight: "Then you're an idiot."
Posted by Parallel Labels:
Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 11:47 PM | 1 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMy own confession is that it took me far longer than I expected to post all of the Civil War issues on Random Changes. However, at this point it's all done and while I may post some of the 'Fallen Son' storyline down the road, that marks the end of that series.

Tomorrow I'll post the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, and then after that I'll move into a horror-theme with Ultimate Fantastic Four and Marvel Zombies. All told, I've got about 10 issues of that kind of stuff coming your way.

Otherwise, things are good. The practicum is nearly over and not only am I surviving but almost unexpectedly I seem to be thriving. It gets easier and easier. With as much modesty as I'm able to project, this seems to be a job that I'm damn good at. I just hope it stays that way.

My interview for the TDSB was earlier this week and I did well. I didn't mention adult aids of any kind so right away I put that in a win column. The only odd behaviour I showed was that I arrived nearly 2 hours early for my interview. I didn't want to be late, but I didn't want to show up THAT early. The receptionist woman was really nice about it and fawned over me the rest of the evening. I felt special.

So one week of that school left, then three weeks of university until it's done. I have a month-long internship to complete at that point, but all evaluations and proper schooling will be done.

I'm only slightly terrified of what happens after that. But I'm content as I know I've done the best I could. For the first time in years, I feel as though I'm truly coming into my own and becoming the sort of man I always hoped I'd be.

Like I said... I'm feeling modest today.

PS. I think Aaron's dead. I haven't heard from him in ages. Since nearly Christmas, it seems.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, March 16, 2007 at 11:33 AM | 0 comments
Marvel Zombies #1Image Hosted by ImageShack.usExcuse my cynical nature.

I love comics. YOU know I love comics. My closet knows that I love comics. Yet for all of this interest, I no longer tend to purchase any. I still read the news because I like to stay abrest of what's going on, but I'm not longer chained to the vicious cycle of consumer whoring.

Take the recent events in Captain America. It's a great story (and will be posted today or tomorrow on Random Changes) and it packs an emotional punch. Despite this, it feels like a hollow event.

For everyone who remembers the death of Superman back in the day, this was a shocking thing to have done. Who has the nerve to kill of a comic book icon? Now we bring ourselves up to speed by about 10 years and this kind of stunt no longer has any weight.

Still like Captain America? Good, because the series isn't ending. Want to read about him right now? Buy The Ultimates. What's that? There's a movie coming out in a year or two? Hmm. What are they going to do?

Oh, he'll be back soon enough.

Everyone knows it as well. It just doesn't mean much.

On the flip side, good story telling is good story telling. So it's worth a read. To honour Cap's actions, immediately after his 'death' I'll begin posting issues of Marvel Zombies, starting with their debut in Ultimate Fantastic Four. If you're sick and twisted (and I know you are), then you'll enjoy this series.

As for me, I'm enjoying March break but I'm doing far too much lesson planning. This is good and bad. It's good because I don't have to do any work when I come home at night, but it's bad because I haven't played as much Nintendo or watched as many movies as I had hoped. That said, I did see Snakes on a Plane and enjoyed it more than I expected. 300 is worth a look as well, but Jer has a better breakdown than I do here.

Now go read comics.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007 at 8:48 PM | 1 comments
Just so you know, I haven't abandoned Random Changes at all. Two new entries went up today in the ongoing Civil War saga that should be complete within the week.

As an added bonus, I'm going to let YOU decide what the next segment will be. I have an 8-issue Marvel Zombies series that is fantastic. How often do you get to see Spider-Man guilt-ridden over eating his own wife? I also have new issues of Astonishing X-Men, The Ultimates, The Dark Tower, and The Exiles that I can put up.

Comic books are fun.

Practicum is not. I only have two days left until March break which I am extremely thankful for. The whole practice teaching thing is going well, I suppose, I just don't like the process. I just finished making my first rubrics (a criteria-based sheet that lets students see how and what is being marked during their assignments/projects) and I didn't enjoy that much at all. Don't get me wrong, the things are extremely useful, but they aren't easy to make at this point.

