Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cruise Control

Continuing the theme of stupid crap I've done in my life (and believe me I've just begun), I'd like to share with you a story of when Ingenuity took a ride with Curiosity, and Curiosity brought his best friend Stupidity. Ingenuity is a good friend of mine and he helps me out everywhere, the solver of my problems and the maker of my money. But when you invite Curiosity, you usually get the tag along, Stupidity. The problem with him is that you never know when he's around until.. well.. Stupid happens.

I was employed by a Langley based fireplace installation company at the time. I worked on a crew, we called ourselves "The Fart Duckers". It was because one of us had some serious gas issues, and utilized the upward motion of air through a fireplace vent to test out the draft with his ass. Of course he would wait until we were up on the roof screwing on the rain caps to the vents. The draft worked every time. Funk aside; it was a temporary stepping stone in my convoluted career path to where I am now, but a necessary one. This being the largest company I have worked with up to that point, I learned a few lessons about dealing with bosses and crazy ass schizophrenic kleptomaniac co-workers.. I'm hesitant to mention names cause I'd be scared my life would be stolen, then given back just to be stolen again. Seriously, I learned about how screwed up one can be and still manage to get a pay cheque, and how much methane gas a plate of onion rings can give to one over indulgent fireplace installer with a sick sense of humor.

I was on my way home after a long day of work, and it was hot outside. There's my disclaimer. It was hot, whatever. In my back seat was a clothes hanger, the standard wire clothes hanger. I would like to say the hanger was there because of all the dry cleaning I had to with my expensive clothes, but such was not the case. The hanger was there cause like a dumb ass I had an issue with always locking the keys in my car. Before you start to pass blame on my stupidity of keeping the clothes hanger IN my car, please know that it was there due to the fact that I had already used it, and not for future use. I'm not that dumb. Yea, I became an expert at breaking into my car, and at one point I had three or four hangers in the back seat of my car all stretched out and untwisted. When people would ask me about them, I would just tell them I loved smores, shut up.

So where was I, I was on my way home and it was Hot with a capital H, hot enough to turn on a nun. I get a little bored while I drive sometimes and I like to pass the time thinking of ways to make things better, or easier. As I go through life, I realize my life's goal is to make things easier for myself and for those who pay me to. I get paid to make other's life easier, but in the business world they like to call it "more efficient" cause efficient.. that's a money making word. My car at the time was a 1991 Honda Civic. A great car it once was, and if you ask Kupes from Cochrane, it still is. OK, that's a lie. He hates the car, apparently it blows more smoke than a gay locomotive, but it was once a great car. Honda Civics have a quirk however. The gas pedals take no pressure to activate. When I say no pressure I mean a well placed fart would get that thing moving. That got me thinking, why did my foot have to be what pushed it? Hello Curiosity. A smile grew on my face. I could possibly make a working cruise control system just by using the hanger in the back seat, welcome back Ingenuity. I grabbed the hanger. Knock Knock, who's there? Stupidity.

Engineering a cruise control system is not a simple task. Engineering a cruise control system while driving 80kph was a feat worthy of award, but I did it and when it was complete it worked like the hot damn. The basic design was the stretched hanger having enough rigidity to press the gas pedal, was rigged between the pedal and the steering wheel. Honda Civic steering wheels have three spoke design so I opted to use the bottom spoke of steering wheel and wrapped the hanger around it once. The excess hanger I just bent back into the dash. I could adjust my speed by simply moving the hanger through my steering wheel, and when I had to stop just pull it back enough to release all pressure off the gas pedal. I had it arched enough not to get in the way of the brake pedal. Safety first, one must be able to brake. I was so impressed with my design I was already thinking about the patent process. How would one patent this? Why hasn't anyone patented this already? How in the heck would I spend all that money?

I was nearing my destination, and disengaged the cruise control, the smile on my face like permanent ink. I drove almost the entire way home without using my right foot. I pull up to the intersection where I had to turn left and my smile quickly disappears. Stupid happens, and happens swiftly, without warning. As I started to turn left the hanger began to twist around the steering column and my steering became impaired. The pressure of the hanger quickly took away the ability to steer and I began to panic. I was turning left through traffic and couldn't stop, but I couldn't steer my car left enough to make the corner either! I decided I had to make the corner at any cost, and for a second I thought I could use the leverage from the steering wheel to break the hanger, but it just became tighter, tight enough now to trigger the horn. I was taking an unnaturally wide left with my horn blaring away. At first I thought I might be able to miss the curb, but I didn't, and it wasn't a small curb either. Anyone who has taken that left onto 88th from Glover in Fort Langley knows what I'm talking about. The curb is about eight inches of unforgiving 300 year old concrete. I smoked the curb and my car took a flying jump and came crashing down about three seconds later. I stopped. People were watching, and I can't help but wonder what must have been going through their minds while I was frantically trying to unwind the hanger from my steering wheel in a car half way propped up on a curb with horn blaring. I tried hard not to make any eye contact, but my ears were burning in embarrassment. About 23 seconds later, I got myself out of the jam and drove off the curb and went home.

