Friday, February 28, 2003

A Sudden Realization That I'm Definitely an Adult

In case you haven't heard, Mr. Rogers has passed away.

When I heard about this, I thought about how I was never a huge fan of his show. As a little whipper-snapper, I watched it -- but I think even as a four-year-old I found him a little patronizing. But I still watched, and watched regularly. I took note of the changing colours of his sweater and cheered when he fed his fish and wondered how the magic trolley made the trans-dimensional journey to the land of imagination, or whatever it was. You know, the place with the crappy hand puppets. But it was never in the same league as Sesame Street or Mr. Dressup in my mind.

And then it struck me: nearly all of my early childhood heroes are dead. Jim Henson. Mr. Dressup (Ernie Coombs). The Friendly Giant (Bob Homme). And now Mr. Rogers.

I swear, Jeff Hyslop had better be taking good care of himself. If I catch him with a cigarette in his hand or driving without his seatbelt on, hoo boy, there will be hell to pay. I'm watching you, Jeff.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Of Surprises, Ninjas, and Yellow Spotlights

I hate to disappoint anyone, but....the surprise I was talking about was actually for my girlfriend. A little suspense never hurt anyone, right?

On March 9th, she turns the ripe ol' age of 26, so I decided I would surprise her this year. For reasons I'm not going to go into, we wanted to go and see Coldplay's concert but couldn't really afford to go. It wasn't a terribly expensive ticket, per se, but money's been tight lately. Anyway, what better excuse to spend money than a surprise birthday gift for someone you love?

Originally, I had planned to be a total ninja about it. I had it all worked out: I devised a cover story so that she wouldn't make other plans for that evening. I dropped subtle hints here and there, not enough to figure it out but enough to say "ohhhhhhhhh!" when I finally handed over the tickets. Unfortunately, my plan was thwarted by tiny micro-organisms. No, not amoebas like last time -- germs! Stacey had a cold.

So on Monday, just after my girlfriend did everything she could to get out of my cover story, I was forced to spill the beans over a work phone. I couldn't really keep it up any longer; she was starting to get upset that I was insisting on a dinner out with my step brother when all she wanted to do was curl up into a ball and complain about how bad she was feeling. Regardless, I was still a ninja. She hadn't figured it out by the time I told her the-day-of and it was a total surprise.

It was amazing how quickly the show sold out after the tickets went on sale. I don’t normally like arena shows, but I sometimes make exceptions. I managed to find tickets okay, but they were in the nosebleeds and parallel with the stage. After less than five minutes into the opening act (a band called The Music, who were okay, but a strange choice to open for Coldplay), we decided to take a chance and find some better seats elsewhere.

Oddly enough, I've never done anything like that before. I'm sort of a put-up-with-stuff kind of guy most of the time. But the seats were just bad enough to make us migrate. I'm still not sure how we were able to pull it off. There were ushers and security everywhere, but somehow we managed to sneak around to a section facing the stage, get past security and slide into a new set of seats. Coincidentally, the seats we found were the same two numbers in the same row in section 328 -- when we started out in 308.

As The Music played on, we patted each other on the back for our ninja-like abilities. I'd definitely scam my way to better seats we sat there, we could feel the adrenaline, wondering what would happen if we were found out. They'd just send us back to our seats, right? Surely they wouldn't kick us out....

As it turned out, we were hoofed from our new seats just before Coldplay went onstage. Ironically, we had picked the seats of a couple of guys who had also gone looking for better seats, but they got hoofed too. We reluctantly found another two seats further back. Mysteriously, Ticketmaster didn't sell tickets for the top ten or twenty rows of the 300 section. No explanation why, either. Regardless, we were content that they hadn't. Although some of the fun of wondering whether or not we would be found out was gone, we at least had a clear view of the stage and could hear the music as clear as a bell.

And my God, the music. Coldplay is excellent as a live band. They played all of their best songs. Our only major complaint was that they didn't play for longer. Say what you want about Chris Martin's voice, he's the quintessential front-man. He dominated the stage, both when he was bent over the piano and when he was jumping around the stage like his underwear was on fire. Even for songs that normally wouldn't seem very energetic -- he infused them with such enthusiasm and spirit that you couldn't help but be amazed. I would recommend their live show to anyone.

Of course, the place went ballistic when all of the stage lights went bright yellow, filling the whole arena with a warm sunshine glow. Yellow may not be my favourite song by the band, but they gave their radio-listening fans what they wanted.

Chris also did his very best to speak in French for the audience's benefit. It was cute, but it made us wonder if international artists are aware that Ottawa is a bilingual town. Personally, I would have been happy if he had said an awkward "bonjour" and got on with what he really wanted to say instead of struggling over every second word when he was talking to the audience. Throwing the odd French translation into a few of their songs was a nice touch, though.