I finally went to see Ghost Rider. It was NOT worth the wait. The effects were okay, but the acting was horrible. I never want to see Nicolas Cage utter the line "I'm going to be the Spirit of Vengenance" in a cheesy southern drawl ever again. At least not until I waste money on the DVD.

Borat came out, though. Lewd and crude, I'm going to rent it this weekend so Catherine can watch it. This is a movie that is so often wrong that it's just so good.

That's it. Go read comics. I'm off to watch LOST.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 5:30 PM | 0 comments
My feet hurt, my back is sore, I'm super-tired, and I'm in an amazing mood.

Knocked my lesson out of the park today, helped out at the school, and generally made myself into a good teacher today.

On top of that, I got home and there's a message from the Toronto District School Board and they want to set up an interview for me.

F***IN' AWESOME.

This is an extremely competitive board. More than 4000 applications are received and they interview around 900 for their eligible to hire list. 98% of the people who are interviewed make it onto the list and then they can be selected by individual high schools in the GTA for jobs at their schools. You MUST be on the list to get a job in Toronto.

This makes the slurpee I got on the way home all that much sweeter.

I called Scott, my associate teacher from Northview, who was just as excited and told me that he expected it to happen. He also mentioned that it looks like it's going to be a hiring year at Northview and that he's trying to pave the way for me to get a job there.

Now I can finally rest. I'm going to sleep well tonight!
Posted by Parallel Labels:
Monday, February 26, 2007 at 9:17 PM | 0 comments
Ghost Rider movie posterSometimes I forget that I have this blog. Other days I remember and can't be bothered to post. I must apologize, however, to the constant readers of Random Changes. I have begun to alter my erring ways by posting Civil War #4 for you all to enjoy.

I just started my second practicum. I'm not a huge fan of my associate teacher at this point as she is stingy on compliments and heavy on silence. All in all, it makes for an uncomfortable transition into a totally foreign place.

In the future, I'd like Nicole to be my associate teacher. She needs to get a job here in Toronto for a month so that I can work with her. We don't even have the same teachable subjects, but I'm sure she can adapt. After all, she lives successfully with Jamie.

In other news, I got nothing.

Not much is going on. I'm enjoying The Dark Tower comic book series, the last issue of Civil War (#7) came out (though you guys are a little while off from me posting that), and I've bought an action figure or two. Well, one really. Though my new Ultimate Iron Man is nice and shiny.

I still haven't seen Ghost Rider. Jer owes me a movie date. Maybe if he can find time, we can go this weekend.

I bought a Nintendo DS with Christmas money and then sold a few old games so that I could get some DS stuff. It's a much more addictive system than I would have thought and lately I'm spending more time with it than I am with the Wii. Though Catherine is getting Mario Party 8 in about a week, so I'm sure that'll change. I still need more controllers, though, as two really isn't enough for a good old Nintendo bash.

That's about it. I've got my lessons planned (for now) and a huge stress headache. I need more sleep than I'm getting.

Oh, and for anyone who cares, my feet are almost back to 100%. Still a little off here and there, but it's just stuff that needs more time to repair. God, you don't know how bad it was.

Aaron, I wrote you back, but then you didn't write me back. Is this revenge for my delinquence in the first place? Where's the love?

If I don't post again in the near future, it means I'm dead. The practicum will be chiefly to blame.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, February 19, 2007 at 4:04 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI just finished my first day of teaching at Riverdale. Not a bad school per se, but it just doesn't feel as good as Northview.

As for my AT, I can't tell you anything about her. She didn't show up. I got paired with a supply teacher who wasn't interested in teaching, so I taught my first full day today. I managed to memorize most of the students names. The librarians seemed to be impressed with me, so hopefully word gets back somehow.

My AT has six different courses that she teaches, alternating three each day. Two grade 9 applied, a grade 9 LD (lower than applied, which is in turn lower than academic), a grade 11 and a grade 12. I have no idea how much of these I'm going to teach.

This school is very strict and the English department doesn't seem overly friendly just yet. I can't wait to get back to Northview. I can honestly say that Northview is the kind of school I want to teach at with the kinds of kinds I want to teach.

All in all, this could have been a very stressful day, but for some reason it wasn't. I just went with the flow. Not once did I feel out of place at all. I had little to no anxiety before I went there (I even had a perfectly relaxed sleep last night) and still don't feel any. I wonder why that is? Perhaps because I've gotten the worst part of it out of my system and the school board should start calling people this week for interviews.