When I got home I pulled Ingenuity out of the car, and told Curiosity to take a hike. Stupidity who was no where to be seen apparently left on his own. I wish I knew where he went so I could tell him not to come back, but he always did. Sneaky little bugger.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why I don’t like Bowling

Several years ago, five I think, I bowled the last ball of my life. We were at a party for Julie C and decided to go bowling, and I hate bowling with a passion that could kill elephants. It was the 10th Frame, I was playing the all time worst game of my life. I held up what was my last ball (it was the kind where you stick your fingers in… those are unsanitary sess holes in my opinion) I turned around to the party and asked for their attention. I then spoke, and the people listened. I saith "Attention all… This ball I am holding will be the last ball I will ever bowl in my life. I hate bowling with a passion that can melt steel. I hate the freaky shoes, I hate the balls, I hate the stupid slippery chairs you have to sit in, I hate the little yellow reset button, I hate the pins standing there laughing at me as one ball after the other misses them in the gutter. I hate cream soda. I hate the fact that I have to wait for the ball with the big thumb hole. I hate the fact that everyone seems to like this game but me. I find no reason to continue this ridiculous activity. THIS BALL I AM HOLDING NOW WILL BE THE LAST BALL I WILL EVER BOWL IN MY LIFE. THIS IS MY PROMISE TO YOU AND TO THE PEOPLE BEFORE AND AFTER YOU. "

I then bowled the ball.. only it didn't go down the lane, it slipped off my thumb and went backwards in a six and half foot arch. It came about 2 inches from Ray's nuts. Realizing the burden released from me, I took a bow and departed the lane. Ray then took the ball and threw it down the lane for a strike, it was poetic. I removed my shoes and spat in them, then placed a curse on the next wearer, man pity that guy.

I have been asked by many people why it is I don't like to bowl. Well, I used to be a good bowler, averaging 7 strikes per game, yea I fricken rocked the casbah baby.. rocked it all night long. Then Something happened.

It was when I was about 19 years old. I was bowling the game of my life, nine strikes in the 9th frame. I was on my way to a perfect game. I remember women and men but mostly women from all around gathered to watch Alex "The FireBall" bowl the game of his life. I was decked out, totally in the zone. I had the black shirt with the flames on the bottom, and had my nickname embroidered on the chest. I had the glove and wrist support custom painted with flames. I was cooler than the other side of the pillow baby… yea.. the other side of the pillow.

I'm ready to bowl my third and last ball in the tenth frame for the perfect game when someone from behind me says.. "HEY FIREBALL". I turn around. The music stops, and in some dream like sequence everyone around me disappears. The place goes dead quiet, and I am standing alone with a ball in my hand. The lights go dim and a strange fog appears around the bowling lanes. The only light seems to be a spotlight on me. "HEY… FIREBALL" I hear from behind me. I turn around and nothing is there except the set of pins I was just about to crack down for strike number thirteen. "Bowl the ball Fireball!" I turn again, and now standing by the reset button is a tall man. He is wearing a black suit, his shirt was un-tucked and he was not wearing any shoes or socks. He had on a tie, loosened and wrinkled. On his face an evil grin, his teeth yellowed by what could have only been from thousands of years of smoking, and his eyes were opaque windows to a soulless void.

"Excuse me?" I asked ears half cocked.

"I said.. BOWL THE DAMN BALL FIREBALL" he shouts. I swear I saw a fire in the back of his throat when he opened his mouth.

"I don't think I understand what's going on here.. who in the hell are you?" I asked, quickly realizing the irony of the question.

"You think you're all the shit don't you Fireball.. Don't tell me you forgot our deal"

Knowing full well what he was talking about I attempted the back spin of ignorance, "Um.. so, yea.. can't say I do."

"YOU BOWL A PERFECT GAME AND I GET YOUR SOUL…" he replies, then proceeds to pull a piece of paper out of his jacket. It's The Contract.