The only sore point for us was the under-aged retard sitting in the row behind us, who managed to get blindly drunk in the first two songs of the show and proceeded to scream along to every song at the top of his lungs. And the girls who were with him, who seemed more interested in talking loudly about the latest gossip instead of watching the show. But whatever, it's a concert, what can you do? We had the last laugh when the show ended and we watched the drunken meathead do a face-plant on the concrete riser. I couldn't help myself, applauding and shouting "way to go, assface!" when I saw it happen. I can only hope that he actually heard me in his inebriated stupor.

Stacey had a blast. We both did...all in all, a totally successful birthday present. And one more band scratched off our "must see" list.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Fun Fun Fun 'Til Your Daddy Takes Your T-Bird Away-ay

First off, check out The Trailer Trash on Monday morning for a new review of the trailer for Kevin Spacey's new movie, The Life of Someone or Other, which should take the Ultra-Liberal Patronizing Piece-of-Crap Award for 2003.

Next, if you're wandering around the campus of the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, or Algonquin College, keep your eyes peeled for a poster advertising "The Marketing Mix" event at the Cabin. I made the poster. One more piece of digital art that I can put in my portfolio.

Further, I should be launching a new web site over the next few weeks. It's time to start doing all of the things I keep saying I'll do and never get around to. I'm not quite sure what it will be yet, but it will be. I expect it will be a portfolio of sorts with some of my photography, hand-drawn art, and digital graphic design pieces. Or maybe it will be about kittens, and how the word "kitten" rhymes with so many other wonderful things, like "mittens" and "smitten" and "puffins". Or something else. Maybe it will be a mystery.

And more, on Friday I started work at a new client site on a new project, which is a huge relief. The people there are wonderful and welcomed me onto the team immediately. But now that I'm on a client site again, it will be extra hard to keep the blog updated. But I will rise to the challenge. I'm good that way.

Finally, I have a surprise coming up, but I'm not going to tell you what it is. If I did, it wouldn't be a surprise now, would it?

That's all for now. You can go back to your extra-large cups of frothy cappuccino and pseudo-philosophical ramblings. Don't deny it, I know what you were doing.

Update: Looks like the editor of the Trailer Trash is down with a case of the sniffles. Look for my review on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

To Use my Degree or Not to Use my Degree, That is the Question

Tonight I am going to a meeting that may very well determine my future with my current employer. If I can convince someone I'm meeting tonight that my Geography degree is worth something, I will still have a job at the end of next week. If not, I'm not really sure what's going to happen.

Ominous, yes?

I'm actually really excited about this opportunity. It's a brand spankin' new Geographical Information Systems (GIS) practice. GIS takes a digital representation of the earth's surface, a map, and applies qualitative and quantitative values to various points or areas on the representation. It's like a map that tells a story about how that land is used or how different spatial variables interact with one another today, showing any patterns that may emerge. And with any luck, it will give us the information we need to decide how we should be using that land in the future.

Mapping has always been something that I have enjoyed. Right from when I was a kid, I imagined-up entire planets' worth of oceans, lakes, mountains, forests, cities, and political borders, complete with their indigenous cultures and creatures. In high school, I used to get lost in atlases and road maps, taking pride in navigating my parents through new territory on family vacations. And through university, I was forced to explain that getting a geography degree wasn't only reading maps, but was much much more...yet I couldn't help admitting that maps were probably my favourite part about studying Geography. And now....well, I've gotten lost along the way for a while. Maybe after this meeting tonight, I'll be back on track.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Best of the Worst

It's Razzie time again! Oscar's illegitimate evil step-brother recently announced its nominations for The 23rd Annual Razzie Awards, "Dis-Honoring Worst Achievements in Film for 2002". And to my horror, Star Wars looks like it's going to take home an armload. C'mon, it wasn't that bad...putting it up next to the likes of Crossroads and Stealing Harvard just kills me.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Smashy-Smashy Time

An update: the reincarnation of my laptop was flawed and incomplete. Right now, I am trying to rebuild two-years-worth of patches, upgrades, downloads, and other things that make my laptop go, and after two solid days of work, I still have a long way to go. I know, I know, my posts lately have been about as exciting as a re-heated bowl of boiled cabbage, but consider this more of an explanation rather than a "Gee, my life is so much richer having read about your laptop, buddy!" kind of post.

In honour of this occassion, here is a list of things that have struck me as noteworthy over the past few days:

* My mother has decided that the word "camera" no longer belongs in her vocabulary. Instead, she has called my camera a "calendar" on two distinct and seperate occasions.