Hopefully.

Riverdale should be good, though. The kids are great (some of them are clones of kids at Northview) and I'm looking forward to the challenge. Then again, I also don't want to do another practicum. Just give me my certificate.
Posted by Parallel Labels:
Sunday, February 11, 2007 at 9:06 PM | 1 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usToday something horrible happened.

I went to karate to help out at a tournament for the little kids. It helps out the club even though I was brutally sore from the class the night before (my first in months because of my feet). But hey, I got a free lunch out of it.

A free lunch and an afternoon of frustration.

You see, I had left the source of my domestic bliss without my keys or wallet. Neither of these choices was intentional, but Catherine ushered me out the door and I didn't think about it at all. She mentioned casually about going to the gym, but that's about it.

I returned home three hours later only to discover she wasn't home. I couldn't even get in the building.

I had to wait in the vestibule for about 15 minutes until someone happened to be leaving. I went inside and tried to get the super to let me into the apartment but he was nowhere to be found.

I sat in a chair. It was 1pm.

Around 1:05 I was feeling quite agitated. I had bought some timbits for Catherine and I and I felt silly sitting in a chair in the lobby, with my karate uniform on concealed by my jacket, and just staring at the wall.

At 1:10 I knew I was in trouble because I really had to go to the bathroom. And it wasn't the #1 kind either.

.....

Time passes really slowly in an apartment building lobby.

At 1:45 I was frustrated because I didn't have my wallet with me which meant I couldn't go anywhere. I flirted with the idea of going to a movie until the bitter reality set in.

At 2:10 I decided to go to the dojo where I could at least go to the bathroom. Then it occurred to me that I was going to let myself in the dojo with my keys which were still hung up inside the apartment.

At 2:30 I headed out for Tim Horton's to use the bathroom and to call Catherine from a payphone. I barely made it to Tim's and felt silly asking for the bathroom key. To make myself feel better, I promised myself I would buy something when I was done. But the cashier wasn't there when I returned the key, so I left and saved the dollar I had on me for another time.

At 2:40 I tried calling Catherine. No answer. What's the point of having a phone if you don't answer it?!?

At 2:45 I resumed my post in the lobby. I tried the super again to no avail.

2:50. This is REALLY boring.

Between 2:50 and 3:45 I fight off falling asleep and jerk awake every time someone comes in or out. Each time I hope it's Catherine, but gradually hope is fading away. My body gets more and more stiff from the exercise I did the day before.

At 4:15, Catherine finally comes back. She looks surprised to see me. A little pleased as well, almost as though I have some sort of surprise to give her.

No surprise. Just bitterness.

She apologizes profusely and I let her off the hook so long as she promises to go out and buy me a present. She feels badly, which makes me happy, but doesn't change the fact that I spent nearly three and a half hours in the lobby of my building.

She bought me some cream eggs and bubble bath. I feel like such a girl.

The worst part of it is that it's all my fault.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, February 07, 2007 at 8:07 PM | 0 comments
Neon BibleI am a huge fan of Arcade Fire. The Montreal-based band is a critical success in Canada and a surprisingly big hit in the UK. One of their singles from their first album, Funeral, was used as the warm-up song before U2 took the stage during their last tour.

They have a raw power that I find incredibly appealing. For some reason, though I haven't discussed it with him, I think this band would also speak to Aaron quite well.

Their follow-up album, Neon Bible, isn't slated for release for at least another month but given the state of the technophiles these days, it should come as no surprise that it's already available for download via certain sites.

As I plan to buy this album when it comes out regardless, I downloaded a copy of it today.

It's amazing. I'm two songs in and already hopelessly hooked on it. The intro song, 'Black Mirror,' is part epic action movie song, part nursery rhyme, and part ballad. It's fantastic. The second song, 'Keep the Car Running', is a great Western-style song with an 80s twist.

Get this album when it comes out or else get a taste of it online.

In other news, Random Changes is still plugging along with regular updates. I'm going to start deleting posts off of that site soon so make sure you're caught up if you're reading it.