"OK Ok, ok ok ok.. look.. this is stupid. I wrote that as a joke back in grade 8 with some buddies at a sleepover.. this certainly isn't legal.. or whatever law.. look.. I'm sorry for the confusion, It won't happen again, where the hell did you get this.. anyway.. don't answer that.. ok so..what, what happens now?" I ask


"Well that's a crappy deal seriously.. I bowl like a perfect game and you get my soul, that's like trading shit for gold"

"HEY, I GET EM WHERE I CAN, you have to understand, this isn't an easy job, I busy 24 / 7 in the soul collection business. Besides, we have a lot of busted computers down there and could really use someone like you."

"I don't work with computers"


In a flash everything came back. Hell Dude vanished along with the fog and I was left standing with the 13th ball in my hands, people all around me watching, hoping to be witness to The Fireball's first perfect game. I bowled the ball.. only it didn't go down the lane, it slipped off my thumb and went backwards in a six and half foot arch. It came about 2 inches from Ray's nuts. Realizing the burden released from me, I took a bow and departed the lane. Ray then took the ball and threw it down the lane for a strike, it was poetic. I removed my shoes and spat in them, then placed a curse on the next wearer, man pity that guy.

I never dared throw another strike after that day. But just to be on the safe side I thought I just better call er quits all together.

And that's why I hate bowling. Hey, you would to.


The Fireball

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sour Cream and Onion

I was twelve. If I was any younger I wouldn’t be smart enough, and if I was any older I wouldn’t be dumb enough. It was the perfect age to do something that in hindsight was pretty stupid, though at that age was considered nothing less than duty.
In the early 1980’s there were always two things more on the mind of a twelve year old than anything else, toys and food. Girls are still in the annoying category and school was a torrential sucker of all that was fun, but nothing was better than sneaking in that new Transformer toy into class, or hiding a pack of Black Bart ® licorice chewing gum in your desk to be used for a recess trade or to share with your friends in some game to see how black you could make your tongue. In grade six, the search for the meaning of life ended at toys and food, and all other things were non essential.
As far as I remember it, it was the perfect day. I was on my BMX bike making my way to the Consumer’s Distributing to spend some paper route money on one of my favorite things, a GI Joe action figure. After the purchase I would make my way over to the corner store and buy a bag of chips, not just any bag of chip, heck no. It had to be Old Dutch Sour Cream and Onion.
Sour cream and onion chips were, without a doubt, the best flavor of chips ever. When in school you’re asked that stupid question about what you would take on a desert island if you only had one thing? It had to be sour cream and onion chips, every single time. Fishing trips? Sour cream and onion. Sleepovers? Sour cream and onion. Birthday parties? Patio hangouts? Tree forts? Sour cream and onion. The two flavors if consumed on their own, not so good, but some Einstein put the two negatives together and out came a positive.
At that time there were two brands of chips, Hostess and Old Dutch. Both chip brands made the SC & O, but Old Dutch did something Hostess never did, they rippled the chip. Rippling the chip does two things, it helps the pursuit of world peace AND helps the chip hold more flavor, the latter being the most important of course, world peace be damned. The precious ripple held far more flavor than the standard flat chip. Simple science could prove that with friction zones, contact zones, static electric bonding and the Pythagorean theorem. Yea, A squared plus B squared equals more flavor. It was all that mattered. The more flavor, the better.
So I was on my way to the corner store, GI Joe in my hand. I remember never being able to wait to get home before opening my toy packages, and risking life and limb I would unpack my GI Joe while riding my bike, discarding the package material without stopping. I arrived at the store and parked my bike against the outside wall of the store and went inside. GI Joe and I fought our way to the chip isle in a show of sheer bravery, fighting off nothing but time really.