* Yesterday, I spent almost 8 solid hours watching The Sopranos: Season 2. And yet, somehow, it feels like I didn't accomplish much.

* Next time you're at Pizza Hut, order the Cinn-aparts. Trust me, they rule.

* Wiping out a hard drive may be the easist way to solve a mysterious problem, but it's not always the best solution for the people who actually use the hard drives.

* Removing soot from a cat is a lot harder than putting the soot on the cat in the first place.

* Surprises make fantastic gifts.

* 85 cents a litre for gas is criminal. It's getting to the point where it would be cheaper to fill the gas tank with chocolate milk.

Hopefully something more exciting tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The Great Crash of 2003

Just to let everyone know, my laptop passed away this week. What started out as a simple, easily fixed problem escalated to a fatal problem through boundless feats of ineptitude and negligence on the part of my company's tech support team. Why-oh-why a problem with my Winsock sockets and TCP/IP driver escalated to them wiping my hard drive, I will never ever understand.

Regardless, if anyone has been trying to contact me and has recived no response, that's why. I've spent the last two solid days staring at the empty space on my cubicle wall where my laptop screen used to be. I'm getting a little ticked about it. One way or another, I WILL be back online tomorrow.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Celebrating 5K!

According to the little web-counter at the bottom of this page, MPFH just topped 5000 visits in the past seven months. Wow!

Thank-you so much everyone for taking an interest in my little page. It's been so good to be able to write creatively again, and I can only hope that it's a fraction as enjoyable for you to read as it is for me to write.


Friday, February 07, 2003


The Sens and Flyers played to a 2-2 tie last night, so I guess it wouldn't be fair to say they "beat the living hell" out of them. More like they "outplayed them all three periods of the game and only tied because the sens were missing three key players including their goalie and top scorer and their backup goalie sucks beans." The final shots-on-goal tally was a whopping 45 to 30, so the game was all about the Flyers goalie, Roman Cechmanek, and the ref, who showed a big anti-Ottawa bias. I'm not usually prone to booing, but last night I booed myself hoarse over a couple of his calls. All in all, an exciting game, but nothing feels quite as ambivalent as a tie.

Then again, Neapolitan ice-cream is pretty ambivalent.

Dammit, now I'm hungry again.

Oh, and speaking of the Sens, it looks like the creditors accepted Bryden's bid, which means that a) it looks like the team will stay in Ottawa, and b) any day now they'll be hauling down the Corel signs and replacing them with "Arby's" in big red glowing letters all around the stadium. "Let's go see the Sens at the Arby's Centre!" everyone will say. Man, that sounds fricken' terrible.

But still, Arby' tasty....

I really have to stop talking about food.


More links and information than you'd probably ever want to know about Canada's favourite heart-attack-snack can be found here. Time for lunch -- (wonder what I'm gonna have?)....

Thursday, February 06, 2003's all i wanted....

February blahs have set in. Tonight, Stacey and I are off to watch the Sens beat the living hell out of the Philadephia Flyers....should go a long way towards shaking these zephyr blues.

In the meantime, in the immortal words of Rufus, be excellent to one another.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Maybe I'm Dumb When It Comes to Something Like This, But...

I can't figure this thing out. It's a mind-reader program, and it's kind of disconcerting. Maybe one of you out there has a better grasp of mathematics or programming and can explain how this works, because I sure would like to know.

Update! I'm a dummy. Read the comments below for an explanation of how it works after you've played around with it for a while. And I've been caught by this one before. You'd think I would've learned the last time.

Monday, February 03, 2003

For Once, I'm Shocked and Saddened That I Was Right

Way back in October, I wrote a brief piece on the Space Shuttle and how I saw it as a disaster waiting to happen. As it turns out, my fears were justified. However, it appears that some small good is going to come from this: to avoid another disaster, Bush has authorized additional funds for the American space program and has resurrected the program to build the next-generation space plane to replace the aging Shuttles.

If you're interested, check out the Time Magazine article posted here for an extremely well-written account of who the astronauts were and what it meant to each of them to be an astronaut. Also, an opinon piece posted here, which makes some very good points, talks about the flaws in the current system and how we should move ahead from now on (although I don't entirely agree with his point of view when it comes to the use of astronauts).

I feel that I should also mention that even though the destruction of Columbia was a terrible tragedy, tragedies happen every day, all around the world -- in wars, in transportation accidents, and in acts of nature, to name a few. Some of these losses of life are preventable, some are not. But the lesson is to try to live your life to its fullest and to keep taking chances, because it's so important to keep growing and learning and moving forward. The crew of Columbia knew that, accepted it, and embraced it. And maybe we all should.