Also, I plan to buy a DS Lite tomorrow. I have some Christmas money that I've just recently gotten (I know Christmas was a month and a half ago, but sometimes that's just the way things happen) so I'm going to get this item. Do I need to get it? No. That's part of the fun in buying it.
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Friday, February 02, 2007 at 8:23 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usJoss Whedon, my lord and master, posted this over at Whedonesque a short time ago: he's no longer doing the Wonder Woman movie.

For those of you who weren't aware that was the Buffy/Angel guy's next major project, this is doubly-news.

I'm actually pleased about this. It means that Joss can focus on things that he has created himself and hopefully he'll return to television sooner than later. I need his kind of TV because everything seems so dark and dreary these days (except maybe Veronica Mars, and even that's dipping a toe in ink).

Joss' post is quoted below, along with brief details of another project of his:

"You (hopefully) heard it here first: I'm no longer slated to make Wonder Woman. What? But how? My chest... so tight! Okay, stay calm and I'll explain as best I can. It's pretty complicated, so bear with me. I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked. Hey, not that complicated.

Let me stress first that everybody at the studio and Silver Pictures were cool and professional. We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time. I don't think any of us expected it to this time, but it did. Everybody knows how long I was taking, what a struggle that script was, and though I felt good about what I was coming up with, it was never gonna be a simple slam-dunk. I like to think it rolled around the rim a little bit, but others may have differing views.

The worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that the studio just keeps hammering out changes and the writer falls into a horrible limbo of development. These guys had the clarity and grace to skip that part. So I'm a free man.

Well, sorta. There is that Goners movie I can finally finish polishing, and plenty of other things in the hopper I've wanted to pursue. I'm as relieved as I am disappointed, and both of those things lead to drink, so that's a plus. Truly, you may be hearing some interesting things brewing in the coming months. But all potential jets therein will be visible.

But most importantly, I never have to answer THAT question again!!!! And you don't have to link to every rumor site! Finally and forever: I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistant front-runner. I didn't have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air-balling on the script. (No! Rim! There was rim!) That's the greatest relief of all. I can do interviews again!

Thanks for your time. You are the people who make the world go 'round. Or, no, science does that.

-j."
Posted by Parallel Labels:
Thursday, February 01, 2007 at 7:23 PM | 1 comments
Don't go to the doctor. This is a pursuit wasted on those who don't have much chance of surviving anyway.

I went today after three failed visits to have something as simple as an in-grown toenail taken care of. One doctor even tried to get me to drop $350 on the procedure. I told my regular doctor today whose response was "you're shitting me."

I like my doctor.

At any rate, I went today to get the toenail taken care of. I got in to see the doctor immediately, an incredibly aged Asian man who scuffled around the office. I thought he was a patient at first. He asked if I could wait half an hour and he'd cut it out for me.

"Sure," I said.

So, I wait and then get brought in. I tell the nurse that my toe doesn't actually hurt anymore. She doesn't seem to care. The doctor comes in and as I'm lying on my back and he's swabbing my toe with iodine and preparing the biggest damn needle I've ever seen, I repeat that my toe doesn't hurt anymore and isn't oozing or anything.

He stops, looks closely, and says "really?"

"Really," I said.

"Oh, okay. Then we won't do anything. It seems to have healed on its own. If it hurts or oozes again come back and we'll fix it." Then he proceeds to wash the iodine off my toe.

The moral of the story is: let incomptent doctors try to schedule you in for a simple 20 minute procedure for more than two months while avoiding stupid sized fees as your toe goes about the business of fixing itself.

And people wonder why I can be cynical.


Up now at Random Changes:
New Avengers #22
Civil War #3
Civil War Frontline #3
Posted by Parallel
Monday, January 29, 2007 at 4:26 PM | 1 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI find myself totally powerless when it comes to dealing with the Wii's online virtual console. The ability to download the games of yesteryear is proving too much like gaming crack to resist.

I'd previously picked up classics like Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo along with Super Mario Bros. for the original Nintendo. Then the avalanche started. Last week it was Super Castlevania IV and now I've added Contra III: The Alien Wars and Mario Kart 64 to my growing list.

I just can't stop myself.