Scanning the rows for the SC&O in Old Dutch brand of course, my trained eyes found the familiar white bag I knew so well, the little cartoony sour cream dude and the onion guy in some kind of strange embrace. They were in this together. They were brothers in arms. I picked up the bag, but something was wrong. It felt heavy. I grabbed another bag for comparison, and it was certainly lighter. I couldn’t help but wonder what would cause a chip bag to be heavier? I knew I was on the verge of a major discovery. Could it have been a prize? A chopped off finger? A dead mouse? I decided that good or bad, I had to know what it was. Worst case scenario I’m out a quarter and curiosity gets another notch on the bedpost that is life experience. I paid for it and left the store hurriedly, almost forgetting about my new GI Joe comrade. We were in this together after all, him and I, brothers in arms.
I biked to a nearby park, set my bike up against a trash can and ignoring the bird crap, quickly sat down on the park bench. I reached into my jacket and pulled out the bag, still feeling a little heavier than normal. Grasping the sides I slowly pulled them apart until the top seal broke open and the familiar smell of good ol’ sour cream and onion wafted upwards. I looked into the foil bag and realized quickly what the source of the weight was. What I had here was a bag of chips with more flavor than chip, the chips were literally stuck in an immense amount flavor powder awesomeness! What I was looking at was the Holy Grail of the potato chip religion. A bonafide factory screw up! The bag was probably worth millions at a potato chip auction, but there was no way that it could be saved. We had a situation there that had to be dealt with swiftly, I had my orders and it was my duty. I had to eat that bag of sour cream and onion chips proudly, and in so doing mark it as a major accomplishment in my life along with the others such as taking my bike over a five foot ramp without crashing, or walking several kilometers under Calgary in the sewer system without dying. So I began to eat those chips and powder ad it was good, very good.
I was over half way when good started to turn to not bad, and then not bad to a turn to gross. I started to feel a little nauseous, and I could feel my stomach presenting me with the possibility of a full refund. I stopped eating, hoping the feeling would go away. It didn’t. I sat there on the park bench now swaying back and forth, attempting to slow what now seemed to be inevitable. I didn’t want to puke, I hated puking.
There is a window of time before one vomits, it’s that time where the cold sweat breaks out on the forehead, the dizziness starts up and the saliva starts to crank into overtime. It’s that time where you feel the worst. It’s puke imminent. I can’t remember how long I maintained puke imminence, but it couldn’t have been for long. I stood up and made my way over to the trash can which up until that time was used only as a holder for my bike, was about to be used as a container for my guts. The gates opened, I puked wildly, and with violent heaves the meaning of life and I parted ways.
When I was finished and the aftershocks had settled, I opened my eyes and through my puke induced tears peered down into the garbage can. There, in the technicolor of my funk, I saw my GI Joe. He was holding out his arms in hope to be saved, but it was too late. He was covered with chemical blast and I could not get myself to save him. I turned my head and biked away.
I learned two things that day. One, too much of a good thing is not good at all. Two, I could never be a US Marine, but being a Canadian made me feel somewhat better about the latter. I ruined something in my life that day, I could not get myself to eat sour cream and onion chips for a long time. Even to this day, 23 years later, it’s my last choice of flavor. Sometimes life presents us with these tests of indulgence, and we learn from it. It would take seven more years for my next test to show up, this one in the form of Southern Comfort, but that’s another story, if I can remember it.


Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm in the mood

to go home and sleep in my own bed.  ;-)
I'm writing this entry from science world in vancouver, it's busy here, so busy in fact there was no parking to be found, so i parked in staff parking.. I hope the van is still there when i get back... If i get back and not stomped to death by a million 11 year old kids vieing for position to the snot gallery called grossology. There's this woman here who scared the ever loving shit outta me when from 10 feet away screamed at the top of her everloving lungs directly at me... I jumped clear out of my skin... People thought i was a exhibit from the human anatomy show... Turns out she has touretts,  i think.  Anyway then it became funny and she pulled the same tourette-a-tete on sonya, caught her off guard to say the least.  She too became an exhibit.. Only in grossology cause she crapped right there.... On the floor..
Hope the van is still there.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Limerick

replace a bird with a plane
and a rope for a chain
then put them together
bind them with leather
people will call you insane

Saturday, July 7, 2007

7,7,07 .. anyone need some luck?

Today is the seventh day of the seventh year in '07. I read on the news a whole boat load of weddings happening today.. for good luck. I think, if you need good luck to make a marriage work, it's not gonna. I predict a way higher than average divorce rate for those married today.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Pink Cowboys?

Lots of cowboys wearing pink here in Calgary. I know it's for hooter cancer support, but can you imagine all the real cowboys? "Tough Enough to wear pink" is the slogan. If you're a part time executive cowboy, and you think you're tough enough to wear pink then more power to ya'll.. but if your a grit eating, tabacco chewin, cattle ropin, bull back ridin, womanizin, red neckin, REAL COWBOY..... you probably don't wanna wear pink.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Goodbye Guitar Hero.... HELLO ROCK BAND

If you been to my place, you've probably seen or played guitar hero on the xbox. Guitar Hero is an extremely addicting "guitar simulation" where the player uses a special guitar shaped controller called an "xplorer", and follows a series of colored notes travelling down a neck of a guitar on the screen. The notes are in sync with the notes of the music being played, and if hit correctly, you'll be jamming with a band on a stage. Points are given for accuracy.
I have accumulated over 7,000,000 points in my band career, and I've barely reached the "hard" level. I'm embarrassed to say how many hours this has taken, but there are many out there on the "expert" level who have invested three times the amount of time I have. I take solace in that. Yea, I enjoy it, but I'm not obsessed.
As I play, I can't help but think how fun it would be to play the drum track. Well, it's coming. There's a new product soon to be released called "Rock Band". Not only do you get the guitar, but you get a bass guitar, a four pad drumkit with a kicker, and a microphone for Karaoke.. WHAT? no kidding.. a mic. But quite possible the BEST THING going.. is one song. The one song that will make this the best game ever. Included in this package.. is Blue Oyster Cult "The Reaper"!! Not included however, is a cowbell, but you can be damn sure I'll be getting one.
This my friends is gonna be the ultimate party game! I know I'm gonna cringe at the price, but I don't think I'll be able to say no to this. Rock Band with Cowbell... coming to alex's basement near you. ;-)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

MMMmmmmm Subway.... again.

It's 11:30am, my stomach reminds me I didn't have any breakfast. I stand up and ask a coworker what he wants to do for lunch, "Subway?" is the inflected reply. I grimace, memories come back to me of the last time I was at this subway.
"Ya whatever." I respond.
"Let's got then"
10 minutes later we are standing in the Subway line and I immediately notice the absence of the sandwich terrorist. Perhaps she got a new job, or was fired.. or accidentally blew herself up. I didn't know, didn't really care to tell you the truth. I was hungry.
Pete notices a sign on the Subway, advertising a new sandwich called the "Lobster" sandwich. "100% pure lobster meat" it states. Sounds good.. real good. Pete and I being fans of the seafood sub opt for the lobster sub today.
Pete orders first. "I'll have a one of those lobster subs on 12" wheat"
I order second. "I'll have the same please.. whatever he's having"
So far so good. Our subs are coming together nicely. Something has to wrong, it always does here. I look over at Pete's sub. It's almost done, fully loaded with a little sprinkling of salt and in the paper, cut and wrapped. No spills, Bob's your freakin uncle. Lickity Split. the perfect sub. Mine is ready for veggies. After seeing the perfect execution of Pete's sub I know my odds are good.. or bad.. depends on which school you come from for probability studies. I ask for everything but no green pepper. It's not like I don't like green pepper, I just don't think it should be in a sandwich like a potato. The veggies arrive right on schedule and everything is looking perfect.
"Sauces? Salt? Pepper?" I am asked with a smile
"A little mustard, some salt and pepper" I reply with raised eyebrow.
I'm suspicious. A perfect sandwich? not here.. no way.
"For here or to go?"
"To go please.."
I am handed a perfectly rolled sandwich, handed to me in a bag with three napkins. I didn't even need to ask for an extra napkin. (I tend to spill a lot.. so what.. i said. SO WHAT?)
I have a grin on my face. I'm looking for the hidden camera. I'm sure I'm on a new TV reality shock show. This never happens. They may as well handed the sub over on a silver fricken platter. Something was wrong, and here's what happened. As best as I remember it.
We shuffle over to the cashier. Pete is first to pay.
Subway guy: "What did you order"?
Pete: "Foot long Lobster Subway"
Subway guy: "That will be 16.90"
Pete: "Oh sorry, I'm just paying for the one sandwich"
Subway guy: "Yes, one foot long lobster, 16.90"
Pete: (stunned silence)
Alex: (grin turns into laughter)
Subway guy: "Price for foot long lobster is 16.90"
Subway guy: "Yes, price over there see?" (points to a small price in far corner of menu opposite to line)
Subway guy: "Prrrice 16.90"
Pete: "$^#& *#*$&#* Q*&#&@*( shit &$#*& !@#!& #&*@)! ~!(!@"

Now I'm laughing pretty good at this point, just cause I was expecting something to wrong. After pete's display of displeasure, they knocked 25% off our subs.. to top things off, they didn't even taste all that great, well not seventeen dollars great. Dumbasses. You know what you can get in downtown Calgary for lunch for seventeen bucks? Well, how about three sunny lunches, or one all you can eat Indian Buffet, or one all you can eat Russian buffet, I mean the list goes on. Idiots.