I think Catherine is infected with the bug as well. Though she could care less about Contra, she actually used the word 'exciting' when I told her I downloaded Mario Kart 64. I think she's becoming a Wii-zombie.

Add to the fact that a fun weekend at Paul and Vicky's new house (which is quite cool and the 70s basement is a must-keep) included a ton of Wii playing along with board games and it seems I just can't escape this thing.

That, and television. 24 is on tonight. Anyone else want to see Jack Bauer's murder another man with his mouth? That was some wild stuff.

I'm going to go play Contra. Then clean the apartment before Catherine gets home. But first, I must play. MUST.


PS. Up for consumption at Random Changes is Civil War Frontline #3. Look for a new part of Civil War to show up every day.

Here's the full checklist for what is available:
Civil War #1
Civil War #2
Civil War Frontline #1
New Avengers #21
Amazing Spider-Man #533
Civil War Frontline #2
NEW: Civil War Frontline #3
Posted by Parallel Labels:
Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 5:21 PM | 1 comments
On my way home from school just now, a girl on the street stopped myself and a classmate and thrusted Oh Henry bars into our hands.

"STOP!" she yelled. "You guys are having a HERSHEY moment!"

Insert Jamie-style joke here.

PS. Civil War #1 and #2, Civil War: Frontline #1, New Avengers #21, are now up at Random Changes with a new issue to be posted every day.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 6:37 PM | 0 comments
I've often made a habit out of providing reading for my friends. Usually I lend paper versions, but I figured I might as well make things easier all around.

I have a beta-test blog that I use to track how potential changes to this template will look that I'm now using as a private storage bin for the likes of you. If you head over there, it essentially has the same look but now serves a singular purpose: comic books.

I don't talk about them in any way, simply provide you, my gentle readers, with ways to read them. I've started with Astonishing X-Men #16, with future issues to follow at a regular pace.

Click on the link or else check for 'Random Changes' in the sidebar.
Posted by Parallel
Monday, January 22, 2007 at 12:20 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI went to see another doctor (a follow-up visit) who for once made a good sound when she saw my feet. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to feel good about your progress but not have anyone else realize that the disaster on your feet is, in fact, looking less disastrous.

Anyway, I told her about the rip-off artist that was the ingrown toenail guy. Her eyebrows shot up in total surprise. She then said I should see the surgeon at the clinic who would do it for $25, all of which is covered by OHIP.

And people wonder why I hate doctors and fear hospitals so much.

This whole experience has taught me a lot. For years I would avoid doctors because of the awful experiences I had as a kid. As an adult, I tried to convince myself that these fears were groundless and that I should just grow and pair and go see one.

The truth is, no doctor that I, or any member of my family, including Truffle, have seen in the past few years has actually done much of anything. I think that the internet is much more useful.

Seriously, 12 doctor visits and to this day none of them know for sure what was going on with my feet? That seems horribly out of whack, especially considering some of them were specialists. Maybe if we paid out more money to our doctors we'd keep the good ones in Canada and live healthier lives on the whole. I never thought I'd envy the States and their private healthcare model.

Other than that, things are peachy. I'm going back to Northview (my first practice teaching school) in April for my internship. Not big news, but I had to sort out all the details myself which now means I can relax a little.

A little. Not a lot.
Posted by Parallel
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 8:35 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI don't know what to do anymore. I have totally and completely given up.

I went to see the foot doctor today about my ingrown toenail. This was supposed to be the day I had it fixed. I was told it would cost me $35.

My doctor left the room twice as he was trying to sell his house and kept getting phone calls. He comes back and tells me that he thinks it would be easy for my foot infection to come back and that I should have taken a month of pills instead of two weeks.

"Two weeks won't kill it off," he said.

Comforting. Also contradictory. Other doctors have said that was more than enough to kill it. Will the real expert please stand up? Then doctor #11 here tells me what he wants to do to my toe. It doesn't sound pleasant, but it will fix it. Then he says that he wouldn't do it today but he would do it at his own clinic. He said it would take an hour and cost $350 dollars. I told him that I was told it would be $35.

"I don't do anything for $35," he said. "$40 is the cost of this consultation."

What's wrong with my foot? He thinks eczema is likely as well but possibly fungal. What did he do? Gave me a cream.

As for my toe, he told me I could go to emergency and they'd remove the problem part of my toenail but that it might grow back and repeat the problem. He said that was the 'cheap fix'.

To make matters worse, I have two small blisters forming, one on each foot. Nothing big yet, but worrying. I have a dermatologist appointment next week and she wanted to do a scraping, so I won't take the old pills again. If I choose to do that, I have to take a month's worth. I went to see the people at Toronto General and they thought eczema as well and one doctor talked as though I wasn't there to two of his colleagues explaining how the lamisil pills may have functioned as a placebo. I wanted to punch him.

This is why I hate doctors. Months and more than a dozen visits and doctors and nothing has happened concretely. It's a cruel damn joke.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, January 05, 2007 at 9:10 PM | 0 comments
Catherine's rabbidIt figures.

I just spent 15 minutes writing up an interesting blog entry and my computer crashes for the first time in ages. I even had a feeling that it was going to do this and still I delayed in hitting the 'publish' button on my blog.

Oh well, it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't update more often. I make the daily journey from my beg to this desk to meander about and check out the silly sites I like to visit and yet there doesn't seem to be enough time left over to write on this blog.

I'm in the throes and woes of vacation time. Catherine says that I should just relax and enjoy the spare time when I have it, but I'm all too often consumed by the horizon and needing to get everything on my plate taken care of. I'm starting to realize that this may be an impossible goal.
One oddity of my surfing habits is that every day I always click on the link for my blog. I don't know why I do this because I know I haven't posted. Maybe I'm looking to see if someone has made a comment on an entry that's three weeks old. Sometimes I use it as a launching pad to check out what Jer and Josh are doing because I'm too stupidly lazy to call them and find out for myself. This is something I must rectifiy because they are too cool and I think they need my guidance. Especially Jer.

Christmas went well, overall. We left with a lot of gifts to take home and brought back even more. I don't think people understand that we live in a shoebox. Somehow we make it all work, but soon I think I'm going to have move Catherine and some of her things out onto the balcony.

Catherine got a new Wii game (Rayman Raving Rabbids) which is the most disgusting thing I've seen in a while. You have to trap bunnies in outhouses, fling cows, and generally abuse these stupid looking creatures. It's actually quite entertaining and Catherine loves it. She gets annoyed if I play it at all without her around because it's "her game."

We also got several DVDs between us. I got season 1 of The Office (US version) and Catherine got all three seasons of Arrested Development. We also saw a lot of movies. Casiono Royale, Night at the Museum, Little Miss Sunshine, even Flushed Away. It's been busy.

The new trailer for the Transformers movie looks pretty good and I'm encouraged to want to see it. I would have seen it anyway, but at least it's looking pretty nifty. Check out the trailer online if you haven't already. I'll wait for your opinions while I play with the Starscream figure Catherine got me for Christmas.

We got a new printer (so I no longer have to wait 10 minutes to print a single grainy page). This printer is unreal. It also scans, faxes, copies, and makes french fries. Really. Crinkle cut.

We had a good New Year's Eve. We went to see Blue Rodeo in Hamilton and enjoyed watching the drunk people around us.

Best of all, my foot appears to be healing. The crippling (and no, I'm not exaggerating) condition that my foot was in seems to have halted itself and my foot is actually repairing the massive damage it suffered. For a while I could barely walk and to date I've been to see more than 10 doctors. It's been stressful.

Other stressors include school. I know I'm on vacation and Catherine says I need to relax and enjoy it while I can, but I'm cursed with forever looking to the horizon for my next problem. I need to apply to get my license, then I need to apply to school boards, get my resume together and all sorts of other nonsense I feel not at all prepared to deal with.

But it's a new year and it's going to be full of interesting events. I hope to spend more time with Jer, Josh, Jamie, Nicole, Nate, Aaron, Chris and several others while working towards getting that first teaching job. Life could be much different by this time one year from now and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

In the meantime, I think I'll get my drink on. Where's Jer, anyway? It's Friday night at 9:21pm and I'm blogging while Catherine is out with her friend, so where is mine? I'll pretend I called Jer and then yell at him tomorrow for not returning said ficticious call. I expect the ruse will work beyond my expectations.
Posted by Parallel
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